What to see in Zanzibar

Traveling to Zanzibar, the ideal choice to relax after an intense safari or to spend a dream honeymoon. The paradisiacal beaches of this archipelago will make you feel like you’re in a movie. White sand, coral reefs, crystal-clear water… You’ve never seen anything like it. 

If so much calm sounds boring to you, you can also engage in some tourism to learn about the island’s history by visiting Stone Town, the archipelago’s capital. It’s the old town of Zanzibar City and a must-visit. There, you’ll find numerous markets, restaurants, and historical areas that will help you discover more about African and Arab cultures. If you had only planned to go on a safari, I recommend adding a few days in Zanzibar to complete your trip.

Where is Zanzibar?

Map Drawing

The Zanzibar archipelago is located in the Indian Ocean, 50 kilometers off the coast of mainland Tanzania. It consists of several islands, among which Zanzibar, Mafia, and Pemba stand out, known as the Spice Islands. As the name suggests, these are islands abundant in plantations and the trade of spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, etc. Get ready for a treat! You can go on a spice farm tour to get a close look at the entire production process.

Here’s a map I’ve created to help you locate on the map each of the entries or recommendations you’ll see in this post. With the top left button, you can toggle what you want to see, and you can turn off or on the rest as many times as you need.

  • Best Beaches in Zanzibar
  • Excursions in Zanzibar
  • Diving Spots
  • Best Restaurants
  • Best Beaches in Zanzibar

What Language is Spoken in Zanzibar?

Translation Drawing

The official language, aside from English, is Swahili.

Time Difference

24-hour Clock Drawing

When it’s noon on the Spanish peninsula, it’s 1:00 PM in Zanzibar, meaning Zanzibar is one hour ahead.

Zanzibar Beach

Currency in Zanzibar

Exchange Money Drawing

The currency in Zanzibar is the Tanzanian shilling. Most places accept both shillings and US dollars, but they must be from after 2001, and preferably from 2009.

If you want to bring some money from home, I recommend exchanging currency with EXACT CHANGE as they offer the best commission-free exchange and deliver and pick up the currency at your own home.

If you want to take some money from home, I recommend exchanging currency with RIA as they offer the best commission-free exchange rate and send and collect the currency at your own home.

Cambio de Divisa Dolar

RIA Currency Exchange:

  1. Key Services:
    • Currency Exchange: RIA provides currency exchange services for various currencies, including US dollars, yen, pounds, and many more.
    • Money Transfers: In addition to currency exchange, RIA is known for its international money transfer services.
  2. Exchange Rates:
    • Ria stands out for offering competitive exchange rates. You can compare their rates with other options to ensure you get the best possible exchange rate.
  3. Physical Offices in Spain:
    • RIA has a physical presence through its offices in Spain. You can visit one of their locations if you prefer to conduct transactions in person.
  4. Home Delivery:
Playa de Nungwi aguas cristalinas

Card Payment in Zanzibar

Credit Cards Drawing

Card payment is not widespread, and most payments are made in cash.

As of 2023, the exchange rate is 2567 TZS = 1 EURO.

Although street food stalls and local shops only accept cash, Zanzibar has many tourist-oriented restaurants and hotels, so it’s often possible to pay with a card.

To pay on-site without getting hit with fees or when withdrawing money from any ATM abroad, I recommend checking out the post on the Best Cards for Traveling Without Fees !

Playa de Zanzíbar marea baja muestra duna de arena

Travel with Peace of Mind! Secure your trip!

I have been traveling with Travel Insurance Intermundial for years and it is one of the leading companies in the travel insurance sector. Its strong point is undoubtedly the best coverage on the market, which leads me to recommend it to you.

Anuncio SEGUROS INTERMUNDIAL INGLÉS

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AGUAS CRISTALINAS DE ZANZIBAR

How many days to travel to Zanzibar?

Calendario dibujo

A frequent question when traveling to Zanzibar independently is how many days are needed to explore the island. I’ve seen many itineraries for safaris allocate 4 days in Zanzibar as a “rest” period. If you have time, I would recommend planning for a week. Keep in mind that Stone Town offers a lot of cultural attractions (museums, forts, a labyrinth of narrow streets) to keep you entertained for at least 3 days. After that, there are the beaches…

Here is a possible 4-day itinerary to visit Zanzibar, a beautiful island in Tanzania known for its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters:

Keep in mind that this is just a suggested itinerary, and you can adapt it according to your preferences and available time. Also, make sure to check local conditions and the schedules of tours and activities before planning your visit.

Sonia Beach Zanzibar

What Is the Best Time to Travel to Zanzíbar?

One crucial factor to consider regarding the weather in Zanzibar is that there are two rainy seasons : the most significant occurs between March and May, while another season, with less intense rainfall, takes place in the months of November and December.  The months with the best weather in Zanzibar are from January and February to June to October, but as I always say… travel when you can because a little rain can’t “rain on your parade.”

The best time to visit Zanzibar, an island in Tanzania known for its paradisiacal beaches and warm climate, depends on your preferences and what you’re looking for in your trip. Zanzibar has a tropical climate, with two main seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.

