Zanzibar is the ideal beach or honeymoon holiday destination. There are all types of water sports available and cultural delights. Although it is part of Tanzania, we have listed it separately for ease of reference.
Zanzibar is an archipelago; made up of Zanzibar and the islands of Pemba, Mafia, and several other islets. Zanzibar Island (Unguja) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide; occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles.
There is an airport (Kisauni Airport); or else you can fly to Dar es Salaam and catch a ferry or short flight to Zanzibar. The currency in Zanzibar is the Tanzanian Shilling. The food is mostly what is locally available so lots of lobsters, prawns, crab, and fish is on offer. Zanzibar time is 3 hours ahead of GMT.
Due to the fact that Zanzibar was the worlds leading producer of cloves in the 19th Century; it is also called ‘The Spice Island’. Other spices include nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, and many others. Spice Tours are conducted around the plantations; which still produce more than 50 different spices and fruits.
It is also famous for being the last place to abolish the slave trade!! Prison Island is just off Zanzibar and was once used as a prison for slaves. It is home to a family of giant tortoises and has a beautiful white beach that offers great snorkeling.
Dress code: Out of respect, in public places; tourists should cover their bodies from shoulders to knees.
Best time for Zanzibar beaches holiday
The climate is equatorial.
From June till September: Very low levels of rainfall and average temperatures around 25°C.
From October till December: Generally very humid with short rains and temperatures rising into the 30s.
In January and February: The heat soars with average highs of 29°C, humidity remains high.
From March till May: Heavy monsoon season with heavy downpours followed by sunshine.
Zanzibar is home to the enchanted Jozani Forest. Home to the curious Zanzibari Red Colobus Monkey is endemic to Zanzibar and now classified as endangered. The Jozani Natural Forest Reserve is in the central east region of Zanzibar island. Jozani is also home to other species including Syke’s monkeys, Elephant Shrews, Chameleons, numerous birds and butterflies, and small buck.
Stone Town; a World Heritage Site; is the main ‘town’ on Zanzibar island.
The Arab houses in this city date back to the 19th century; when Zanzibar was one of the most important trading centers. These Arab houses usually have brass-studded beautifully carved wooden doors. One can spend hours wandering through the narrow streets of Stone Town or take a guided tour.
Visit the Anglican Cathedral built on the former slave market, the house of the famous slave trader (Tip Tip house), Hamamni Bath, Darajani market (fish and fruits market), the Old Portuguese Fort, the House of Wonders (Zanzibar National Museum of History & Culture) and also the home of the world-famous musician, Freddy Mercury. The Forodhani Gardens, and the Sultan’s Palace are also key attractions in Stone Town.
The beaches are breathtaking. Interspersed with picturesque fishing villages, where the people live a simple way of life. The majority of good beaches are along the East Coast and Nungwi which is near the northern tip of the island. There is also Mangapwani Beach located on the west coast that is a really beautiful beach. The northeast coast is where you’ll find the unspoiled beaches of Matemwe. Most of the hotels along this beach face Mnemba Island. Another great beach in Zanzibar is the famous Kiwengwa with stretches of outstanding reefs and beautiful white sands.
Take diving booties to the coast as some of the reefs have sea urchins.
Due to its location; it enjoys warm currents almost year-round. This provides the perfect playground to the many species of fish found around the many surrounding coral reefs. This makes it one of the best diving destinations in the world. The Mnemba Atoll is a prime dive site in the northern region, opposite Matemwe. Experienced scuba divers can enjoy exciting wall dives, night dives, and drift dives. In deeper waters, lush coral gardens often stretch as far as the eye can see. And large gamefish (barracuda, kingfish, tuna, and wahoo) hunt together with large Napoleonic wrasse, graceful manta rays, and sharks.