“.. highly recommended ... Reliable, reasonably priced... Overall a great little company and well worth checking out.”
Henry Stedman, bestselling author , ‘Rough Guides’
This website contains all the basic information you need to know to plan your perfect holiday on Zanzibar and enjoy the island’s magic. We’ve incorporated as much honest and up-
... and a rough guide to the many Excursions and Tours on offer on the islands. Though this may not be everything you need to know about a holiday on Zanzibar, we hope it will be a useful guide and a great help for you as you start planning your trip to Zanzibar. We want you to be able to get the best out of a holiday on Zanzibar by knowing just what to expect. That is why we are offering you this comprehensive tool to help you tailor-
Zanzibar Beach Holidays
Many intrepid travellers who head out on Safari or to climb Kilimanjaro choose Zanzibar as a place to retreat to afterwards. With its beaches and water sports and the potential to be an idyllic place to unwind it is not hard to see why. However, this site is designed to make sure that Zanzibar holiday makers know how to make the most of their trip and find either the excitement or the relaxation they are seeking.
Climate, Currency and Culture on Zanzibar
Our Zanzibar page gives an overview of all the fundamental things a traveller to Zanzibar might want to know. It aims to provide a great beginners’ guide; a taste of Zanzibar.
Zanzibar’s Hotels, Retreats and Resorts
Listed on this site are some of the best known and commonly booked resorts and hotels on Zanzibar. From City B&Bs to five-
Getting to Zanzibar
From flights to visas to ground transportation and ferries we have tried to give you a clear sense of what it is like Getting There and Getting Around on Zanzibar Tanzania. We have estimated rough costs based on research carried out at the time of writing but ask readers to take into account that flight operators are always changing their deals and coming up with new offers. The best way to get value-
Zanzibar Attractions – Spices, Palaces, Diving and Beaches on Zanzibar
Zanzibar is well-
Zanzibar Travellers Fact-
While our coordinators will be delighted to advise you in more detail with respect to anything you want to know ahead of your travel to Zanzibar, we hope that the following outline information will serve to provide a useful glimpse and overview, ahead of your Zanzibar holiday.
Zanzibar is the name given to the archipelago of islands that lies around 35 km off the coast of mainland Tanzania. The main islands are Unguja (informally known as Zanzibar and referred to as such throughout this site) and Pemba. There are also several smaller islands, many that can be visited and many that can’t. Mentioned on this site are Chumbe, Mnemba Atoll, Changuu (Prison Island) and Tumbatu.
Zanzibar is low-
As with the rest of Tanzania and East Africa, Zanzibar’s time zone is +3 hours ahead of GMT during northern hemisphere winter, and +2 hours ahead of GMT during northern hemisphere summer.
All internationals travelling to Tanzania require a visa. This should be applied for from the High Commission before arrival but can be obtained at most ports of entry. All tourists should hold a valid passport with at least six month left on it. Visas cost up to USD 70 depending on your nationality.
Click here for details and other requirements e.g. Yellow Fever.
The official currency is the Tanzanian Shilling or TSh. On the islands most tourist services will be priced in dollars, making this the currency to take. But take along limited local currency for various services and smaller items (cross-
It is wise to make any currency exchanges on the mainland at Dar Es Salaam rather than on Zanzibar. Exchange rates will be poorer, commission higher, and the scarcity of banks may mean waiting to change money for up to half a day once you are actually on Zanzibar.
You are strongly advised not to exchange money on the street with local touts.
Tanzanian Rates of Exchange -
The trend with respect to the world’s major currency is that the Tanzanian Shilling is continuing to fall, losing around 5% per year against the currencies of more economically stable countries. Recent decisions made by the new parliament which are to impact on foreign investors indicate that this decline will likely continue, and at a slightly increased rate of loss.
USD 1 = TSh 1,650
EUR 1 = TSh 2,250
GBP 1 = TSh 2,800
The height of summer on Zanzibar is mid June and winter is in December. However, the islands are warm all year round due to their proximity to the equator.
The short rains occur November – December. Expect frequent showers that do not last long. Some coastlines can get very sea-
Ramadan is one festival most tourists aim to avoid (especially those travelling to Stone Town) as many restaurants close during the day and eating in public before nightfall can be very awkward. However, the Eid-
Since Muslims do not ingest any foods or fluids from first light until last light during the period of Ramadan, and as religious fervour is heightened during this period, and exhibitions of what locals would deem immodesty will be regarded with less tolerance than at other times, travellers should be very aware of Ramadan’s dates:
28 June 2014 -
18 June 2015 -
Note that Ramadan falls ten days earlier each year than the year before.
