As promised, here comes the big challenge; The Maldives versus Zanzibar!
I am following up the tradition of making a comparison between the best beach destinations in the Indian Ocean. First I went to Mauritius some years ago, and last year I made a comparison with the Seychelles.
I am usually sharing photos from the Maldives on my blog; so this time I will only share photos from beautiful Zanzibar.
The sand in the Maldives is somewhat more white as it does contain very little earth and is made of high grade aragonite from corals. They are also more manicured and being cleaned, often daily. However, you will get very fine coral sand at both places. The sand on the best beaches on Zanzibar (Kendwa and Nungwi) is slightly more packed, so not that talcum soft. That being said; it was comfortable to walk barefoot everywhere I went, and the sand is also very bright and beautiful.
They both have beautiful beaches, but Zanzibar has stunning stone walls and cliffs next to the beaches. But since you are on a local island, there will be more people to see than in the Maldives. Both places are lush with vegetation, but Zanzibar also has national parks like the famous Jozani forest.
The Maldives is famous for snorkelling. It was also nice to snorkel on Zanzibar, with some corals and beautiful fish. However, the Maldives have much more fish and marine life. The Maldives easily wins this competition.
The Maldives have come further when it comes to coral reef preservation when we are talking about resort islands. Many of the resorts have local marine biologists which focus on more sustainable development and are running coral regeneration projects.
However, the government has allowed a lot of land reclamation projects in many of the lagoons, especially near Male.
On Zanzibar you will see fishing nets and boats mooring on the corals when you are snorkeling.
The Maldivian culture is very interesting, but if you are staying on a resort island, you see very little local culture. On Zanzibar you are getting better interaction with locals as they live on the same island. Also Zanzibar hosts the Stone town which is Unesco World Heritage. They have also interesting excursions, like the Spice Trail.
Value for Money
Both destinations offer high end accommodation. However you are able to stay at really cheap budget options on Zanzibar as well. You are also able to buy local stuff at supermarkets (incl. alcohol) and you can also bring your favourite wines into the country, which save you for a lot of money. Food and drinks are also cheaper in the restaurants in general.
It is very difficult to compare as the destinations are very different. However, my favourite of the two is the Maldives. The snorkelling and beaches are even better, and it is more a Crusoe experience on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.
It should be said that Zanzibar might be a better alternative for people looking for a more cultural experience, and/ or doing more activities on land.
They are both wonderful destinations and I would not hesitate to go back to either! One last picture. I will really miss taking a sundowner drink at the Z Hotel pool..