It’s not hard to find the perfect beach on Zanzibar: nearly the entire eastern coast is lined with palm-fringed strands set against the turquoise Indian Ocean. There are some resorts here, but farther north, at Matemwe, the sand and sea are the same, and quiet villages serve as the backdrop.
Mnemba Atoll, off the East Coast of is a full-service reef: coral gardens and wall dives. The coral gardens on the west side of the atoll are home to abundant tropical fish and turtles. On the other side of the atoll, the Big Wall is a coral-laden drop-off at about 90 feet for experienced divers; keep those eyes peeled for reef sharks and, during September, whale sharks.
Start at the market, where you can shop for produce and spices — and the vividly colored wraparounds known as khangas. Then wander through the streets of Stone Town, taking note of the intricately carved, brass-studded doors on the grand Arab houses. Make your way to the Palace Museum; built in the 19th century for a sultan’s family later served as the official residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar and now is a showcase of the history of those spice kings.