Good news if you want to experience the white sand palm-fringed beaches and azure waters of Zanzibar without a hefty price tag – the East African island destination is perfect for travellers on a budget.
Here’s our budget guide to Zanzibar to inspire you to plan that perfect island holiday!
How to travel to Zanzibar on a budget
Zanzibar, which lies just less than 60 kilometres off the coast from mainland Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean is made up of an archipelago of two large islands, Unguja (normally referred to as Zanzibar Island) and Pemba, as well as several smaller islands. There are direct international flights to Zanzibar Island, but you can also get to the island from Dar es Salaam by inexpensive ferry.
The most budget-friendly way to get around Zanzibar is on a dala-dala – a shared minibus taxi.
Zanzibar also has great budget eating options, if you’re happy to eat the local food. The best budget eats are street food – try chapatis (flat breads), barbecued fish and seafood and urojo – a mango and ginger soup served with kachori (spicy mashed potato balls).
Budget accommodation in Zanzibar
While Zanzibar has many expensive luxury lodges, it is also blessed with loads of budget-friendly accommodation options. There are some fantastic backpackers on the island with private rooms that start at $15 per person, such as Mustapha’s Place (which is just steps away from beautiful Bwejuu Beach), Dudes Guesthouse on Jambiani Beach and Sagando Hostel on the east coast.
Zanzibar packages and budget safaris
We have a range of budget packages and safaris to Zanzibar that include accommodation, transport and meals. The packages also include some of Tanzania’s other attractions, such as the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Here are some of our most popular tours:
10 day East Africa (Dar es Salaam to Nairobi)
11 day Victoria Falls to Dar es Salaam
Budget activities in Zanzibar
If you’re happy to spend all your time on Zanzibar lazing in perfect beaches and swimming in the warm Indian Ocean, then you won’t be spending any money at all! Beaching and swimming are the two most budget friendly activities in Zanzibar. Nungwi, Kendwa and Pongwe are three of the most popular stretches of sand.
You could easily spend a day in Stone Town and not spend much money: explore the town’s narrow streets, browse the local markets and be sure to take a stroll through Forodhani Gardens in the evening when food sellers cook up delicious local meals. The Old Fort and the slave market are also worth visiting if you want to find out more about Stone Town’s centuries-long history.
There are tons of other fun things to do in Zanzibar that won’t break the bank. While diving is more expensive, snorkeling trips are affordable and not to be missed – you’ll get to see some of the hundreds of species of fish recorded here, or if you’re lucky, turtles, dolphins and whale sharks. Then there’s kite surfing and surfing on the south east coast. Get a ride on a dhow (a traditional sailing boat) to sail around the island and stop off for swims. Rent a bicycle for the day and explore the island’s villages and beaches by bike, or take a cooking class to learn how to make island specialties.
When to go to Zanzibar
June to October is the cool dry season, which is the best time to visit Zanzibar. December to February is the other dry season period, but during these months it’s much hotter. Avoid travelling to Zanzibar in the rainy seasons – mid-March to May and November.