The Zanzibar archipelago is one of the most historic Indian Ocean islands, awash with atmosphere, intrigue, and idyllic beach experiences. There are masses of accommodation options across the price spectrum, and plenty to see, do and discover. As the birthplace of the Swahili, the site of Sultans’ Palaces, and renowned for its spice plantations, the little island republic of Zanzibar features larger-than-life on the world map and is a must-see at the end of any African trip, but is especially great when added onto a Tanzanian safari.


There are some fabulous beaches on the islands of Zanzibar, and many choices for an ideal spot to sit back and watch the white dhow sails cruising the startling blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Whether it is for a Zanzibar holiday, honeymoon, or some post-safari relaxation; whether you prefer the blissful privacy of a private island or the amenities of a larger hotel; and whatever your preferred activities, there are good options for every traveler.


We have made our information on Zanzibar as comprehensive as possible, but the best way to get to grips with the islands is to give us a call and chat through your plans. Although the information is all here, our team of experts has been organizing holidays to Zanzibar for 20 years and are constantly returning to see what’s changed, so our first-hand knowledge coupled with an understanding of your expectations is by far the best way to narrow down your options!



Zanzibar | Frequently asked questions

What to do on Zanzibar Island?

  1. Snorkeling –; Off the east and north coast of Zanzibar, there are excellent reefs with colorful marine life. Pemba Island is particularly good for those who are really keen
  2. Diving –Diving trips can be organized from all the hotels we love to recommend. Again, Pemba Island offers some of the best diving in the world. Mafia Island diving is also exceptional with the mighty whale sharks in abundance here from October – March.
  3. Jozani Forest Tour– In Zanzibar’s only national park find the endangered red colobus monkeys and many more tree hoppers such as bush babies.
  4. Spice Tour – Zanzibar is known to be a spice island. For those interested in trees, spices (for obvious reasons), and where everything is from. Learn about all the different spices in Zanzibar from their origins.
  5. Prison Island Tour – Contrary to the name, no prisoners have lived on this island. It used to be an isolated area for the yellow fever epidemic sufferers, but now it is home to the Aldabra giant tortoises which are the main attraction of the island. A short 30-minute boat ride from Stone Town.
  6. Stone Town Tour – Take a guided tour around the cobbled streets of charismatic Stone Town and learn about Zanzibar’s rich history and culture.
  7. relaxing – The perfect place for it.


Where is Zanzibar?

Zanzibar is conveniently located on the shores of Tanzania and exceptionally well placed to bookend a safari of a lifetime. With so much on offer here accommodation and activity-wise, Zanzibar has something for even the most selective of travelers. The vast and wild Selous Game Reserve is a mere 45-minute flight away. As you can see, with a Tanzania beach and safari holiday, nothing so luxurious could be easier.


Getting to Zanzibar

Zanzibar is only a short 20-minute flight from Dar es Salaam international which is the landing point for flights from all over the world. You cannot directly fly to Dar es Salaam from London or the US, but many airlines (KLM, Emirates) have two-stop flights which make the travel fairly easy (usually via Amsterdam and Dubai).


Zanzibar Africa weather

November: Short rains. Not advisable if wanting consistent sunshine, but good value.

December – February: A good time to go.

March: A bit hit and miss weather-wise, but a good time for hotels at a reduced rate.

April – May: Not advisable to travel in these months. Heavy rains are expected.

June: A bit hit-and-miss weather-wise, but a good time for reduced rates.

July – October: Prime Zanzibar travel season. Good weather and amazing nearby safaris (Selous and Ruaha)


Is Zanzibar safe?

The general answer is yes! However, as with anywhere, things can always change. Please see Government Foreign Travel Advice for up-to-date information and advice.


Dar to Zanzibar – Safari and Zanzibar Holidays

After your 20-minute flight to Dar es Salaam, you only have to hop over a short 40-minute flight and you are in the beautiful and watery Selous Game Reserve. Add another half an hour west, and get to the wild and fabulous Ruaha National Park. Northern Tanzania is pretty easy too, though flights are rather more expensive – give yourself just over an hour in the air though and you can hop from a famous Serengeti safari right into Indian Ocean paradise… Quite the combination!



The best beaches in Zanzibar

Nungwi and Kendwa (North)– The best beaches on the island. Really beautiful and classic Indian Ocean paradise. Non-tidal turquoise waters and really powdery white sands. Can sometimes be busy.

Pongwe (East) – Pongwe sits on a little concave bit of coastline which means the beach is glorious and when the tide isn’t completely in, it is seaweed free and very pretty. Not the long sweeping beaches of the north, but a pocket of pure beachy gold. Less busy than the north.

Paje and Dongwe (East) – Although tidal, here sit some of our favorite luxury boutique hotels. You would not be let down here in terms of accommodation. The beach is beautiful, but getting your toes wet is a bit harder than in the northern Nungwi regions as the sea is further out and very tidal.

Matemwe (Northeast) – Slightly to the east of Nungwi, Matemwe is slightly tidal but when the tide is in there are a few of our favorite fantastic value accommodation options.


Stone Town Zanzibar

Visitors to Zanzibar tend to arrive and leave via Stone Town, the island capital and a historic hub of commerce and culture. This ancient center was the seat of the Sultans, whose crumbling palaces, bath houses, and mosques are a legacy of this opulent and vibrant time at the heart of the gold trade.

The town has a very different commercial attitude today and one that thrives on the growing tourist market. The labyrinthine streets are lined with traders selling everything from mass-produced artworks to ancient wooden doors, from tie-dye t-shirts to jewels. The muezzins’ call to prayer echoes across the rooftops at the break of day, while cats, goats, dogs, roosters, and babies often make themselves heard in between! This old town remains a wonderful place to spend a night or two, getting lost among the elegant, ancient buildings, eating fresh fish on the seafront, and breathing in the sights, sounds, and smells of a truly Swahili center. A stay in Stone Town is always a wondrous assault on the senses, but a couple of nights are enough if you value peace and quiet and a good night’s sleep! Nowadays there are a good number of Boutique hotels in Stone Town – often recently renovated.


The islands of Zanzibar

Pemba Island– Pemba is truly off the beaten tourist track. It is beautiful, culturally rich, and with a few top-notch hotels which we love to recommend. It has some of the best diving in the world in pristine coral reefs and for those who love to be active, this is your place. The only downside is that the beaches are very tidal – so if you are looking for long white sands, you are better off in Zanzibar.

Mafia Island – Like Pemba, Mafia is relatively new to the tourism industry. However, it is home to some great lodges. Many are drawn to Mafia for the whale shark diving – an experience not to be forgotten. Give yourself 5 days here and you have a fantastic chance of seeing these majestic creatures up close.


The islands of Zanzibar

Mnemba Island – This private island has only one lodge, Mnemba Island Lodge. It is the ultimate Indian Ocean beach destination for those who want complete seclusion away from the crowds. Mnemba is the ultimate Tanzania honeymoon beach lodge. This tiny island is everything you can imagine of a remote windswept paradise and is often voted one of the most romantic destinations on the planet.

Fanjove Private Island – Yes, Mnemba is the ultimate, but for those who do not wish to fork out over $1,500 per person per night and want a private slice of pure beach heaven, you cannot get better than Fanjove. Beach-shack-chic but ideal for those who crave luxury in its purest natural form.

Thanda Island – At around $25,000 a night, it has got to be unbelievable. But take a large group and occupy its 9 luxury rooms and it becomes an (admittedly, only slightly!) more affordable option for those who want complete Indian Ocean exclusivity.