The name alone is likely for sure images of spice markets, palm-lined beaches and white-sailed dhows on a turquoise sea – and happily the reality doesn’t disappoint. Lying only a short distance off the Tanzania coast but at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Zanzibar has long been at the centre of the Indian Ocean experience in East Africa and a Zanzibar holiday is a sensory experience par excellence.
Go on spice tours, taste local dishes and walk the cobbled streets of the capital’s old quarter Stone Town, now a World Heritage Site with colourful back-street markets and local flavours. And then of course there are the Zanzibar beaches: perfect for anyone who simply wants to enjoy a lazily luxurious beach vacation – Zanzibar and its outlying islands are home to some of the finest beaches in East Africa as well as a number of its best dive sites.
You won’t want for somewhere to stay either: one of the world’s most romantic honeymoon destinations, Zanzibar has accommodation that ranges from luxury beachfront cottages to exclusive boutique hotels and elegant spa resorts; parents on the other hand will be delighted by Zanzibar’s family-friendly hotels and safe-swimming beaches.
Accessible from Dar es Salaam and Arusha combining easily with top Tanzania safari destinations such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar can be part of a safari and beach package or as a stand-alone holiday.
Just contact one of our specialist consultants for assistance with planning the perfect holiday at the best Zanzibar locations.
WHERE TO GO?
Zanzibar Island, also known as Unguja, is by far the largest and most famous of the islands that make up the Zanzibar Archipelago. Zanzibar has such a diverse coastline that there are plenty of different experiences across the main island, from vibrant culture in the south to idyllic barefoot luxury in the north. There is plenty to see beyond the palm trees, white sandy beaches and water the colour of turquoise – we’ve collected the best places to visit based on our numerous visits.
Off the main island are also a series of much smaller islets that offer a more exclusive, away-from-the-crowds experience and are perfect for honeymooners and romantics.
Have a look at the different areas of Zanzibar, where to go and what to expect at each:
Zanzibar East Coast
home to the island’s best and most idyllic beaches, the east coast is home to a wide range of lodges and hotels but the tidal aspect of the Indian Ocean may mean you have walk to go swimming or snorkelling.
Zanzibar North Coast
as a rule, the further north on Zanzibar you go, the more private and less crowded the beaches are. The north coast is also least affected by the tidal range.
Zanzibar North-East Coast
the island’s prime location, most of Zanzibar’s top-end accommodation is set on the north-east beaches. The diving is excellent here, there’s not much tidal variation and the archipelago’s best reefs of Mnemba Island lie about a kilometre or half a mile offshore.
Zanzibar South Coast
the further south you go on Zanzibar, the more populated it becomes. And with people, comes culture – head south for cultural and spice tours along with more opportunities to engage with the locals.
Zanzibar South-East Coast
there are plenty of beaches and resorts on the south-east of Zanzibar but the tidal range is more marked than other regions.
Zanzibar West Coast
there are fewer lodges on Zanzibar’s west coast and it feels a little more remote but it is, of course, home to Stone Town, located on the island’s central-west coast.
Zanzibar’s historical capital. No visit to Zanzibar would be complete without exploring the narrow, cobbled streets of Stone Town, a World Heritage Site and former capital of the main island.
Absorb the history, culture and cuisine of this former slave and ivory port on our guided tours, or simply wander around at your own pace.
Zanzibar’s ‘Other’ Islands
Some of the best places to go in Zanzibar take you even further into the African island experience.
The Zanzibar Archipelago is dotted with spots that have never made it onto the global map – we love sharing these secret treasures with our clients who enjoy an authentic and laidback beach vacation.
WHEN TO GO?
January to March
is a great time to visit Zanzibar if you don’t mind the heat and humidity. The days are sunny and hot.
January to March offer some of the best diving conditions. A good underwater dive is all about wind, the tides and what you can view underwater – the lagoons and coral reefs can be explored in clear waters, particularly on the south coast.
The weather in Zanzibar will start to turn from about mid-March as the ‘long rains’ become more imminent.
April and May
mark the start of what’s known as the ‘long rains’ on these islands.
The rainfall in April and May is far heavier than any other time of year, and results in mild and very wet weather on the beaches. If you want to enjoy the best weather Zanzibar has to offer, this is not a good time to visit.
A dream African beach holiday usually involves sun-drenched shores, palm fringed beaches and glorious sunsets – expect all this and more during the dry season at luxury Zanzibar resorts.
June to October
are the best times to go to Zanzibar as the heavy rains have cleared. These weather conditions are perfect for long days, relaxing in the sun and exploring the wonderful sights of the ‘Spice Island’, maybe on a romantic Zanzibar honeymoon.
is one of the last months on the Archipelago with cooler weather.
