Tanzania has much to offer those seeking a tropical vacation. For starters, the archipelago of Zanzibar sits a short distance from Dar es Salaam and boasts a diverse array of marine life. Scuba diving and snorkeling off Unguja, the main island, and the nearby island of Pemba lure visitors regularly. Also of note here is Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A horde of Indian and Omani style residences encircle an Arab fort, a sultan's palace and a lively marina where nightly seafood barbecues take place.
It is no secret that the Tanzanian mainland offers some of the best opportunities to view many of the world's largest mammals. If you don't have much time, head to Saadani National Park, which is the closest such destination to Dar es Salaam. However, those with more time should not miss a safari in Serengeti National Park.
Zanzibar Commision for Tourism
Amani, P.O. Box 1410
Zanzibar City, Unguja, Tanzania
011 +255 (24) 223-3485
Saadani National Park
Serengeti National Park
For those seeking a superior tropical vacation combining a varied cultural experience with pristine ocean surroundings, a trip to Yap is in order. Known as Wa'ab locally, Yap is the largest island in the Yap Island group, itself a part of the larger Caroline Islands group belonging to the Federated States of Micronesia. Yap is most famous for its large schools of manta rays that regularly congregate along nearby reefs. Often very curious around humans, the manta rays are a major tourist draw.
Another draw are the locals. Unlike many other islands in the Pacific, native traditions are still very much alive, and this makes for interesting exploration. Of particular note is Yap stone money, or rai, carved from solid rock with larger pieces measuring more than 10 feet in diameter. Hilly and covered in dense vegetation, including mangrove swamps along much of its shores, Yap offers excellent hiking and a refreshingly unfettered natural experience.
Yap Tourist Bureau
P.O. Box 988
Colonia, Yap FSM 96943
011 (691) 350-2298
Sometimes what you want can be found right under your nose. Rather than search maps far and wide for a tropical paradise in a remote destination, try looking just south of the border. Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula offers visitors a great variety of sites and activities without traveling across the globe. Mayan ruins dot the peninsula, and one of the greatest sites of all can be found just a few hours from Cancún. Chichen Itza is an enormous archeological site that includes the well known Pyramid of Kukulkán, the Temple of a Thousand Warriors and the Ball Court.
Back along the coast, Cozumel is frequented by scuba divers lured by the gentle currents, which are ideal for drift dives. Lastly, to experience the peninsula as it was 30 years ago, head to the small town of Tulum. Lacking much of the commercial development of nearby Cancún, Tulum is a great place to fall asleep in a hammock beachside after eating inexpensive, delicious Mexican food. The nearby town of Punta Laguna offers locally guided hikes through a jungle forest where large populations of spider and howler monkeys can be found.
Cozumel Official Site
Calle 2 Nte #299-B Col. Centro
Cozumel, Quintana Roo
011 +52 (987) 872-75-85
Punta Laguna Information