A birthday surprise in East Zanzibar

Here we are below on our last morning in Stone Town before heading off to a surprise location for my birthday.  I had no idea where we were going.

Before breakfast we packed up our bags and I got ‘airplane ready’ to fly to our next destination.  Sitting on the rooftop of our hotel,  Mashariki Palace, Peter smiled at me mischievously, “So where do you think we are going?” I had no clue whatsoever.  We enjoyed our last breakfast at the hotel and took a few last pictures before we loaded up our bags to head to the airport.

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After a handful of minutes of driving we passed the airport and Peter turned to me: “We aren’t going to the airport.  Our driver is taking us to a resort on the other side of the island.  Happy Birthday!”

I was so excited.  While we were in Stone Town I had started to research Zanzibar and saw all the beautiful beaches in the area and had casually wondered why our trip didn’t include a visit.

This is one image I came across while researching Zanzibar.

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That’s Hannah from GettingStamped.com.  Hannah and her husband, Adam, are currently traveling the globe as well. They are great photographers and many of their travel photos pop up in Google Image searches from around the planet. I reached out to Hannah after I came across this picture and we have been in touch ever since. We actually had a near meet-up in Chiang Mai. Hoping that our paths cross again one of these days.

But I digress.

What I had in my mind when thinking about Zanzibar was the picture above so of course I was thrilled to be spending some time at the beach. But I was also confused because I was prepared to get on a plane.  Peter is ridiculously good at planning surprises.

Our destination for the next five nights was the Baraza Resort and Spa.  The resort is located on a pristine white sand beach and has a mixture of Arabic, Swahili, and Indian elements which the management hopes gives off a Sultan-era vibe.  From the service, staff, room, beach, pool and the elements of design, Peter and I were certainly feeling pretty great, perhaps a little Sultan-like.

When we got to our room I immediately began snapping picture of our Palace like room.

The plunge pool.

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There were so many highlights of this birthday trip for me.  We were able to relax, enjoy the resort and capture some quality downtime over the five nights we spent at Baraza Resort.

The pool was a popular spot for Peter and I to hang out, read, work, blog, and enjoy the sun.













We also enjoyed walks on the beach and dips in the ocean.  I was really surprised how hot the water was.  Swimming in it felt more like a warm bath.

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One of our favorite activities was sipping on sundowners in lounge chairs overlooking the Indian Ocean each night.  The resort is all inclusive so ordering up a second or third sunset champagne felt like our responsibility.

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Each day for breakfast and lunch we were treated to an assortment of buffet style food.  Some evenings for dinner a set menu was offered, other times it was buffet – they did a great job of mixing up the variety of cuisine offerings.  My favorite was the night of the Japanese buffet bar with a variety of sushi rolls.  That evening we were also treated to live musical performance of singing, dancing, and drumming.  Peter on a daily basis took great satisfaction in the ice cream bar.













My actual birthday was a truly perfect day planned by Peter.

The very first thing I did was wake up early to a FaceTime session with my family and got to visit with these perfect faces.

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My niece and nephew, as well as my parents, brothers, and in-laws.

After that I did a quick workout then enjoyed a delicious breakfast with Peter.  After that we headed out to a couple lounge chairs overlooking the ocean, secluded from the rest of the resort. We had a waiter that would serve us water, fresh coconuts and lunch directly to our beach loungers.   In the picture below of Peter and I you can see a hanging coconut on the umbrella. Coconut on the umbrella signals our waiter. Coconut off the umbrella meant privacy. It was such a relaxing afternoon.

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After some relaxing we headed back to the room to get ready for our spa appointments.  The resort had left a special message for me.













The spa package included a massage, scrub and flower bath.   As if I wasn’t already relaxed from our leisure morning.  My pulse was hardly moving after the treatment.













After the spa services it was nearing sundowner time.   We had an extra bottle of Veuve Clicquot from our last night at Mahali Mzuri in Kenya so this was the time to open it.  Peter had arranged with the waiter to have the bottle put on ice shortly before sunset and selected a cabana spot for us to enjoy the bubbly as we watched the last bit of daylight,

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Up next was a dinner surprise where we were whisked away by van to another location nearby, Breezes Beach Club and Spa where Peter had set up a private dinner for us on the beach.  We were escorted through the resort to a private beach hut. The waiter immediately leapt into action whipping up a special pre dinner cocktail concoction that we enjoyed on the hut’s front patio chairs.

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For dinner we feasted on fresh caught lobster that was like bites of buttery heaven with each piece.

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With the sundown Veuve Cliquot, the pre-drink and wine at dinner, we were seriously celebrating a bit more than usual.

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A perfect day came to a perfect end when a group of the resort staff appeared after dinner and went into song and dance to preform a birthday rendition that I had never experienced.  It was as if they were trying out for the Voice and Peter and I were Adam Levine and Shakira. They sang with so much conviction, bravado and spirit.  I was beside myself.













I especially liked the message on the dessert they delivered.














The last surprise was a birthday present. Peter got me a new camera, Nikon 5200, which I had been wishing for for awhile. He had it shipped to the US which would be waiting for me in a couple weeks when we returned for the holidays. With this once-in-a-lifetime trip, I really want quality pictures to capture these moments and share on the blog. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

This year my birthday fell on Thanksgiving. Growing up I always disliked when this would happen.  Thanksgiving always overshadowed a birthday and people were generally busy with the holiday.  In college I never got to celebrate my birthday with my friends because everyone left for the long holiday weekend.  This year however, not just because I’m no longer a kid hoping for a birthday party, I especially loved having my birthday fall on a holiday that is meant to give thanks.  To recognize everything that we have and to be grateful.  I try to live my life in a state of gratitude.  I have found gratitude to be a magical mantra that “pays dividends” so it seemed perfectly fitting that this year, the year that I’m Iiving my dream with my soulmate, was a Thanksgiving birthday.

In Thanksgiving,


  • Aprille

    So awesome! Looks like the best birthday ever! Wasn’t “Gratitude” our high school graduation slogan? How fitting . . .

  • Thanks Aprille! Peter is the best and loves to go big and spoil me on my birthday. He is making up for all those missed birthdays that occurred on Thanksgiving or around the holiday. I’m really lucky and of course grateful for his generous loving heart. And YED “gratitude” was our high school graduation slogan. We were so much more of an insightful group than we even knew. Jess and I have talked about that as well. As always thank for reading.