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Zanzibar or Nassau for a Tropical Island Break

Summer has arrived and I am ready to head to the tropics. When I’m seeking a tropical island break that combines peaceful paradise with passionate flair, I think of the picturesque islands of Zanzibar in Tanzania and Nassau in the Bahamas. Both boast beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and an intoxicating character. So how do they compare?

 

Scenery / Activities

Nassau has long been a classic and popular choice for vacationers, whilst Zanzibar is quickly becoming this summer’s hottest destination. Both boast beautiful bays of soft sand beaches and shimmering blue waters, and cities filled with vibrant colours, smells, and flavours.

Due to its popularity, Nassau is a slightly more commercialised island with sprawling resorts and modern facilities, whilst Zanzibar offers more tranquillity and traditional charm.

Nassau port

A cruise of colour in Nassau!

In Nassau, wander the pastel-coloured streets in the old town, where colonial charm accents this area behind the beachfront resorts. By the water, sit back in a sun lounger on the famous Cable Beach where white sand stretches into sparkling blue waters.

Go the extra mile and take a tour out to Blue Lagoon Island also known as Salt Cay, for the chance to be up close to dolphins and sea lions, with an array of fun-packed water activities on offer.

Head to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, home to one of the largest outdoor aquariums in the world. The Aquaventure Waterpark is an incredible theme park, with exhilarating rides, and features for kids and adults alike.

Spot pink flamingos and colourful parrots in the tropical gardens of the Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre, where the petting zoo is a popular activity for kids. Wander through different tropical ecosystems in Clifton Heritage National Park and finish with a snorkel through the coral reef sculpture garden.

Whilst Nassau is a playground for children and adults alike, Zanzibar is full of hidden gems ready to be discovered by the willing explorer. Stroll through Stone Town where striking stone buildings and imperial architecture give a sense of the mix of Persian, Arabic, Indian and European influence. Admire the Omani-style structure of the Palace Museum where royal relics and materials offer a fascinating insight into the history of this place.

Trek through the forest along the butterfly-lined nature trails of the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park for the chance to spot the rare red colobus monkey or the even more rare sighting of a leopard.

Like Nassau, Zanzibar also boasts beaches of enviably soft sand and turquoise waters, though the beaches in Zanzibar are smaller and less crowded.

Nakupenda Beach is the smallest of them all: a tiny white stretch of sand jutting into the brilliant blue ocean. It’s a fantastic spot for snorkelling and spotting marine wildlife.

Sink your toes into caster sugar sand in Nungwi in the southern tip of Zanzibar, still off the beaten track enough to avoid the crowds and mingle with the locals.

zanzibar beach

A picture of paradise!

For a break from the beach, visit the Freddie Mercury Museum. Born on the island, this UNESCO World Heritage Site plays homage to the island’s most famous son.

Whilst both offer striking tropical scenery and plenty to explore, Zanzibar wins this round with 9/10 for its more wild and natural beauty, and Nassau comes behind with 8/10 with something for everyone.

 

Food and Restaurants

Both Zanzibar and Nassau have fabulous food scenes with fresh fish at the forefront. Both islands offer an enticing array of restaurants that serve global and local dishes from fish fry to fine dining.

In Nassau, Arawak Cay is the famous fish fry strip where rows of rustic restaurants serve up local delicacies such as conch salad, fritters and rice and peas. Anyone of these waterfront spots is a must-try for visitors wanting a true taste of the Caribbean. Curly’s is a popular choice serving huge portions full of flavour.

The Rock rocks!

For an elegant option, book a table at Cleo Mediterráneo where exquisite Greek, Israeli and Lebanese dishes are served alongside an impressive cocktail list.

For a classic steak and seafood dinner, head to Carne where the extensive wine list complements the quality of the cuts.

Zanzibar’s food scene is similar to Nassau, just with a little extra spice. Take a spice tour through the city and enjoy a specially spiced Swahili lunch to really get a taste of the city’s flavours.

Enjoy rooftop views and fantastic Zanzibari cuisine at the Emerson Spice Tea House Restaurant or fabulously fresh fish and a beachfront breeze at Bin Jabir.

For a dining experience to remember, book dinner at The Rock. With only twelve tables this exclusive restaurant can be hard to book, but it’s worth the wait. Located on top of a rock in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, enjoy dishes such as fish carpaccio with coconut sauce alongside a crisp glass of South African white wine.

Zanzibar wins this round with a score of 9/10 and Nassau is just behind with 8.5/10. Both destinations serve up a fabulous selection of dishes, but Zanzibar just adds a touch more flavour.

 

Book your trip to Zanzibar or Nassau with JourneyHero!

 

Nightlife

The heat of the day seeps into the night in both Zanzibar and Nassau, with plenty of evening activities, from sundowner beach parties to after-hours cocktails and dancing.

Make the most of the Zambian sunsets with cocktails and laidback beach party vibes at Gerry’s Bar in Nungwi or dance the night away on the sand at Cholo’s Bar. Head into Stone Town for live jazz and wonderfully cheap drinks at 6 Degrees South or dance into the early hours at Dharma Lounge.

In Nassau, sip coconut cocktails to the sound of samba at the Tiki Bikini Hut or head to the Daquiri Shack serving up the best cocktails of its namesake.

Enjoy themed parties and a huge dance floor at Bahama Boom Beach Club or a glamorous atmosphere and local beers at the Xscape Lounge & Nightclub.

If dancing isn’t your style, hit Nassau’s famous casinos! Play the stakes at Atlantis Casino or step into a world of glamour and grandeur at Baha Mar Casino.

Nassau Atlantis

Atlantis on land!

If you want to party like James Bond, Nassau’s your place and wins this round with 9/10. If you like to kick back and keep it cool like Freddy Mercury, you should party in Zanzibar, which scores 8/10.

 

Accommodation

Zanzibar and Nassau are both popular destinations with accommodation options across both islands to suit every kind of visitor. From beach huts to resorts, there are plenty of choices for your stay.

Nassau is home to sprawling resorts and impressive properties, offering the perfect mix of convenience and luxury. The Atlantis Resort is the largest and most famous accommodation with endless amenities and onsite activities. The Rosewood Baha Mar is a slightly more elegant option, offering luxurious rooms and beachfront views. Book a stay at the SLS Baha Mar, a boutique-style hotel offering personalised service and beach activities.

The simple beauty of beach huts

Zanzibar meanwhile offers bright and breezy properties suitable for every taste.

The Residence Zanzibar offers stunning private villas with private pools, ocean views, and an incredible onsite spa.

The Zuri Zanzibar boasts African-style bungalows with a modern touch.

Matemwe Lodge is Zanzibar’s original eco-chic lodge, with traditionally designed rooms, and positioned opposite a marine conservation area, perfect for divers.

Zanzibar wins this round for me with 9/10 for its more intimate and authentic options, and Nassau comes behind with 8.5/10.

 

Zanzibar

Nassau

PROS

  • Beautiful wildlife
  • White sand beaches
  • Delicious food
  • Commercial hub
  • Amazing theme parks
  • Sunny year-round

CONS

  • It can be unsafe at night
  • Prone to pickpocketing
  • Can be crowded in high season
  • There are often more tourists than locals

 

So, which island paradise is more perfect? In terms of numbers, Zanzibar wins with a final score of 8.7/10, and Nassau comes close behind with a final score of 8.5/10. Nassau, with all its amenities and theme parks, is perfect for a family adventure, whilst Zanzibar is an idyllic destination for a romantic break or a trip for explorers. Wherever you go, you’ll leave feeling sun-kissed and satisfied.

 

Love,

Isabella

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