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Also known as Uguja, Zanzibar offers low prices and high adventure. Classic films featured Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in the comedy “Road to Zanzibar”. Their adventure included a cave filled with skeletons and gorillas. Don’t worry! Only in Hollywood would that be likely.
- Set in the Indian Ocean a mere twenty-two miles off the African continent, it is quite small. Zanzibar is about 20+ miles wide and 50+ miles long.
- As part of the trade routes in the Middle Ages, Zanzibar saw settlers from Africa. By the 11th century, explorers and settlers from Persia arrived followed by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. In the 17th century, the Sultan of Oman relocated his capital there from Muscat.
- After subsequent British and German control, in 1964, Zanzibar became a republic. Shortly thereafter, it became part of Tanganyika. The new nation was renamed Tanzania.
Solo Travel Destination Exotic Zanzibar: Things to do and see:
Much of the earlier Arab influence and architecture remain with lots to see and do.
- Relax on Stone Town Beach.
- Take a “cruise” on a dhow, or learn to sail.
- Visit the Beit el Ajai, the palace of the Sultan Barghash. It now the Zanzibar National Museum. A second palace known as the Beit El-Sahel is now the Palace Museum.
- See the Old Fort built by the Omanis.
- Tour the Persian and Arab ruins, including the Maruhubi, the Mbweni and the Mtoni palaces.
- Go to the (David) Livingstone House.
- Explore the Forodhani and Darajani markets.
- More active options? Go snorkeling, scuba diving or “spelunking” in the Kiwengwa caves.
- Join a “safari” to view giant turtles, mongoose, lemurs and monkeys.
- Swim with dolphins.
Solo Travel Destination Exotic Zanzibar: Lodging: 4-Star Dhow Palace:
This local 4-star hotel is located in the heart of enchanting Zanzibar. It makes the perfect rest and relaxation/extension to a safari. Whether you start in East Africa or the south, this is the perfect way to finish your trip.
The Dhow Palace was built in 1558.
- It is only 1,000 feet from the Stone Town Beach. It is also just 1,600 feet from the museum known as the House of Wonders (Beit al Ajaib).
- Its boutique size of twenty-two rooms allows solos to feel more at home and to meet fellow travelers.
- The Dhow Palace is a blend of an exotic bygone day and 21st century amenities.
- The hotel has a swimming pool for daily laps or just relaxing.
- Up-to-date conveniences include air-conditioned guest rooms, satellite TV and free Wi-Fi.
- Each guest room has a private bathroom.
Fiji is not actually “an island” but a series of islands you can choose from. Best known are: the Yasawa Islands, the Mamanucas, and the Northern Islands.
Almost 4,000 years ago, Melanese settlers arrived in the Fiji Islands. The first Europeans did not “discover” Fiji until the mid-17th century. Capt. James Cook sailed past in the late 18th-century. However, shortly thereafter in 1789, the legendary Capt. William Bligh of “Mutiny on the Bounty” made his way through the islands. Three years later he went back to explore Fiji. Following the late 19th century arrival of British settlers, Fiji became a British colony.
During World War II, the Allies occupied the islands. Fijians actively participated in the battle of the Solomon Islands. The subsequent journey to independence has been a long and rocky one. The 1966 constitution provided the legal framework. In 1970, Fiji became an independent member of the British Commonwealth. However, after Fiji declared itself a republic in 1987, several coups followed. A new constitution was drafted in 2013 followed the next year by elections.
Unlike the famed Hawaiian Islands, the Fiji Islands are almost endless. The chain is made up of more than 300 islands. Only about one-third are inhabited. With that many choices, it is easy to get away from the crowds. You might even want to stay in an uninhabited island. Maybe you can find an island for sale?
Fiji: Things to Do and See:
- Fiji has world-class scuba diving and snorkeling. Its reefs are only second to the storied Great Barrier Reef of Australia and those in New Caledonia.
- Fiji’s Cakaulevu Reef has at least one endangered species. Its ancient marine life includes a rare turtle species that date back more than 100 million years.
- Divers will see rare blue coral known as Heliopora. It can just be found in Fiji at Rotuma.
- The islands also have one fish that grows as tall as a man. That is the Napoleon Wrasse. It can reach six feet in length.
- There is plenty of unique wildlife. One endangered species is the curiously named “Monkey-faced Bat”.
In Fiji, you can have a true active, adventure vacation for singles!
- Start at Yasawa Island. Its Sawa-I-lau Caves are a major tourist site.