The climate in Zanzibar during August through to October is not too hot and not too humid. Steadily, soothing breezes begin to make their way in from the south as the islands begin to warm up for the summer months.
is a wonderful month all over Zanzibar, but the Mafia Archipelago has something special to offer – turtle hatching and incredible diving conditions in deeper channels.
Scuba enthusiasts do need to plan their dives carefully during September, as some other offshore areas tend to become a bit rough.
is an ideal time for travelling to Zanzibar as the days are made up of cool winds, calm seas and clear skies.
The ocean temperatures begin to rise, and the evenings gradually become warmer, just before the rains of November begin.
when the temperatures rise, the ‘short rains’ break the dry mid-year winter. Clouds usually build up during the mornings and can be rather sunny and humid and break in spectacular, but generally short showers in the afternoon.
There is however more chance of sunshine towards Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The Mafia Archipelago is where to go in Zanzibar in December because its main highlight is the opportunity to dive with whale sharks
WHAT TO DO?
is that the aides bring up all the small subtleties of the design, things that you could never see all alone just as clarifying a ton about the way of life and the historical backdrop of the island, the Omani kings and Princess Salme, a women’s activist and agitator who composed Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar.
Stone town tour in Zanzibar is a remarkable private guided walking tour. We can arrange the pickup from your hotel and return, it takes 3 hours walking tour where by you will get the occasion to find the historical destinations and who are Zanzibar island individuals along with their everyday activities.
The tour starts at the place of wonder or close to Darajani City Market. Other interesting and educating things to know during the tour include all the historical zones and landmarks.
Ultimately, this Stone Town Tour is one of the most sweltering day tours in Zanzibar Island, it is the main channel to find the set of experiences and bedraggled structures, cosmopolitan individuals, and shopping.
learning how to cook a traditional meal.
You can participate in a family cooking workshop or join one of the daily cooking classes. Shopping for all the ingredients at the local market and learning to cook various Zanzibar style dishes gives you a good inside into daily life.
You choose the dishes you would like to cook and you might surprise yourself by making tasty chapati, cooking a delicious coconut curry or delicate pilau rice.
It’s a great experience to cook these swahili dishes – but the best is to taste them all afterwards!
Jozani forest National Park
In the south of Zanzibar, Jozani Forest is a wonder and a delight, with tales of Zanzibar medical cures and stunning scenery. Currently under consideration to become Zanzibar’s second World Heritage Site, the Jozani-Chwaka bay area is a hotspot of biodiversity. The forest is home to a number of endemic species, including the Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey.
Your park ranger will take you on a nature trail, lined with eucalyptus and mahogany trees and explain the medicinal properties of various plants, and tell you about the animals, birds and reptiles that have their home in the various habitats of this tropical rainforest.
Troops of Zanzibar Red Colobus monkeys can be found scrambling from branch to branch, in search of food. The monkeys have become accustomed to people and allow you to get close to them to take photographs as they eat, play and jump from the treetops.
The mangrove boardwalk takes you above the swamp where, depending on the tide, you can see crabs scuttling across the mud. Mangroves play an important role in environmental conservation and as a resource for villagers and community life. Your ranger will explain the diﬀerent species found in the swamp and their uses.
near the coast, gets its name from the prison built to condemn Zanzibari citizens to the isolation of this island.
Previously owned by an Arab to house his rebellious slaves, the prison was never actually used, and the island is now home to a tortoise sanctuary.
It also has spectacular coral reefs for you to enjoy. Giant tortoises shuﬄe through the trees, with the infinite patience that old age brings. Originally believed to be from the Comoros Islands and Seychelles, some of these tortoises are thought to be over 100 years old.
After a trip to the tortoise sanctuary, you’re left to explore the island. If you’re feeling active, you can follow one of the hiking trails, snorkel in the crystal clear waters in search of colorful tropical fish darting through the reef or soak up some sun on the powder white beach.
Nakupenda means “I love you” in Kiswahili, the local language of Tanzania.
The moment you see the island in the middle of the ocean and take your first step onto this sandbank you will love it! Discover the beautiful underwater world around this sandbank while snorkeling and watch the colorful reef fishes and other marine life. The corals are amazing and you will enjoy your time under water.
For lunch you will be spoilt with a delicious seafood BBQ. Taste the fresh seafood and realize you have a lunch on a very unique place on earth. Time to relax a bit after lunch before you go back to the resort!
Spice Farm tour
Zanzibar is known as a spice island. Walk through the spice farm with your guide, touch, smell and taste diﬀerent spices and tropical fruits. Try to guess which one is which, from the crushed leaves, fruit, shoots and vines and creepers crawling up to the trees. Learn about their properties, their origins and their use as medicines and in food and drinks.
