The Spice Island

Words and photography by Kelsie Auralee

I’d never given much thought to Zanzibar, Tanzania until I was living in South Africa. Mention of the tropical island off the East coast of Africa seemed to creep into my life all of a sudden. A friend from back home in Canada visited after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, a coworker in Cape Town went to the island for a week long vacation, photos of wooden sailboats (dhows as they are known there) coasting on clear blue water kept popping up in my Instagram feed. I took it as a sign and put Zanzibar on the top of my list of places to see. A few weeks later I was flying in to the one room airport located on Zanzibar’s main island, Unguja.

Zanzibar defines what a tropical island should be. Full of life and spice (literally, one of its main exports is spices), clear turquoise waters and fresh fruit, palm trees and beaches, mosquitos and malaria. Everything you think of when you picture a tropical island, Zanzibar has it.


The people are plenty. They fill the streets starting at the crack of dawn, touting their goods to tourists and visiting with each other over cups of coffee. When the sun goes down the shops close and the street market comes to life, selling all sorts of meat, vegetables and something called a Zanzibar pizza. Every evening boys of all ages line up to take turns diving off the wharf into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Boys only, as this is a predominantly Muslim island.


During my three weeks on the island, it rained exponentially more than it normally did during dry season, but as you can see from my photos, there was still plenty of sunshine to fulfill my tropical vacation dreams.



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