Today has been a bittersweet day for me. I’m looking forward to going home but sorry to say goodbye to this beautiful island so soon. My flights are a charter plane from Zanzibar to Dar Es Salam, then a KLM/Delta route to the United States via Amsterdam. Fortunately, my flight out of Zanzibar isn’t scheduled until 6 p.m., so I was able to visit a few more lodges, enjoy a spice farm tour, and have a late lunch at Zanzibar Serena Inn’s seaside restaurant in Stone Town before heading for the airport.
After breakfast at Essque Zalu, I headed to Matemwe, a town on the east side of the island’s northern tip. Matemwe is popular with travelers because the sand there is fine and powdery. (Some other parts of the island have coarser sand or lots of coral, both of which require the use of watershoes when wading.)
I visited a set of three neighboring sister properties called Matemwe Lodge, Matemwe Retreat, and Matemwe Beach House. Matemwe Lodge consists of 12 villas: six two-story villas with a king-size bed on the first floor and a twin bed on the second loft-style floor, and six one-story villas with one king-sized bed. The villas do not have air conditioning, but have a layout that takes advantage of the sea breeze. Guests at any of the three properties can sign up for snorkeling and diving lessons. Other optional activities include a reef walk, village walk, and sailing. Or just hang around the property to swim in one of the lodge’s two pools or play chess on a large outdoor board.
Matemwe Beach House is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage for groups of up to six people. It is the only of the three sister properties that allows children under six years old. The house has its own private pool and kitchen, as well as a personal chef and butler service.
Matemwe Retreat is a more secluded property up the hill from the beach. It has four villas that feature a rooftop patio with plunge pool. The first floor includes a master bedroom and a large veranda that looks down on the ocean. Meals are prepared by a personal chef and served in the dining area of the veranda.
We then headed south to Mchanga Beach Lodge, which was opened 6 years ago by an expat American and her German husband. The lodge has 18 units, including two garden suites that sleep up to 4 people each. Each room has a small sitting area that looks out onto the ocean. The lodge focuses on fresh food with local flavors, even harvesting coconuts from its own trees to use in food and drinks for guests.
Speaking of local foods, it wouldn’t be a trip to Zanzibar without sampling some of the locally grown spices. I stopped at a spice farm owned by a cooperative of local farmers for a tour. The farm grows a large variety of spices. Cloves, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla beans, black pepper, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, annatto, cardamom and hot pepper were just a few of the plants that our guides showed us. The farm also grows some delicious tropical fruits. After our tour we sat down to drink lemongrass tea and sample mango, jackfruit, pomelo (a bit like a grapefruit but without the bitterness), and local varieties of oranges and bananas that you can’t find in the United States.
Our last stop before the airport was Zanzibar Serena Inn for a late lunch. Located in Stone Town, the luxury hotel is right on the beach. We enjoyed the ocean breeze from our table at the hotel’s sea front restaurant. It was lovely to be able to enjoy the Indian Ocean right up to the end of my trip!