A visit to a spice farm village gives you an insight into local life and gives you the opportunity to try some authentic Swahili dishes, taste the fruits in season and try some spiced tea.
Depending on the season, you can find anything from vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, lemongrass, cloves, cumin, garlic, ginger, coriander, pepper, allspice, tamarind, jackfruit, custard fruit, orange, star fruit, banana, pineapple, tangerine, passion fruit, mango, avocado pear, papaya, grapefruit and many others.
is a highly recommended sailing trip to the beautiful Menai Bay Conservation Area near Zanzibar. Here, you go snorkeling in two amazing snorkel spots – you can take a swim by a sandbank and in a remote mangrove forest.
During the Safari Blue trip, you sail on a traditional wooden dhow, which has a guide and snorkel equipment on board. You will have the time to go snorkeling and take a walk on a sandbank before lunch is served on an island nearby.
Lunch consists of a delicious Swahili seafood barbecue with local fruits and coffee. Snacks, water, and cold sodas are provided and during lunch, beers are also available.
The whole day is all about swimming and snorkeling between beautifully colored fish in the crystal clear waters of Zanzibar. And then, you close off this amazing turquoise blue safari with a dip in the mangrove forest. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some dolphins during this trip!
Sunset dinner cruise
Relax and enjoy the romance of Stone Town from your own private luxury dhow. The dhow is a traditional lateen, wooden boat, modernly renovated.
Departing from Stone Town you will sail along the coast of Zanzibar taking in the sites of the beautiful old town, local culture and life at sea.
During this unique and enchanting cruise you will delight in a delicious and creative 3 course dinner that highlights the local flavors and fresh seafood, including lobster and jumbo prawns. Everything is freshly grilled and served on board. A nice glass of South African wine and the magical sunset over the Indian Ocean makes it a picture perfect.
in Zanzibar is a half-day tour that begins promptly toward the beginning of the day, from 6:00 am.
As a local event, we start by setting the sail from one of the villages around the Island, we typically pick the closest village near your hotel.
We furnish you with straightforward fishing gears, with what locals are in any event, getting barracuda, kingfish, yellow blade fish, and grouper.
This is a true ocean experience!
Cultural tour in Zanzibar is a half-day tour which begins from your hotel. We head to the village of Kizimkazi, Nungwi or Paje and Jambiani, and have occasion to perceive how they are getting along with their everyday monetary and social exercises. As the greater part of the villages in Zanzibar Island is encircled by the Indian sea and you should need to see the mixed Afro-Asian culture and customs.
In the fishing village’s ladies are cultivating kelp, looking for shellfish shells, while men are getting ready for Ocean fishing, swimming, and selling from what they picked up from the ocean.
On the off chance that you are fortunate, you may get the occasion to see the wedding functions which are generally done on Fridays.
However, there are numerous stunning nourishments you can purchase while on the tour including choices like Kashata, Urojo soup, Mishkaki, and mango with bean stew. To discover and have perfect tour encounter of the best places, book the Cultural tour in Zanzibar with Afrimine Tours.
Diving & Snorkeling
Zanzibar Island is bathed by the warm currents of the equator. The coral reefs offer exhilarating scuba diving and snorkeling within a short boat ride from most beaches.
Scuba is most spectacular off Pemba Island, however for scuba beginners the safe calm waters of Zanzibar are recommended as the current off shore from Pemba can be strong.
However, Snorkeling is best off Zanzibar Island, the eastern barrier reef encloses a series of shallow and sheltered tidal lagoons home to an abundance of colorful marine life. Afrimine Tours can arrange Scuba and Snorkeling trips, to satisfy all ability levels.
There are many beautiful and so great places for snorkeling and diving – but here we aim to highlight the best:
Chumbe Island Coral Park
This is one of the best snorkeling spots in Zanzibar and as an added bonus it is close to Stone Town. It’s an islet close by partially surrounded by reefs, and is one of the main protected areas in Zanzibar. The island actually has award winning status for its efforts in preservation and eco-tourism.
You might see reef fish, octopus, lobsters, eels, rays, turtles, and lion fish, among others.
Mnemba Island Tour
Get ready for a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a Mnemba Island Tour in Tanzania! This guided excursion takes you to the stunning Mnemba Island, located just off the north-east coast of Zanzibar.
The island is surrounded by crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs, making it a utopian destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. With its pristine beaches, azure waters, and abundance of marine life, Mnemba Island is an idyllic paradise that’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and exploring the underwater world. You may even spot dolphins, sea turtles, and a variety of exotic fish species. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, the Mnemba Island Tour is an excellent choice for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty and wonder of Tanzania’s coastline. So, pack your sunscreen and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!