Aromatic island in the Indian Ocean

Zanzibar Island has stunning tropical beaches and a rich history.

A place in the Indian Ocean where Arabia and Africa meet. Zanzibar Island is characterized by quiet fishing villages and snow-white, heavenly beaches and the bustling Stone Town.


  • Surface 1.660 km2
  • Inhabitant 1.000.000
  • Spring rain season April & May
  • Fall rain seasonNovember

About Zanzibar Island

Considering its stunning beaches, Zanzibar Island can be combined perfectly with a safari in Tanzani. There are great places to enjoy the beach, swimming, snorkeling and diving.
The Zanzibar archipelago is known as one of the top 10 most beautiful diving locations in the world.

Culture and products on Zanzibar

Did you know that what everyone calls Zanzibar Island is officially called Unguja? Zanzibar itself is an archipelago consisting of two main islands: Unguja and Pemba and many small islands.

Culture
Zanzibar Island is a gem in the Indian ocean and has a rich Swahili culture.
The history of Zanzibar Island has been influenced by Persians, Arabs, Muslims, the Portuguese, and residents of mainland Africa.
The historic city center of the capital of Zanzibar Island, Stone Town, is a city district with winding avenues, round towers, doors with carvings, terraces and beautiful mosques. Architectural highlights are the Livingstone House, the Guliani Bridge and the House of Wonders: a palace built in 1883 under Sultan Barghash.

Products
Zanzibar Island’s main sources of income spices (including cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper) and tourism. Zanzibar Island also exports seaweed and raffia.

Stone Town
The capital of Unguja is Stone Town. A historic and bustling town with a lot of historical significance. An atmospheric town to spend one or more days before you head to the beach.
The island is 100 km long and 32 km wide. Each place is easily accessible, Stone Town is therefore perfect for a day trip.

Diving
Zanzibar offers many beautiful diving sites of all levels. There are a number of famous sites like Mnemba Atoll. This is also called the tropical fish capital of East Africa. Mnemba Atoll has a constant visibility of about 30 meters and you often see dolphins here.
There are also many dive sites on the northern tip of Zanzibar Island, generally for the more experienced divers. You dive on the open sea and there is more current here. Here live the big sport fish, tuna, barracuda and a variety of moray eels.
The less well-known south of Zanzibar Island also has beautiful diving sites.

Beaches
Zanzibar Island is characterized by quiet fishing villages and snow-white, heavenly beaches. Ideal for a beach vacation.
The north coast has many properties; from small guesthouses to larger resorts, a lively part of Zanzibar Island.
The northeast coast is quiet and offers many opportunities for snorkeling and diving.
The southeast coast has snow-white and wide sandy beaches, but is the perfect place for active holiday maker.
The south of Zanzibar Island has a number of beautiful accommodations and quiet beaches, beautiful islands and beautiful diving and snorkeling locations.

Climate & season

Zanzibar Island has a tropical climate and is a beautiful destination all year round.

April and May:
In April and May there is more chance of rain. That means mainly a tropical shower in the morning and sometimes at night. The temperatures are pleasant.

June to October:
This is the “cool” period on Zanzibar Island . The temperature is pleasant. The temperature varies from 25 to 35 degrees.

November to December:
Precipitation varies and the temperature slightly rises.

December to February:
This is the hottest period of the year.

Interesting facts

1. The island of Unguja (= Zanzibar Island) is 100 km long and 32 km wide. Every place is easy to reach, Stone Town is therefore also great as a day trip.

2. In the period that Zanzibar Island fell under the reign of the Sultan of Oman (from the 17th to the 19th centuries), it was a center for the Eastern slave trade.

3. Shortly after the island of Unguja and Pemba became independent as Zanzibar at the end of 1963, it was merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania, of which it has been a part from 1964. The word Tanzania is a contraction of both names.

4. The United Republic of Tanzania initially pursued a communist-oriented foreign policy, but has since developed in a more democratic direction since the 1980s.

5. Freddie Mercury was born on September 5, 1946 in Stown Town on Zanzibar Island. He was the singer and ‘frontman’ of the Queen group and was known for his extravagant stage personality, explosive performances and voice range of four octaves. He died in London on November 24, 1991.

6. Zanzibar Island is the only region where the Zanzibar frill monkey, also called red frill monkey, (Procolobus kirkii) occurs.

