The northern coast of Tanzania and the neighbouring Spice Islands are home to some divine beaches that should be destinations in their own right (as opposed to safari trip add-ons). Africa expert Ellie divulges her tips after a recent trip...

Elephants in the Serengeti, Tanzania

The Spice Islands...

This most recent trip to Tanzania took me to the north and to the Spice Islands. There is such variety in types of accommodation - there really is something for everyone up in the northern circuit, from dome tents to luxury lodges.

Whilst the Serengeti is the most well known and most visited park in the region, you wouldn't want to miss out on some other superb wilderness areas, such as Tarangire National Park, which is rather a hidden gem! As well as offering brilliant game-viewing at the right time of year, it is a stunning park with beautiful scenery.

If you have an adventurous streak in you, scale the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro first, then reward yourself with a few days of game-spotting and end with some richly deserved feet up time on the beach. Just an idea...!

A pier and the ocean in Zanzibar, Tanzania

On to Zanzibar...

Palm trees fringe the coastline, and it's no surprise coconuts are one of the largest exports here, especially given their multiple uses. In fact, every part of a palm tree is used for something: the leaves for 'makuti' thatch, the flesh for eating, oil for cooking and beauty products, milk for drinking and the bark for a variety of creative purposes.

Sadly, I didn't have time to tour a spice farm this time, but I remember the agility of the guys scaling palm trees in a split second. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin and cloves (known as the gold of Zanzibar) are just a few of the spices grown on the island. Needless to say, food in the archipelago is wonderfully flavoured! Juicy fruit greeted me each morning, which had undoubtedly only just been picked - from sweet bananas to mouth-watering pineapple, papaya, mango and watermelon. Of course, you can't (and wouldn't want to) avoid the abundance of beautifully fresh fish here. Succulent king prawns, lobster, seared tuna and Kingfish carpaccio are among my personal favourites from the past week.

An aerial view of Pemba Island, Tanzania

Some hidden extras...

As well as offering much needed relaxation after a safari, it's worth popping under water to see the fish life whether that's by scuba diving or snorkelling. To get further off the beaten track, I flew half an hour up to Pemba Island - a more hilly and forested island north of Zanzibar. A snorkelling trip took me to Misali island - an uninhabited hump of sand with a beautiful white sandy beach just a short speedboat ride away. A gentle snorkel followed by a flop on the sun loungers there was not a bad way to spend a morning... highly recommended, needless to say.

For more information on luxury holidays to the Tanzanian coast, contact Original Travel.