Located off the coast of Tanzania in Africa, Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar Island, Pemba Island, and a handful of smaller islands. It is a fairly small archipelago and is home to several small cities. Stone Town is the vibrant capital city here and a popular destination for first-time visitors. Nungwi is a resort town located right on the northern tip of the island and also an attractive spot for travelers who want to enjoy the beaches and explore some tourist sites. This beach destination in Africa is considered to be the ultimate Indian Ocean experience and offers miles of beautiful beachfront territory, a paradise-like setting, and a wealth of things to do and experience year round. Whether you want to spend your days exploring the scenic coastline, enjoying some watersports, or exploring some of the cultural attractions and sites around the region, you can look forward to a relaxing holiday and the ultimate beach escape.
Zanzibar is located in the Indian Ocean approximately 25 miles from the coast of Tanzania. It is known locally as Unguja and is just about 60 miles long and 20 miles wide. It is most famous for its coral reefs, sandy beaches, and the historic Stone Town which is said to be one of the only functioning ancient towns in East Africa.
The local population is a mix of ethnic backgrounds and Islam is the dominant religion here. The population is currently an estimated 800,000 and most inhabitants are located in Zanzibar City. Zanzibar City is where you’ll find most of the more developed areas and modern buildings. Zanzibar functions as an island state within the United Republic of Tanzania and has its own semi-autonomous government. Fishing and agriculture are the main economic activities here and this region was once the world’s leading producer of cloves. Since then, Zanzibar has been a premier exporter of coconut, coconut products, and spices.
Many first-time visitors end up touring Zanzibar on a scheduled tour or on a safari adventure. Eco tourism is also thriving here, and you’ll find many opportunities to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife and see some natural sites around the region. An eco and cultural tour can take you through some of the smaller communities around Zanzibar and give you a chance to learn about local customs, dialects, traditions, and languages. Eco tours will also give you an opportunity to learn about environmental sustainability in Zanzibar and community efforts to support the environment.
Another popular option for first-time visitors is to take a walking tour through the fabled Stone Town. This part of Zanzibar is home to several unique attractions including the Arab Fort, the People’s Palace, and the House e of Wonders. You’ll also find a bustling market here and some historic cathedrals and mosques.
Whether you decide to take a guided tour of Zanzibar, enjoy some time at the beach, or head off on a self-guided adventure through the different regions around Zanzibar, you’ll be treated to some scenic landscapes and a wealth of interesting things to do around the region.
Zanzibar Weather and Best Time to Visit
Zanzibar is located south of the equator and has a similar weather pattern to Tanzania. The best time to visit this region will really depend on your interests. Zanzibar does experience a rainy season and a dry season. Rainy season is from March through May when tropical downpours can be expected on a daily basis. Humidity levels run high during this time of year and the temperatures tend to hover around the low to mid 30s. The long and dry season is from June through October. Rainfall is unusual during this time but you can look forward to a lot of sunny weather and less humidity in the air.
November and December are some of the best times to visit because there is very little rain during this time of year and the temperatures are still warm and comfortable. Peak travel season is usually around the winter and holiday seasons when travelers from colder climates make their way to Zanzibar to escape the cold. If you are planning to travel over a long holiday weekend, you will need to plan ahead to get the best rates and travel deals.
One of the best ways to experience Zanzibar is to take a cultural tour or sightseeing tour around the main towns and cities. You’ll find several tour operators around the city that offer themed tours and guided adventures through some of the most significant neighborhoods and districts. One of the most popular tours in this region is Stone Town, a fabled city where history is said to stand still. Stone Town is home to several unique attractions and destinations including the House of Wonders, the Palace Museum, the Arab Fort, and Dr. Livingstone’s House. A guided tour through this town will give you a fascinating look at some of the historic landmarks and sites of Zanzibar, and also take you to some of the cathedrals, mosques, and the bustling market around the city. You’ll also get a chance to visit Sultan Barghash’s harem at Marahubi.
Many first-time visitors take the spice plantations tour to learn about the different plantations around Zanzibar town and the different spices of the region. You can learn about the slave trade and find out how different spices are used to treat different ailments. The plantations and markets around Zanzibar are also among the cheapest places to buy spices and spice oils.
Nature enthusiasts can spend their days exploring the Jozani Natural Forest Reserve. This reserve is located in the central east region of Zanzibar Island and is home to some monkey species and a nature trail. Take a guided tour of this reserve to learn about the different species and to see some beautiful natural sites.
The northern coast of Zanzibar is home to unspoiled lands and is also where you’ll find a sleepy fishing village. This part of the region has some beautiful beaches and the coral reefs nearby are well-suited for diving, snorkeling, and other water activities. Don’t miss the chance to visit Prison Island near old Stone Town. The island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and also boasts a sparkling white beach that’s well-suited for sunbathing.
Whether you’re interested in taking a guided tour of the region or just want to enjoy some time exploring the natural attractions around the area, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do and enjoy around the paradise-like setting of Zanzibar.