Zanzibar The Rock

Kitesurfing in Paje and our Visit to The Rock

On the southeastern side of Zanzibar, the ebb and flow of the tide paint the seascape in mind-boggling green, white, and turquoise colors. A breathtaking view, but with a few pitfalls. Even if you booked your bungalow right on the beach, every day the sea recedes so much that it takes at least a 30-minute walk before you’re standing up to your hips in water.

A walk at low tide can be a real adventure since the sea floor reveals treasures like mussels, small coral, fish, and crabs. The local women in colorful dresses search the nets, and with a little luck, you can find a starfish (or with less luck, a sea urchin). The water is really warm—a swimmer’s paradise.

But there’s another element that shapes the environment far more: the wind. The beaches around the village of Paje are firmly in the hands of the kitesurfers, who cover the sky with colorful kites from dawn to dusk.

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Beginners welcome

With one kitesurfing school after another lined up along the beach, the local sellers of spices and fishing tours are practically drowning among the crowd. The public is younger and more international—German, French, Danish, and English. A lot of them are traveling with kids and make a charming picture with their babies dressed in Billabong T-shirts. Still, it’s not a unified community but more like lots of individual groups. Once you choose a group, you’re likely to hang out there, too.

We also decided to take a kitesurfing class and had an amazing time in spite of multiple sunburns. We chose Kite Centre Zanzibar, since all the other schools were booked over New Year’s. The beginner’s class, which was 9 hours long, cost 290 euros per person (+5% with credit card payment). After 3 days of fun, strenuous effort, and a ton of salt water down our throats, we can heartily recommend our German-speaking teacher Viktor. He always made sure the techniques became routine without taking away from the fun of kitesurfing.

Stuff you absolutely have to bring: SPF 50+ sunscreen and sunglasses—I was totally sold on the ones by Plusmax. Also, I highly recommend a long-sleeved surfing shirt, since the sun is really strong. You can see our own and the other kitesurfers’ gear in the video below.

Another school that made a good impression on us but was unfortunately booked solid was called Zanzibar Kite Paradise. This school was smaller but run by Germans. Those wanting some European coffee for a change will find themselves in good hands in their coffee bar.

 Food & Drink

Our kite school was located right next to the newly renovated pub Mr. Kahawa. This bar served as an inexhaustible source of mango smoothies, beef wraps, sesame chicken salads, and Internet for us. Wifi is rare in Paje, above all fast wifi, and the mobile wifi network only really works with Edge. This bar is worth checking out—the organic food and the hammocks really stand out among the usual restaurants, which almost without exception are part of the hotels. Prices are listed in Tanzanian shillings or dollars, but you can also pay in euros.

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The Rock

This restaurant is guaranteed by every travel guide, and if not there, you’ll at least find lots of photos of it by searching online under “Zanzibar.” You hear and read a lot of good things about The Rock so that we also absolutely wanted to spend an evening there. Of course, we had to take pictures, too, which is why right now we’re going to give you three tips to take along.

  1. Don’t reserve your table too late (yes, you should reserve). The sun sets on the other side of the island, which means that it rapidly gets dark towards 7 pm. The problem: high and low tides are also at work. For us that meant that we had to wait until 6:30 pm to take the pictures where we wanted water around The Rock. Alternate plan: make it into a day trip, with swimming, eating lunch at one of the hotels, shooting pictures, and at 5 pm already enjoying your cocktail in the sun at The Rock.
  2. The strong wind will interfere when you try to take selfies. So ladies—tie your hair back.
  3. Yay!! The wifi is pretty fast. It won’t really be enough for live streaming, but posting photos is no problem.

We had a beautiful evening at The Rock. The food was very good, and the atmosphere was comfortable and romantic at the same time. When The Rock fills up towards 8 pm, the service can quickly become stressed out and confuse one order with another, which happened at the table next to us a couple of times. But don’t stress in any case—this is Africa, where people take everything a little slower.

Those who eat at The Rock can also pay with a credit card (add 5%). For the planners among you: you can also conveniently book your table from home through their website. Taxi drivers all over the island know The Rock. We had a driver who drove us there and back for $20.

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