Zanzibar itself is home to two major festivals; the Sauti za Busara music festival in February and the Zanzibar International Film Festival in July. Both these take place in Stone Town and the city gets hugely busy during both. Another music festival has also recently sprung up, this one in Kizimkazi on the south coast; The Kizimkazi Cultural Music Festival.
Before you leave home…
We suggest that you contact your GP or a travel clinic for advice. The following jabs or boosters are usually recommended and some form of anti-
For those planning on travelling more extensively in Zanzibar a yellow fever shot is usually obtained ahead of travel.
As the climate is hot and low-
On the Islands of Zanzibar Archipelago
The sun is the biggest danger to a traveller’s health as it is often the most seemingly benign and therefore least anticipated threat. As Zanzibar is near to the equator the sun is in the zenith for much of the day. Any part of the body that is horizontally exposed to the sun is at risk of severe burning. This means swimming and sunbathing are particularly dangerous if you do not take adequate precautions. Apply a medium-
Westerners travelling to equatorial destinations can be particularly susceptible to heat stroke. Symptoms are fever, cramps, rapid pulse and / or vomiting, then hallucinations and mental confusion. The condition can be fatal. If you think you might be suffering heatstroke it is vitally important to get out of the sun and to take re-
It is strongly recommended that visitors to Zanzibar avoid drinking tap-
When it comes to biting things Zanzibar is no stranger to mosquitos. Expect to be bitten despite you and your hotel’s efforts to keep the pests away. While remembering that many synthetically manufactured insect repellents are claimed to contain carcinogens, many travellers will nonetheless compromise by applying something like DEET to just small areas of the body that are difficult to cover with clothing. A better option is arguably to use a natural alternative such as one containing high concentrations of Lemon Grass. Wrists and ankles seem to be particularly susceptible to being bitten. Additionally, you may consider taking with you some sort of alkaline or herbal remedy (e.g. an ammonia pen) to put on the bites, if you are unable to avoid being bitten.
Sharks in the Indian Ocean
There are sharks off the coast of Zanzibar (this is a major lure for many scuba divers). There have been no recorded shark attacks on humans since a spate of them in 2000 off the coast of Dar Es Saleem. Far more likely are sea urchin and jellyfish stings. Watch out for urchins on the beach, and when exploring wear beach shoes. A good cure for jellyfish stings is vinegar.
Healthcare on Zanzibar is not good. Hospitals are hugely under-
Zanzibar is a reasonably safe place to travel in. With a little common sense you shouldn’t have too much trouble. One of the biggest annoyances are the ‘papasi,’ and the ‘beach boys;’ touts, usually young men, who follow tourists in the hope of making some easy money. In any developing country this sort of grass-
There are very few thefts on Zanzibar but keeping your hotel room locked and any valuables hidden in balled socks or at the bottom of cases is advisable. Avoiding flashy jewellery and portable electronics is also a good idea as it makes you far less conspicuous a target to pick-
The Zanzibar police force and traffic police are notorious for being corrupt and will try and find any excuse to extort a bribe. Travellers are just as susceptible (if not more so) than locals though there are measures that one can take to minimise exposure to such predation. We strongly recommend that when approached by any authorities, you start filming yourself, but do not point the camera at the official for longer than the necessary split second that you require subsequently to identify him or her. The best and least aggressive way of obtaining this shot is to hold your camera at arm’s length, turn your back on the official, and aim to capture him / her in the background, behind you, while talking into the camera. On approach, the official will advise you that filming policemen is illegal and will ask you to turn the camera off. You can be reasonably confident that the motivation of the official is not to ensure that you are not committing a crime, but rather that since he or she is likely planning to abuse his / her position to intimidate you into parting with some of your money, they would very much prefer that there should be no evidence of this transaction. At this point you are taking a risk of losing the cooperation of the official by continuing to film, however, he / she is far more likely to leave you alone if it is his / her intention to exploit you. If the official is serious about the imminent solution of a crime, they will be far less nervous about your desire to film, particularly if you film only yourself and talk into the camera as though you are compiling a video diary of the event. It is important never to point the camera directly at the official but to very calmly and respectfully point out that you are only filming yourself. The official will certainly ask you why you are filming. A polite and credible response would be that the objective of your filming yourself while you interact with local law enforcement is twofold, namely:
1. To validate your subsequent insurance claim, since your insurer is generally entitled to request proof that the event has been reported to local law enforcement within 24 hours of discovery, and
2. To provide material to your tour operator in case they wish to compile a report to be sent to the Ministry of Tourism, or to the local Chief of Police, to assist in their ongoing role in crime prevention
(It should be understood that the latter of these objectives is simply to inspire the official to conduct himself / herself in as exemplary a fashion as possible when he / she reflects on the fact that this transaction may subsequently be seen by his / her superiors and their superiors, and not because you believe that much else would be achieved by this).
