Coral Rock Hotel, Zanzibar, south east coast
When I went to Zanzibar, I stayed at Coral Rock Hotel, which is on the south east coast. This side of the island has good beaches for snorkeling, but not really for swimming. At low tide, the sea went right out leaving loads of white, squidgy coral sand exposed, as well as lots of brittle starfish and hard bits of dead coral that hurt to walk on. At high tide the sea comes right in and it looks very pretty, but it’s not great for swimming. The turbulence means you can’t see any fish, and you also can’t see the bits of coral that are so painful to walk on! The hotel itself is built on a giant chunk of this coral, the same as most of the coast is made of. The restaurant/hang out area actually overhangs the beach slightly, making for some spectacular views, and the 2-person chalets are set slightly further back on more solid ground! Accommodation is fairly basic, and the rooms all have a bit of a damp smell, just because of the climate. There is however air conditioning in every room, as well as a mini fridge, a big mosquito net over the bed(s) and mosquito screens for all the windows. Curtains weren’t quite adequate on my visit, and bedding was very mix-and-match, but Neil, the South African owner, was very keen for feedback and has apparently been very busy refurbishing. There’s also a beautiful pool, which was finally filled on the 2nd last day of our visit, and proved instantly popular with both the guests and the resident hermit crabs. If you want to dry out for a bit there’s a hammock as well as several loungers, in the sun or in the shade. Or sit in the “restaurant” and play bao, which seems to be the national pastime. Chicken, Doc, or one of the other fantastic staff members will be happy to teach you how. In fact if you need anything, Chicken is your man, and my hero for finding and returning my treasured sunglasses! He’ll take you out in his dhow to go snorkeling or just to look around. Food here is quite cheap, breakfast was somewhat lacking (again, Neil said he was going to work on it) but their curries and rotis were amazing. Plus their bar is very well-stocked – don’t miss out on their beer cocktail. I loved my time here, and I’d highly recommend a stay at Coral Rock.