Planning to travel to Zanzibar, Africa? Whether you are on an African honeymoon, finishing up your Kilimanjaro Trek, or exploring the plains of the Serengeti when ending it all with a long beach holiday one thing is for certain – Zanzibar Island is beautiful.
Things to Know Before You Travel to Zanzibar
- Where is Zanzibar?
Wondering where exactly Zanzibar is? You’re not alone. Essentially it is an island in the Indian Ocean, a two hour (15 miles) ferry ride from Dar Es Salaam, a major city in Tanzania. If you are short on time, or just want to make the most of your time on the islands, flying to Zanzibar is a great option, especially if you tie it directly into your arrival or departure flights from Dar Es Salaam. The 20-minute flight will only cost an extra 50 to 75 USD and if you’re already at the airport, it’s worth it to avoid city traffic.
Zanzibar is not a country but is considered a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. It also isn’t just one island but is the largest of Zanzibar Archipelago.
“Zanzibar” is not the official name of the island. When people refer to Zanzibar it is technically all of the Zanzibar Archipelago. Zanzibar Island is real name is “Unguja.”
Unguja is surrounded by many other tiny islands but the only ones that most people have likely heard of are Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia Island – the only islands inhabited by people.
All the different beaches on Zanzibar offer something unique and special. Yes, some are more beautiful than others, but every single one is wonderful.
For us, the most beautiful beaches on Zanzibar are Pongwe and Nungwi, while Paje was great for kite surfing, and Kizimkaze was perfect for seclusion.
- When is the Best Time to Visit Zanzibar?
The best time to visit Zanzibar is between June and October, which is their cool and dry season. Zanzibar has two rainy seasons from mid March to late May, and again in November.
- Discover the local culture
Where as Tanzania in general is evenly split between Muslim, Christian, and indigenous religions; Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim. Expect to hear call to prayer ringing through the sultry air and to see men and women dressed in traditional headdress and kofia (hat, in Swahilli). Be prepared to dress conservatively in the city, with your knees and shoulders covered, especially if you wish to visit the mosques. Save your speedos and bikinis for the beaches.