Zanzibar is a tropical paradise in East Africa. This beautiful island is situated 35km off the coast of Tanzania’s mainland. With two main islands of Unguja and Pemba, this is a hidden gem beach destination in Africa. Offers a unique experience to anyone who dares to visit.
The fascinating history of the slave trade, cloves m best beaches and marine life are the few things you could experience while in Zanzibar. Enjoy the underwater adventure and the best short excursion around these two islands of Unguja and Pemba.
Zanzibar island is very safe for tourists. Many people visit Zanzibar for scuba diving m snorkeling and safari blue exploration. Zanzibar is an archipelago off Africa very easy to reach from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and other parts of Africa.
In this article, we are going to discuss 16 Things to know before visiting Zanzibar. Let’s dive in for the best idea while planning for your epic beach holiday in Zanzibar
16. When is the best time to visit Zanzibar?
As you plan your holiday in Zanzibar the first question to ask is when is the best time to visit? Knowing the best season to visit any destination is the first step in planning the holiday. When it comes to Zanzibar, the best time to visit is during the dry season.
The dry season starts from June to September and Mid- through December throughout February. Rain season is from April to May. Planning your holiday during the dry season, you will get the best chance to enjoy Zanzibar’s beautiful beaches and short excursions available in Zanzibar. Bare in the mind temperature range from 28°C and 34°C throughout the year.
15. Do I need a visa for Zanzibar?
Depending on which country are you coming from. Some countries are exempt from visas. Including Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, Singapore, Malta, Malaysia, and many others. Though if you fall outside of that category visa is the requirement to enter Zanzibar or Tanzania.
The process to obtain Visa for Tanzania is made easy for everyone. Now you can obtain online through Tanzania’s e-visa system. You can apply and pay alone and wait for a few days for your visa to be cleared. It’s also possible to pay for your visa on arrival at the airport in Zanzibar.
Visas can be obtained through Tanzania’s e-visa system where travelers can double-check if their country of origin is on the visa requirement list. The e-visas need to be booked in advance.
Make sure your passport is valid for six months before arriving in Zanzibar
14. How do I get to Zanzibar Island?
Like other places in Africa, many flights land in Zanzibar. It can be either the main island of Unguja or Pemba. If you’re traveling on International flights expect to arrive at Dar es salaam International Airport. From there you can take a flight or ferry to Zanzibar. Flight to Zanzibar is around $50 or more while a ferry is the budget option. Learn more about ferries to Zanzibar
13. How about costs in Zanzibar?
Zanzibar is a very popular beach holiday destination, so you should know that the cost will vary to accommodate every type of tourist. If you’re looking for luxury or budget hotels and lodges, there is always something for everyone. Your holiday can be either too pricey or budget, what matters is the level of comfort you decide to choose.
Bare in mind that, the cost range from $35 to $ 1,200 and even more per night. If you will stay in five-star luxury hotels in Zanzibar expect to pay more compared to backpackers’ hostels and lodges either in Stone town or other parts of Zanzibar.
There are different excursions like scuba diving, snorkeling, historical tours, spice tours, prison island, and safari blue. These activities vary in price depending on the time spent on the activity.
For meals and drinks, the price is reasonable. Drinking beer won’t exceed $2 while other drinks sell below $1. Marine foods and cultural foods’ price range from one place to another depending on the location and quality of service offered.
12. Where are the best places to stay in Zanzibar?
Zanzibar island offers the best accommodation ever in Tanzania. Some are located at the beach while others are in the middle of stone town. These accommodations vary in price, you can either stay at a five-star hotel or a backpackers hostel in Zanzibar. What matters is the budget and your preference.
Many notable hotels and lodges in Zanzibar Islands include Zanzibar Serena, Gran Melia Hotel Zanzibar, Fumba Beach Lodge, Amaan Bungalow Beach, Riu Palace Hotel, and many others.
You can explore our list of best places to stay in Zanzibar
11. What languages are spoken in Zanzibar Island
Thinking of the language spoken in Zanzibar? Worry not about that, this island is the melting pot of cultures, and many languages are spoken here. Because of tourism, many people have learned different languages. Whether you speak Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, German, Russian, Japanese, or Chinese you are covered. The official languages are Swahili and English.
10. How about local cuisine and foods in Zanzibar?
As the name goes, Zanzibar foods and local cuisine are full of local spices. Zanzibar cuisine is a mix of different cultures, the Arabs, Indians, Portugues, Chinese, British, and Swahili. All these cultures have influenced the whole preparation and contents of the food available on the Island of Zanzibar.
