Interested in a Zanzibar tour, holiday or vacation? We offer the best and customized Zanzibar tours, vacations and holiday packages at affordable rates. Widely known as the Spice Island, Zanzibar is a not-to-be-missed part of a complete visit to Tanzania. This tropical paradise which was formerly ruled by Omani sultans is steeped in history with an ancient Swahili culture still very prominent today.
The palm-fringed, white sandy beaches, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, and outstanding collection of luxury resorts, lodges, and boutique hotels are the key ingredients of a dream beach holiday (or an add-on to a Tanzanian safari tour). Its many islands offer gorgeous, romantic views that simply can’t be found anywhere else in Africa, making this a perfect destination for honeymooners, families, couples, and friends.
In such an idyllic setting, you might just want to relax and maybe hit the reefs for some best diving and snorkeling. Ensure, though, you visit the historic Stone Town, with traditional Swahili atmosphere and large collection of historic buildings.
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Zanzibar Travel Articles
Zanzibar holiday information
1. At a glance
- Capital city: Zanzibar City
- Population: 1.3 million
- Language: Swahili, English, Arabic
- Time Zone: (GMT+03:00) Zanzibar City
- Currency: TZS
- Dialling code: +255
- Electricity: Type D (Old British 3-pin) and Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
2. Geography & Environment
Zanzibar is Tanzania’s island province located off the East African coast.
Surrounded by the turquoise waters of Indian Ocean on all fronts, it is covered mostly in lush rainforest and encircled by pristine white sand beaches and coral reefs.
Zanzibar, is in fact, an archipelago made up of many small islands and three prominent, main ones: Pemba Island, Mafia Island, and Unguja Island – the largest, often mistaken as ‘Zanzibar Island’, where the majority of the province’s population lives.
3. Eating & drinking
The food variety in Zanzibar rivals anywhere in the world. It owes this largely to its location at the crossroads of historic trade routes, where locals have picked up a thing or two about worldly cuisines.
Whether it is yam and plantain-based dishes from the Bantu tribes of East Africa, Indian inspired masala curries featuring many of the spices the island is famous for, or hazelnut bread and the sweet date is traditionally eaten to celebrate the end of Ramadan. You will be spoiled for choices to fill your plate!
Unsurprisingly for an island, seafood takes pride of place in Zanzibar and seafood lovers will be delighted by a variety of dishes available at restaurants and markets.
An absolute must for anyone visiting the historic Stone Town is the Forodhani night market.
As soon as the sun sets each night, beachside Forodhani Gardens transforms into an open-air food market filled will vendors tempting you to try their dishes. Our pick is the Zanzibar pizza whose origins trace back to Oman of which the island was a colony. It is really an omelette of fried eggs, dough and diced veggies. Wash it all down with fresh coconut juice (direct from the coconut of course!)
Perhaps the most well-known export from Zanzibar is its spices, including cinnamon, ginger and pepper to name a few. Tour a spice plantation to sample countless types of spices directly from the source. Remember to pick up a selection from the local markets before you leave.
Zanzibar Island has a large Muslim population, so bear in mind that Ramadan is the fasting month for all Muslims. During this month, no drink, food, or smoking is allowed during daylight hours. Whereas non-Muslims are not expected to fast, you are advised to try to avoid drinking, eating, or smoking in public during daylight hours.
4. Culture and Customs
The Zanzibar archipelago is a melting pot of cultures, customs and religions. Within Stone Town streets, you will see mosques and churches standing literally side by side. While Zanzibar is mainly a Muslim place, it shares a history of cultural influences that spread as far wide as the ancient Persia, India, and Middle East.
Formerly a British Protectorate and formally a part of Tanzania since 1964, the archipelago has a long history of bureaucratic changes and tensions. Currently, the population of Zanzibar is largely divided. Many still seeking for independence from Tanzania and seek to have Zanzibar declared its own country. Regardless of their political differences, the discussion remains respectful between the locals.
You are just as likely to see them passionately debating politics in town centers as you are to see tropical fruit farmers hawking their produce roadside all around the islands. But one thing everyone in Zanzibar has in common is their love of soccer. Visit any beach in the late afternoon and you’re almost certain to witness the local people coming together for a friendly game of beach soccer.
Though there are several swanky stores in main hubs like Stone Town, specialising inexpensive trinkets and homewares, you simply cannot visit Zanzibar and not take an afternoon stroll through one of its lively, colourful markets. Lose yourself amid the hustle of Stone Town’s Darajini market, where you will find stores heaped high with vegetables, fabrics, spices, and dried snacks. The market is so jam-packed, stores often spill out into the tiny laneways nearby.
If you are looking for things to buy in Zanzibar, don’t leave the island without buying a selection of the various spices still grown on plantations today. Cinnamon, pepper, ginger and nutmeg are among the specialities on the Island. But you can find nearly every type of spice imaginable here!
You can also pick up a handmade ukili bag, placemat, rug or even a sun hat. The local people have perfected this handicraft and are widely available throughout Zanzibar. It is a great way to support local initiatives and talent.
6. Festivals and events in Zanzibar
The Festival of the Dhow Countries: This is the highlight of the Zanzibar International Film Festival. It is a cultural celebration of international film, music, theatre and performing arts. And it is one of the biggest annual cultural festivals in Africa. The festival takes place over the first 2 weeks of July. Film screenings, exhibitions and craft classes are on offer during the day, whilst at night beach parties are a fun way to interact with locals.
Sauti Za Busara Festival: If you are lucky enough to visit Stone Town in early February you will be treated to a hypnotising swell of Swahili music and dance during this vibrant celebration of East African culture. The festival concludes with a beachside festival of crafts, cuisine and entertainment.
Zanzibar Holiday Travel Advice
- Yellow Fever: visitors to Zanzibar Island are required to produce a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate obtained no less than 10 days prior to travel in order to enter.
- Malaria: Zanzibar Island is located in the malarial belt and visitors are advised to take relevant precautions against contracting malaria.
- Avoid April: this month receives the heaviest rainfalls and the most days with rain.
- Dress code: Please note that Zanzibar is a conservative, predominantly Muslim society. Visitors are advised to dress and behave with respect to local customs and sensibilities.
- Ramadan: Visitors are often advised to avoid visiting Zanzibar Island during the month of Ramadan as many restaurants and other amenities close down.
Flights & Getting Around
Did you know you can book your flight to Zanzibar through Tulambule? For more information please contact us.
Zanzibar International Airport (Abeid Amani Karume International Airport): located in historic Stone Town, the only airport on the island is served by flights from Entebbe, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam. Once you have arrived, take a taxi to your accommodation or enjoy the services of your hotel’s shuttle bus.
There are regular flights from Zanzibar Island to Mafia and Pemba Island, but a boat transfer would take you from Zanzibar to Chumbe or Mnemba.
Scooters and motorbikes can be hired for an easy and fun way to get around the island though the streets of Stone Town are for walking only.
Best Accommodation In Zanzibar | Zanzibar Hotels, Lodges, and Resorts
- Zawadi Hotel
- Zuri Zanzibar Hotel & Resort
- Jafferji House & Spa
- The Residence Zanzibar
- Fundu Lagoon
- Matemwe Lodge
- Baraza Resort and Spa
- Mnemba Island Lodge
- Matemwe Retreat
- Matemwe Beach House
- Breezes Beach Club and Spa Zanzibar
- Kilindi Zanzibar