Travel with Lu

Marijani Zanzibar, the hidden gem of Zanzibar

When I planned our family’s vacation to Zanzibar, I also had to incorporate ‘work’ into our beach days. Sam and I run a safari company in Tanzania, and this means that as a tour operator, we partner up with many fantastic hotels on the ground. So this really was a ‘working holiday’. We visited Marijani before, but I find that it’s always helpful to repeat our visits, in case of management changes, and just to make sure that the quality of the hotels is consistent. This time round, Marijani Zanzibar certainly did not disappoint!

We started with this place, as I wanted to ease into our trip with a quiet beach. From what I can remember, this side of Zanzibar in Pwani Mchangani was not too crowded, and that’s what I wanted for my first day on the island. We arrived shortly after lunch, and as we had anticipated, there were not too many people, and it made our experience feel like a exclusively private one. Although Marijani is not advertised as a family destination, I can see the appeal with the pool (it has a shallow side, perfect for our kids, who are still learning how to swim!). The staff are keen, extremely friendly, and would go out of their way to make sure that we are comfortable, whether it be at the breakfast table, or just simple lounging in the beach chairs.

One of the major highlights of our trip this time was the “walking tour” we booked with one of the beach boys (ie. boys or men who stay around touristy areas/beach to sell goods or touring services or water activities). He was sporting an “Alibaba” t-shirt, and he announced in a very loud voice that he was ‘the’ Alibaba of Zanzibar. Sam negotiated the ‘foreigner’s rate’ down to a local rate (tip: never go for the first price you’re quoted!) and we brought the kids along on the walking activity. ‘Alibaba’ claimed that the walk would not take more than 30 minutes, and we were a bit tight on time as our driver was due to arrive in 30 minutes to take us to the other hotel. And I made the rookie mistake of taking him for his word – not that Tanzanians don’t keep their word – but their concept of time is typically very different than the one w are used to.

“Alibaba of Zanzibar” (far left)

The 30-minute walk turned out to be closer to an hour and a half, but we still found the experience very enjoyable as a whole. For the first time ever, I saw a sea urchin, sea cucumber, eel, up close. The kids were also able to touch starfishes and observe them up close. We loved seeing the awe in their eyes as they saw all these things for the first time. In a way, Sam and I were seeing the world around us through kids’ eyes and this was truly one of the best parts of parenting.

There are many different room types in Marijani. We’ve stayed previously at their higher level rooms, but their standard rooms are just as comfortable. The beds all have high quality mosquito nets, a spacious washroom, and the room has all the basic amenities you need. The meals are abundant in choices, with fresh fruit juices throughout the day, and a fantastic menu for lunch and dinner. This hotel usually offers half-board (breakfast & dinner), but we usually wake up late and have a very late (and large) breakfast, so we are typically okay to skip lunch, as long as the kids can snack on something between breakfast and dinner.

Thank you, Marijani Zanzibar! We will be coming back again soon!