Summer drawing

Dry Season (June to October):

  • Advantages:
    • Dry and pleasant weather: These months offer dry weather and warm temperatures, ideal for enjoying beaches and outdoor activities.
    • Less rainfall: The amount of rainfall is low during this time, ensuring sunny days and less humidity.
    • Optimal for water activities: The sea is usually calm and ideal for diving, snorkeling, and other water sports.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Higher tourist influx: Due to favorable weather conditions, this is the high season, so beaches and tourist spots may be more crowded.

Rainy Season (November to May):

Weather drawing
  • Advantages:
    • Lower prices: This is the low season, so it’s possible to find deals on accommodation and activities.
    • Lush vegetation: After the rains, the island becomes very green and beautiful, creating lush landscapes.
    • Fewer tourists: Being the low season, beaches and tourist sites will be less crowded.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Possible rain: There is a possibility of intermittent rains, although they are usually short bursts, and most of the day is usually sunny.

The best time to visit Zanzibar will depend on your preferences in terms of weather and tourism levels. If you seek dry weather and water activities, the dry season is the best choice. If you prefer to avoid crowds and get lower prices, the rainy season may be suitable, as long as you’re willing to deal with occasional rains.

Zanzíbar hotel vistas al mar

What plugs are there in Zanzibar?

Plug drawing

Here are the plug types, power source, electricity, voltage, and frequency for Tanzania.

The plugs to use in Tanzania are type D / G:

Voltage: 230 V      Frequency:  50 Hz   Plugs:  Type D / G

Las clavijas a utilizar En Tanzania son del tipo G. África TAnzania
Las clavijas a utilizar En Tanzania son del tipo D. África Tanzania

Buy a travel adapter, I personally buy power plug adapters on Amazon, where you can find a wide selection of  Travel Adapters. The need for a power plug adapter also depends on the country you live in. For more information on plugs from anywhere in the world, you can visit the  World Plugs  page.

What vaccines do I need to travel to Zanzibar?

Nurse drawing

In Tanzania, they asked us for the health card with the yellow fever vaccine. It is not strictly mandatory if you are not coming from countries at risk of the disease, but we got it at the Center for External Health.

Another important point when thinking about how to pack your travel bag is the first aid kit. The first aid kit on a trip of this nature is very necessary. Here’s what I had in my first aid kit: Ibuprofen, Omeprazole, Paracetamol, Azithromycin Antibiotic, Fortasec, saline solution, adhesive bandages, cotton and bandages, Betadine, strong mosquito repellent, Malarone, sleeping pills, and sunscreen.

I could set up a field hospital at any time, but the fact is that I had to need it because due to the heat on the last day, I had a fever and stayed in bed, so stay hydrated, cover your head, and don’t stay too long in the scorching sun. I was just walking around the city of Stone Town, and I got a tremendous heatstroke. Visit the post Organize Your Luggage so you don’t forget any of the essentials in your suitcase.

PAJE BEACH

Zanzibar Online Visa

Passport and visa drawing

As Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago part of Tanzania, it is not necessary to pay an extra visa fee if you already have your Tanzania visa. They will only give you a domestic migration card, which you must complete and submit. But that’s the whole process. If, however, you are arriving in Zanzibar from Europe, you can get your visa on arrival at the airport. It is a 3-month single-entry visa, costing USD 50, and you can only pay in US dollars or by card.

The Zanzibar visa can be processed both at the airport and through this Online Form. It is necessary to have a valid passport with a minimum validity of 6 months. It costs $50. If you don’t want to complicate things, you can also process the Tanzania VISA through a specialized agency with forms in Spanish.

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Seguro Intermundial Ingles

If you still do not have travel insurance, now just by being a reader of Viajeraporelmundo.com you can Take Advantage of a 15% discount on hiring one of the best travel insurance with maximum coverage.

Playa de Zanzíbar marea baja muestra duna de arena

Hire the Best Tours in Zanzibar

Binoculars drawing

It is an ideal place to carry out a multitude of activities, as I mentioned, and here you can hire them directly, without complications, even Free Tours that are completely free.

The best Tours in Zanzibar. You can also hire door-to-door transportation, as well as transportation from the airport to the hotel or to the final destination you need to go to.

How to Get There by Plane ?

Airplane and World Drawing

To reach Zanzibar, you will need to fly to Stone Town, the capital of the island. Flights are not usually cheap, but the experience is worth it.

There are increasingly more direct flights from Europe to Zanzibar for an average of 400 euros round trip, and I’ve recently been informed of flights for 150 euros (one way) from Brussels. So, what are you waiting for to plan your dream trip in paradise! I recommend searching for flights to Zanzibar on the KAYAK search engine.

BARCOS ZANZIBAR

Arriving by Ferry from Dar es Salaam

Barco dibujo

The ferries from Azzam Marine (5 to 9 daily) cost 35/40 USD economy/business. The journey takes about 2 hours and is a comfortable way to travel to Zanzibar, with numbered seats, flat-screen TVs, and a bar service. The fare can only be paid in cash, and it’s necessary to be at the port one hour before departure. You will need to show your passport when buying the ticket.

What is the advantage of the ferry? While it takes 2 hours, and the plane costs the same and takes much less time, the plane leaves you at the international airport, from where you have a long journey to the center of Dar. In contrast, the ferry arrives at the ferry terminal in the city center.

