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Dining at The Rock Zanzibar: Everything You Need to Know

The Rock Zanzibar

The Rock Zanzibar.

The Rock Zanzibar is one of the most iconic restaurants in the world and after 5 long weeks of overlanding, camping and public buses through Kenya and Tanzania, the day I’d been waiting for finally arrived, so you can imagine my disappointment when I awoke in Stone Town to rain and dark grey clouds. But we weren’t booked in until lunch so I was holding out hope that the weather would improve.

A guy we’d met the day before had arranged a share taxi to take us to our next accommodation, New Teddy’s Place in Paje, a little way along the coast from The Rock.

It was still raining when we arrived, so we grabbed some breakfast and then took a walk to try and change some money, something we stupidly hadn’t done in Stone Town. The mini market was out of cash but they told us to try Paje by Night, another hotel on the beach.

 

They had no cash either. It was low season and it seemed everyone was paying by card. We only had a few shillings and dollars but luckily New Teddy’s and The Rock both accepted cards, so we’d probably be ok until we got to Kendwa the following day.

Just then, the heavens opened and I witnessed one of the most torrential downpours I’ve ever seen. The day was not quite turning out as I’d hoped, so we did the only sensible thing – ordered beers, relaxed and waited for the rain to subside.

After the rains, we walked back to New Teddy’s and the sky began to brighten. We were due at The Rock in about half an hour, at 2pm. I knew it wasn’t far (about 10 minutes away by car), so when we’d arrived earlier, I asked about getting a taxi to the restaurant, and they’d said it was no problem, the taxi drivers were sitting in the bar, sheltering from the rain.

I wandered in and began talking to the barman “Mambo! Can we get a taxi to The Rock? How much is it?”

“$50 there and back.” Said one of the taxi drivers sitting on a bar stool.

“It’s only costing us $50 to go to Kendwa tomorrow, that’s that’s an hour and a half away and the driver is coming to get us from Stone Town.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Well how much do you wanna pay?”

“A fair price. $50 is too much and you know it.”

Eventually we agreed on $30. Whilst we drove, he asked if we’d like him to take us to Kendwa the next day instead.

“I’ll do it for $50.” Sorry mate. You’ve tried to rip me off once today already, you’re not getting my business again.

By the time we arrived at the Michanwi Pingwe beach, the weather had started to improve, and my mood with it. The tide was out and the grey skies meant the sea was a slightly paler blue than the turquoise of my dreams and in the pictures I’d seen online, but the setting was stunning nonetheless, surreal almost to see a restaurant, on an actual rock just a few metres off the shore. We paddled out, being careful not to slip on the stone walkway, although I had been hoping we’d need to take the boat across.

 

After climbing the stairs, we were greeted warmly by the restaurant manager and shown to our table. The restaurant was pretty, adorned with flowers and everything you would expect from a restaurant in the ocean. It was busy with expats and holidaymakers, including quite a few families and had a relaxed and lively atmosphere.

We shared a lobster tagliatelle to start (which was really delicious) and for mains, Matt ordered The Rock Special, a plate filled with lobster, cigal, jumbo prawn, fish filet and calamari and I had the catch of the day – king fish.

The Rock ZanzibarThe food was tasty, the fish was fresh and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t go there for the food alone. I went for the unique experience of eating dinner in an super cool location and I was not disappointed.

Afterwards, we took our drinks out on the terrace to enjoy the view and take some photos. Following the rains, the cushions had been taken off the seats and it was really humid (and sweaty) but that didn’t spoil the posing fun.

The Rock Zanzibar (8)

The tide being out may not have given us the best view of The Rock from the shore, but it did create the most wonderful mirror effect in the shallow water.

 

By the time we left, the clouds had cleared and the sun was just starting to set, bathing The Rock in a pretty golden glow.

As I was posing for a photo, a little boy ran up to me an latched onto my legs and just stood there

We headed back to New Teddy’s and finished off the evening with a few more drinks. It was the low season so it was pretty quiet, with only a few guests, but I can imagine it gets pretty lively at weekends and when the wind is up, as Paje is a hotspot for kite surfing. We sat at the bar, listening to reggae and the faint sounds of the sea, whilst chatting to the guys behind the bar and a couple of German girls who were waiting for them to finish their shifts so they could all head out to party.

The next morning, we were heading over to Kendwa to meet up with our Absolute Africa friends, but not before taking a few pictures of Paje and New Teddy’s. Everything looked a lot nicer in the sunshine.

If you’re visiting Zanzibar’s east coast, The Rock Zanzibar is definitely worth a visit!

Essential Info

  • Paje is around and hour and a half away from Stone Town. A share taxi costs approx $10 per person, a private taxi is around $50 and a dala dala is just a few shillings.
  • We paid $30 from New Teddy’s Place to The Rock in a taxi (with a bit of negotiation). There were a few taxis outside the supermarket so you could probably get something a little cheaper. It is literally a 10-minute drive! If you have more time and you’re on a budget you could wait on the road for a dala dala to come along.
  • Get money in Stone Town before you go, as there are no ATM machines in Paje and you can’t always change money.
  • The Rock Zanzibar gets busy, so I would advise booking in advance
  • Try to time your visit with high tide. The restaurant looks so much prettier when surrounded by water.
  • Remember sunset is early around 6 – 6.30, so you need to be there earlier if you want to see it in daylight.

