It’s hot here most of the year. You should drink at least one big bottle (1.5 ltr) of water a day. Tap water is fine for brushing your teeth but not suitable for your stomach. You get bottled water at the hotel or anywhere else on the island.
Try a fresh coconut, it is rich in antioxidants. What you most probably know as coconut milk is in the freshly opened fruit actually more coconut water, delicious though, and the white “flesh” inside is very soft and easy to eat. Anyone in the village will climb up a coconut tree for you and get you a fresh coconut, opens it chop chop (I still haven’t mastered that) and you drink it.
Beer drinkers will love this: Tanzania was a German colony. There must have been a few Bavarians amongst them since we have excellent beer in Zanzibar (and yes, I originally come from Munich!). The most popular brand is the “Kili” (Kilimanjaro), followed by Safari, Serengeti (the purest of the beers, without cornstarch), Tusker (all in 500 ml bottles but more hotels seem to stock nowadays the 350 ml bottles) and the “gourmet” Ndovu (350 ml). The locals drink beer “moto” (warm) – iiiieeehhhh! Locals will love it when you order your beer in Swahili: Kili moja baridi (one cold Kili) or “baridi sana” (one very cold Kili). Numbers: 1 = moja, 2 mbili, 3 tatu, 4 nne, 5 tanu, 6 sita, 7 saba, 8 nane, 9 tisa, 10 kumi. Please do not drink and drive!!! Strictly forbidden here.
Wines and bubbly are mostly imported from South Africa. Depending on the hotel or resort you stay, there may also be French or Italian brands. You MUST try the cocktails! Either with alcohol or virgin. There is also a large selection of spirits available. The locals drink Konyagi (sort of Gin but purely chemical, better stay away from it). The fruit juices at the hotels are usually freshly made, simply delicious.
Food: The seafood you eat at dinner most probably still swam in the ocean in the morning. It ain’t get fresher than here. Look out for “catch of the day” offers.
NB: Some of our seafood species should not end up on a plate because of their important role for our coral reefs / slow growth / over fishing etc. The Chumbe Island Team put together a beautiful pdf document with colour pictures “Sustainable Seafood Guide 2017” and a short explanation of each species, separated into Good Choices, Choices with Caution and Avoid eating. I gladly send it to you, just drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In case you cannot open a pdf file, herewith the seafood species that one should avoid eating – the local name is in brackets:
– Parrot fish (Pono)
– Grouper (Chewa)
– Reef (red) Snapper (Janja, Fatundu, Tembo, Mbawa)
– Emperor (Changu)
– Spiny Lobster (Kambakochi)
– Sharks and Rays (Papa and Taa)
Thank you very much for making wise choices for a sustainable future of our seafood species.
Beef is imported frozen from Tanzania, Kenya or South Africa, the same applies to chicken. Meat is served with the typical Zanzibar Pilau rice or any other conceivable way rice can be cooked, or with potato chips/French fries/pommes (for the Germans, jawohl). If you have a chance, try to eat goat. The Zanzibaris know how to cook it, yummy!!!
Potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, cabbage, spinach, onions etc are mostly grown on Zanzibar.
And then there is the fruit: bananas, sweet (not acidy) pineapples, mangoes, mandarins, oranges, passion fruit, water melon, paw paw, avocado, jack fruit (in terms of physical appearance it tends to look similar to durian, but the jackfruit has a rough pebbly shell while the durian has a spikey shell. The insides look very much different, and the tastes are vastly different too, the jackfruit is more of a sweetish fruit) etc etc – fresher than you most probably ever had them before. If you buy fruit at the market, the motto “peel it, boil it or avoid it” applies.
Please refer to the chart below for the seasons of our delicious fruits.