- Swim in a sunlit cave one moment and then continue your swim through pitch black darkness.
- Parasail on Denaura Island.
- Go diving in clear Pacific waters.
- Rappel down a 300 feet into the Tau Caves or a mere thirty foot drop next to a waterfall.
- Swim with sharks.
- Try death-defying zorbing!
Alternatively, Fiji provides the option for a more tranquil Pacific Island vacation.
- You can just relax on the beach.
- Swim or go snorkeling.
- Glide through the ocean with peaceful mantas.
- Visit Polynesian cultural centers.
- Sample local dishes.
- Take a cooking class.
- Create your own photo album of 21-st century Fiji.
Whether you are a beachcomber at heart or an insatiable adventurer, Fiji is a tropical paradise for everyone, including solo travelers.
Option 3: Sri Lanka:
A Snapshot View of Sri Lanka and its History:
During my stay there, I was intrigued to learn that Sri Lanka has some key differences from India. The two countries differ in languages and religion. Sri Lanka’s predominant faith is Buddhism rather than Hinduism as in India. Sri Lanka has lush green plantations and rich agricultural exports. I appreciated the fact that Sri Lanka with smaller land area was a compact way to have many vacations in one.
Sri Lanka’s history starts back 2,000 years. While early settlers came from India, Sri Lanka became a crossroads attracting the arrival of traders and other from many nations. In the 16th and 17th century, the Portuguese led this influx enticed by spices and strangely, by elephants! The traditional capital was in Kandy, still an ideal vacation spot.
The next European arrivals were the Dutch under the sponsorship of the Dutch East India Company. They usurped Portugal’s hold on the country from 1658–1796. As a result, Colombo became the modern commercial capital.
In 1796, the British replaced the Dutch renaming the country Ceylon. At last, in 1948, Ceylon, now “Sri Lanka”, became an independent member of the British Commonwealth and in 1972 a “Republic”. Beyond tourism, it is rich in natural resources, such as, tea, rubber and coconuts providing strong sources of revenue. In the 20th and 21st centuries, an extended period of civil war and unrest has occurred. The 2004 tsunami was an enormous natural disaster with loss of tens of thousands of lives. In mid-2008, Sri Lanka’s long running civil war finally came to an end. While the country has stabilized, it was the site of violence on Easter morning 2019. Hundreds of local residents and visitors were killed or injured by eight explosions near hotels and churches in Colombo. However, such violence is the exception not the rule. As a female traveler, I felt very safe while there and would enjoy returning for a vacation there in the future.
Sri Lanka gives you five trips for the price of one!
- Active, hiking and adventure: Sigiriya Rock also known as Lion Rock.
- Beachcombing: Top choice: Galle. It is a real paradise with tall palms and pounding surf.
- Yoga, wellness or spas: My favorite pick: the 5 star Golden Crown in the ancient capital of Kandy.
- Cultural and historical journeys: Former Ceylon, independent since 1948. In addition to the commercial capital, Colombo, nearby Kotte is Sri Lanka’s administrative capital. Colombo has ongoing a massive project to rival Dubai’s Palm Islands. This huge mixed-use commercial center is being built on land reclaimed from the sea. More great sights: the Dambulla cave temple, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa and the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. (Fashionistas will love the shopping for both fine jewelry and clothing. The latter offers an array of styles for a wide range of budgets.)
- Eco-tour and wild life viewing: Multiple options: Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, Minneriya safari and Yala national park jeep safari. The area near Yala has 5 star “glamping” with luxury tents. I found it more like a private villa. I had a full en suite bath room with my own terry cloth robe and chic amenities. It was not like camping at all!
Option 4: Maldives:
The Maldive Islands are made up of both multiple islands and atolls. The Maldives are one of the most remote and luxurious destinations in the world. However, it is an easy flight from Sri Lanka to arrive in this Indian Ocean paradise. In summer 2021, there is no mandatory quarantine for the Coronavirus. However, COVID-19 testing is required so do check ahead.
Things to Do in the Maldives:
- Start in the capital of Male.
- Visit local markets.
- Sample Maldives cuisine and fresh seafood.
- Go cruising from island to island and atoll to atoll.
- Have a relaxing day at pristine beaches.
- Swim or snorkel.
- Dive with sharks!
- Take a spa day.
The Maldives are known for luxury lodging. Much of the 5-star options are about $350/night. However, check out these great steals we found during the 2021 summer.
5-star: Royal Island Resort and Spa: Special Offer: $104!
4-star: Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu $177
4-star Bandos Maldives $135