Activities

Do you want action or enjoy the sounds of the sea from your hammock?
Or discover atmospheric and authentic places?
It’s your call, it’s all there …

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Sandbank BBQ

Zanzibar Island has many beautiful sandbanks that appear during low tide, the most idyllic little spots on Zanzibar Island. Imagingin yourself sitting in the middle of the ocean already?
While enjoying the sandbank, the sea and the view, a delicious BBQ is prepared, simple but tasty and local. Lobster, calamari and fish, local specialties and exotic fruits are on the menu. After lunch it’s time for a little rest, reading, swimming or just enjoying the breathtaking view. You don’t need more than a cold drink and a camera to perpetuate paradise.
During the day you can snorkel to discover the underwater life. Apart from schools of colourful tropical fish, there are sea urchins, starfish and other magical underwater creatures that live among the corals.

Full day trip with snorkeling, including transfer, boat, seafood BBQ, exotic fruit, water and soft drinks. Departure is from Kizimkazi / Unguja Ukuu

Snorkeling

Mnemba Island is a protected nature reserve with a huge oval reef system, 7×4 km in size, located about 2 km off the northeast coast of Zanzibar Island. The reefs around the island are colourful and you see lion fish, moray eels, stingrays and turtles swimming in the shallow water. With a bit of luck, you swim while dolphins surround you. We have lunch in a lodge on the beach.

Including transfer, boat, snorkel gear, marine park fee, water and fruit.

Exotisc fruits

If you are lucky enough to visit Zanzibar Island during the fruit season, you come across 15 variations of mango, and the pineapples are so intense in taste, they are comparable to coconut flavor. The rest of the year, there is a lot of juicy fruit. Fruit you’ve probably never seen before.
Juice is the best drink for a Zanzibari and is always freshly mad: mango juice with a hint of ginger, passion fruit juice packed with vitamins, avocado juice with lime (yes, avocado is a fruit!). Add coconut milk and you will get a true Zanzibari milkshake.
Ahmed chooses what’s currently available in this exotic fruit tasting. You definitely try fruit you’ve never tasted before. He will also make some juice, maybe a coconut shake and most likely he will have a few specials in his sleeve.
The tasting takes place in the lush “The Garden Fruit Café” in Jambiani.

Mangrove canoe

An adventure off the beaten track. Village tour and mangrove canoe, a piece of pristine Zanzibar – the mangrove forest.
Muugoni is a lush and green area in the south of Zanzibar Island. Rama, an advocate of forest conservation, shares his village and his people with you, and makes you to see what the quiet village life is like on Zanzibar Island. Ramas’ wife and her mother will prepare a delicious lunch.
The mangrove forest is a peaceful and mysterious place. Along the way, Rama will show you medicinal plants, fruit and plants.
At the mangrove, the captain awaits to sail us to the sea with his traditional wooden canoe, which is used daily by the fishermen. Along the way, you meet other fishermen catching this evening’s dinner. When the tide comes, we can visit ‘bird island’ – the habitat of thousands of different large birds.

Including tour, boat, lunch and guide.

Cooking class

Amidst the village of Jambiani, just 100 meters from the ocean, lies the charming restaurant Okala – made of only wood and coconut leaves. The restaurant has the name of Mr. Okala, a top swahili cook and champion of protected ocean conservation area.
Mr. Okala shares his swahili cooking skills with you, as his grandmother taught him with only local ingredients in seasonal and traditional cooking methods.
By the end of class, you eat together – guaranteed tasty and entertaining.

The workshop lasts 3 hours and includes a cooking class, food, fruit and drinks.

Pottery

Get to know the work and life of the earthenware women in Jambiani.
Amina’s daily work consists of making pottery boxes for use in hotels and private homes, for decoration, cooking or other purposes such as soap holder, sinks, pots, lampshades, etc.
The clay she uses is from Makunduchi, the classic red African clay, which she digs up in the traditional way by hand from the earth of Zanzibar Island. After the clay has dried, the product is hardened in a few hours in a fire made of coconut wood and coconut scrap.
In this pottery workshop with Jambiani women, you sit and work together to create something of yourself with Amina as your teacher.

The workshop lasts 3 hours and includes clay, herbal teas and a gift from the Pottery Shop.

