For the last days of our Zanzibar vacation, we looked for a hotel that offers anything we might need, so that we wouldn’t have to leave its premises unless we really wanted. We had an intense schedule in the first part of our holiday, so we needed a few relaxing days before returning home. Just to refuel our batteries with sea and sun! We searched for what was available and the online reviews, and decided for AHG Waridi Beach Resort & Spa, located in Pwani Mchangani, in the northern side of Zanzibar’s east coast. It’s part of AHG Hotel & Resort, an international brand present on the island with other two small properties Waridi was exactly what we were looking for! A small resort with Swahili-style bungalows, excelent service, swimming pool, beach access and all inclusive meals. It is actually a very good mix between the local style and the standards of an international chain hotel. We really didn’t need anything else during our stay there!
All Inclusive in Zanzibar
If you follow us, you know we are not the All Inclusive type of tourists. Initially we didn’t even know you can find it in Zanzibar. But after we read the details, we realized it might be an option for us, as it is very different than in Antalya, for example. I wouldn’t want to see in Africa the waste and the unhealthy attitude towards food that you can usually find in an AI resort. All Inclusive is not necessarily needed in Zanzibar; depending on your location, there are plenty of choices to eat or go out for a drink. But it is a good option if you just want to relax for a few days, especially during a holiday with kids.
As mentioned, at first I was a bit skeptical about All Inclusive in Zanzibar, but I really liked how it is applied at Waridi Beach Resort. It includes three meals, buffet-style, plus some cookies at the bar area and unlimited local drinks the whole day. And the food is really delicious! It is mainly based on fish and sea food, of course, but there are chicken and beef options too (no pork, as we are talking about a muslim region) and lots of vegetarian choices. The food is either inspired from Swahili cuisine or typical italian. Eric was so excited to eat focaccia and pasta, perfectly cooked, like in Italy. But he also loved the calamari carpaccio with passion fruit or fish salad with mango and avocado, things I wasn’t even dreaming he would try.
Even though Zanzibar is 98% muslim, the bar serves a large variety of alcoholic drinks; the local ones are included, but you can pay separately for international spirits or for a pretty large selection of wines, mostly South African ones. We successfully tried the local beer, wine and some cocktails. Just when it comes to coffee we ordered separately cappuccino at the bar (which was very good) instead of the brewed coffee included at breakfast; but we are generally very picky when it comes to the daily dose of caffeine.
Waridi Suite, our home for a few days
Waridi Beach Resort & Spa lies right on the beach. We drove through a short dirt road and reached the main gate, behind which we discovered a beautiful tropical garden. We played hide and seek a lot over here, as Eric loves that! The resort has rooms, both for couples or larger families, and also bungalows with garden or beach access. It doesn’t matter where you choose to stay, you’ll have enough privacy and tranquility, as they are spread throughout the garden.
We stayed at Waridi Suite, located at the top floor in a bungalow right on the beach and very close to the swimming pool. The perfect location when you are with kids! Waridi suite has one double room at the first floor and another one upstairs, in the attic. The Swahili-style wooden furniture and the Makuti roof give an extra autenticity and charm to the whole place. But this doesn’t mean you’ll miss the comfort! There is one bathroom with shower at each floor, a fridge to keep the drinks cold (essential on this tropical heat) and air conditioning at the first floor. No need for this upstairs, as during the night we could feel a very cooling breeze through the roof. There are mosquito nets everywhere and we were not bothered by mosquitos at all, not even on the terrace in the evening.
A big plus for Waridi Suite is the private terrace, including a small jacuzzi tub, very refreshing for the afternoon heat. For the last evening, we wanted to celebrate with a private dinner here, as I remember from our visit on Manukan Island how much Eric enjoyed such a setup. The resort can arrange a “romantic dinner” on the terrace or on the beach, and it is indeed a special experience. It wasn’t so romantic with the kid, but that isn’t so important anymore. He loved it and he was extremely patient for a 5 course dinner that lasted close to 2 hours. He didn’t complain about boredom, didn’t ask for cartoons or toys, he was absolutely living the moment with us, which was wonderful. Of course part of his motivation was the Zanzibar vanilla ice cream for desert.