Avoid haggling and offering bribes when it comes to genuine fines. Standard fines (for offences such as speeding) are only TSh 30,000 and you will be given a receipt. If the police are not willing to offer a receipt, you need to understand that they have no interest in upholding law and order. In this event we advise that you claim that you do not feel that they have adequately proven to you that you are in breach of the law and that out of sympathy for their department’s lack of funding you wish to make a charitable contribution of TSh 10,000 towards some new equipment that will enable them to do their work more efficiently. Rather than normalise this ugly practice by trying to achieve rapport with corrupt officials, in our view it is far preferable to stigmatise their actions by very carefully and politely patronising them and making them feel dishonourable and pathetic for making these approaches.
Remember that recreational drugs are illegal on Zanzibar, though you may be offered marijuana. If you are a marijuana user it is definitely advisable not to partake unless you are certain about the person offering and all of the prospective witnesses. You may find yourself in a position of being blackmailed for a fair amount of cash if you do. Please also consider that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not able to offer you a get out of jail free card, where there is evidence that you have broken the law, and a prison stay could become extremely unpleasant if the guards are negligent and do not have sympathy for drug users.
Zanzibar is a strictly Muslim place. With a little bit of respect, consideration and restraint this should not prove problematic for most travellers; there are of course some exceptions.
The major cultural code that many Western visitors fail to adhere to is the dress code. While uncovered shoulders and arms are acceptable, and female travellers should not feel obliged to wear any form of head gear, long skirts and trousers are recommended (knee length and below). Of course on the beaches and in resorts this is impractical and not expected. Topless sunbathing is not only frowned upon, but illegal on the archipelago.
Public displays of affection should be kept to a minimum, holding hands is fine, but nothing much more unless you are somewhere more private or secluded. Unmarried heterosexual couples have been known to be made to feel uncomfortable in some hotels but this is not normally the case. Single women may suffer from unwanted advances from Zanzibari men. This is partly due to the fact that these ‘lovers’ make a living out of affairs with tourists. It is vital to remember that many of these Casanovas are carrying the HIV virus and that they are likely simultaneously managing a portfolio of several other western females.
Homosexuality on Zanzibar
Homosexuality on Zanzibar is illegal. Therefore it is unsurprising that most hotels will not allow two men to share a double bed. Public displays of homosexuality will cause deep offence and could even result in difficulties with the police and a prison sentence. It is a harsh truth, but Zanzibar is no place for homosexual couples.
Two things tourists should avoid are taking photographs of strangers without prior permission (locals may ask for payment and Maasai almost certainly will) and entering mosques without permission.
If you are looking for a plush holiday with all Western standards upheld, easily accessible history and hassle-
If you are looking for perfection of service then only the very top end resorts (carrying top end price tags) may prove satisfactory.
If you want only beauty and escape from reality, Zanzibar is unlikely to completely oblige.
Do read this site and others carefully before planning your trip. Zanzibar is undoubtedly a wonderful place, but it is not for everybody.
Different areas of the island have very different characteristics, so it is a very good idea to understood the dominant features of each area prior to deciding to spend the majority of your vacation in that area.
Stone Town can be a paradise for culture vultures, amateur historians, those interested in architecture, foodies and avid bargain hunters. The city is home to many intricate colonial buildings and ruined palaces and a stoic fort.
Though be warned—the city’s history is not easily learnt en-
Though Stone Town is an exciting, and in many ways, beautiful city, it is by no means a perfect cultural haven. Zanzibar is very much a developing Island in a developing country. In Stone Town the entrepreneurial poor of this Eastern African archipelago congregate in the hope of reaping financial gains, especially from tourists. Stone Town is a hot, bubbling and noisy city, and being home to people of multiple origins with different cultural and temporal values, always close to boiling point.
