Do you feel like relaxing and just laying down on some of the best beaches in the world? On this Zanzibar travel guide, you are going to find some of the most stunning places to visit in Zanzibar and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
We have collected our best Zanzibar travel tips to make sure you live it as it best. On this guide, you’ll find the best places to go, some great places to eat, to sleep and more. You’ll see some really amazing places on this wonderful island from where you will never want to leave
Quick Zanzibar Travel Tips
- Take your time to explore Stone Town food and culture.
- Pack a snorkel mask. You will want to use it almost everywhere.
- Do not touch coral or fishes when snorkeling.
- Spices and coffee are a big deal. Take a tour to learn more.
- Zanzibar is a Muslim island so dress appropriately.
- Beware of scams with tours and only go with reputable places.
- Zanzibar island is generally safe, but with extra precaution and common sense will be much safer.
- Moving around the island with taxi is the easiest but most expensive. Don’t be afraid of negotiating hard the prices.
- When on the beach, never leave your stuff unattended.
- Take a tour with a dhow. Is a great experience.
Where is Zanzibar?: This little island might not be easy to find at first in the map. Zanzibar is one of the Indian Ocean islands. It is situated on the Swahili Coast, adjacent to Tanzania, which is the country.
Visa: You can get in Tanzania a visa on arrival, which means, that you don’t need to apply for it in advance. Although you can if you want. Once you arrive at the airport, just head to the immigration office with 50$ and 2 id pictures. You can also check here if you need a Visa.
Language: The main language in Zanzibar is Swahili, however, English is their second language so most of the people can speak English there.
Currency: The currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling. There is only ATM in Stone Town so we would recommend you to withdraw enough money for all your stay in Zanzibar island, otherwise, you might run out of money and most of the places won’t take cash
Safety: There has been an increase in the number of residential burglaries in Zanzibar and Arusha in 2018. In any case, check here for travel advice about the current safety in Tanzania.
Also, there is Malaria in Zanzibar and some other diseases you need to check ahead. In terms of vaccinations, you must have the yellow fever vaccine to get into the country and have with you your vaccination log.
For the best medical advice is worth to check Fit for Travel website. You should seek medical advice on vaccinations and any other advice a professional can provide you with. As it is a dengue area, we recommend you to have mosquito repellent with a high concentration of DEET. It is important that you have good travel insurance when traveling to these countries to have all the travel essentials covered.
What to pack: Zanzibar is a very hot and humid place. The average temperature is around 29 degrees, and it gets only a little bit colder at night. Try to pack light and breathable clothes. We love to take less but good, this is kind of shirts we take to warm places and they last forever.
As it is a Malaria zone, take with you a mosquito repellent with at least 50% DEET and make sure you apply it mostly at dawn and sunset, as those are the most dangerous hours. Take a look at the ultimate guide to packing to nail it with your packing.
How to move around: There are two different ways to move around in Zanzibar, one is by taxi, and the other option is by Dalla Dalla. We chose a taxi most of the time since is much faster and convenient
- Taxi: Most of the taxis don’t have a taximeter so you will have to negotiate the price with the driver (try to. For safety reasons, ensure the taxi you are taking has the license and that the license belongs to the driver. We heard some cases in which tourists have taken pirate taxis and ended up scammed or worst.
- Dalla Dalla: Is public transport and how the locals move around by. They are like small buses that get really packed at peak hours and they don’t have aircon. They are much cheaper than taxis but probably less comfortable and does not have much room even for a backpack
You can also fly from Dar es Salam to Zanzibar. Check your options in Skyscanner since they have pretty good deals.
How much cost travel to Zanzibar?
We spent an average of 59$ per day on our trip around Zanzibar, all included. Take into account that moving from one point to another in a taxi, is not really cheap. It will also depend on your negotiation skills, but regardless, it won’t be as cheap as a bus in Asia for example.
Also, some places do not have budget-friendly options, and if they do, they might feel a bit dodgy, so do a bit of homework before the adventure to any random place. So from experience, we think this is a pretty close estimate to travel Zanzibar on a budget and safe.
How is the average price calculated?
It is the total of all our expenses in Zanzibar divided by 14 days, which is the time we spent there. That is taking into account:
- What kind of accommodation? We mainly stayed at budget hotels and some hostels
- How did you move around? Most of the time we moved around with taxis.
