ZANZIBAR, a paradise in the Indian Ocean

The first thoughts about Zanzibar are fantastic, white sandy beaches, crystal blue water and, spices.
But Zanzibar is much more than that. It is a unique, tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean.

“Jambo”, or “Hello”, and “Hakuna Matata” which means “no problem” are the first and the most used words which you will hear on the island. And when you arrive there, very soon, you will be using these words, too!

Our Zanzibar adventure took place in June 2018, with the Globe Tracker Agency.
And we plan to go back there again because… Zanzibar is such a fantastic place, different from any other place in the world!

Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata


How to get to Zanzibar?

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is located about 6 degrees south of the Equator, in the Indian Ocean.
In fact, it is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago, about 25–50 km (15-30 mi) off the coast of the mainland. It consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja, the main island, commonly known as Zanzibar, and Pemba. 

Zanzibar can be reached by plane and by sea.
The main airport (Abeid Amani Karume International AirportZNZ code) is located in Unguja Island. It has flight connections with Mainland Tanzania, Kenya, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates. There are seasonal charters with Europe and the Middle East as well.

Zanzibar Airport

Zanzibar Airport


The Azam Marine’s ferry is the fastest ferry service between Dar Es Sallam, Mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar’s port in Stone Town. The ferries operate daily, and the ferry trip takes about two hours. The trip price per person is 35$ for economy class and 50$ for VIP.

Map of Zanzibar

Google map of Zanzibar


The best time to visit Zanzibar

Zanzibar lies below the equator and has a pleasant tropical climate.
The sunrise is about 6.00-6.30h, and the sunset is about 18-19h, depending on the month.

Humidity is high throughout the year. But a sea breeze provides freshness and a more pleasant feeling.
The sea is always warm for swimming. The water temperature ranges from 25 °C in August, to 29 °C from December to April.

There are two rainy and two dry periods.
The best time to visit is during the dry seasons: December to February and June to October. Summer temperatures range from 20°C to 30°C. Sometimes there are showers, but they are short and cooling. The hottest months are from December to March, often above 30°C.

The main rainy season is from March to May. Rains can be heavy, but not constant, humidity is very high. Most hotels are closed and it could be difficult to travel around.
The second, shorter rainy season with lighter rains is in November and December.


Language and religion

Swahili is the official language of Zanzibar. Almost the entire population also speaks English because it is the second language taught in school.

Most of the people are Muslims, about 98%. Non-Muslim tourists are not allowed to enter any mosque in  Zanzibar.
So, you need to take care of religious holidays as well as clothing. This is especially important for women when they go sightseeing and visit cultural and religious sites. The bathing costumes and beachwear are acceptable for the beach. But you have to be dressed properly if you walk around as well. Ladies, forget topless sun-tanning, it is not allowed!

If you like photographing the local people, first ask for their permission.


The best beaches in Zanzibar

Are you familiar with these fantastic photos of long, white sandy beaches, crystal green-blue water, and coconut palm trees?
Well, all the beaches in Zanzibar are exactly like this. But each of them has something special, different from the others!

Something is exciting about Zanzibar‘s beaches: low tide and high tide.
One moment, you walk along the bottom of the ocean. And in a few hours, the bottom is 3 to 4 meters under the water surface. It is an unbelievable natural phenomenon!

Jambiani Beach a High Tide and a Low Tide

Jambiani Beach, a high tide and a low tide


The most famous beaches on the north/northwest are Nungwi and Kendwa.

Nungwi Beach

Nungwi beach


Kendwa Beach

Kendwa beach


Michamvi Kae /Pingwe Beach and Kiwengwa are on the northeast/east part of the island.

Michamve Kae Beach

Michamve Kae Beach


Kiwengwa Beach

Kiwengwa Beach


Paje Beach and Jambiani Beach are located on the southeast of Zanzibar, in the villages with the same name.

Paje Beach

Paje Beach


Jambiani Beach

Jambiani Beach


Kizimkazi Beach is located on the southern part of the island.

Kizimkazi Beach

Kizimkazi Beach

👉 More about these fantastic beaches you can find here.


Things to do and see on Zanzibar’s island

There are many things to do and see on Zanzibar Island, depending on your interests. You can enjoy amazing white sandy beaches, swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, kitesurfing, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing or blue safari.

Try sailing on a traditional local dhow, a carved, wooden boat.

Dhow Wooden Boat Zanzibar

Dhow, wooden boat


See how the seaweed is growing in the seawater.

Seaweed Farm in the Ocean Jambiani

Seaweed farm in the ocean, Jambiani


Feel a dune under your feet in the middle of the ocean.

Sand Dune in the Indian Ocean Zanzibar

Dunes in the Indian Ocean


Get lost in the labyrinth of vibrant Stone Town and its narrow streets, full of history.
Bargain and buy souvenirs: spices, wood carvings figurines, wooden African masks, handicraft bags, paintings, jewellery, massage oils, and coloured scarves.

Visit Prison Island and hang out with a giant, old Aldabra tortoise, brought from Seychelles.

Zanzibar Prison Island Aldabra Tortoise

Prison Island, Aldabra tortoise


Take a walk through the picturesque fishing villages. See how the local inhabitants live, and where the children go to school.
Take a ride in dala-dala with locals. It is an open mini-bus-taxi, the only public transportation on the island.


