Zanzibar’s Street Markets
The exciting street markets of Zanzibar have carved their place as one of the main attractions in the island. When the sun rises, fishermen and other vendors set up tables and fill them with the latest catch that range from octopus, shark, and barracuda. You can also see mountains of beef and chicken as well as an assortment of vegetables.
With so many vendors crowded into tiny spaces, and most of them selling almost identical stuff, they all fight very hard to get your attention. As you take a stroll along the tables, vendors will shout, scream, whisper and even holler at you calling you “Rafiki songea Karibu” (Get closer friend) and thrust a piece of fish or other merchandise at your near-frightened face.
One uncanny reality that strikes visitors is the realization that all the shops and merchandise on display make Stone Town area like a permanent street market. And if you take a tour of outlying areas, you will find other equally busy markets in places such as Paje, Jambiani, Nungwi, and Kendwa. Let’s check out the activities and what goes on in these other markets:
Paje is a small village situated some 40 minutes drive from Stone Town and accessible by Dala Dalas. You can take a stroll by foot to explore the village, and locals are welcoming to visitors. The street market is packed with traders jostling for attention from passersby. They sell spices, market produce, clothing, and fish.
Paje is a well-known kitesurfing destination in Zanzibar and tourists will be seen at the beach busy with their craft. You will get a street lined with small shops and supermarkets where you can purchase souvenirs and an assortment of goods like paintings and coconut products.
As you view a typical Swahili beach side village, you make dusty trips through meandering dusty streets and meet dozens of children calling out for candy “Caramella.”
You will also see local people busy either gathering seaweed or making ropes using coconut fibre.
Jambiani is one of the oldest fishing villages in Zanzibar. It hosts an assortment of hotels, lodges, and resorts that cater for all budget groups. You can reach Jambiani via Dala Dala from Stone Town and it’s a one hour ride.
Locals are welcoming but as you stroll through the street markets, watch out for sharp pebbles that can hurt your feet. There are several shops on the streets that sell goods like soap and shampoo. Among the stalls, you can buy eggs, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Seafood is plentiful at Jambiani eateries, but there are also other varieties.
Nungwi is located at the northern tip of Unguja island. It is known for pristine beaches and a boat building factory. The other facility is Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation.
The vendors in Nungwi street markets stock Maasai crafts and other artefacts. Expect to be harassed by the overzealous vendors as they hawk their wares. When you tire of walking around and shopping you can catch a meal in one of these places;
- Langi Beach bungalows restaurant
- Flame tree cottage restaurant
- Mama Mia.
Kendwa is a short walk (2.5km) from Nungwi. The sea-side trail is only possible during low tide and impossible at high tide.
A local organization provides a tour of Kendwa village, and the profits are plowed back to the community.
Also read our previous article Night Market In Zanzibar for more details.