As we drive towards the Indian Ocean, the giant ‘Matuki’ palm tree roofing of the Essque Zalu Zanzibar Resort and Spa Grand Hall blocks the sky.
It is an incredible sight to behold, and one of the largest I have seen on Zanzibar Island.
We ‘glide’ through the front security gate and park our 4WD and head in to the grand open lobby area, and Explorason “ooh’s” and “ahhh’s” at the incredibly high ceiling, open spaced lavish lobby, with contemporary art.
We’re here a little early, but check-in was easy, and I loved the way they even asked us about food allergies to add to our profile. This is the first time in Tanzania I’ve ever been asked that!
Lemongrass infused refreshing towels cooled us, and we were led to the bar for a welcome drink made from the Hibiscus flower. The ingredients is mixed with lemongrass and it was a bit bitter, but refreshing, however not a drink my 12-year-old loved. Not to worry – I had his!
I noticed that the staff were really kind and friendly here too. In fact, it is some of the friendliest we have encountered on the island.
A lovely tall Zanzibarian man in a long flowing (but fitted) coloured Panjabi Suit shows us to our villa.
To get there we have to go past quite a few villas and are led down towards the sea front, and through some of the most beautifully manicured gardens I’ve ever seen in Zanzibar.
Instead of some lawns, floral carpets with tiny purple flowers covered the ground. Mixed in were cactus plants and succulents.
As we round the first corner, butterflies are covering a Lantana bush, and it is so gorgeous to see. This is one ‘out-of-this-world location’ and trellises made of branches made interesting plant ladders.
Our villa is one row back from the ocean front and has its own very private verandah, complete with lazy-day-bed and table and chairs and is screened by a row of red hibiscus plants.
As we enter the villa, Explorason lets out another “ooh wow” as we wander into the living area.
I’ll let the photographs above do the talking for the rest.
I really liked the coconut toiletries and the coconut and lime soap. The whole place just smelled ‘delicious!’
With wifi in our villa we were able to catch up on some much-needed social media posts, and planning for our next leg of our world travels.
Maasai Spa Centre
We were in awe of the Maasai Massage area where traditional ritual-style massages take place especially in the cool of some evenings (they even bring in goats into a pen, Maasai dancers etc. so I was told).
There were ‘tee-pee style’ tents, and even a tented shower, along with relaxing lounge areas in the garden setting.
Spa Centre and Massage
I’ve had a headache for the past three days, so shortly after arriving, we discovered that there was a vacancy at the Spa Centre. Not just for myself, but for my son also.
We decided to select just a half-hour Balinese-style foot and back massage each. This was in the main Spa area, not in the Maasai Spa Garden.
Explorason was first t be treated, and the masseuse used a special non-allergenic cream that aided in the removal of dead skin cells. Considering he had sustained a burn to his back just over a week before, this gentle treatment really helped him. He is not a huge massage fan being a child, but he was grateful for the benefits of this great treatment.
For me, I was able to finally rid myself of my three-day headache – yay!
We changed to our swimwear, and our next destination was the huge infinity edged salt-water swimming pool.
One end also has a jacuzzi tub with some of the most powerful jets I’ve encountered in quite a while.
There were even jets for my feet!
We mucked around in the pool until near sunset before returning for a quick shower an then heading down to the private resort pier or jetty.
Half way along swinging seats were used as folks snapped family photos together.
There’s a restaurant and bar and even a lounge area at the end too.
I overheard one of the staff telling someone about their ‘Sunset Cocktail Specials’ so we sat and ordered a chocolate one for Explorason and a virgin one called ‘Poa-Poa’ (I think it was) for me – it was made with cucumber and it was so delicious!
Explorason raced around with the camera taking photos of the distant lighthouse. Then when we choose our dining table he grabbed a small piece of bread and headed down the wooden jetty stairs to the water’s edge to feed the crabs.
Dining under the stars
We dined over the Indian Ocean with the gentle warm evening breeze upon us and the stars above us. It was heavenly!
The Menu and selection I thought fantastic compared to a few of the other experiences we’ve had on Zanzibar Island.
I found the prices to be realistic for a resort of this standard, and there were some really creative dishes and exotic cuisine offered.
We chose three courses, but they were spaced well apart in time, and the serving portions were a good size for us.
The Jetty Restaurant doesn’t have set hours, so I noticed a steady stream of diners throughout the course of the evening, seated both internally and externally. Also folks coming for a cocktail or to relax in the Shisha lounge area, which thankfully was set well away from the diners, so the smoke did not permeate the air for families dining with children.
