Meanwhile, as I’m cooling my heels in Nairobi the girls have arrived at Michamvi beach resort on the East side of the main island of Zanzibar. It’s the side that faces the Indian ocean. They are at the resort for six days while I work.
Historically Zanzibar has been a very active place. It has been owned, occupied and run by the English, Germans, Persians, Sultans from Oman and has always had a strong influence from India because of the spice trade.
- It’s the site of the shortest war in history. The English warships blasted the Sultans waterfront palace to smithereens in 45 minutes.
- It controlled huge portions of the lucrative spice trade, including 90% of all cloves until the last hundred years.
- And more grimly, it was the center of the East African slave trade, mostly with Arabia, Persia and South Asia.
For all that history, Zanzibar is now a pretty laid-back place, capitalizing on it’s beaches for tourism more than anything else.
I picked out Michamvi resort for the girls based partly on Trip Advisor reviews but it was tough to figure out which areas were best. Zanzibar has great beach front, but there are a few things you have to watch out for.
The first is the beach boys. These guys hang out on the beach, and will get you anything (I mean ANYTHING) unless what you want is to be left alone. Some places are worse than others. Michamvi is in a somewhat remote spot.
Tides on the African East coast are amazing things. The land doesn’t drop off on a shelf like it does most of the rest of the globe, it goes down gradually. And this causes the tide to recede for miles in some places, although a mile is more common.
This means you can only swim for a few hours a day. Some places are more affected than other. You have to get a pool for the other hours. Michamvi has a pool, and like most of the island, they are affected by the severe tides.
Trish and the girls are delayed a little bit in arriving, because there is a ‘broken plane’ on the Zanzibar runway and no other planes can land, but they get on the ground soon enough and are driven to the resort about an hour away.
Michamvi is empty except for a wedding group that keeps to themselves. Everybody jumps in the warm ocean (Because it’s so shallow for so far out, it warms up in the sun.) and relaxes in the first hot weather since they left DC.
I pack our days so tightly that the girls, especially Emma and Trish, are always happy to just have time off to read and sit. Lily on the other hand, likes a busier agenda, but she can occupy herself just fine.
Day 2: snorkeling and angry sergeant fish.
On day two snorkeling was the first activity. You have to take a boat, but it’s not that far. Lily has always been afraid of fish (Remember the blind glubs in the underground rivers in Mexico?) but she so desperately wants to get in the water with them. She adores the water.
Around the small motor boat are some small scissor tail sergeants and as everyone gets in they feed the small fish some bread to attract them. Lily panics and cries in her lifevest, floating on a sunny day in about 5 feet of tropical bath water. She is content to sit on the boat and talk to the guide and feed the fish though.
Emma and Trish see a lion fish, beautiful and dangerous. But it wasn’t the best snorkeling. That award would go to Sharm-el-sheik.
In the afternoon, Trish investigates the possibility of a scuba diving resort course for Emma, who has wanted to try it for a long time. It’s not cheap, and she has to do an afternoon to practice with the gear in a pool . But she is more than willing to trade an afternoon at the spa for a scuba dive. Lily and Trish go get massages.
Day three: Wild dolphins
There are some controversies about wild dolphin swimming – the main one being that the dolphins might not like it. But it’s not clear one way or the other if they mind.
Nonetheless, Zanzibar isn’t the kind of place that will hold off until the academic community makes up it’s mind. On the activity board is a ‘swim with wild dolphins’ event that Trish really wants to do.
She didn’t get any pictures, but basically you scoot around in a small boat and when you get close to a bunch of dolphin you jump off and swim with them for a minute or two. Trish and Emma said it was amazing fun. Lily again went and wanted to do it, but couldn’t get up the courage to jump in the water with big animals.
Day 4: A Scuba Noob
On the last day, Emma went on her first scuba dive. Diving was a bonding activity for Trisha and me. We did a lot of it when we were dating and early in marriage. But young kids mostly cuts off the dive plan (although we’ve gone about once every three years).
So it’s a huge event for everyone that Emma did her first dive. I’m so excited to go with her one of these days. I love that she loves it too. Trish said she did really well for the first dive and the coral colors were great.
Lily got a special treat while Emma dove – she went back to the spa and got a massage and facial. Too cute.
They said the rooms were comfortable, and the food was pretty good although there wasn’t much for Emma at dinner. She did have Indian pilau and liked it. Emma enjoys the taste of cumin, which is a great spice to like.