The Zanzibar archipelago is known for its pristine, virtually untouched, secluded beaches and is an ideal location for a short and relaxing break. With more and more luxury resorts and boutique hotels springing up on the island, Zanzibar is the perfect blend of nature and luxury.
On our travel guide, you will find a list of things to do in Zanzibar, travel tips, and much more.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ZANZIBAR
The best time to visit Zanzibar is from June to October during the cool, dry months of spring. Another popular time to visit this tropical island is from December to February when it’s hot and dry.
IS ZANZIBAR SAFE FOR TOURISTS
Zanzibar is extremely safe but you will need to be cautious while in Stone Town and other crowded places. There has been many reports of pirates, so you will need to extra cautious if you plan on sailing.
Zanzibar is known to be a corrupt country so if you plan on self driving, be prepared for surprise police checks. They may make up some non-existent rule that you have broken and ask you for money. The best way to deal with the situation is by convincing the officers that you do not have much cash on you (Do not carry a lot of money/ strategically hide it). Also, try to avoid late night outings on your own.
WHAT TO PACK FOR ZANZIBAR
If you are planning to go into town, it is best to dress modestly by covering your shoulders and knees. Shorts are accepted for men & women but avoid wearing mini skirts.
- Insect Repellant Band
- Sunscreen Safe For The Ocean
- Anti-malaria tablets are recommended
- Quick Drying Towels
- Sun Hat
HOW TO GET TO ZANZIBAR
Tanzania has relaxed visa regulations. Kenyan Airways, Rwandair, Fly Dubai, Turkish Airlines, Etihad have frequent flights into Zanzibar.
HOW TO GET AROUND ZANZIBAR
Renting a car is the best option to see the island. If you are staying at a secluded island resort, your access to public transport or shared Taxi’s will be limited. So you will have to depend on your hotel’s shuttle which will be expensive as they charge in USD.
Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore the island but be wary of driving within the city limits. Cabs cost up to $50 one way. Shared Taxi’s or Dala-Dala’s are a cheaper option.
If you plan to stay in or near Stone Town, public transport is the best option. Stone Town is an extremely busy part of town with narrow roads and equal number of cars and people on the road, so driving within city limits can be quite hectic.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZANZIBAR
Zanzibar is one of those destinations where the hotel you choose can make or break your vacation. You need to be cautious while booking hotels in Zanzibar as many including the luxury hotels do not have a private beach access. Not having a private access means you will be stopped by street vendors and tribesmen trying to sell their wares or simply for money while strolling on the beach. Venturing out after sunset in these public beaches are considered unsafe.
Also Read: Staying at the dreamy PONGWE BEACH HOTEL
GPS AND MOBILE CONNECTIVITY
You can buy a local sim though the connectivity is not that great. In case you are driving, it’s best to use a navigator or offline map. Be cautious of short routes suggested on these maps and stick to the main road at all times.
AVOID ANY DOLPHIN RELATED ACTIVITY
Most Zanzibar travel guides online will include dolphin watching or swimming with dolphins activities. Avoid these at any cost. What actually happens is numerous boats full of tourists are taken to sea and made to wait until a poor hapless dolphin shows up. These boats then chase this dolphin around just to meet their part of the bargain of dolphin sighting.
THINGS TO DO IN ZANZIBAR
MEET THE TURTLES AT MNARANI MARINE TURTLE CONSERVATION
Located in Nungwi, the turtles at this conservation are rescued from the local fishermen’s net and are brought here to heal and mature and on Feb 25th every year, they are released back into the wilderness. They also accept volunteers every year to tend to these turtles. Though they do not allow visitors to touch fearing contamination, they let you feed them.
DINE AT THE ROCK RESTAURANT PINGWE
The Rock restaurant in Pingwe has been featured in various international travel magazines. Perched precariously upon a rock in the middle of the sea, this restaurant offers spectacular views. We reached during low tide so we could walk up, else you have to take a boat or swim (!). The restaurant has a lovely terrace where you can enjoy the breathtaking views while cradling a drink.
EXPERIENCE STREET FOOD AT THE FORODHANI GARDEN/OPEN FOOD MARKET
This is NOT for the the faint hearted. Numerous food stalls, open food, lot of shoving and pushing, intense competition among vendors and definitely not a garden.
You can buy local dishes here and sit on a nearby low wall and enjoy the food. It is an authentic Zanzibar experience but visit only if your stomach can handle it.
SNORKEL AT THE MNEMBA ATOLL
Take advantage of the beauty of Mnemba and of its shallow but rich coral reef for snorkeling. Mnemba also has a relatively undiscovered side, with excellent dives at considerable depths and incredible water clarity with visibility exceeding 20 meters for good photography.
WILDLIFE TOUR AT CHEETAH’S ROCK
Experience wildlife up, close and personal with rescued animals at Cheetah’s Rock. Tours are available on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday and need to be booked online. Meet Cheetah’s, Zebra, Otter, Bush babies, Hyenas, White Lion’s and more here at Cheetah’s Rock.
EXPERIENCE A SHIP WRECK DIVING TOUR
For both amateurs and experienced divers, experience the ruins of the The Great Northern, a British ship that sunk on New Years Eve in 1902.
EXPLORE STOWN TOWN
Stone Town, a coastal trading town, consists of the various bazaars, food streets, spice markets, heritage sights/museums and places of worship. It gets extremely crowded. Though considered a main attraction, we did not quite enjoy the town as much and headed back after a quick visit to Mercury Restaurant which has an amazing view of the beach.