Expect to enjoy exotic dishes with packed flavor. One of the most popular dishes is spice cakes which are available in almost every town and village. This cake is made from nutmeg, chocolate, cinnamon, and cloves.
Apart from spices, marine foods are the best foods you can enjoy here in Zanzibar. Though taking precautions not to eat everywhere, consider the hygiene of the place before consuming foods in the streets or local restaurants.
9. What is the geography of Zanzibar?
The island of Zanzibar is a relatively low-lying island in Tanzania. Covered with mango trees, coconuts trees, coastal ferns, bananas, and tropical flowers. Giving this island the best outlook with more than 4, 000 species of plants.
It’s only 40 kilometers wide and 90 kilometers long while surrounded by the Indian ocean. This ocean is very popular for snorkeling and scuba diving. The Island of Zanzibar offers the best spot for snorkeling like Chumbe Island. If you wish to experience snorkeling it can either be organized by travel agencies or hotels.
This part of Zanzibar is covered with the evergreen rainforest. It has a ridge that peaks at 119 above sea level. These areas have several streams and rivers because of the altitude.
Zanzibar offers a variety of beaches scattered in different places, which offers the visitors the best opportunity to spot nesting turtles in places like the Nungwi area m where the volunteer project for sea turtle conservation is taking place.
The variety of coastal vegetation also provides a perfect habitat for a wealth of wildlife including Red- colobus monkeys, civets, mongoose m antelope lemures, and leopards. It’s not possible to see lions in Zanzibar maybe if you visit Tanzania’s Ngorongoro crater. But more than 20 species of bats and 30 species of snakes can be spotted in Zanzibar
Don’t forget Zanzibar Island is home to colorful coral reefs, teeming with reef fish, sea horses, Mantis shrimp, crocodile fish, octopuses, and nudibranchs. Turtles, humpback whales, and Bottlenose dolphins. You can easily spot it at Mnemba Atoll.
8. How about Zanzibar Beaches
The island of Zanzibar is well known for beach tourism. Many visitors to this place visit for the enjoyment of the serene white sand beaches of Africa. They combine beach trips with culture and historical tours along Stone town or Pemba Island.
Thinking of where to find the best beaches in Zanzibar? Then visit the northeast of Zanzibar for pristine beaches, diving, and high luxury accommodations.
If you are interested in dolphin safaris, then visit Pemba islands where you could combine your trip with a clove plantation and village visit. Unguja is the most visited and can be easily accessed from Tanzania’s mainland by ferry. You can decide to combine the Tanzania safari with a beach holiday for a unique experience on Tanzania’s Zanzibar Island.
Nungwi and Kendwa
These two beaches are sought-after destinations in Tanzania. These two places can be crowded during the high season. Nungwi and Kendwa are beach villages located at the northern tip of Zanzibar.
These two places are the best for beach sports including swimming on the high and low tides.
Off- the cost of this part there is the best coral reefs with plenty of marine life making it popular for diving tours and boat trips in Zanzibar.
Thinking of Zanzibar full moon party? If, yes then Kendwa beach is home to the famous. While for those who are focusing on volunteering activities Nugwi is the best place to volunteer. There is a going project for sea turtle conservation. The green and hawksbill turtles are conserved here and monitored by Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond. If you’re interested to volunteer set a budget of around $560 per week
Jambiani is a tiny fishing village in Zanzibar. Its ideally located between the towns of Paje and Makunduchon on the southeast coast of Zanzibar. Comprising of a few small villages, it’s a quieter destination but has many restaurants, hotels, and guest houses.
The area is well-known for having that authentic Zanzibar feel, where dugout canoes are still used for transport. It’s also known for its local seaweed farming activities, and locals are only too happy to share their knowledge about this vital source of agriculture.
The Michamvi Peninsula is the perfect destination for honeymooners. Located on the southeast coast, Michamvi is a very remote area offering a unique serene beach experience. Hundreds of visitors go to michamvi to witness Zanzibar’s best sunset viewpoints.
The other best attraction of this area is the “The Rock Restaurant” which is one of the famous places for many visitors to this area. This restaurant is built upon an outcrop. You should take a boat to visit the Rock restaurant in Zanzibar.
7. Which is the capital city of Zanzibar?
The capital city of Zanzibar is a stone town. Is one of the old harbors in East Africa and one of the UNESCO cultural heritage sites with unique architecture dating back to the 10th century. Stone Town has a long history of the slave trade up to the 19th century.
As of today, Stone town remains with several ancients building including mosques, churches, and a museum. Moving around the streets you will pass through the narrow streets buzzing with night markets frequently visited by tourists. The stone town offers the best luxury lodges for overnights and relaxation during the day.