From the airport to Stone Town, a taxi may cost you 15,000 TSH, about 5.5 euros.

Things to do in Zanzibar

Excursión dibujo

I want to share with you a gem for travel enthusiasts: GetYourGuide is much more than a tour booking site, as it offers the possibility to discover each destination in English or Spanish, with passionate guides telling you the best of each place.

If you’re planning your next getaway, I recommend GetYourGuide. The quality of experiences and the convenience they offer are unparalleled; I have always found options that fit my tastes and preferences.

Get ready to experience unforgettable adventures while exploring the world! ✈️🌍

SIM Card or E-SIM for Internet in Zanzibar

Wi-Fi in Zanzibar, in general, is quite inconsistent from my experience, as not many cafes and hotels offer free internet. If you are traveling to this island, an eSIM card will be necessary, and you can pre-order it from this link on HOLAFLY

You can get SIM cards for most destinations, ensuring internet on your vacation trip so you can check Google, social media, or your WhatsApp.

These cards cover almost the entire world, including Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, the Philippines, India, Israel, Montenegro, Oman, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkey, or Vietnam, among many others.

Both physical and virtual, called E-SIM, and its activation is faster because you don’t have to wait for it to be sent to you by mail. Contract it in advance and make sure to be connected on your trip!

I recommend that you learn more about E-SIM cards in the post where I explain how to have internet from the moment you get off the plane and throughout your stay to make calls without cost and without surprises on your bill after returning from your vacation. Internet at the destination.

Holafly Descuento por ser lector de Viajeraporelmundo
wifi dibujo

I recommend that you learn about E-SIM cards; they are virtual cards. You download a QR code, install it on your phone, and you can have internet from the moment you get off the plane and throughout your stay, allowing you to make calls without cost and without surprises on your bill upon your return from your vacation.

These cards cover practically the entire world, including Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, the Philippines, India, Israel, Montenegro, Oman, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Vietnam, among many others.

The physical and the virtual, known as ESIM Cards with Holafly, with activation that is faster because you don’t have to wait for it to be sent to you by mail. Sign up in advance and make sure to stay connected on your trip!

Nungwi Beach Crystal Clear Waters

How to Get Around Zanzibar?

If you’re thinking of traveling to Zanzibar independently, don’t automatically assume that taxi is the only option, as it’s the most commonly used means of transportation by tourists. Here, I analyze each option and suggest alternatives for transportation. The island is quite compact, and you can reach all its corners in a couple of hours. By the way, the attractions in Stone Town are easily covered, sometimes only on foot; the challenge is moving to the beaches, where you’ll need transportation.

Rental Car

Car Drawing

In our case, we explored Zanzibar by rental car. Transportation is something that increases the cost of the trip because there are no infrastructures, and transfers with a driver are usually more expensive.

We chose the car rental option, and it was a great decision because we moved freely around the island. We saved money on transportation because hiring a local driver for each area of the island would have been very expensive. To give you an idea, renting the car for 4 days cost us the same as transportation to the hotel airport.

We rented a great Toyota, and they were waiting for us at the airport to take us to the office where they handed it over to us. Rental price for 4 days – €88

NOTE: In Zanzibar, drive on the left, and the traffic is different from ours, but the truth is we managed very well without any problems. You need to pay a $10 license to drive on the island, even if you have an international license; you have to pay for it. We processed it at the airport.

It’s common for the police to stop you with the car or motorcycle and try to fine you, as advice, they told us to stay calm and hand over all the documents. We had everything in order… passport, driver’s license, and Tanzanian permit… they had no reason to fine us… There was one day when we were stopped 4 times, no joke, but they didn’t fine us on any occasion since we handed over all the documents, especially focusing on the Tanzanian permit.

Another adventure of the trip 😉 !

barca en Zanzíbar

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coche de alquiler entre montañas y pinar
logo rentcars

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Zanzibar Beach

Minibuses

At any hotel in Stone Town (and also online), you can reserve a seat on Zanzibar Shuttle’s tourist minibuses that take you to Paje, Jambiani, Nungwi, and other beaches.

The price can be negotiated but never less than $10 USD. It’s a quick way to get from Stone Town to the beaches.

Taxi Drawing

Taxi

If you prefer comfort, you can book your PRIVATE TRANSFER from the airport or also hire it to visit the surrounding beaches, although it will always be more expensive than renting your vehicle. Private taxis in Zanzibar usually ask between $30 and $50 USD to take you from Stone Town to the beaches in the south or north of the island.

If the expense is shared among several people, it can make sense. Everything depends on the urgency or intolerance they have for public transportation. A taxi from the airport to Stone Town should not cost more than 15,000-20,000 TSH.

Dalla Dalla Vans

Van Drawing

Already, the cheapest way to get around Zanzibar independently is by dalla-dallas, or public vans, which can take you from Stone Town to the beaches in the south, north, or east of the island for approximately 3000 TSH. They stop to pick up people along the way, are crowded, and have no fixed schedules. Don’t be alarmed; this is normal life in Tanzania.

Pemba Island Hotel

How to Make Calls from Zanzibar? 

Smartphone Drawing

Dial the ” +” sign to indicate the international exit code.