One of the most pestilent examples of Stone Town’s position are the aptly named papasi (ticks). These youths and men follow tourists, desperate to sell safaris, guided tours and souvenirs (most of which services don’t actually exist). Some papasi are more persistent than others and will trail tourists throughout the city. Just make sure the culprit knows you will not be able to pay for any services and they should leave you alone.
Many of the cultural heritage sites of the city may seem poorly kept by Western standards. But due to recent projects work is being done to protect Stone Town’s attractions. One attraction that is most unprotected however, is Stone Town’s beach. The city beach is hugely busy and the water here is not clean. Do not be convinced by the local boys who dive into the ocean. If you are looking for idyllic beaches and bathing you are advised to take a trip from Stone Town to one of the unspoilt village coastlines or to one of the islands, such as Chumbe.
The north and north-
North East Zanzibar
All the hotels listed on our north-
Like the north-
Zanzibar’s East Coast
Much of the central east coast of Zanzibar is dominated by holiday resorts. This is largely on account of its relative locality to Stone Town, white sandy beaches and nearby popular tourist sites. It is wise to note that seaweed and sea urchins mar the beach (especially February to December) and that most of the beaches are not combed as they are in the Caribbean. However, the seaweed provides a livelihood for many of the locals who farm it and sea urchins can be fascinating, just don’t tread on one!. The beaches are subject to wide tidal variation. At low-
Many visitors to the East Coast choose to take day trips to the Kiwengwa-
Most of the hotels listed on this site are located around the main beaches of either Pongwe or Kiwengwa.
South East Zanzibar
The south east coast has much going for it. It is less built up than the central east coast (with the exception of a few extensive resorts in Dongwe) with white sandy beaches lined with palm trees and a good sea-
However, as with most of Zanzibar’s coast, the tides change the beach dramatically and bathing in the sea at low-
Zanzibar’s Southern Coast
Kizimkazi is the destination for most tourists wishing to stay on the southern tip of Unguja. It was once the capital when the island was under the power of the pre-
Kizimkazi is most visited by tourists for its dolphin tours. For those in search of a cultural experience Kizimkazi is where East Africa’s oldest mosque can be found, The Dimbani Mosque. Unlike other mosques on the island, non-
On the island’s southern tip the beaches are hugely tidal and at high-
There are a number of lodges and restaurants in the area as it is popular among day-
|Getting Around Zanzibar|
|Our Featured Recommendation|
|Stone Town Hotels|
|North & North West Hotels|
|North East Coast Hotels|
|Central East Coast Hotels|
|South East Coast Hotels|
|South Coast Hotels|
|Fumba Beach Lodge|
|Chumbe Island Coral Park|
|Zanzibar Serena Inn|
|Swahili House Hotel|
|Zanzibar Coffee House|
|Hurumzi 236 Hotel|
|Africa House Hotel|
|Dhow Palace Hotel|
|Tembo House Hotel|
|Beyt al-Chai Hotel|
|Mtoni Marine Hotel|
|Mbweni Ruins Hotel|
|Mnemba Island Lodge|
|Gemma Dell' Est Hotel|
|Kendwa Rocks Hotel|
|Langi Langi Beach Bungalows|
|Flame Tree Cottages|
|Mnarani Beach Cottages|
|Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel|
|The Zanzibari Hotel|
|Che Che Vule Hotel|
|Azanzi Beach Hotel|
|Matemwe Beach Village|
|Mchanga Beach Lodge|
|Neptune Pwani Beach Resort|
|Ocean Paradise Resort|
|Melia Zanzibar Hotel|
|Bluebay Beach Resort|
|Pongwe Beach Hotel|
|Ras Michamvi Hotel|
|Karafuu Hotel Beach Resort|
|Echo Beach Hotel|
|Baraza Resort & Spa|
|Breezes Beach Club and Spa|
|Anna of Zanzibar|
|Casa Del Mar Hotel|
|Blue Oyster Hotel|
|Sau Inn Hotel|
|Coral Rock Hotel|
|Stone Town City Tour|
|Jozani Forest Tour|
|Prison Island Tour|
|'Swimming with Dolphins'|