Zanzibar is a true beach paradise set in the Indian Ocean with amazing turquoise seas. This Archipelago boasts endless beauty and spectacular watersports along with cultural highlights. The main island of Unguja along with Pemba as well Stone Town attract travelers worldwide.
You will need more than a week to take advantage of everything Zanzibar tours have to offer. From a Spice Tour learning all there is to know about this historical trade to swimming with the dolphins in the azure waters off the islands. Visiting the museums and taking a walk through Stone Town is the perfect way to learn about Zanzibar’s rich and turbulent slave-trade past. The architecture will surely fascinate you, as will the street markets. Don’t miss out on the Blue Tour which takes you to three of the islands in the Archipelago offering the chance to snorkel in warm inviting waters at each stop. Feast on coconuts and juicy fruits or finish off with a seafood feast.
If you want to experience the white sand, palm-fringed beaches and azure waters of Zanzibar without a hefty price tag then this East African island is perfect for you.
Lying a short distance off the coast of Tanzania, the Zanzibar Archipelago is one of East Africa’s top beach destinations. Made up of two large islands of Unguja and Pemba along with several smaller islands.
Unguja is also known as Zanzibar Island and is the most visited island. Wildly popular with budget-friendly accommodation and romantic hotels scattered on postcard-perfect white sand beaches. Complete with stretches of coastline fringed with swaying palm trees. Pemba on the other hand has only three hotels and offers more seclusion.
Both islands boast amazing snorkeling and diving among coral reefs. Typical days include sailing trips on traditional dhows or unwinding on idyllic beaches. Alternatively visit Stone Town on Unguja which is rich with history and beautiful old architecture.
The old city of Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar which has barely changed over the years. While the majority of Stone Town’s buildings were built by Omani sultans in the 19th century, they are a testament to Zanzibar’s status as an important trading center of the Indian Ocean. In order to preserve these architectural markers of history, the Stone Town Conservation Authority are working towards restoring this World Heritage Site.
For a nominal fee you can enjoy a Spice Tour which leads you around the island while your guide explains the growing process. Zanzibar mainly trades in spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper. It s therefore aptly known as ‘Spice Island’. In addition, while on your tour you can sample some of the exotic fruit grown on the island.
Jozani Forest features wonderful nature trails along with incredibly big and exotic trees. What is perhaps the most fascinating feature of this region though, are the Red Colobus Monkeys that reside here. Indigenous to the Island, these monkeys are presently near extinction. While these fascinating creatures are great to watch, they are rather playful and curious which results in great photo opportunities. The entry fee also includes an optional visit to a gorgeous mangrove forest, which we highly encourage.
It is easily the cheapest food you will find on the island while remaining fantastic value for money. You will find food ranging from crab claws to calamari steaks which are displayed in large woks at the food market. The local sugarcane juice is worth a taste and the curio market is just next door offering gifts and souvenirs to take back home.
A visit to the Slave Market is an enlightening experience. Here, you will have the opportunity to head into the holding chambers to learn about what significance this structure holds in Zanzibar’s history. The tours are usually guided by experts who often get visitors emotionally involved in the history.
There is no need to travel all the way to Malaysia to experience the most beautiful, picturesque beaches. They are right here in Africa! The beaches snake along for miles with shimmering turquoise waters. Dive and swim to your heart’s content!
The beauty of Zanzibar is you can spend all your time lazing on perfect beaches and swimming in the warm Indian Ocean without spending a cent. Nungwi, Kendwa and Pongwe are three of the most popular stretches of sand to frequent. You could also easily spend very little while exploring the Stone Town narrow streets. Browsing local markets and strolling through Forodhani Gardens in the evening while sampling local street food.
While diving is more expensive, snorkeling trips are affordable and you’ll get to see some of the hundreds of species of fish. Alternatively if you up for diving then you’ll be lucky enough to swim with turtles, dolphins and whale sharks.
Kite surfing and surfing are also popular activities on the south east coast of Zanzibar. Or maybe you would prefer to take a trip on a dhow (a traditional sailing boat) to sail around the island while stopping at the smaller islands for a swim. Alternatively rent a bicycle for the day and explore the island’s villages and beaches, or take a cooking class to learn how to make local cuisine instead.
Zanzibar offers some of the greatest Big Game Fishing in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Trips head out to the northern side of the island (Pemba, Mafia Island and Latham Island). Here you can fish for Barracuda, Wahoo, Kingfish and Giant Travelli all year round. Between July and November the Yellow Fin Tuna swim through this region and are a real trophy catch. November to March attracts bill fish, black marlin, striped marlin and dorados. However the big catch is the sailfish which is caught frequently during this time of the year.
The endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey reside here. These monkeys are comfortable around people and often wander close to the ground in search of vegetation. Zanzibar is also home to the Servaline Genet which is a three-foot long creature closely related to the mongoose. In addition the Zanzibar Leopard also resides on these shores.
Zanzibar is predominantly a Muslim culture so please respect their traditions and religion. Ladies need to be mindful of how they dress and we recommend covering shoulders and wearing skirts or trousers that fall below the knee. Men can wear shorts and t-shirts however it is not appropriate to go topless. Obviously it is more relaxed on the beaches where it is acceptable to wear your bathing costume with a sarong.
Alcohol is available however drunken behaviour in public areas is not tolerated. It is advisable to keep this in mind when enjoying the nightlife of Zanzibar. You are required to ask permission if you want to photograph people or their homes, purely out of respect for their privacy. We recommend you keep your valuables safe or rather not take them with you when you are walking about, especially late at night. Be aware of unlicensed vendors who may try to sell you their services, they are illegal and unreliable.
You are required to have a Tanzanian visa in order to visit Zanzibar. Visas are valid for three months and their costs varying depending on your nationality. US dollars are accepted as currency however the official currency is the Tanzanian shilling.
Telecommunications in Zanzibar have improved dramatically and you can find internet cafes at most main villages.
You are required by law to have a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate. It is also best to have Malaria prophylaxis, however discuss this with your doctor before you travel. We recommend you drink bottled water and in addition use it to wash your food or brush your teeth as the quality of the tap water can vary. The is sun also very harsh in Zanzibar, so wear protective clothing, hats and a high factor sunscreen.
If you’re up for it try bring along some sweets, pens and magazines as gifts for the locals you meet. The local children absolutely love sweets (just remind them to remove the wrapper) and pens are a luxury to them. The ladies also love magazines while their thankful smiles are a reward you have to experience.
June to October is the cool, dry season and certainly the best time to visit Zanzibar. December to February is also a dry season period, but during these months it’s much hotter. Avoid travelling to Zanzibar in the rainy seasons of mid-March to May along with the month of November.