I was disappointed when they told us that the jetty dining was not available the next evening, but then we found out about the Swahili Cooking Classes, so that changed everything!
Next day I woke as the sun peeked through the curtains so I headed outside whilst Explorason still slept. I made my way down the jetty to watch the fishing dhows make their way out for the day as the dawn sun lit the sky.
I passed by the restaurant and collected a cup of fresh milk and went back to make myself a coffee and to have my morning ‘Thankful Time’.
I had a lot to be thankful for being here – it is a gorgeous location! I sat out in the garden and then as the tropical heat became stronger, I moved inside with my morning coffee to the cool of the air-conditioned villa.
I noticed whilst we stayed here that each morning the sky was COMPLETELY different than the day before. The colours and structure would change. I was so glad I woke for these photographs, as my Instagram has become my new passion!
Breakfast under the Baobab Tree
I sip my Baobab fresh juice as we sit under a Baobab Tree.
Famous as an African symbolic tree, this tree has many species, but its trunk, shape and fruit gives its fame throughout the land.
Exceptional service has been noted in this resort, but breakfast I really felt like we had really great personalised care, and I loved the Marmalade French Toast the most. Fresh fruits, yoghurt, juices and an array of cereals were on offer inside.
It was a great way to start our day before we headed off for some activities.
Paddle-boarding and Kayaking
We booked a private driver from the reception of Essque Zalu Zanzibar who took us in his 4WD to a nearby beach which accessible through the local village. With limited parking on the beach, and too far to walk to the village, this proved to be a good option.
East Africa Diving rent out paddle-boards and kayaks and we wanted to do both.
However, the sea was choppy and so we decided that it was better to forget about the paddle-boards or we might end up way out at sea!
We opted just for the kayaking and that proved to be quite a workout in itself.
Once we’d finished, we headed back to the resort in the comfort of the plush 4WD, we saw two ladies also from the resort walking. They flagged the 4WD down so we gave them a ride back. They were from Dubai so we had the chance to make new friends.
One of the ladies kept calling Explorason “baby” and hugging him and rubbing his curly hair. He didn’t like that too much so I had to ask her to stop, but he thought they were fun people to meet and kept laughing. We admired their shopping, and she showed us all her bargains she’d purchased for gifts to take back to Dubai, including nine pairs of shoes.
On our last day she invited me to go shopping locally with her! Sadly we were leaving, so I declined, but I bet it would have been a laugh.
Swahili Cooking Class
That afternoon we had a great time with ‘Chef Rosie’ in the outdoor Swahili cooking school.
She had prepared all the ingredients for us to make seven – yes SEVEN traditional Swahili and Zanzibar dishes!
We learned ‘Nazi’ means coconut, and also we mastered the skill of creating our own Beef Sambusa (or Sambus ya Nyama) which are tricky to ‘fold and fill’ so we discovered, but even Explorason didn’t shy away from the challenge.
We successfully created so many great dishes including: Octopus in Coconut (Pweza wa nazi); Coconut Chutney (Chatni ya nazi); Zanzibar Mixed Salad (Kachumabri); Deep-fried Potato Croquette Balls (Kachori); Chicken Spice Rice (Pilau ya kuku); and lastly, my favourite of Spinach in Coconut (Mchicha wa Nazi).
We had a great time, and Explorason loved all the spices we used. That was his favourite part he tells me, just taking in the aroma of all the spices.
After all, this IS known as the SPICE ISLAND.
It was quite ‘hands-on’ and we were able to eat what we cooked afterwards too.
I also love the fact we could take our recipes with us afterwards.
The presentation was pretty great – simple but effective, and very traditionally African with banana leaves, coconut wood slabs and clay pots.
Our Last Night
For our last evening, we dined under the Baobab Tree once more. This time it was adorned with lights that twinkled in the night sky. It was quite breezy, but it was a warm African evening just the same.
The cuisine here has been some of the best we’ve had in Zanzibar, and the chef has been in Tanzania for many years, so he is able to source the best ingredients.
Whether you are a couple of a honeymoon, a family taking a much-needed vacation, or a single person wishing to explore Zanzibar, we think you’ll love Essque Zalu Zanzibar.
Website: Essque Zalu Zanzibar
Address: North East Zanzibar (near Nungwi) Tanzania, Africa
Essque Zalu Zanzibar Here