Connie Britton on the Magic of Zanzibar

A few years ago, some friends who were traveling around the world with their children were nearing the end of their trip and they said they’d always wanted to go to Zanzibar. So I said, Let’s go! My son Yoby, who was seven at the time, and I flew to Tanzania and met up with them there. The first thing that struck me when we arrived was the white sand beaches. We live in California, so we’ve visited a lot of beaches in our time—but the coast of the Indian Ocean felt like another beast entirely. The beaches are so vast and powdery, and the water is crystal blue, warm, and very shallow. You can walk out really far. Plus, we stayed at this boutique hotel, Zanzibar White Sand, which has a series of bungalows in the trees, each with its own plunge pool, that look right out onto the beach. At one point, as the kids were burying themselves in the sand, these two Maasai gentlemen came walking by. Our kids started talking to them, and they taught the kids how to do this special Maasai warrior jump. The kids thought it was magical. 

When I’m on vacation, I enjoy sitting my butt on the beach, but equally important to me is feeling enmeshed in the culture—so we made sure to visit Stone Town, letting ourselves get lost in the circuitous streets and the beautiful architecture. We stumbled across Darajani Market, which is huge, and picked up spices like cinnamon and cardamom. We had this delicious chapati bread from a street cart and then had dinner on the rooftop of the Emerson Spice hotel, where we were up above the city and could look out over the hustle and bustle of it all. To be able to go from this exquisite beach into this city that is so alive and has so much cultural heritage and historic resonance was amazing. As told to Meredith Carey.

Connie Britton stars in HBO’s The White Lotus, premiering July 11.

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This article appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Subscribe to the magazine here.

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