So, after bidding Nairobi goodbye, I set my sights on Zanzibar, Tanzania, fueled by the high expectations painted across social media. Spoiler alert: the reality check hit me hard, and let me break it down for you.

On the ‘Gram, Zanzibar is all about pristine beaches, but let’s spill the truth tea—it’s the only thing remotely close to beautiful on this island. Social media influencers conveniently forget to showcase the gritty reality—the island is, for lack of a better term, in the trenches. It’s poor, undeveloped, and, if I’m honest, not easy on the eyes. The only pretty sights? Beaches and the resort you’re holed up in. Forget card swiping; this island runs on cash, so do yourself a favor and get that currency exchange at the airport.

Lucky me, I snagged a spot at Pili Pili Sunrise Hotel, part of a clan of sister hotels lining the beach. They’ve got five restaurants, a bed-and-breakfast option, and an all-inclusive package. My room? A balcony oasis right by the pool and a hop away from the beach. Local vendors stroll the sands, peddling handmade goodies. The hotel throws in a complimentary village tour and snorkeling, adding a dash of local flair to your stay.

The village tour was a humbling eye-opener—learning the island’s rules, delving into local life, and meeting the faces behind the place. I splurged on some off-resort excursions, and let me tell you, Zanzibar’s excursions don’t come cheap. Pro tip: scout for local excursion companies, flex those negotiation muscles, and get a bang for your buck.

Pili Pili keeps things lively with daily events, accommodating staff, and live bands that get the whole place grooving. Pickups and drop-offs are on the menu too, for a fee that’s way more reasonable than the island’s taxi drama. Brace yourself for a lot of haggling—taxis, excursions, you name it, they’ll try to overcharge you.


While Zanzibar might not see me again, the mainland beckons, promising a different adventure. Exploring Tanzania’s heart and soul, and diving into one of their safaris, seems like the next big thing. So, if you’re Zanzibar-bound, consider the Pili Pili hotels. They might just be the island’s saving grace.

PiliPili Sunrise