Zanzibar, an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, is a part of Tanzania and is famous for its stunning white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. It is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, offering activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and kite surfing.

The islands are also rich in history and culture, with Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, being a must-visit for those interested in architecture and history. Additionally, Zanzibar is known for its spice plantations, and a tour of these plantations is a great way to learn about the spices that are grown on the islands and their uses.

Wildlife enthusiasts will also find Zanzibar to be a fascinating destination as it is home to the Zanzibar red colobus monkey, an endangered species found only in the Zanzibar archipelago. Moreover, the surrounding waters are home to a variety of marine life, including dolphins, making it a great destination for nature lovers.

Attractions & Things to do in Zanzibar

1. Stone Town

Old Fort, also known as the Arab Fort is a fortification located in Stone Town in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Old Fort, also known as the Arab Fort is a fortification located in Stone Town in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings.

Travel Tip: Make sure to take a guided tour to fully understand the history and significance of the buildings and narrow streets.

2. Nungwi Beach

View of tropical sandy Nungwi beach on Zanzibar, Tanzania
View of tropical sandy Nungwi beach on Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Nungwi Beach is located at the northern tip of Zanzibar Island. It is famous for its stunning white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. It is also a great spot for water sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving.

Travel Tip: Visit the Mnarani Turtle Conservation Pond to see the efforts being made to conserve the turtle population.

3. Jozani Forest

Two red Colobuse Monkey in a rainforest of Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa.
Two red Colobuse Monkey in a rainforest of Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa.

Jozani Forest is the last indigenous forest left on Zanzibar. It is home to the Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey, a species that is found only on Zanzibar. The forest also has a variety of other wildlife and plant species.

Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and insect repellent.

4. Prison Island

A tourist woman feeding giant turtle Aldabrachelys gigantea or Aldabra giant tortoise with fresh green leaves at Prison island, Zanzibar, Tanzania.
A tourist woman feeding giant turtle Aldabrachelys gigantea or Aldabra giant tortoise with fresh green leaves at Prison island, Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, was once used as a place where slaves were detained. Today, it is a popular spot for snorkeling and has a sanctuary for giant tortoises.

Travel Tip: Take a boat tour from Stone Town, it’s only a 30-minute ride.

5. Spice Tour

Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island and a spice tour is a must-do activity. Visitors can see, smell and taste spices and fruits like clove, lemongrass, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, vanilla, coconuts, papaya, chili, black pepper, jackfruit, cardamom, cassava and oranges.

Travel Tip: Buy fresh spices to take home as souvenirs.

6. Kendwa Beach

Kendwa beach in Unguja aka Zanzibar Island Tanzania, East Africa.
Kendwa beach in Unguja aka Zanzibar Island Tanzania, East Africa.

Kendwa Beach is located on the northwest coast of Zanzibar. It is a beautiful beach with white sand and clear blue waters, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. It is also a great spot for water sports and has a lively nightlife.

Travel Tip: Try to stay until sunset, it’s breathtaking.

7. Mnemba Island

Mnemba Island is a small island about 3 km off the northeast coast of Unguja, the largest island of the Zanzibar Archipelago, Tanzania, opposite Muyuni Beach.
Mnemba Island is a small island about 3 km off the northeast coast of Unguja, the largest island of the Zanzibar Archipelago, Tanzania, opposite Muyuni Beach.

Mnemba Island is a private island located off the northeast coast of Zanzibar. It is surrounded by a coral reef, making it a great spot for snorkeling and diving.

Travel Tip: Only guests staying at the Mnemba Island Lodge are allowed on the island, but non-guests can still enjoy the waters around the island.

8. Kizimkazi Mosque

Kizimkazi Mosque. Oldest islamic building in Eastern Africa.
Kizimkazi Mosque. Oldest islamic building in Eastern Africa.

The Kizimkazi Mosque is one of the oldest Islamic buildings on the East African coast. It is located in the village of Kizimkazi, which is also a good spot for dolphin watching.

