I walk down the charming Nungwi Beach in Zanzibar, taking in the heat and beauty, my toes in the pristine white sand. A perfect, uncrowded exotic place, especially during the low season and before the water is swallowed, exposing the pricky starfish, crabs and sea anemone that may make it hard to walk along the beach.
Watching the boat sail towards the Tortoise Sanctuary, Dolphin and Pemba Islands which are far off is almost therapeutic.
Immersed in the tranquillity and the silence, save for the sound of the sea, two white women, ask me politely if people can wear swimming costumes in Zanzibar.
“We would love to swim, but there seems to be nobody wearing a swimming costume around or even dressed up revealingly along any street,” one of the tourist said.
Zanzibar is laid-back and conservative, but together with the tourists, we agree that we could feign ignorance, change into swimming costumes and jump into the ocean to cool off.
Most women in the archipelago cover up and to many tourists who are not couples on honeymoon, the town is a lonely planet.
In some hotels, nightlife centres around sundowner beach parties.
But if looking for places to unwind in the archipelago, Nungwi has perfect spots where you can watch live concerts and dance under the stars with crashing waves in the background.
As I wandered through the streets, I saw a poster of a concert at a nearby club. Curious of how a night out in a club in a conservative town would be like, I decided to go.
Inside the nightclub, the dressing was nothing close to what I had seen on the streets. The women in the Zanzibar club resembled those in any upmarket Nairobi joint; skimpily dressed.
Rhumba music echoed through the club. Then Marijan Rajab, a Tanzania maestro with Dar es Salaam International Band walked onto the stage, introducing the revellers to Zanzibari rhythms. His song, ‘Siwema,’ which praises the beautiful women of Zanzibar, drew many to the floor as they gyrated slowly.
At 10p.m, together with a few friends, we walked to another club to find Kenyan music playing. Sauti Sol, Kidum Kibido, Jaguar, Nameless, Amos and Josh are household names there. Their songs rent the air and the Swahili natives of Tanzania’s island sang along while dancing gracefully.
At midnight, we walked back to the hotel just adjacent to the beach. The town is quite secure and well-lit.
The next day, I took a ferry to Dar es Salaam. The return trip was bumpier and nauseating, unlike the smooth sail to the island two days earlier.
I slept on the deck alongside other women for most of the two and a half hour journey.
Zanzibar memories still linger as I remember the taste of the sumptuous Swahili delicacies.
I particularly loved the chips mayai— a meal that is not visually appealing but tastes amazing. French Fries are put in a pan and a raw egg beaten to it, making a pizza-like meal. It is served alongside vegetable salad, pepper, mayonnaise and a juice.
And how will I ever forget the marashi ya karafuu, a nice smelling spice drawn from the seeds of a palm tree that grows on the coastline.While at Nungwi Beach, you can visit the turtle centre, a quiet place during the low season where you can enjoy a cold drink before heading back to your hotel.