Activities at Waridi Beach Resort & SPA
Waridi Beach Resort & Spa has a whole team that is in charge of entertainment and takes care for everyone to have a good time. You can choose various activities, like yoga, aqua gym or beach volleyball; they even wanted to play with Eric (but he was a bit reluctant). In the evening there are small beach parties or traditional dance and music shows; unfortunately, with a kid who is very active during day there’s no chance to be out long after 8 o’clock in the evening.
Our holiday in Zanzibar was mostly about family bonding and activities together. But we also wanted a special moment, just for each of us. Andrei chose to go diving with the team from the Waridi. They were out for the whole morning to see the reef near Mnemba Island and did two diving sessions there. Andrei liked what he discovered underwater, it was the first time for him diving in the Indian Ocean, and also the first time he experienced drift diving. He was very happy with his choice and appreciated a lot all the explanations from the instructor that went with him.
Apart from diving, in the resort there is an excursion office held by Makuti Tours & Safari. If you plan to discover and experience Zanzibar, you can trust their professional and very friendly staff; they have various excursions, can arrange transfers or even safari to different national parks in Tanzania.
On the other hand, I wanted a fully relaxing experience, so I spent one hour and a half at the spa at Waridi. It was hard to choose from the available list of massages and other procedures, as they all sounded so tempting! Having this time just for myself and pampering with a relaxing massage was the highlight of the day and something I truly recommend. The Spa center at Waridi has also a sauna and a cold fresh water pool to relax after the procedures. I enjoyed the serene and calm atmosphere here, the relaxing music and the kind and professional team.
The beach near Waridi and the tide
Waridi Beach Resort and Spa is located right on the beach, where it has it’s own area with sun lounges and umbrellas. But in Zanzibar the beaches are not entirely private, so there are always local guys or masaai that invite you to their shops, ask you to join them for tours or just want to chat with tourists. It’s a mix between a friendly approach (in a pushy way) and commercial survival. But it’s part of the local habits and, even though annoying sometimes, it is understandable considering that tourists are the main (if not the only) income source for them. Still, they are not allowed to enter the area that belongs to the hotel, so you won’t be bothered when you want to relax on a sun lounge.
Besides the fine white sand and the perfect turquoise water, another special aspect for the beaches of Zanzibar is the very strong tide. The difference between low and high tide can be over 3 meters depth, which means the beach will be up to 2 km wider during low tide. From Waridi, this is the moment you should take a walk to the coral reef that protects the coast from waves. That’s when you can observe marine life which is usually hidden underwater and can be spotter just during snorkeling or diving. At low tide, from the beach, you can also see the sea weed farms, where Zanzibar women harvest algae and dry them in the sun to be then sold to cosmetic producers. It is a very authentic and picturesque image that we never saw anywhere else.
For the reef walk we headed a bit to the right from Waridi Beach, around the time the tide was at its lowest point. Just make sure you know when this is, as it is different each day. You can check the tide schedule here, or you can ask the hotel staff for assistance. Consider at least one and half hour for this activity, use plenty of sunscreen and don’t forget about special shoes. The water is shallow, just rarely goes above your ankles, but the are lots of sea urchins and many areas with sea weed where they are very well hidden.
We started the reef walk by ourselves but lots of beach boys approached us. We agreed to be accompanied by a young boy from the nearby village and it was a great decision. Just by ourselves it would have been less interesting. He could easily spot marine life and explained lots of stuff about it. It was a very authentic biology lesson, not just for Eric, but for us as well!
We appreciated his patience for us to observe and photograph everything, but also his natural care towards all the creatures we fond on our way, with a very simple explanation: “We live with them here, we need each other!”.
Reef Walk is a very special experience we had in Zanzibar, probably the most unique one and I would say it is something not to be missed here. It is best to do it on the eastern beaches, towards the northern side. But take with you someone to explain everything over there, to fully enjoy what you see.
If you plan for a holiday in Zanzibar, you can read more about AHG Waridi Beach Resort & Spa.