We know you dream of escaping to paradise. That place that pops into mind when life gets a little too stressful and the bustling, busy city life gets a little too chaotic to handle. Sometimes all we want, is to retreat to a beautiful, stress-free island. Sip cocktails on the sea shore, fall asleep in the sun and swim in crystal clear waters all day.
That paradise island immersed in peace and tranquility does exist – and this trip of a lifetime is not too far from reach. An exotic island getaway in one of the world’s most sought after locations may sound like a luxury too far out of your budget, but not if you visit the paradise island of Zanzibar.
This Indian Ocean island situated off the coast of Tanzania is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Zanzibar is one of the most popular Indian Ocean islands to visit. While it’s the perfect beach holiday, it’s not the only reason travelers love to visit.
Why visit Zanzibar?
‘Spice Island’ as it’s fondly known, is rich in culture which can be felt no matter where you find yourself on the island. The locals pride themselves on their strong cultural and religious beliefs. Their warmth, hospitality, food and even their crafts are an expression of their culture. If you take a walk through Stone Town the ‘olde town’ of Zanzibar city, you will see a plethora of beautiful Mosques and the rich Middle Eastern influence.
Zanzibar is also diverse and enables you to enjoy the adventurous side or get in touch with unspoiled nature. This is an island getaway with substance and one that will leave you feeling enriched and relaxed.
Traveling to Zanzibar
You can expect to find cheap flights and affordable accommodation in Zanzibar, making it the perfect place to travel on a budget. Since Zanzibar travel costs are low – it has become a much-loved destination by travelers worldwide. Zanzibar still has an ‘undiscovered’ feel, as the streets are free from traffic and even tourist locations are not overcrowded.
The seaside village is rustic. Scenes of fisherman hauling crates of fish up to the markets, while women sit beading jewelry. Life on the island is simple, which is why Zanzibar is an incredible place to relax and rejuvenate. That’s right, you may need to forfeit some strong mobile signal – but that’s what you’re looking for when you mean ‘take a break,’ right?
Visiting Zanzibar town, which boasts monuments, markets and food stalls is a lovely experience. However, spending time on the many breathtaking beaches is what you really want to do! There are few places in the world as beautiful as Zanzibar with it’s azure waters.
Zanzibar travel costs
As the Tanzanian Shilling (Zanzibar’s local currency) is rather weak, your money goes a long way. For example, 1 USD will get you 2,300 TSh. To put things into perspective, a cold drink will cost you around 600 TSh, while a hearty meal will cost you around 10,000 TSh (+-$4.5). Since Zanzibar is off the coast of Tanzania, you will need to budget for the travel costs to get there, which includes a 2 hour ferry or you can take a 40 minute flight. The ferry will cost you around $35 per person, with cheap flights sometimes as low as $40 per person.
Transport costs around the island are also affordable. Most travellers opt for the ‘Dalla-Dalla’ (minibus taxis). These aren’t always the safest or most comfortable option but they’re the cheapest, at $1.50 per person. Alternatively, you can take the regular taxis which are a little pricey, at around $20 on average.
If you avoid buying souvenirs or unnecessary extras and stay in simple accommodation, eating at the local restaurants, you could get away with as little as $30 a day! Zanzibar is all about the adventure at a fraction of what you would pay in other parts of the world. Yet another reason why it’s so easy to relax – you never have to worry about burning a hole in your pocket!
Let’s take a look at how you can get the most out of your trip to Zanzibar, without feeling the pinch of high travel expenses:
Things to do in Zanzibar on a budget
Dine at Forodhani, a popular local food market
Forodhani is good to your taste buds as well as your pocket. Located in the main Zanzibar town, Forodhani consists of hundreds of small food stalls selling local cuisine. The food is absolutely delicious and as fresh as you can imagine. Some of the seafood would have been caught just a few minutes before landing up at a stall in the market! Sometimes the food is a little spicy as the island is a spice haven, but you are sure to find something that tickles your taste buds. This is where we’d recommend you get some hearty, authentic meals as they are extremely budget friendly (around 4,000 Tsh, +- $2 for a good meal). Eating at the local eateries will certainly help you to stay within your daily budget.
Visit the breathtaking beaches and enjoy affordable water activities
There are exhilarating water sports and activities on offer while holidaying in Zanzibar. The activity prices are also reasonable compared to other island destinations. You can expect to pay around $40 for a three hour snorkeling activity in the best snorkeling locations, such as Kendwa. The island is blessed with an abundance of exotic fish that live beneath its shallow waters therefore snorkelling and scuba diving is a must do.
Mnemba Beach Atoll is better for scuba diving, while Kendwa, Stone Town Reef and Prison Island are the favourites for snorkelling. Water sports such as parasailing, wakeboarding and kite surfing are also very popular as the waters enclosing the island are still and calm. When you’re not actively enjoying Zanzibar’s soothing waters, you can laze on the white sand beaches that are always clean and well maintained. Usually surrounded by beautiful palm trees and healthy vegetation. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
The best beaches to visit include: Kendwa Beach, Nungwi Beach, Paje and Kiwengwa. Although almost every beach in Zanzibar is breathtaking!
Visit the Colobus Monkey paradise: Jozani Forest
Jozani Forest is a beautiful tropical forest home to the Colobus Monkeys. It’s well worth a trip, and eager hikers can either go as part of a tour or by themselves. Doing the trek ‘on your own’ is around 12,000 TSh ($7), and comes with a guide.
Take a 30 min boat trip to Prison Island (also known as the tortoise reserve)
If you’re eager to explore the surrounding islands of the Zanzibar archipelago (which is highly recommended), take a trip to Prison Island. It’s a fascinating place steeped in history as it served as the place where slaves were detained. Although it has a dark past, the island has since flourished. You’ll be able to see the ruins of the old prison, as well as see the giant tortoises which have since claimed it as home.
Do some exploring of your own
Take a walk through Stone Town and pay a visit to the House of Wonders – an exhibition on Swahili culture. Just 4000 TSh will get you in the door (+-$2). You cannot miss the building because it’s the tallest and most visually striking in all of Stone Town. We’d also highly recommend you visit the Palace Museum which is around the same fee as House of Wonders. The museum is of great historical importance and now holds a significant amount of Zanzibari history in the form of artifacts and century old memorabilia. Another great excursion is the Spice Tour. There are many to choose from, with a local guide walking you through the town and explaining their famous spice trade which is their oldest and most profitable trade. Spice tours are around $20 per person.
What’s great about Zanzibar is that even though it comes across as a holiday destination fit for the rich and famous alone, it is affordable for almost anyone travelling on a budget.
Travel to Zanzibar with African Overland Tours – the most affordable way to explore Africa!