Travel Tip: Combine your visit to the mosque with a dolphin tour.

9. Forodhani Gardens

Pavilion in the Forodhani Gardens of Stone Town.
Pavilion in the Forodhani Gardens of Stone Town.

The Forodhani Gardens are located in Stone Town along the seafront. In the evening, the gardens come alive with food stalls selling a variety of local dishes and seafood.

Travel Tip: Try the Zanzibar pizza and sugar cane juice.

10. Paje Beach

Paje beach in Zanzibar is one of the best beach in the world.  Famous for its soft white sand and tourquise water.  Also the winds are ideal for kite boarding.
Paje beach in Zanzibar is one of the best beach in the world. Famous for its soft white sand and tourquise water. Also the winds are ideal for kite boarding.

Paje Beach is located on the east coast of Zanzibar. It is a popular spot for kite surfing due to its shallow waters and consistent winds. There are also several bars and restaurants along the beach.

Travel Tip: Take a kite surfing lesson if you are a beginner.

Unique Activities in Zanzibar

1. Nungwi Turtle Aquarium Guided Half-Day Trip

Nungwi Turtle Aquarium Guided Half-Day Trip.
Nungwi Turtle Aquarium Guided Half-Day Trip.

Dive into the world of marine conservation with a guided half-day trip to the Nungwi Turtle Aquarium. Witness the efforts to protect and rehabilitate endangered sea turtles and learn about the importance of marine conservation.

Day Trips from Zanzibar

1. Safari Blue

One of the most famous one day excursion of Zanzibar Island.
One of the most famous one day excursion of Zanzibar Island. One may sail, snorkel, sunbathe, swim and explore around Menai Bay, scattered with isolated sandbanks, rugged island scenery, uninhabited islets, pristine marine life and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Safari Blue is a full-day boat trip that explores the Menai Bay Conservation Area. It includes snorkeling, a seafood barbecue, and a visit to a beautiful sandbank.

Travel Tip: Don’t forget your sunscreen and hat.

2. Selous Game Reserve

Air view on Lake Manze (Selous Game Reserve).
Air view on Lake Manze (Selous Game Reserve).

The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest faunal reserves in the world and is located in southeastern Tanzania. It is home to a variety of wildlife including elephants, lions, wild dogs, buffaloes, crocodiles and hippos.

Travel Tip: Take a fly-in safari from Zanzibar to maximize your time.

3. Dar es Salaam

A Drone shot of the capital city of Tanzania, Dar es salaam, view from above.
A Drone shot of the capital city of Tanzania, Dar es salaam, view from above.

Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania and is located on the eastern coast of Africa. It is a bustling city with a mix of modern and traditional culture.

Travel Tip: Take a ferry from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam, it’s a 2-hour ride.

Where to stay in Zanzibar

Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, is renowned for its pristine beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture. The city offers a plethora of hotels catering to various needs, from luxury resorts to budget stays. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, Zanzibar has a hotel that’s just right for you.

1. Best Reviewed Hotel

Canary Nungwi Hotel & SPA (★★★★)

  • Description: Located in Nungwi, just 400 metres from Nungwi Beach, this hotel offers a fitness centre, free private parking, a garden, and a shared lounge. Guests have praised its proximity to the beach and the friendly staff.
  • Price: €75 per night
  • Rating: 9.6 (Exceptional)

2. Most Luxurious Hotel

TOA Hotel & Spa Zanzibar (★★★★★)

  • Description: Situated in Pongwe, this hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a fitness centre, and a garden. The general manager and staff have been commended for their warm hospitality.
  • Price: €206 per night
  • Rating: 9.2 (Superb)

3. Budget Hotel

Babalao Bungalows

  • Description: Babalao Bungalows in Nungwi offers free bikes, an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, and a shared lounge. The property also boasts a restaurant, terrace, and bar.
  • Price: €50 per night
  • Rating: 9.7 (Exceptional)