Enter the country code of the person you want to call.

If necessary, include the specific area code of the country. For example, the area code for Dar es Salaam in Tanzania is “22.”

Enter the complete phone number of the person you want to call.

In summary, to make an international call from Zanzibar, you would dial like this: + [Country Code] [Area Code] [Phone Number].

Remember to check the rates and conditions with your phone provider and consider the time zone differences. I recommend that you learn about E-SIM cards in the post Internet at the Destination.

SUNSET IN ZANZIBAR

How Safe is it to Travel to Zanzibar?

Police Drawing

Tanzania and Zanzibar, in particular, are safe places for foreign travelers. As in almost all Muslim countries, the crime rate is very low, and theft is socially condemned to the extent that few venture down that path.

However, when traveling to Zanzibar independently, you must observe the usual precautions in markets and tourist sites, where a pickpocket may be lurking. The most common modality, however, is not direct theft but rather fake guides or improvisers who approach with fake credentials on the street and then demand tips.

Where to eat in Zanzibar?

Food drawing

The cuisine is usually simple but very delicious, and you can find restaurants more oriented towards international cuisine. Being a highly touristic island, there are countless restaurants, bars, and nightlife spots offering more international food with a vibrant atmosphere.

Gastronomy tends to be simple but very rich, although we can find restaurants more oriented towards international cuisine. Being a very touristy island, we have countless restaurants, bars, and nightclubs with more international food and a lively atmosphere.

Breakfast in Zanzibar

The local cuisine makes good use of spices, which the island has been cultivating and trading for centuries, as well as coconut, to apply to its proud variety of fish and seafood.

You will find markets along the coast where fishermen have just brought in their catch and auction it for sale.

These fish are the same ones you can later taste in the surrounding restaurants.

FRESHLY CAUGHT TUNA IN ZANZIBAR

You can eat from night street markets to sophisticated establishments, and with all the atmosphere, there are plenty of options when choosing where to eat…

The Night Market

It is located in Forodhani Gardens, along the waterfront, and has a variety sufficient to compete with any specialized restaurant. At sunset, the vendors set up their stalls and display a endless array of kebabs, such as tuna (3000 TSH), but there are also octopus or grilled lobster.

LOBSTER IN ZANZIBAR

For 10,000 TSH, you’ll leave full. The vendors have assistants who will try to sell you their stall, and as always, bargaining is necessary. Zanzibar Pizzas are also a local specialty, available even with Nutella and mango, I tried them being the sweet tooth that I am, and they are delicious. There is a good variety of local juices, in addition to a man who presses sugarcane right there and offers sugarcane juice, don’t miss trying it, it’s delicious, they add a little lime and crushed ice, although you can only pay in cash.

The Rock Zanzibar Restaurant 

I would like to recommend this restaurant because it seems essential on the island of Zanzibar, located on an old coral rock and surrounded by incredibly turquoise water.

You can make a reservation at The Rock Zanzibar the price was $60 for both with two dishes, dessert, and beers, it’s not cheap, but it’s completely worth it.

La Roca Zanzibar Restaurant

The most famous dish is “The Rock Special,” a grilled seafood platter for two that costs $50. You can also have a beer and take that photo you want everyone to see on your Instagram…

When we went up, we walked because the tide was low, but when we went down after eating, they had to take us back to the shore in a little boat, another adventure in Zanzibar.

FRESHLY CAUGHT TUNA IN ZANZIBAR

Beach Restaurants in Zanzibar

To give you an idea of your travel budget to Zanzibar, consider that in the hotels on the beaches of Paje or Jambiani, main courses in the restaurants are around 20,000 TSH.

A bottle of South African wine can cost you a minimum of 28,000 TSH. Beers are around 6,000 TSH.

It’s possible to buy alcoholic beverages in Zanzibar, at the more expensive tourist restaurants and hotels in Stone Town, but remember that it’s a Muslim society, and outside of these “permitted” settings, alcohol is not well-received.

In Gili Air, as in the rest of Indonesia, the food is excellent. It’s a touristy island, so you’ll find some restaurants pricier than in other parts of Indonesia. Nevertheless, you won’t be able to resist their typical dishes, as I detail below, or breakfasts like the one I show you; we had a luxurious breakfast at our accommodation!

MEE GORENG: This is the noodle version, called Mee Goreng (mee means noodles). The seasonings are the same: chicken, vegetables, soy sauce, and egg. It’s equally tasty and common, and like nasi goreng, very affordable, and you’ll surely enjoy it.

NASI GORENG: My favorite dish in Indonesia. It’s stir-fried rice usually with chicken, vegetables, the three main elements of Indonesian cuisine, soy sauce, and accompanied by fried or omelet egg.

It’s one of the most popular dishes, and you’ll find it in almost any warung (local family-run restaurants).

SATE: Another easy-to-find dish in Indonesian cuisine is sate or satay, which are skewers of meat, usually chicken, grilled and served with peanut sauce and rice.

NASI CAMPUR: It’s the dish that everyone eats for the three main meals of the day. This dish consists of boiled rice (nasi putih), accompanied by vegetables, tempeh, tofu, fish, or chicken.