6. What is the history of Zanzibar?
Zanzibar is one of the few places in Africa with interesting history dated for centuries. Zanzibar was the former center of the slave trade and spices. It was the stopover for long-distance traders from Iran, India, other parts of Africa, and Arabs.
The nature of the island attracted many people and many mosques were built in Stone Town and Swahili coast. That is why Zanzibar today is dominated by Muslims. The culture of this island remained a mix of African, European, and Middle East Influences.
The Portuguese ruled this island from 1498 for almost 200 years. They introduced cash crop trade. But before that, Arabs have been in relationships with the people of Zanzibar since 700 AD as they sail to the gulf.
In 1698, the Portugues fell, and the Sultanate of Oman take control of Zanzibar and diverge cash crops trade with Arabic countries.
By the 1960s, Zanzibar enjoyed a short period of independence after a protectorate since the 1890s ended. However, there was a major upheaval between the Zanzibar Africans who made up 56% of the population, and the Zanzibar Arabs who made up 17% of the population.
By 1964 the revolution took place in Zanzibar. This marked the end of the Sultanate in Zanzibar. The revolution cost lives for thousands of people and others fled the island. After the revolution, Zanzibar becomes the People’s Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba. Until 26 April 1964 when merged with Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania but remains a semi-autonomous state. Read more about the history of Zanzibar
5. What are the customs and traditions of Zanzibar?
Zanzibar island is dominated by the Islamic religion. Tourists who visit this island are advised to show respect for local customs and cultures specific to public areas. Wearing shorts or clothes which reveal most parts of the body is not acceptable. But also a public display of affection like romance in public is not acceptable.
Generally, the people of Zanzibar are so friendly and welcoming to visitors. They are humble and enjoy slow-paced life on the island. Tourism activities make up about 50% of this island’s economy with the population growing beyond 1.2 million as of now.
4. What are the famous spices of Zanzibar?
The Island of Zanzibar’s nickname is The Spice Island of Zanzibar. This island earned this name as the largest producer and exporter of spices in East Africa. For centuries Zanzibar has been trading spices.
Zanzibar’s main spice exports include clove, chili, black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, and cinnamon. Cloves are the most commonly produced spice.
Other spices grown on the island of Zanzibar include vanilla, saffron, and lemongrass. While in Zanzibar you can request a day trip for spice tours
3. What is the wildlife available in Zanzibar?
Zanzibar Island offers a full package for visitors. Apart from history wildlife is part of the attraction available here. It has different protected areas including Jozani Chiwaka Bay National Park and marine parks. We can group Zanzibar’s wildlife into three major categories which include:
Those daring to dip beneath the surface and explore the underwater wonder world will have their pick of around 500 different fish species, turtles, octopuses, crabs, and starfish to observe. And then there are the marine mammal stars of course – humpback and sperm whales, bottlenose, and spotted dolphins.
Wildlife – Mammals
The Zanzibar red colobus monkey is endemic to the island and one of 54 terrestrial mammals occurring here. Other species include 23 different types of bats, small antelope like the suni antelope, and bush-tailed mongoose.
There are around 240 species of birds in Zanzibar, including the Pemba Sunbird, African fish eagle, Fischer’s turaco, Roseate tern, and the Pemba scops owl.
2. What tropical diseases are to be found in Zanzibar?
The whole part of Zanzibar Island is prone to Malaria. Like other tropical areas in Africa, mosquitoes can be a problem during the hot season as visitors you should take care
Some visitors prefer to bring anti-malaria ointments or take some malaria pills. You should consult your medical practitioner before taking these pills including Doxycycline or Atovaquone/Proguanil, or Mefloquine.
Apart from tropical diseases, you can also check on CDC recommendations for diseases before visiting Tanzania’s Zanzibar Island.
1. What are the best Zanzibar holiday packages?
Best holiday packages for Zanzibar vary depending on the quality of accommodation, the number of days, and activities or excursions. There are two ways to plan how you can enjoy your trip to Zanzibar.
The first idea is to use local tour operators to organize your holiday in Zanzibar. Tour operators can offer you an all-inclusive package depending on the budget you decide to pay. Is a very safe plan and hustle-free travel.
The second option is to visit Zanzibar and secure either accommodation or a vacation package on your own. Some visitors prefer to use local guides or beach boys. You should take precautions while taking this option, many people have fallen to scammers and ruined their experience.
You can check out Zanzibar Holiday Packages
As we drive this discussion home for 16 Things to know before visiting Zanzibar. You might have some questions or requests about the Zanzibar holiday, don’t hesitate to Contact us Today