Village tour

Discover the amazing authentic Zanzibar, untouched by tourism.
Red earth and clay huts, banana plantations, huge mango trees and a calm, tranquil life. This is Makunduchi, Zanzibar’s largest village and a typical African village where life continuous as usual.
You walk through gardens and plantations, get water from the deep well, pass the school and view some beautiful mud huts with a courtyard. You visit Haji’s aunt who makes rope from coconut. You get to know the locals, view the school and the hospital and taste fruit and local specialties along the way.
You can view the entire area on the bikes you brought.

Including transfers, bike ride, fruit tasting and guide.

Private beach

A private beach and delicious BBQ with seafood dishes!
Arriving in Unguja Ukuu, you walk to the beach of Captain Njuma who is waiting for you with his traditional wooden Dhow. He brings you to a stunning private beach. Along the way, you stop for some snorkeling.
While the crew is cooking, you enjoy the perfect temperature in the shade of the tree.

Including boat, snorkeling equipment, BBQ with fruit, soft drinks and water.

Fishing

Kizimkazi is where they catch the big fish: tuna, red snapper, white snapper, swordfish, shark etc.
Fami, a local fisherman from Kizimkazi, provides you with everything you need to make this a successful fishing trip.

Including boat, fishing rods, fruit and water.

Pristine Uzi

Uzi Island is pristine and not yet involved in tourism development. Most Uzis are fishermen and farmers. The landscape of the island is lush with mangrove, banana plantations and huge mango trees.
The island can only be reached by boat or at low tide. You meet Abdullah and his family.
Once the family’s bull is attached to the carriage, the somewhat uncomfortable but very authentic journey in the primary vehicle can begin. You visit another village and taste some fruit and local sweets.
Once back at Abdullah’s home, his wife and mother have prepared a lunch. You paddle through the mangrove in a wooden canoe. After a full day of impressions you return home by car.

Including transfer, boat trip, ox-ride, snacks, lunch and guide.

Sail & snorkel

Sailing and snorkeling with a traditional wooden trimaran.
These trimarans, ngarawa, are made from mango wood and are mainly used for both private and professional fishing. Because mango is hardwood, it’s water resistant, so the main structure of the ngarawa is actually the dug out mango tree. The sail is made of textile or rice bags that are stuck together.
You learn to sail on the river, which arises between the sandbanks at low tide, only surrounded by the magical blue colors of the Indian Ocean. Of course you snorkel among the most beautiful corals.

Including use of boat and snorkeling equipment

Jozani forest

On the way to the south-east coast you pass Jozani Rainforest – a lush and cool forest – part of the protected area of Chwaka Bay.
The Jozani forest is the largest forest on Zanzibar Island and a biodiversity hotspot in a breathtaking landscape.
The rainforest is home to the very rare red Colobus monkey. Other animals that can be seen during the 45-minute walk on the natural paths with eucalyptus and mahogany trees, are Blue Sykes monkeys, shrews and bush babies.

Including transfer, guide and parking fees.

Tumbatu Island

The inhabitants of Tumbatu Island live an isolated life. The island is fully powered by solar panels. All visitors need written permission from the village elder to enter the island. This trip is a rare opportunity to experience something untouched.
After a 30-minute boat ride to the island of Tumbatu from Nungwi, you are welcomed by the Sheha (the village elder).
Voodoo is still practiced on the island and the magical “Mganga” man will do the “pururu”: read your future in the sand and from the signs.
As you walk across the island, you see how people plant and harvest their beans and peas. You pass women in the water with their net around the small fish or crabs and clams on the beach. To the community of the island Tumbatu support you need to donate $ 5 p.p.
This activity is a rare opportunity to experience something that is difficult for even Zanzibaris to access.

Including transfer, guide, boat, permit to enter the island, village costs, access to the ruins and fruit.

Voodoo evening

Voodoo is still practiced a lot on Zanzibar Island.
Zanzibaris go to the ‘Mganga’ for advice, with health problems or to enchant others. The ‘Mganga’ use different methods: incense to invoke the spirit, read the Quran or give advice while writing in Arabic on the sand. At Mohamed’s home you experience an authentic voodoo session. You can ask him for advice about life or a health problem. If necessary, herbal treatment is offered.

After the voodoo session we head out in Stone Town.
The city changes its face in the evening. The smoke from the street barbecues rises as people come out to eat and socialize, now that the temperature has cooled.
We start in one of the many coffee corners. Then follows Jaw’s Corner, in the middle of Stone Town, where people come together to hear the latest gossip and to play the traditional board game bao. We stroll through the city to end our evening at the local food market Forodhani.