The possibilities of nasi campur are endless because each diner decides what to incorporate into their plate, choosing the ingredients they want to accompany their rice dish.

GADO GADO: And if you are a vegetarian or a vegetable lover, your star dish will be gado gado, a salad of lightly boiled vegetables with the traditional peanut sauce.

PISANG GORENG: And as a dessert in Indonesian gastronomy, we have the delicious pisang goreng, which is deep-fried battered banana that is usually served with ice cream, delicious!

PLAYA-NUNGWI
Divers in Zanzibar
Diving drawing

Tanzania is a paradise for divers, as you’ll find manta rays, turtles, barracudas, and sharks, all in a marvelous coral seabed.

The best months are July and August, as well as February and March, but avoid diving from late March to mid-June due to thunderstorms and unstable weather.

Diving in Pemba Island

Tanzania is a paradise for divers, as you’ll find manta rays, turtles, barracudas, and sharks, all in a marvelous coral seabed. The best months are July and August, as well as February and March, but avoid diving from late March to mid-June due to thunderstorms and unstable weather.

 From April to May is the rainy season, with more rain from November to mid-December. The peak activity times are from July to October and mid-December to mid-January.

Diving in Mnemba Island

You can dive in Zanzibar all year round, the warm water of the Indian Ocean creates water temperatures around 27 °C and visibility often exceeds 30 m, making diving an incredible experience, where you can see turtles, dolphins, and whale sharks in the months from September to December.

Surrounded by many smaller islands, you’ll find the main islands of Pemba, Mafia, and Unguja. All three islands offer truly spectacular diving year-round with water temperatures ranging from 25 to 29 degrees and visibility sometimes reaching 40 m.

Pemba is the second-largest island, but less developed than Zanzibar in terms of tourism. There are far fewer tourists than in Zanzibar, and it features more hills and plantations; it’s also one of the world’s largest producers of cloves.

Pemba Island

Diving in Mnemba Atoll

The Mnemba Atoll is a marine park, located on the northeast coast of Unguja, the largest island in the Zanzibar archipelago. It is an oval reef measuring seven by four kilometers, containing the small Mnemba Island​​, about 1.5 km in circumference.

Mnemba is the island I chose for diving, situated about 90 km northeast of Zanzibar Island. The coral reefs are some of the most abundant in the world, with over 500 species of marine life. It’s a diving location with something for everyone, both divers and snorkeling enthusiasts.

With over 30 dive sites including reef diving, it’s more than just a beach island to relax on, don’t forget that it’s also one of the world’s top spots to spot the ocean’s largest fish, the whale shark. 

If you’ve never dived and want to try a baptism, I recommend doing it with SPANISH DANCER DIVERS, I booked directly at their office in Nungwi and went straight to the meeting point, where I couldn’t wait to try diving without the need for a full certification course.

Hispania Driver Diving Center

Discover Scuba Diving is the course I took, I’ll detail it in case you share the curiosity to enjoy the seabed in one of the world’s best scenarios, with a water temperature of 29 degrees and visibility of over 30 meters, the feeling is like being inside a giant fish tank full of life.

Requirements for the Discover Scuba Diving course

You must be able to swim comfortably, enjoy good health; here you can review the questionnaire they ask PADI Medical Questionnaire. There is no additional charge for diving equipment.

Training diving in shallow waters €185 + 2 dives in Mnemba Atoll

Crystal-clear waters of Mpemba

Every day at 3:30 PM, there is half an hour of theoretical class, learning the basic rules of diving safety. After the theoretical session, you’ll be doing half an hour of practice in shallow waters; in my case, it was in the diving center’s pool. At this point, you’ll already know how it feels to be underwater.

The next morning at 8:30 AM, you join a diving boat for two dives in open waters, in the Mnemba Atoll Marine Park. You’ll be guided by a PADI instructor as you dive to a maximum depth of 12 meters.

Diving in Nungwi

On the northeast tip of Zanzibar, you can find a diver’s paradise in Nungwi. The relaxed and shallow dives feature adorned ghost pipefish, seahorses, harlequin shrimp, leaf fish, and frogfish. A true haven for marine life enthusiasts, significant fish and shark encounters are not uncommon in slightly deeper sites if that’s what you’re seeking. You can also often encounter dolphins and turtles in the waters around Nungwi.

Diving in Paje, Bwejuu, and Jambiani

Located on the southeast coast of Zanzibar, this area offers some interesting diving sites, such as the lagoon and the cement wall, where you can still see three anchors from a ship that lost its cement cargo in the 1930s. Divers often spot sharks and turtles.

Traveler diving in Zanzibar

Diving on Mafia Island

Mafia Island is located about 150 km south of Zanzibar and 115 km south of Dar es Salaam. While it is most famous for whale shark diving, Mafia Island also offers excellent diving. Mafia Island is about a 30-minute flight from Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.

Snorkeling 

Diving drawing

After the invention of the full-face snorkel mask, this mask enhances respiratory comfort. Thanks to panoramic vision and the ability to breathe through the nose and mouth, exploring the underwater world is even more accessible.

