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Introducing Kizimkazi

This small village – at its best when the breezes come in and the late afternoon sunlight illuminates the sand – actually consists of two adjoining settlements: Kizimkazi Dimbani to the north and Kizimkazi Mkunguni to the south. It has a small, breezy and in parts quite attractive beach broken by coral rock outcrops. However, the main reason people visit is to see the dolphins that favour the nearby waters, or to relax or go diving at one of the handful of resorts. Dolphin trips can be organised through tour operators in Stone Town from about US$25 per person, or with some of the hotels at Paje and Jambiani from Tsh20,000 per person. Most Kizimkazi hotels also organise tours, as does Cabs Restaurant in Kizimkazi Dimbani (US$50 per boat including snorkelling equipment). While the dolphins are beautiful, the tours, especially those organised from Stone Town, can be quite unpleasant, due to the hunt-and-chase tactics used by some of the tour boats, and they can’t be recommended. If you do go out, the best time is early morning when the water is calmer and the sun not as hot. Late afternoon is also good, although winds may be stronger. If it’s too windy, it’s difficult to get in and out of the boats to snorkel.

Kizimkazi is also the site of a Shirazi mosque dating from the early 12th century and thought to be one of the oldest Islamic buildings on the East African coast, although much of what is left today is from later restorations. The building isn’t impressive from the outside, apart from a few old tombs at the front. Inside, however, in the mihrab are inscribed verses from the Quran dating to 1107 and considered to be among the oldest known examples of Swahili writing. If you want to take a look, ask for someone to help you with the key. You’ll need to take off your shoes, and you should cover up bare shoulders or legs. The mosque is in Kizimkazi Dimbani, just north of the main beach area.