See how the spices are grown on the spice plantations and try delicious tropical fruits.
👉 You can read more about Spice Tour, spices, herbs, and fruits here.

Spice Farm Zanzibar

Spices and fruits on the spice farm


Taste fresh seafood, and ”catch of the day fish” with rice and spices, in the restaurant on the beach,
and with your feet in the sand.

Ndame Restaruant Paje

Fresh fish and rice, Ndame restaruant, Paje


Have lunch in the famous The Rock restaurant, located on the rock in the ocean.

Rock Restaurant

Rock restaurant


Take a walk through the Jozani forest reserve where the endemic red Colobus monkeys live.
See what the mangrove trees look like.

Jozani Forest and Red Colobus Monkey Mangrove Tree Zanzibar

Jozani forest, red Colobus monkey, and mangrove tree


Wait for the fantastic sunset on the beach.

Zanzibar Sunset

Zanzibar sunset


And ENJOY every day.
Because when you come back home, you will miss all these amazing moments.


Zanzibar’s economy

The main economic activities of the local people are fishing and agriculture.

Zanzibar is known as the land of spices. Once it was the world’s largest producer of cloves. Today the economy is based on the large income from the export of cloves, coconut products, spices, and seaweed.

Zanzibar has a lot of tourist potential, but it is still relatively untapped. Since the 1990s, more and more visitors are coming to the island every year.  Tourism is the primary foreign exchange earner. On the one hand, tourism development brings financial benefits.
But, on the other hand, there is a problem with environmental sustainability. For years beach sand was used for construction, leading to soil erosion problems. Mangrove poles are used in new buildings, which results in their reduction and acceleration of coastal erosion as well.

Then, there is a problem with freshwater supply, which is precious on low-lying islands. The water levels in wells and groundwater are low. Accommodation facilities use large amounts of water to provide their services, as well.

There are concerns about overfishing as well. The growing number of restaurants requires a bigger supply of fish, crabs, lobsters, squids, and octopuses.

The National Environmental Policy for Zanzibar brought some environmental restrictions to preserve cultural and biological diversity. This is an issue of sustainability and responsible tourism. The visitors are expected to act responsibly towards the environment and culture as well. It is necessary to preserve the uniqueness and magic of Zanzibar’s island.


History of Zanzibar

Zanzibar has been cut off from mainland Africa for many thousands of years.
Because of its specific position in the Indian Ocean, the history of Zanzibar was very turbulent and dark, as well.

The first inhabitants were the Bantu people from the mainland of Africa, 3,000-4,000 years ago.

The next were the Persians, who came from the Middle East in the 10th century. They named the island Zangi-barwhich means the land of the Black people (Persian words Zangi = Black, Bar = the Place of). For a short time, they became absorbed into the local population, accepting the specific language Swahili and enriching it with words from their language. This new African-Persian population converted to Islam and adopted many Persian traditions.

While searching the route for India, the Portuguese came to the island at the beginning of the 16th century. Zanzibar was a part of Portugal’s empire for almost two centuries. They traded with spices but also initiated the slave market.

In the 17th century, the Omani Arabs expelled the Portuguese and established their control. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Zanzibar had a central role in trade routes and the slave trade in Africa.

Then, Zanzibar was proclaimed a British protectorate in 1890, which lasted for more than 70 years. After the Anglo-Zanzibar War (the shortest war in history), the slave trade was officially abolished.

The Zanzibar Revolution was in 1964. The Sultan and some Arab and Indian origin inhabitants were expelled from the island.
In the same year, Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united in the Republic of Tanzania.


Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar

The capital is Zanzibar town, located in the west part of the island. It consists of the old, historic part named Stone Town and another, the new part, with houses, shops, offices, and apartment blocks.

Because of its specific architecture and culture, Stone Town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The city is an unusual mix of African, Persian, Arab, Indian, and European cultures. Stone Town got its name because of the houses built with local coral stone by Arab traders and slaves during the 19th century.

The town is a labyrinth of narrow streets, old buildings, shops, markets, little mosques, restaurants, and hotels.

Visit and explore the most interesting attractions, such as the House of Wonders, Sultan Palace, Old Port, Darajani market, The Anglican Cathedral, Slavery Memorial museumFreddy Mercury’s house, The Roman Catholic Cathedral of  St. Josef, The Persian Bath Hamamni.

Stone Town Zanzibar

Stone Town


And when the sun goes down, taste the local food on the open-air market in Forodhani Gardens on the waterfront.

Forodhani Garden Zanzibar's pizza

Forodhani garden, and Zanzibar’s pizza



Zanzibar’s doors

Zanzibar is famous for its specific and interesting doors as well.
Wooden carved doors are everywhere, made in Indian, Arab or Swahili styles. Every door tells some special story about its owner’s social status, religion, and profession.

Zanzibar's door

Zanzibar’s door


Zanzibar’s world

When you come to Zanzibar, you can’t be sure what to expect from your vacation.
Someone falls in love with Zanzibar immediately and dreams of coming back again.
Some people remember it as a cosy and relaxing vacation on the white, sandy beach and swimming in the warm, green-blue sea.

For me, “Zanzi” is more than a relax-destination. There are so many stories and details about it for only one post.
Or I can’t describe it more concisely.

So stay tuned if you like to hear more about Zanzibar’s world, filled with stunning nature, dark history, and aromatic spices.


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4 replies
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    Read More In this article says:

    I have not checked in here for some time because I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂


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