Full Face Snorkel Mask

Your 180º Snorkel Mask

180° Panoramic Diving Mask, Anti-Fog Anti-Leak Full Face Snorkel Mask Diving Goggles with Sports Camera Mount for Adults and YouthIf you don’t have one yet, I recommend getting one. I bought mine a few years ago, and it was the best purchase I could make. I take it with me to any country where the waters are crystal clear, warm, with colorful corals and fish all around.

You’ll enjoy it a lot, don’t miss out. You can get one of these by clicking on this link  SNORKEL MASK.

I also recommend bringing water shoes, as some beaches have sea urchins, and you could harm your feet.

KITESURFING: Beaches with stronger tides, such as Paje, Kiwengwa, or Nungwi, are perfect for kitesurfing enthusiasts.

Best Beaches in Zanzibar

Zanzibar Map

Nungwi and Kendwa Beach

Island Drawing

The famous white-sand beaches are located on the north coast of Zanzibar, home to the best diving spots in the world. Your visit to Zanzibar is incomplete without witnessing the coral reefs, sea turtles, seahorses, and other marine life that characterize this place. The villages you can explore in the north include Uroa, Pongwe, Kiwengwa, Nungwi, and Kendwa. The northeast area is quieter and less frequented by tourists.

Nungwi has a lively atmosphere, and the beach is stunning. Kendwa is also turquoise, and the tide hardly recedes, allowing you to swim all day. Tidal variations depend on lunar cycles, so each visitor will have a unique experience, but the north is supposedly less affected.

Nungwi Beach

Matemwe Beach

Island Drawing

The east coast of Zanzibar is most affected by strong tides. If you enjoy surfing, this is the place for you! If you don’t surf, you can still enjoy a stay on the east side of the island, just be aware that the best time for swimming and diving is during high tide.

Zanzibar Beach

However, during low tide, it’s preferable to take a stroll to enjoy the landscape or visit the shallow bays full of starfish, crabs, and other animals. We recommend wearing appropriate walking shoes, and most importantly, always carry your camera! The most extensive beach in this area and one of the most beautiful is Matemwe.

MATEMWE: Beautiful and kilometer-long beach with turquoise water. I saw it in the morning, so it was during low tide. This area is more affected by tides, but as I mentioned, it’s a natural spectacle worth admiring and a different way to experience the beach.

On the way to Paje, you’ll find the beaches of Mchangani, Kiwengawa, Ponwe… similar to Matemwe. Endless beaches with turquoise water, white sand, and nearly deserted.

Jambiani and Paje Beaches

Island Drawing

Here, you’ll find the villages of Jambiani, Paje, and Bwejuu. Jambiani is one of the most popular because there’s much to do, and its beaches are just as magnificent as those in other areas. We invite you to read the post about Jambiani on our blog for more information. To the south and southeast of the island, you’ll have the opportunity to swim with dolphins or take a ride on a Dhow, a traditional sailing vessel from Arab culture, and these are just two of the endless activities this area of the island offers.

I really enjoyed Paje Beach for its atmosphere and turquoise water. Since I visited in the afternoon, the tide was rising, and you could take a swim. Similar to Paje, we also have Jambiani Beach a bit further south.  

Zanzibar Excursions

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Relaxing is great, but in moderation. If island life starts to bore you, you can always take an excursion to add some fun to your stay on the island. Zanzibar offers a myriad of activities suitable for everyone. Here are some of the best:

Giant Turtles

Prison Island

Its real name is Changuu Island, but everyone knows it as Prison Island or the island of prisoners. It’s a deserted island that was used in the past to detain slaves. The island is about 800 meters long and 230 meters at its widest point.

How to get to Prison Island?

Basically, there are two ways to do it. Hiring a guided tour or hiring a boatman to take you. We chose to simply hire a boatman to take us to Prison Island, wait for us, and take us back to the port. This service alone cost us $20 for both of us (about 17 euros at that time).

Currently, it’s a quiet island with white sandy beaches, where people go to dive, swim, or sunbathe. You can also visit the ruins of the old prison and its park of giant turtles from the Seychelles Islands, simply impressive!

Zanzibar Turtles

In 1919, the governor of Seychelles gave Zanzibar Island 4 specimens of these giant turtles. The turtle population began to grow in Zanzibar until it reached 200 specimens in 1955. From here, everything went downhill. They began to capture them to sell to other countries, and the population dwindled to just 8 turtles in 1996.

From this moment on, the government of Zanzibar decided to protect this endangered species. They placed them in the place where we can see them today, taking care of them. Giant turtles come to this center from other countries to try to protect the species. Accessing the giant turtle recovery center costs about 6 euros per person. Take advantage because you won’t have the opportunity to see them in many more places around the world.

Feeding Zanzibar Turtles

Stone Town Tour

Visit the old town of Zanzibar City, the perfect activity for food lovers and tourism and culture enthusiasts. Some of the historical attractions include the Sultan’s Palace, the Palace of Wonders, the slave market, and the Drajani or Forodhani markets. You can also dine at the former home of Freddy Mercury, who was born in Zanzibar.

Zanzibar Spice Tour

Zanzibar Island, also known as the Spice Island for its trade in cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper, was the starting point for countless expeditions to the New World. In its capital, Stone Town, we can reminisce about the island’s history as a commercial hub in the Arab world, later occupied by the Portuguese, becoming a significant center of slavery during the 19th century.