Stone Town

This tour shows you the daily life in Stone Town, and informs you about its history and architecture.

The tour starts with a cup of coffee in Jaws Corner on the barazas (benches on the building), surrounded by men playing bao (traditional board game). At the Darajani market, you see what’s really going on behind the scenes. Not far from Darajani is the Malindi Dhow harbor, where most goods (potatoes, tomatoes and rice, for example) enter the island via Dhows from the mainland.
Thereafter, you walk through the alleys to the Vuga bakery, one of the three bakeries in Stone Town. They bake all their bread, about 4,000 pieces a day, over an open fire.

You are picked up at your hotel.

Bawe Island

Bawe Island, just outside of Stone Town, is one of the best snorkeling sites on Zanzibar Island: a stunning colourful underwater world.
You can rest and eat something on a sandbar.

Including boat, water, local snacks and fruit.

Spice & ride

This day trip by bike starts in the Stone Town Café, on Kenyatta road.
Like a true Zanzibari, you cycle a few kilometers to reach the lush and green agricultural area. Along the way you stop to try some local specialties and fruit and you pass a school and a mosque to gain insight into the village life on Zanzibar Island.
The spice tour and lunch are at the authentic Abeids Family Farm, in the woods. You find tropical fruit, herbs and rare plant species here. Depending on the season we see and taste vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, lemongrass, clove, ylang-ylang, cumin, garlic, ginger, coriander, pepper, tamarind, chili, oregano and many others. You hear everything about the properties and origins of each spice, and their use as medicine or in food and drink. Make sure you smell and taste everything!
Before we cycle back, enjoy a lunch on the farm, cooked by the women in the family with products from their farm.
We take a different route back, past a forest inhabited by the rare Red Colobus monkeys, Blue Sykes monkeys and many birds.

Day trip from 9 am to 4 pm.
Including guide, cycling, bus ride, spice tour and lunch on the farm.

If you don’t want to cycle, that is also possible. The tour then takes about 3.5 hours.

Swim & ride

You cycle through the village of Jambiani and view the daily life of a village on Zanzibar Island.
Cows, ducks, students during the lunch break, mosques … all accompanied by smiling and greeting children. Along the way the guide stops to show you what’s going on.
After reaching the north of Jambiani you cross the main road. The Cuza cave is located in the agricultural area. This cave is used for spiritual activities, but it also has a large freshwater reservoir, where you can swim.
The villagers come here to pray and burn incense to call the spirits and to influence them with prayers and sacrifices when someone is sick, when they want to change things or just want more happiness.
After the refreshing swim, we cycle back to Jambiani and restaurant visits Okalas. Okala’s grandmother taught him the traditional cooking methods of Zanzibar Island. He keeps the tradition alive with his restaurant and by giving cooking classes. Everything is home-made and traditional: self-harvested, picked and baked or cooked and served in the restaurant, which is traditionally built with palm-leaf walls and ceilings.

Semi day trip: 5 hours.
Including guide, cycling, lunch, entrance, water, fruit and snacks en route.

Forest & bike

After 90-120 minutes (50 km all day) from Jambiani, you reach the lush and green Jozani forest, where the native Red Colobus monkey is located. Because they’re not shy, you can explore their forest life up close. You take a walk in the surrounding lush forest where you can also see the Blue Sykes monkey, birds and other animals.
Muugoni is 20 minutes from Jozani forest. Rama, who loves his village and his people, gives you a glimpse into his life. After lunch you walk to the mangrove where the captain waits with his traditional wooden canoe. At high tide the ‘bird island’ is visited – a group of three islands, which serve as home for thousands of different large birds.

Including: guide, bicycles, local lunch, entrance fee.

Sunset Dhow

A sunset cruise on the Indian Ocean with a traditional dhow is an extraordinary experience. With the wind in your sails and a cold drink in your hand, you cruise around the gold-clad sea. A red sun, the horizon and the beautiful features of the wooden dhow offer perfect photo opportunities.

After the cruise, you can dine at Karamba Resort before returning to your own hotel (food not included). Or we can arrange a seafood BBQ on the beach for you.

The cruise takes 2,5 hours and leaves fromKizimkazi.

Diving

Zanzibar offers many beautiful diving locations of all levels.

