Zanzibar, famously known as the Spice Island is an exotic island set about 23 miles off the east coast of Tanzania. It is made of two large islands, Unguja and Pemba as well as other smaller islands. Unguja is the most famous and most visited of the two islands, often simply referred to as Zanzibar.
The archipelago is a mix of white sand beaches, blue ocean waters, and green tropical vegetation. The vegetation is home to diverse species of flora and smaller and often rare fauna.
Planning for a beach holiday in Zanzibar involves narrowing down from the list of possibilities. That, and knowing important facts about a beach holiday in Zanzibar. Here are steps to take when planning a beach holiday in Zanzibar.
Decide when to travel
The weather in Zanzibar can be summed up into two main seasons, the dry and the wet season. The main rain season usually lasts from March to May characterized by a daily downpour. The island sees another shorter rainy season around November and December. The rains during this period are usually lighter.
The period after the heavy rains between June and October is the best time to visit Zanzibar. The weather is pleasant around this time, with no rain and bearable temperatures. This is the best time for scuba diving as visibility is at its peak.
Another great time to visit Zanzibar is between January and February. This period follows shortly after the November to December rains.
It’s important to note that the majority of the people in Zanzibar are Muslims. The fasting month of Ramadhan is an important event on the island. If you plan to travel around this period, there will be rules and etiquettes to be adhered to. Eating, drinking, or smoking in public is considered disrespectful during Ramadhan. While it is not illegal to eat or drink, some of the restaurants will be closed completely. A few restaurants may remain open but only serve in the indoor spaces. If adhering these rules and etiquettes prove to be too cumbersome, we’d advise not to visit Zanzibar during Ramadhan.
Arrange means to get there
You can fly into Zanzibar both from out of and within Mainland Tanzania. From mainland Tanzania, you can fly into Zanzibar from airports such as JNIA, Mwanza, KIA, and Arusha. If your international flight is planned to arrive at these airports, you will be able to find flights to connect to Zanzibar.
If you are travelling from any safari destination in Mainland Tanzania, there are small aircrafts that you can use.
Zanzibar is accessible by ferry boats from Dar es Salaam and Tanga. Ferry boats are cheaper as compared to taking flights. For instance, the price of a return ticket between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar on a ferry boat is equivalent to the price of a one-way flight. For travelers seeking adventure or on a limited budget, the ferry boat is the way to go.
Select activities to do in Zanzibar
Zanzibar has something for everyone to indulge in. Whether you are interested in culture, history, or find pleasure in nature and underwater, Zanzibar will amaze you.
Stone Town, the old metropolis capital welcomes you just when you arrive in Zanzibar. The city is a visual display of ancient buildings with exquisite displays of carved wooden doors. Zanzibar doors tell tales of their own. They are a visual display of the historical presence of mixed cultures and races on the island.
Go on a tour of Stone Town and leave with souvenirs of beautifully made handicrafts and the famous spices of Zanzibar. If you are keen on spices, a tour of the spice plantation is a must-do. Taking a walk at Forodhani gardens in the evening will give you a chance to try out the delicious seafood made with fresh catches of the day.
Zanzibar is not all-beach. Jozani Forest is one of the natural attractions in Zanzibar though not filled with much wildlife as you’d see in typical reserves. Jozani is home to a marine forest of mangrove trees, the rare red colobus monkey and other smaller animals like the sykes’ monkeys and Ader’s antelope.
For water and underwater adventures, you can snorkel or scuba dive in the spectacular reefs all around the island. Other excursions include swimming with dolphins, dhow cruises, kitesurfing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, horseback riding, quad biking and many more.
Decide what to pack
Clothing: Zanzibar is a very traditional and religious place. You are expected to dress decently while out on the streets. The general rule is to cover your shoulders and knees while out and about. But, you can enjoy the beaches with minimal dressing.
Shoes: Pack comfortable shoes for exploring the streets of Zanzibar. Don’t forget to bring flip flops for beachside adventures.
Protect from the sun: Except during the heavy rains, Zanzibar is always sunny. Pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect from direct sun exposure.
Medication kit: It is advised to have a health check-up before going on any vacation in Africa. Your physician can recommend emergency medication and others that you may need.
Waterproof bag: Keep your items dry when spending time at the beach. This will come in handy especially for electrical devices like your phone or camera. Note that Zanzibar may be using a different type of electrical plug and lesser voltage than those in your home country. You will need to bring an adapter to keep your devices charged.
Choose where to stay
To fully enjoy Zanzibar, it is advised to split your stay between Stone Town and the beachside. Most travelers agree on spending a smaller part of their stay in Stone Town and a larger part on beach locations
Zanzibar has many beaches to offer all around the island. Nungwi beach lies in the northern side of Zanzibar. On the northwest, is the Kendwa beach, famous for its full moon parties. On the northeast lies the Matemwe beach. Traveling to the eastern coast will take you to the beaches of Kiwengwa, Michamvi, Chwaka, Pongwe, and Uroa. To the south, you will encounter the beaches of Bwejuu, Jambiani, and Kizimkazi. On the Westcoast of the island lies the beaches of Fumba, Mbweni ruins and Mtoni marine near Stone Town.
It seems like a hard feat to decide where to stay or visit. Worry not! We are here to assist you. Let us know when you’d like to travel and what you’d like to do while in Zanzibar. Our consultants will get back to you on where best to stay.