Its beaches with crystal clear turquoise waters are affected by tides, and that’s the moment when we can enjoy the beach in a different way, as locals go fishing and stroll along the beach when the tide has receded.

Safari Blue

Ride in a traditional Arab boat (Dhow) to appreciate the natural beauty of Zanzibar from a different perspective. The ride consists of three stops on three different islands where you can swim, snorkel, and enjoy a delicious barbecue.

Jozani Forest

The Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park is a protected area of about 50 square kilometers in the African country of Tanzania, specifically located on the island of Zanzibar. It is the only place in the world where the red colobus monkey resides.

red colobus monkey

Chumbe Island

Incredible for diving. It is the world’s first private marine park, and all the activities it offers are environmentally responsible. I hope the post has been helpful for planning your trip. If you have any questions, suggestions, or contributions, feel free to leave a comment, and I will be happy to help in any way I can.

Chumbe Island

Book the best tours and excursions with CIVITATIS.

Best Value Hotels in Zanzibar

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There are numerous options for accommodation that fit all budgets and preferences. I always recommend staying in lodges, small establishments located in nature, because their staff is very friendly and attentive, always willing to ensure that their customers have a pleasant stay.

In Nungwi, I stayed in a small hotel with excellent service, delicious tropical fruit breakfasts, and an air-conditioned and beautiful room. It cost us around 100 euros per night for a double room, just to give you an idea. However, there are countless hotels for all budgets and circumstances, such as Honeymoon Suites and All-Inclusive Resorts. Below, I detail the most relevant ones, so by clicking on the hotel’s name, you can check prices and make a reservation!

I recommend that you book as I did through the website BOOKING.COM. I have always used this website and have had no problems with them. The reasons that lead me to book with them are mainly pay later and free cancellation, looking for accommodations with a score of 7 or 8 or higher, checking the location with Google Maps, and the customer service is very good.

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Hotel: Veraclub Sunset Beach Nungwi

The Veraclub Sunset Beach is located on the beachfront in Nungwi, offering 4-star accommodation, an outdoor pool, garden, and restaurant. The property is just steps away from Royal Beach and less than 1 km from Nungwi Beach, featuring a bar and a private beach area.

Veraclub-Sunset-Beach-Nungwi

The hotel also offers free WiFi and an airport shuttle service for an additional fee. Rooms include air conditioning, a wardrobe, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, bed linen, towels, and a terrace with garden views. All rooms come with a refrigerator.

The reception staff speaks English, Italian, and Swahili, providing practical information about the area. Veraclub Sunset Beach is 2.1 km from Kendwa Beach and 42 km from the Kichwele Forest Reserve. The nearest airport, Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, is 61 km away.

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Hotel: Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa 

Overlooking the beautiful white sands of Kendwa Beach and serene waters, Gold Zanzibar is an ideal choice for guests seeking a peaceful retreat during their stay on the island.

Gold-Zanzibar-Beach-House-Spa

Designed with a blend of Arabian and African influences but with modern comfort in mind, the rooms are the perfect resting spot between days on the beach or trips around the island. With a premium focus on your relaxation, the hotel features a wellness center offering a variety of treatments, including holistic journeys, massage rituals, and facial ceremonies.

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Hotel: Zuri Zanzibar 

A unique accommodation option in Zanzibar, instead of the usual guest room experience, Zuri Zanzibar offers guests their own villa or bungalow, each with an unparalleled view of the tranquil lagoon below.

Zuri-Zanzibar

A perfect choice for a romantic getaway, each of the villas is secluded enough to ensure maximum privacy and includes thoughtful features such as private terraces, outdoor showers, and high ceilings inspired by traditional African architecture.

In addition, Zuri hosts a fascinating private spice garden, a tribute to the island’s heritage and a wonderful place to relax amidst the beautiful plant life of the island.

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Hotel: The Residence Zanzíbar 

An isolated sanctuary nestled amidst beautiful tropical forests and a long beach, The Residence is a retreat in an oasis on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Drawing inspiration from the island’s rich history, the hotel’s aesthetic is a blend of Swahili, Omani, and Indian styles.

The-Residence-Zanzibar

The Residence offers a luxurious five-star experience, where guests can even hire a butler to take care of them during their stay. In addition to enjoying the internal delights of the hotel, such as its private pool and gardens.

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Hotel: Riu Palace Zanzibar – All-Inclusive – Adults Only 

An adults-only resort near the white sands of Nungwi Beach that offers exclusive beach access and all-inclusive meals and drinks. Riu Palace Zanzibar is ideal for guests seeking relaxed luxury.

Riu-Palace-Zanzibar-All-Inclusive-Adults-Only

Each of the spacious rooms and suites is expertly designed with a host of contemporary amenities, such as temperature-controlled air conditioning, high-definition satellite TVs, and a fully stocked minibar as standard.

As an all-inclusive resort, Riu Palace guests are encouraged to make use of the hotel’s three thematic restaurants and the buffet breakfast, served every morning.

All-Inclusive Resort in Zanzibar

Looking for all-inclusive resorts in Zanzibar and vacation ideas. Unguja, better known as the Zanzibar Archipelago, is located in Tanzania. It offers the world’s best beaches, beautiful coral reefs, and some of Africa’s most luxurious resorts.

