Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous state in the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa. Its capital is Zanzibar City. The Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean is 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the mainland and is made up of small islands and two large ones: Unguja referred to as Zanzibar and Pemba.
Zanzibar is part of the United Republic of Tanzania. This means that your passport and visa status will be checked on arrival at immigration. You don’t need a specific visa to enter Zanzibar.
Zanzibar has some of the best beaches anywhere in Africa and probably one of the best in the world. The best beaches are found along the east coast on the northern part of the island. These beaches are protected by off shore coral reefs and have fine white coral sand.
The Island is a tourist’s paradise, with tranquil, warm tropical waters, many miles of beautiful powdery-soft sandy beaches.
The most popular beaches are found on the east coast which are Matemwe Beach, Pongwe Beach, Kendwa Beach, Bwejuu Beach, Nungwi Beach, Kiwenga Beach and Uroa Beach.
South of Zanzibar Town is Fuji Beach and Chuini Beach.
In the north of the Island is Mangapwani Beach.
Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, with very little changes in the last two centuries. This old town is popular for the narrow streets, mosques and grand Arab houses whose identity is reflected in their brass-studded, carved, wooden doors.
Important architectural landmarks in Stone Town are the Livingstone House, the Guliani Bridge, and the House of Wonders.
Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with history, culture and cuisine, and plenty of places to stumble across in the cobblestone streets. No visit would be complete without wandering the alleys and bustling market bazaars of Stone Town.
Zanzibar has a rich history made by travelers, traders, raiders and colonizers. The Persians and the Arabs came to the Island as early as 700 AD. They intermarried with the native inhabitants, the Bantus, giving birth to a new people with their language, the Swahili.
The Indians, Chinese, Egyptians, Persians, Portuguese, Arabs, Dutch and the British were among the people who interacted with the Island each leaving behind a legacy of their stay. Vasco da Gama from Portugal was in the Island in 1502 on his way to India.
Zanzibar is referred to as Spice Island. This is mainly because the Island produces cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, chilies, ginger and black pepper. A visit to a spice plantation during your stay in Zanzibar is highly recommended.
Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey and Zanzibar Servaline Genet are unique to this Island mainly found in Jozani Forest Reserve. The forest hosts 2,500 of the Red Colobus Monkeys. Jozani forest is part of Jozani Chakwa Bay National Park. A walk in the forest will take you to trails that will lead you to sights of sykes’ monkeys, chameleons, bush babies, lizards, frogs, varied birds, the shy Ader’s duiker, suni antelope and more. Mangrove forests in Uzi and Chakwa Bays provide perfect habitat for diverse marine life like turtles, crabs mollusks and more.
Deep waters fishing is one of the activities you can do during you stay in Zanzibar. There are boats well equipped for all the supplies you would require. Conservation and sustainable sport fishing regulations require that you tag and release your catch.
Deep sea fishing is an activity that can be taken any time of the year. However, there are some specific months like from November to March when you can try raising billfish including blue marlins, sailfish, black marlins and striped marlins. Between August and November, you could catch yellowfin tuna. In your fishing excursion you could spot large tunas, wahoo, barracudas, trevally and many more.
The most popular time to Zanzibar is between June and February, outside of the rainy season. This is also the perfect time to combine your beach vacation with a safari on the mainland to Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater or Lake Manyara National Park.
How to Get to Zanzibar
- A 20-minute flight from Dar Es Salaam Airport
- A 2-hour ferry ride from Dar Es Salaam Ferry Terminal
- A 90-minute flight from Nairobi Airport
- A 1-hour flight from Arusha or Kilimanjaro Airport.