Would you like to have lunch at The Rock Zanzibar?

About Author

I'm a travel blogger and tour operator with a passion for Africa travel. I love the great outdoors, going on epic trips around the world and helping others travel!

23 Comments

  • Ella Capek
    January 30, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I love really cool and different restaurants like that, must have been quite the experience 🙂

    Reply
    • Helen
      January 30, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      Out of all of the restaurants I’ve been to, this is one of the most unusual for sure! 🙂

      Reply
  • Vanessa
    February 2, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Love the photos! The Rock found an interesting place to do business. I can see how amazing Paje is.

    Reply
    • Helen
      February 8, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Thanks Vanessa, it was a cool experience!

      Reply
  • Sarah
    February 26, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    The Rock seems like I place I NEED to dine in! That plate of lobster looks delicious. I’ll definitely be going going there during my next visit to Zanzibar!
    Sarah recently posted…Desert Oasis of your Dreams: Garmeh, IranMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      March 2, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      It’s really fun, you’ll love it Sarah! Have a great time when you do go!

      Reply
  • Nadia
    March 16, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Wow, amazing photos! I really need to organise a visit to Tanzania and Zanzibar! There’s just sooo many places to see and so little time…

    Reply
    • Helen
      March 16, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Nadia!!!!!!!!! I haven’t heard from you in ages! I went back with Absolute Africa again, although I’d left them by this point!

      Yes, definitely too little time!

      How you doing?

      Reply
  • Naila
    April 5, 2015 at 3:57 am

    Lovely photos. I dream of going to Zanzibar, especially for the diving there.

    Reply
    • Helen
      April 6, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Hi Naila,

      Thank you! Zanzibar is wonderful! The diving is meant to be amazing! Everyone raves about the Mnemba Atoll!

      Hope you go soon!

      Helen

      Reply
  • Zaairah
    July 13, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    I’m heading to Zanzibar next week and I really want to visit The Rock. I’m just scared that the price won’t be worth the food. Do you think it is really worth it?
    Zaairah recently posted…Is Daily Dish worth it?My Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      July 20, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Hey Zaairah,

      The food isn’t really the reason to go to The Rock – in my opinion. The food is nice, but I’ve had better food many times, and I’ve had better food elsewhere in Africa. It’s more the entire experience really! It is expensive, when you add up taxis and then the food/drink, but I don’t regret going.

      Hope that helps!

      Helen

      Reply
  • Zanzibar Travel
    July 14, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Wonderfull photos helen, I have actually been to the The Rock and the views are imaginable. such a great experience. Would recommend it to anyone!
    Zanzibar Travel recently posted…Introducing MAWIMBI VILLAMy Profile

    Reply
  • Gugu
    March 10, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Hi Helen

    Quick question: can you get a share taxi directly from the ferry terminal in Zanzibar Town to Paje and if so how easy is it? Would one have to wait until other passengers heading your direction come by or does it work differently. I’d appreciate your feedback.

    Reply
    • Helen
      March 12, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      Hi, I think you can, however you may need to just ask around when you get there. There are lots of drivers hanging around, or I would maybe ask at one of the nearby hotels!

      Reply
  • Lesline Davis
    April 16, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Pelican Bar JAMAICA for food in an exotic location!! I enjoy your blogs Helen. I look forward to travelling through Africa the way you have. When are you going to feature the Jamaica(my homeland :)/Caribbean in your blogs?

    Reply
    • Helen
      April 18, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      I love the Caribbean!! I have never been to Jamaica, but I’ve been to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Tobago and Barbados – all before I was blogging though!! One day I will come back to the beautiful Caribbean!!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Catarina Ramos
    April 23, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Hey Helen, a few friends and I are going to Zanzibar in a couple weeks and we were thinking of going to The Rock either for lunch or dinner. I’ve tried to look online for both the prices of the menu and a contact to try and book it. Can you give me an idea of how much is costs and how I can get in touch with them for booking? I would really appreciate it!! Thank you so much, Catarina 🙂

    Reply
  • Selina
    April 6, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Hi Helen, this sounds fantastic ! We are going to Zanzibar for our honeymoon this year in October, and we’re gonna stay in Jambiani for most of the time.
    Just one question, if you can answer this, I can’t find any prices for the rock restaurant. We’d love to put it on our honeymoon registry for the wedding so if you can give us a rough idea that would be fantastic!
    Thanks so much for all your blogs they really help us planning our trip.
    Love reading it. Cheers, Selina

    Reply
  • Tareen2338
    November 13, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Wonder full Photos And Best Island For Adventure.
    Reason of why trees , flowers and animals are full of joy is because they are not busy comparing themselves with others.

    Reply
    • Helen
      November 15, 2018 at 10:54 am

      That is very true! 🙂

      Reply
  • ken Miller
    June 4, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Looking beautiful, lovely pics

    Reply

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