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hotel:Neptune Pwani Beach Resort & Spa Zanzibar 

Neptune Pwani Beach Resort – Spa is a luxury resort located in Zanzibar. It offers accommodation, spa treatments, and a wide range of services to meet all needs.
 

The Pwani Resort Zanzibar room overlooks the ocean by the pool or the bedroom, as you prefer. 194 rooms are available in 2-level blocks and 4 individual seafront suites with a jacuzzi in the room.

Neptune-Pwani-Beach-Resort-Spa Zanzíbar

 

The hotel has 1 main restaurant, 4 a la carte restaurants, 1 snack restaurant, 2 bars, 1 coco beach bar, the Earth & Rain Spa, the Spherique Boutique, conference room and facilities, and a water sports center.

The hotel has an outdoor pool and an indoor pool available for guest use. There is also a restaurant on-site where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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hotel: Sandies Baobab Beach Zanzíbar 

Nungwi Beach, Sandies Baobab Beach Zanzibar, named after the traditional baobabs surrounding the resort, aims to make your stay truly memorable.

The spacious and bright rooms are surrounded by the island’s natural gardens, offering guests a beautiful natural view.

Sandies Baobab Beach Zanzibar

Along with its own restaurant and bar, which guests can take full advantage of when booking all-inclusive, Sandies also has an amphitheater that regularly entertains its guests with a combination of music, dance shows, and acrobatics.

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hotel: Melia Zanzibar 

Just a short trip from Stone Town and part of the renowned Melia hotel group, Melia Zanzibar offers the same charming service, attractive interiors, and fantastic facilities that have made them so popular. Each of the rooms and suites is spacious and professionally furnished, but if you’re looking for something a bit more special, try one of the “Level” villas, which feature a private pool, terrace, and relaxing garden views.

The hotel has four restaurants to choose from: one of the best is the Pier Lounge, offering a variety of light meals and drinks and can be found at the end of a small pier, surrounded by the calm waters of the ocean.

Honeymoon Hotels in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is quickly becoming a popular honeymoon destination for couples seeking an idyllic mix of cultural exploration, water sports, and white sandy beaches.

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hotel: Kiwengwa Beach Resort 

The best honeymoon hotels that Zanzibar offers are usually by the beach. And why not, the small archipelago of Tanzania is big on white sands, blue waters, and fun under the sun. What makes this the best hotel in Zanzibar for a luxury beachside honeymoon.

Kiwengwa-Beach-Resort

This 5-star property features excellent service, ample poolside relaxation space, and comfortable, elegant rooms. Try booking the luxury suite with a sea view and spend your evenings lounging on the two-seater sofa or relaxing in the room’s jacuzzi. You can reflect on all that you love about each other and this marvelous African honeymoon destination from one of our favorite luxury resorts.

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hotel: Le Mersenne Premium Water Villas 

This is the kind of accommodation most people only dream of staying in, and it’s perfect to book now for an indulgent and romantic honeymoon getaway.

Le-Mersenne-Premium-Water-Villas

Is there anything better than staying in your own luxury villa literally in the ocean?
Located in the stunning Michamvi, Le Mersenne Premium Water Villas offers luxurious villas for guests situated in the water. Enjoy a relaxing stay with features like room service and stunning sea views from private balconies for each reserved room!

There is also a private pool on the balcony of the villas overlooking the ocean. The hotel itself is surrounded by lush gardens and has an excellent restaurant, or simply order room service and enjoy a dinner from your balcony while dipping your toes in the crystal-clear waters. This is paradise, and you’ll never want to leave.

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hotel:  Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort

The thatched roof suite is immaculate inside and features a modern design and amenities that will make you feel at home.

Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort

Where to stay when visiting this boutique hotel in the Indian Ocean?

The Beach Front Villas are the crown jewels of the property. But you’ll also want to book plenty of time to relax on your patio, where you can stroll to the white sandy beaches to start your perfect day on your honeymoon in Zanzibar.

Enjoy the Sunsets of Zanzibar

In the Gili Islands, sunsets are like scenes from a movie, as the sky transforms into a reddish hue, and for a few minutes, time stands still.

The best thing to do is to go to one of the beach bars or sit on the beach and wait for the magical moment. Usually, the sky transforms rapidly, and you’ll simply be amazed. Check the sunset time and head to one of the beach bars or just sit in the sand and enjoy.

Sunsets in Zanzibar

Girl practicing yoga in Zanzibar Practice Yoga in Zanzibar

Due to its tranquil atmosphere, Gili Meno is ideal for the practice of Yoga. On the island, you’ll find various places and retreats to choose from for this activity.

Enjoy the local atmosphere of the island: Gili Meno is what it is thanks to its local community, the people who inhabit the island who want to maintain the tranquility that characterizes the island. Always with a smile, they will undoubtedly make you feel at home.

If you’ve made it this far, I hope I’ve cleared up many doubts about your trip, and now allow me to invite you to read my post about SAFARI IN TANZANIA.

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Festivals in Zanzibar

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Approximate dates for celebrations in Zanzibar. Keep in mind that specific dates may vary slightly according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

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