There are a number of famous sites such as Mnemba Atoll, the tropical fish capital of East Africa. Mnemba Atoll has a constant visibility of about 30 meters and you often see dolphins here.

At the northernmost tip of Zanzibar are also many diving locations, generally for the more experienced divers. You dive in the open sea and there’s more current. The big sport fish, tuna, barracuda and a variety of moray eels live here.

The less well-known south of Zanzibar are also beautiful diving locations; easily accessible from Fumba Beach Lodge.

Seasons on Zanzibar
In Zanzibar, diving is great all year round, but every season is different.

  • March to November: these are the best months for diving in Zanzibar. There is little wind and the rains have not started yet. The visibility is good and the weather is good and warm.
  • April and May: this is the official rain season on Zanzibar. It is still good for diving in general, but it can rain a lot, reducing visibility.
  • June to September (wind from the south): there is more wind and thus more waves. Hence, visibility may be a little less on some days.
  • December to February (wind from the north): these are the hottest months of the year and great for diving. Sometimes there can be a lot of wind so visibility under water can be less.

Marriage

Getting married in Zanzibar … with your feet in the sand. Explore Tanzania takes care of everything for your unforgettable day.

Shopping

The swirling streets of Stone Town are a shopping paradise. In the maze of streets it is full of paintings, carvings, fabrics and spices from the island, the mainland or from India. And everyone wants to sell you something.
This is a great opportunity to take a look at the local Zanzibar culture and meet the people.

The guide will take you to the places you would like to go to. But you visit some of our favorite shops, where they sell high quality paintings. And a place where you can buy herbs, the fabric street where the Ladies of project SASIK offer their handmade pillows for sale and shops with good clothing (Made on Zanzibar), beauty products … and much more.
On the way you stop for a cup of coffee on the cozy roof terrace of Zanzibar Coffee House.

This shopping takes about 3 hours.

Beauty workshop

Mrembo is a small and unique Spa, specialized in traditional Zanzibar beauty products and treatments. Her beauty products are 100% natural and made from locally grown herbs, plants and flowers (most grown by themselves). Founder Stefanie has learned everything from the Zanzibari women over the years, collecting beauty recipes through the generations and studying the island’s plants.

In this workshop, in which you learn to make traditional beauty products, you only use natural products and oils from the neighborhood.

The workshop lasts about 3 hours
Spice mix, tinga tinga painting and batik workshops are also available at the Mrembo Spa.
This workshop can be combined with a Stone Town tour or Spices tour

Island hopping

Mimi de dhow is a traditional fishing boat that allows sailing along the coast of Zanzibar. With this beautifully restored dhow you sail back in time. A Zanzibar tradition as was already done in the time of the spice trade, using the monsoon winds.

In four days you sail to the idyllic tropical islands of Pungume, Chumbe and Chapwani. You visit the three islands and also sleep there. There is plenty of time along the way to enjoy all that the Indian Ocean has to offer. A unique experience.

Or take one of the following trips with this beautiful historic sailing ship:

  • Full Day Sailing, Snorkeling and Beach BBQ
  • Half day sailing, snorkeling and lunch on site
  • Sunset cruise, drinks and snacks

Animals in the area

Zanzibar Island has a wonderful habitat rich in impressive land animals and vibrant marine life.

Common animals include various species of monkeys, birds, dolphins and tropical fish.

Dieren overzicht Zanzibar Island

  • Diverse bird species
  • Dolphin
  • Monkey species
  • Red Colobus monkey
  • Syke’s monkey
  • Tropical fish

Imagining yourself on Zanzibar Island yet?

Have a look at other example trips that can be fully adapted to your wishes or contact us directly!

example trips trip advice

Accommodations on Zanzibar Island

Find out the vibrancy of the north, the quiet northeast
or rather the historic Stone Town?

The southeast coast also has snow-white and wide sandy beaches and is the place for the active holidaymaker.

Anna of Zanzibar

Zanzibar Island, East Tanzania
Villa
€ 225 to € 290 pppn (all-inclusive)

Baladin Zanzibar

Zanzibar Island, East Tanzania
Cozy lodge
€ 90 to € 105 pppn (lodging & breakfast)

Bellevue Guesthouse

Zanzibar Island, East Tanzania
Cozy lodge
€ 25 to € 65 pppn (lodging & breakfast)