Ras Nungwi lies at the northernmost tip of Zanzibar, a classic Indian Ocean escape. It’s close enough to the island’s inland spice plantations for a day trip, but most people come here simply to unwind and get away from it all. And who can blame them!
Luxury hotels line the sandy shore, but walk towards the headland and you soon reach the village of Ras Nungwi, where you can gain a glimpse of the island of old. The village is known as an important centre of boat building – in particular for producing Arabic-styled dhows, the type of which have sailed these waters for centuries – and local craftsmen build and repair the Ras Nungwi fishing fleet using methods passed down through the generations.
Many of the dhows are tied up along the sandy shore, seaweed clinging to their hulls. Others can be seen heading out to sea beyond a protective reef, their white sails twinkling in the sunlight, a light coastal breeze enough to fill their sails as they glide gently by and fill their hulls with the catch of the day.
The turquoise waters abound with wahoo fish, prawns, squid and octopus. The fishermen take home some of their catch, the rest they sell on to the beachfront hotels – to be grilled on skewers and served in open air restaurants, salty and fresh, and cooked with intoxicating local spices. Delicious.