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Zanzibar

Tanzania Travel Guide

Practical information about Zanzibar

  • Family
  • Spa and massage
  • Romantic
  • Beach / Seaside Resort
  • Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
  • Island
  • Viewpoint
  • Extreme Sports
  • Water Sports
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Handicraft
  • Place or Historical Monument
  • Unesco World Heritage
  • Essential
4 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
20 min flight or 2 hr boat trip from Dar es Salaam
When to go
From January to February and from June to October
Minimum stay
One week

Reviews of Zanzibar

David Debrincat Travel writer
459 travel articles

Only a 20 minute flight or 2 hour boat trip from Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar is typical of the spice-filled islands found in the Indian Ocean.

My suggestion:
Personally, I suggest you travel to Zanzibar by boat. The journey is no longer done by dhows, but arriving by ferry still gives you the best view of the island.
Summary:

After safaris in the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, and the Kilimanjaro climb, Zanzibar is the place to relax and enjoy a bit of culture during a trip to Tanzania.

I suggest that the first thing you do when you reach Stone Town, is to explore its labyrinth of small streets. I loved wandering around aimlessly - you get a real feel of their daily life. When evening came, I ate grilled fish on the harbor, whilst watching the sun go down. And then I went looking for Red Colobus monkeys (and the even rarer Blue Colobus) in the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. I also visited a spice garden.

And when I had finished touring, I found a hotel and spent the rest of my holiday on a white, sandy beach by the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Even though big hotels are beginning to line the coast, you can still find small charming guest houses.

Sarah Louërat Travel writer
13 travel articles

Zanzibar, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean famous for its heavenly beaches, draws its charm from its culture, which shows a wide variety of influences, and its exotic fruits and spices.

My suggestion:
Be careful of the touts that will try to sell you an organised stay while you wait for the ferry to Dar es Salaam: once on the island, it's easy to find a room at a much more reasonable price.
Summary:

On arriving at Unguja, the main island, I found myself mesmerized by the capital, Stone Town, and its relaxed atmosphere. It's a place of culture, with live entertainment and museums, as well as the starting point for day tours exploring the spice plantations. The tour I went on also took us to visit Mangapwani, where I learned about the island's slave trading history, which is how it built its wealth.

There are several sides to Zanzibar. The north, around Nungwi and Kendwa, is more focused on mass tourism, with a number of large hotels located next to the beach. You can go diving and snorkeling there. I adored seeing the fish, with their blazing colors.

I enjoyed a more relaxed time at Jambiani, on the island's east coast. You may encounter Masai people selling jewelry on the beaches. Astonishingly, some of them wear traditional dress yet use smartphones! At night, I contemplated a superb and truly cloudless starry sky, with constellations visible that can only be observed in the Southern Hemisphere.

Nicolas Hillaire Travel writer
18 travel articles

Zanzibar is one of the symbols of exoticism. With African, Arabic, Indian and Portuguese influences, the Island has something to dream about, if the dream wasn't ruined by the realities of mass tourism.

My suggestion:
Get away and spend a few nights in Michamvi, on the East coast, one of the least visited areas on the Island, and for me, it's the most pleasant.
Summary:

Don't miss Stonetown, the "stone town" as Ibn Battuta, a medieval Arab traveller, named it. Losing yourself in the labyrinth of streets which make up the old town is a delight. Stopping to drink a kahawa ("coffee" in Swahili and in Arabic) in the surrounding areas of mosques is quickly becoming an absorbing activity. Stonetown is also the town where people eat the best in all of Tanzania. Enjoy tasting dishes from the Forozani night market. Advice from a friend: despite what anyone tells you, seafood is not the freshest!

Outside of Stonetown, the beaches are magnificent and are interspersed with palm tress, the sand so white it sometimes hurts your eyes, and the turquoise waters. But the reverse side of the postcard is less charming: the seaside resorts often form barriers between tourists and inhabitants, like in the city of Nungwi in the North of the Island, creating an atmosphere that I really didn't like. On the East coast, apart from places a little way away like Michamvi, you have the choice between several seaside resorts that I didn't want to go to, out of fear of recreating a touristic ghetto . But if you want to party with white people, it seems that it is the right place!

In brief, Zanzibar is undeniably a must-see location, you will not be disappointed, providing that you are prepared to support or avoid touristic pollution.

Tours and travel ideas Zanzibar