Zanzibar is located off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa. Its tropical climate, Afro-Arabian decadence and proximity make Zanzibar a popular holiday destination for South Africans. As a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, many travellers combine a trip to Zanzibar with a trip to mainland Tanzania to get a unique safari and beach experience.

The biggest of the fifty islands that make up the archipelago, Zanzibar Island, holds the capital with the historic city of Stone Town on its western shore. The second biggest island, Pemba, is a little to the northeast, with the remaining islands being smaller.

The island beach resorts range from small, secluded boutique hotels and houses with private beaches to larger hotel resorts offering a range of activities. There is something to suit every person’s ideal beach holiday on this archipelago. On many of the smaller islands, more exclusive, private holidays are offered, each one with its own charm and wonderful beaches.

Zanzibar has a rich history, and Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, with beautiful old buildings that reflect the region’s Arab, Indian, and European influences. The town is also famous for its markets, where you can find a variety of spices, fruits, and vegetables.

Zanzibar is also famous for its beaches, which rival the best in the world. History buffs will also find a wealth of ancient trade routes to explore. The bustling Stone Town is a must-see destination where you can experience the unique mix of Indo-Arabic influences and African Swahili origins in its architecture, cuisine and culture.

Zanzibar is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the Zanzibar red colobus monkey, which is endemic to the region. The Jozani Forest Reserve is a great place to see these monkeys and other wildlife, such as Sykes’ monkeys and bush pigs.

Whether you are interested in history, culture, wildlife, or simply relaxing on the beach, Zanzibar offers an unforgettable experience.

Time zone: UTC + 3

Currency: Zanzibar’s currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS). Tanzanian Shillings may be used to purchase meals and drinks, pay for taxi rides, etc. However, hotel accommodation and services are paid for in foreign currency, preferably US$. Most travellers buy local currency on arrival in Tanzania or Zanzibar.

Language: English and KiSwahili are the official languages spoken by most Zanzibari.

Transportation: Avoid using local public transport and opt for an officially licensed taxi or arrange transport with your hotel if possible.

Cuisine: The food served in Zanzibar’s beach lodges is good and uses fresh, locally available ingredients. Travellers can enjoy superb local cuisine in Stone Town’s restaurants, mainly serving local dishes, seafood and curries seasoned with the island’s exotic spices.

Safety: The best thing here would be to stay at a good establishment and discuss each day’s plans with the manager to ask for tips, advice and any relevant updates. Do not walk alone at night, and avoid deserted stretches of beach and other isolated places.

Tipping: Tipping is not obligatory but is highly appreciated. USD $1-2 per day for hotel staff is adequate, and 5% or so is acceptable to add to restaurant bills.

Social: Zanzibar is culturally conservative. It is acceptable to wear swimwear and shorts on the beach and around your hotel. If you are exploring the island or visiting Stone Town, you are expected to dress modestly and be covered from shoulders to knees.

Health: Visitors to Tanzania & Zanzibar must have a Yellow Fever vaccination and present the certificate when entering the country.

What to See

One of the most spectacular sights in Zanzibar is its velveteen beaches, each with its unique charm. Nungwi, Kendwa, and Paje are some of the most popular beaches to lie back on a lounger and watch the traditional white sail dhow float by. If you’re looking for more action, Zanzibar offers a range of watersports from kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and snorkelling to some of the best reef diving in the world.

Another must-see destination is the historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient town is a maze of narrow alleyways, bustling markets, and old buildings with intricate doors and balconies. Visitors can wander around the town and take in the sights, including the House of Wonders Museum and the old Arab forts.
Nature lovers will appreciate visiting the Jozani Forest Reserve, where you can view the rare red Colobus monkey. And no visit to Zanzibar is complete without taking a spice tour to learn about the island’s spice trade history.

What to Taste & Smell

The island is a melting pot of cultures, and its cuisine reflects this diversity. The local dishes are a mouth-watering fusion of African, Arabic, and Indian flavours. Each evening Stone Town’s Forodhani Gardens area transforms into an open-air food market where you can sample local dishes such as biryani, pilau, and urojo, a spicy soup made with lentils and tamarind, which will tantalize your taste buds. The seafood is also a must-try, with grilled fish, octopus, and lobster being popular dishes.

When you walk through the spice markets, you’ll be greeted by the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves, which you can learn about with a visit to one of the spice farms.

What to Hear

Zanzibar is one of those idyllic holiday destinations where you can spend your days listing to the sound of the waves breaking on perfect white beaches.

As you walk through the winding streets of Stone Town, you are bound to hear the call to prayer echoing from the minarets of the island’s many mosques. You’ll also hear the bustle of trade as merchants call out to entice customers to sample their wares. The clanging of metal pots and pans from the local food vendors mixes with the chatter of people haggling over prices. And as you continue your journey, you may encounter street musicians playing traditional African drums or the haunting melodies of the Taarab, a popular style of Swahili music.

Finally, as the sun sets and the day turns to night, the sounds of live music and dancing spill out from the island’s many bars and clubs, creating a lively and energetic party atmosphere which echos the island’s rich cultural heritage and the vibrant energy of its people.


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4* Jafferji Beach Retreat
Escape to paradise at 4-star Jafferji Beach Retreat in Zanzibar. Luxury beachfront, exquisite dining, and unforgettable experiences await.
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Discover paradise in Zanzibar at the 3* Paradise Beach Resort. Relax on pristine beaches, savor exquisite cuisine, and embark on unforgettable adventures.
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Escape to Kae Beach Resort in Zanzibar for unforgettable beach holidays. Perfect for kids and family fun in the June school holidays!
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