Zanzibar

Zanzibar

Things to do - general

Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast.  It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs and the magic of historic Stone Town – said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.

The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise of brilliant white beaches lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean provide the perfect place to relax, interspersed with picturesque fishing villages, where people live the simple way of life, unchanged over the years. There are more than 25 fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, and some are so peaceful and remote that the only noise breaking the silence is the ocean – the perfect honeymoon location.

Visa requirements

All visitors require a valid passport and visa for the duration of their stay. Visas can be obtained from Tanzania Diplomatic Mission or alternatively at the entry points.

Languages spokenKiswahili & English
Currency usedTanzanian Shilling (Tsh)
Places

Stone Town: It may not have a particularly romantic name, but Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. This one-upmanship is particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors – there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. You can spend many idle hours and days just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.

Only a few kilometres from Stone Town are several islets such as Chumbe and Chapwani, where good accommodation is available. Bawe and Prison Islands are good for daytrips with excellent snorkelling available. Tumbatu Island, off the north-west coast of Unguja is one of the largest off-shore islands but has no facilities for tourists. Mnemba Island is located near the north-east coast featuring luxury accommodation. Although Mnemba is a private island, it is surrounded by a rich coral reef, which is great for scuba diving and snorkelling and is visited by several watersports centres in the area.

Pemba Island: Pemba is Zanzibar’s sister island. Despite many years of isolation from the outside world, Pemba is receiving a small but growing number of foreign visitors. The infrastructure much less than on Unguja, and there are far fewer tourists, but this is seen as a plus by many! Beautiful beaches, natural forests and outstanding diving are just some of the attractions on offer. Misali island, off Pemba’s east coast, is idyllic and excellent for diving.

Mafia Island: Mafia, another island in the sun and no relative of the mob, is actually governed by mainland Tanzania but is not far from the Zanzibar archipelago.

Sports & nature

Sport: Zanzibar is reputed to have some of the best diving in the world, and the coral reef structures that surround Unguja and Pemba ensure that the marine life is abundant. Good visibility (20 – 60 metres) and a year-round average water temperature of 27°c ensure that you enjoy your Zanzibar diving experience, and also present an ideal opportunity for learning to dive or upgrading your diving qualification.

There are several dive centres on the island and most run courses using the international PADI system of diver education. This way, the certification you gain in Zanzibar can be used anywhere in the world.

Diving in Zanzibar isn’t restricted to beginners. Experienced scuba divers can enjoy exciting wall dives, night dives and drift dives. In deeper waters, lush coral gardens often stretch as far as the eye can see, and large gamefish (barracuda, kingfish, tuna and wahoo) hunt together with large Napoleonic wrasse, graceful manta rays and sharks. Shallower waters are the playground of tropical fish, including a huge variety of Indo-Pacific marine fauna.

Nature: There are no large wild animals in Zanzibar, and forest areas such as Jozani are inhabited by monkeys, bush-pigs and small antelopes. Civets – and rumour has it, the elusive Zanzibar leopard! Various species of mongoose can also be found on the island. There is a wide variety of birdlife, and a large number of butterflies in rural areas. The coral reefs that surround the East Coast are rich in marine diversity, and make Zanzibar an ideal location for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Sports and nature image

Nightlife info

With Zanzibar known as the ‘Spice Islands’, it’s little surprise that spices play an important role in the cuisine here.  With African, Arab, Goan, Indian and Chinese influences, traditional food is truly a fusion experience.  Most restaurants feature spices in their menus although there are also Italian, Thai and other international establishments for those looking for something a little closer to home!

Bars can be found in Stone Town and in many of the hotels and restaurants around Zanzibar Island.

Nightlife image

Unfortunately there are no accommodations at this location at the moment.