- What kind of food did you have? Normally we went for local food, which is very good. Just be cautious and make sure is all cooked and do not eat raw veggies.
- What do you consider entertainment? Many tours like safari blue, or dolphin watching.
Taking into account the time to arrive at and from Dar es Salam to Zanzibar, we would suggest spending at least 7 days in Zanzibar.
It is not a big island, so moving with a taxi around is the best option and does not take a lot of time, although the roads up there are not in the best conditions.
Our suggestion for a route in Zanzibar would be starting in Stone Town for the first contact. From here you can easily move anywhere.
We would recommend a short trip to Prison Island. Not only the island is gorgeous, but you will also have the chance to see the giant turtles.
After, Paje would make a great second stop for aquatic sports or for some tours in a bit more relaxed atmosphere.
From here, you can take a cab all the way north to Nungwi. This is the real paradise, so enjoy here some of the most amazing and purest beaches of Zanzibar.
Lastly, any travel to Zanzibar should pass by Kendwa. Beaches are extensive and idyllic, although there are more resorts and is one of the most touristic areas.
This is a great 7 days Zanzibar travel itinerary to cover the highlights.
Related: Best Zanzibar Beaches
Things to do in Zanzibar
Get lost in Stone Town: If just visiting the best beaches in Zanzibar is not enough, Stone Town has plenty to offer. Put your map away and adventure yourself to take a stroll. Stone Town is full of small fascinating details that will give you a hint of what has been going on over the years. Walk through the small alleyways and get immerse into the smell of spices. Talk to locals and let them tell you some secrets about the place that only locals know
Stone Town and Prison Island: See the most fascinating historical sites in Stone Town and Prison Island. Take a traditional Dhow boat under the name of “ Mr. Bean” (our guide), or any other funny name to Visit Prison Island. There, your tour guide will introduce you to the giant Agabra turtles and, interesting fact, the eldest turtle is 192 years old! After visiting the prison, you will have some time to cool yourself down doing some snorkeling. If you want to avoid the crowds, book your tour early in the morning since is a popular visit from Stone town.
Visit Jozani Forest: Head out into the Jozani Forest on a 3-hour expedition that takes you straight into the heart of nature. Follow your guide to hear about the delicate ecosystem, see its animals, learn the medicinal properties of its plants, and view the stunning scenery.
Swim with dolphins? : Although it is amazing, we put it as a question mark, since after we did it, feels more like a dolphin haunting. So make your homework before and think if you really want to contribute. We failed on doing ours but now we know and can warn you.
Safari Blue: In this tour, we visited two islands. The first one was particularly stunning, with crystal clear water, however, it was really crowded. There was also some time to do snorkel the turquoise waters in search of colorful sea life. We reckon is a good way to see some of the best beaches in Zanzibar. Overall we had a good time there, very friendly crew and the lunch was nice, the only downside was the high amount of people concentrated in a small island. Ask in yor hotel about this for more info and prices.
Chill in Nungwi and Kendwa beaches: With no doubt, these are the top spots for lazy days. Nungwi is less crowded and more authentic in our opinion, although the beaches from Kendwa are like the paradise you have always dreamt about! For us, these were the best beaches in Zanzibar we saw.
Kendwa- Discover Scuba Diving at Mnemba: This programme is not for a diving certification, however, it will introduce you to the thrilling experience of breathing underwater and give you the chance to explore the amazing underwater world.
Before you go- Get good travel insurance
Because things can go wrong even in such an amazing destination like Zanzibar, we always recommend buying good travel insurance before leaving.
A missed fly connection, lost baggage, stolen travel gear, any accident you may have in destination, etc. These are some examples of some things that could easily happen to anyone.
So is always worth to have good travel insurance for peace of mind and also to be covered in case you have any of these issues or need medical attention.
Bear in mind Zanzibar is a small island with limited resources. So in case of a big accident you might need to be evacuated and that is not going to be cheap.
The one we always use and can recommend you for their price, coverage, but overall service, is World Nomads. Any time we have had any issue while traveling they have been very responsive and make things easy.
You can get a quick quote here to have an idea on how much it will cost you.