4. Hotel for Family

Mambo Ocean Resort (★★★★)

  • Description: Located in Pwani Mchangani, this resort is just a few steps from Pwani Mchangani Beach. It offers an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a garden, and a terrace.
  • Price: €64.80 per night
  • Rating: 9.0 (Superb)

5. Hotel for Couples

Mahali Zanzibar

  • Description: Located in Paje, this hotel features a private beach area, a year-round outdoor pool, and free Wi-Fi. Guests can enjoy the sun terrace and sea views.
  • Price: €130 per night
  • Rating: 9.1 (Superb)

6. Hotel for Solo Travellers

Sharazad Wonders Boutique (★)

  • Description: Located in Stone Town, just 200 metres from Stone Town Beach, this hotel offers a garden, terrace, and bar. The location is ideal for exploring Stone Town.
  • Price: €133.88 per night
  • Rating: 9.2 (Superb)

Did you know? Facts about Zanzibar

  • Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous province of Tanzania, located in the Indian Ocean, consisting of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, informally referred to as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island.
  • The capital of Zanzibar is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic center, Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site.
  • The main industries of Zanzibar are spices, raffia, and tourism. It is famous for producing cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper, earning it the local reference as the “Spice Islands”.
  • Zanzibar’s marine ecosystem is vital for fishing and algaculture and contains important marine ecosystems that act as fish nurseries for Indian Ocean fish populations.
  • The land ecosystem of Zanzibar is home to the endemic Zanzibar red colobus, the Zanzibar servaline genet, and the extinct or rare Zanzibar leopard.
  • The word ‘Zanzibar’ came from Arabic ‘zanjibār’, which is from Persian ‘zangbâr’, a compound of ‘Zang’ (black) + ‘bâr’ (coast), ultimately meaning “land of the blacks”.
  • Zanzibar was once part of the Portuguese Empire, then came under the influence of the Sultanate of Oman, and eventually became a British protectorate until it gained self-government and later merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania.
  • The Zanzibar Archipelago was a major center of the slave trade, with as many as 50,000 slaves passing annually through the port in the mid-19th century.
  • The Zanzibar Revolution in 1964 led to the deposition of the Sultan, the establishment of a socialist government, and the eventual merger with Tanganyika to form Tanzania.
  • The population of Zanzibar is diverse, consisting mostly of ethnic Swahili, but also includes Arabs, Persians, Somalis, and Indians.

FAQ about Zanzibar

What is the best time to visit Zanzibar?

The best time to visit Zanzibar is during the dry seasons, from June to October and from December to February.

Do I need a visa to travel to Zanzibar?

Zanzibar is part of Tanzania, so the visa requirements for Tanzania apply to Zanzibar as well. It is advisable to check with the Tanzanian embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements.

What language is spoken in Zanzibar?

The official language of Zanzibar is Swahili. However, English, Arabic, Italian, and French are also spoken by many locals.

Is it safe to travel to Zanzibar?

Zanzibar is generally considered safe for travelers. However, it is always advisable to take standard precautions, such as not walking alone at night and being cautious of your belongings.

What is the currency used in Zanzibar?

The currency used in Zanzibar is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS).

What is the main religion in Zanzibar?

The main religion in Zanzibar is Islam, with a small percentage of Christians and indigenous/irreligious people.

Are there any vaccinations required for traveling to Zanzibar?

It is recommended to have vaccinations for yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis A, and polio before traveling to Zanzibar. It is also advisable to take malaria prophylaxis.

What are the must-visit places in Zanzibar?

Some must-visit places in Zanzibar include Stone Town, the Spice Plantations, Jozani Forest, Nungwi Beach, and Prison Island.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanzibar
https://www.booking.com/region/tz/zanzibar.en-gb.html
https://www.getyourguide.com/zanzibar-l871