Located off the eastern coast of Africa, 20 miles from Tanzania, Zanzibar is one of the most beautiful places in archipelago. Comprised of more than 40 small islands, Zanzibar was made for island hopping. While each one has their own unique beauty waiting to be explored, the main and largest island is Unguja – where you’ll find the main holiday resorts, as well as rich culture and some of the most stunning beaches in Tanzania.
Often referred to as the ‘jewel in the Indian Ocean’, Zanzibar has an unusual, beautiful landscape. Stunning white-sand beaches, thick mangrove swamps and vast rainforests are all within a short distance of each other. You can also swim and snorkel in the coral reefs, book a boat trip to see wild dolphins, and head out on a safari to see some of Africa’s most famous wildlife.
On the west coast of Unguja, head to the capital – Zanzibar City. It’s here you’ll get a feel for the way of life, as well as being able to explore some of the cultural hotspots. The ancient city of Stone Town is a UNESCO cultural heritage site thanks to its centuries-old architecture. Take a guided tour around the historic town, and try some of the delicious local produce and traditional spices from the markets. Don’t miss The House of Wonders, either – an enormous building that houses the National Museum of History & Culture where you can learn more about the local Swahili people.
Another must-see is the Forodhani Gardens, a hub for locals and tourists to relax in while overlooking the sea. Stop for lunch at one of the nearby cafés or visit one of the food stalls at night for some local fare. Anglican Cathedral, the Old Fort and the Old Dispensary are also worth a visit. Thanks to the island’s a diverse mix of culture, the food on offer is hugely varied. Tea House Restaurant serves a decadent three-course Persian meal, while Emerson Spice Rooftop Teahouse has great seafood and cocktails. An SL favourite is Lukmaan, known for its quality Zanzibari dishes, including biryani, coconut curry and naan bread.
Once you’ve seen the capital’s sights, head to the central village of Jozani which is home to a dense rainforest in the middle of the island. Jozani National Park is where you’ll spot the red colobus monkey (an endangered species), plus more than 40 different types of birds. For an adventure-filled afternoon, follow the forest nature trail to spot some local wildlife and wade through the huge mangroves. The Butterfly Centre, only a short drive away, is also a great opportunity to spot some rare wildlife, local to Tanzania.
Tanzania is world-famous for its wild cats, so booking a safari is a no brainier. Families Worldwide offer a 10-night trip package that showcases some of the most beautiful places off the beaten track. You’ll visit the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Highlands, a true bucket list destination, to spot elephants, lions and giraffes, plus traditional fishing villages and the stunning Lake Manyara. For animal-lovers, The Turtles Conservation Pond in Nungwi, a small fishing village at the northern end of the island, is also a must-see. Here, you can see giant turtles and learn about ongoing conservation efforts to preserve their natural habitat.
WHERE TO STAY
For a bit of bliss, head to one of the resorts on the coast. The eastern side has some stunning beaches with a vast coral reef – ideal for snorkellers and deep-sea divers. Make the most of the crystal-clear waters and head on a boat trip to explore the bays where you can see whale sharks and sea turtles. Water sports enthusiasts can also kayak through the dense mangroves in Chwaka Bay National Park, swim with dolphins in their natural habitat, and parasail along the coast.
The Residence hotel is a top choice in Zanzibar – located on an idyllic mile-long beach, it’s worth bookmarking for an extra special trip. For a secluded holiday, head north to Nungwi and stay at the luxury beach resort, Zuri Zanzibar. The hotel has a selection of stunning bungalows, suites and villas – ideal for a family trip or romantic getaway. For a couple’s treat, book an Ocean Front Suite for a breath-taking view of the Indian Ocean. The suite has a generous living area, private terrace with an outdoor shower, and access to a private beach. For a family holiday, kids will love an Ocean Front Villa with their huge outdoor gardens overlooking the beach, a private infinity pool, and three en-suite bedrooms. Guests can enjoy chilled DJ sessions at the Bahari Bar on site, and try some of the fresh seafood at The Grill. The hotel also has its own boat, which is available for hire or guided tours, as well as a yoga and wellness centre for those after a bit of zen.
Rooms at The Residence from £287 per night.
Rooms at Zuri Zanzibar from £435 per night.
Current Travel Info: UK travellers will have to undergo a temperature screening on arrival in Tanzania but will not need to self-isolate before or after entering the county. All travellers must also have a valid yellow fever certificate obtained no less than 10 days prior to travel.
Flight Time: The flight from London to Zanzibar is 12 hours with one stop in Ethiopia or Qatar. The main airport is Abeid Amani Karume International.
When To Go: July to October is the best time to visit as the country is at its driest. The safari parks and nature reservations are at their least dense, too, so this is also the best time for wildlife sightings. For scuba diving, July to August are the best months.
Average Temperature: Temperatures remain high throughout the year, though during peak season they tend to range between 31° and 33°C.
Currency: Tanzanian Shilling is the official currency, though US dollars are widely accepted.
Time: Local time is GMT plus 3 hours.
Things To Note: Zanzibar is a predominantly Muslim country, so you will need to dress modestly in public areas and be respectful of cultural rules. Many restaurants and social areas are closed during the month of Ramadan, the dates of which change each year, so be sure to check these before you travel.
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*DISCLAIMER: At the time of writing, Tanzania and Zanzibar were exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel, though travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book. Please ensure you are aware of the social distancing guidelines in place as well as rules on meeting up in groups larger than six.