26 Best Things To Do in Zanzibar in 2024: Amazing Zanzibar Travel Tips
Zanzibar is a beautiful archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Tanzania. It is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, rich history and culture, wildlife experiences, and adventure activities. To help you plan your Zanzibar Island itinerary, here are 26 Best Things To Do in Zanzibar, Tanzania:
1. Explore Stone Town's Heritage on a Guided Walking Tour
Stone Town is the historic center of Zanzibar City and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a fascinating blend of African, Arab, and European influences, with narrow streets, old stone buildings, and bustling markets.
The best way to explore Stone Town is on foot. Join a guided walking tour to gain insights into the history, culture, and architecture of Stone Town and Zanzibar Island. A knowledgeable guide will lead you through the narrow streets, sharing stories that bring the town's past to life.
Stone Town Travel Photography Tip: photograph all the intricately carved wooden Zanzibar doors.
It's possible to explore Stone Town on your own, but I would recommend reading about Stone Town’s and Zanzibar’s history to understand the significance of its landmarks, architecture, and cultural practices.
Must-see sights Stone Town
These are the top Stone Town tourist attractions that you should include in your Stone Town Walking Tour:
- The Old Fort of Zanzibar: Also known as the Arab Fort or Ngome Kongwe; a historic fortification considered as the oldest building in Stone Town, reflecting Zanzibar's rich history and heritage.
- House of Wonders (temporarily closed): also known as Beit-el-Ajaib; a significant landmark in Zanzibar, Tanzania with historical and architectural importance.
- The People's Palace Museum: Formerly known as Sultan's Palace, it was the residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar in the 19th century. The museum displays artifacts, documents, and items showcasing Zanzibar's history and culture, including its trade and political influences.
- Freddie Mercury Museum: Situated in his former home on Shangani, in the heart of Zanzibar Stone Town, the museum is dedicated to the life and work of the legendary Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.
- Darajani Bazaar: One of the main attractions is the aromatic spice market. Zanzibar is renowned for its spices, and the market is a great place to find a wide variety of them, including cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. You can also find fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as dried beans, lentils, and grains.
- Darajani Fish Market: Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as locals and tourists gather to purchase seafood or simply observe the bustling activity; a must-visit attraction in Zanzibar, offering you an authentic glimpse into local daily life.
- Old Slave Market/Anglican Cathedral: Originally constructed in the 19th century as a slave market during the era of the infamous slave trade in Zanzibar, the building underwent a remarkable transformation in the late 19th century. It was converted into an Anglican cathedral, symbolizing a shift towards religious and social progress on the island
- St Joseph's Cathedral: Notes as the first Catholic Church in Tanzania, holding historical importance, this prominent Roman Catholic cathedral is located in the Baghani part of Stone Town, identifiable by its twin spires.
- Forodhani Gardens & Cape Town Fish Market: Famous for hosting the Forodhani Night Market, where you can indulge in a variety of local delicacies and experience the island's culinary heritage.
- Old Dispensary: a historic 19th-century charitable institution that served during colonial times. It played a crucial role in providing medical aid and assistance to the local population.
2. Wander Through Stone Town's Lanes at Your own Pace
After your guided tour focusing on the top tourist attractions in Stone Town, take a leisurely stroll through Stone Town's alleys in Zanzibar City. Explore bazaars, sample street food, and experience the vibrant atmosphere. Don't forget to admire the beautifully carved wooden doors and traditional architecture. Include a coffee stop at Karafuu or Zanzibar Coffee House and stop at Secret Garden for lunch; my favorite place for lunch in Stone Town.
Exploring Zanzibar's Capital City Stone Town helps you appreciate and respect the unique blend of cultures, traditions, and customs found in Stone Town and Zanzibar today and is therefore one of the best things to do in Zanzibar. Here, you can explore Zanzibar Unesco Tours.
3. Encounter Giant Aldabra Tortoises on Prison Island
Visit Prison Island (or Changuu Island) to see the giant Aldabra tortoises and relax on the beautiful white beach. It's one of the most popular island tours in Zanzibar where you can see the old slave jail and encounter the giant Aldabra tortoises, some of which are over a century old. Prison Island is located just a short boat ride from Stone Town.
Zanzibar Travel Tip: combine a Prison Island Trip with Nakupenda Sandbank, a beautiful sand strip in the middle of the ocean, known as one of the whitest sandbanks in Africa. The Prison Island and Nakupenda Sandbank Tour, departs from Stone Town Harbor, where you’ll step into a motorized Dhow boat, visiting Prison Island first.
Prison Island was used as a prison for rebellious slaves in the 1860s, and it also served as a coral mine. Our guide from Zanzibar Nature Trails explained that in 1893, the British First Minister of Zanzibar, purchased the island and built a prison complex.
However, the prison was never used. Instead, for a short amount of time, Prison Island became a quarantine station for people with yellow fever.
The Endangered Aldabra Tortoises
The endangered Aldabra tortoises living on the small Island are the main reason why this Zanzibar Tour is so popular amongst tourists. They were originally a gift from the British governor of the Seychelles, who sent four tortoises to Changuu Island in 1919. Thanks to conservation efforts in this tortoise sanctuary, the numbers have risen once again.
Zanzibar Tourism: Sell a more ethical tortoise experience!
Although I found the giant tortoises impressive to see, I didn’t like the experience they sell to tourists. As a visitor, you are able to feed these giants throughout the day, touch them and make an Instagram selfie with the Aldabra Tortoise to dominate socials. While I was there, it became more crowded every 5 minutes and the people were walking everywhere to get to the tortoises. One tourist got injured because she was so focused on getting her perfect picture that she didn't saw the tortoise grabbing the food from her hand, which resulted in a painful bite mark.
The Aldabra tortoises are the only remaining species out of 18 former tortoise species that once flourished on the islands of the Indian Ocean. Therefore, it's amazing to see these them. My wish for the future is that Zanzibar will consider selling a more ethical tortoise experience, showing more respect to the conservation of these giants. As a responsible traveler, you can do your bit too: not act as everyone else and show more respect to these creatures.
The best time to visit Prison Island is in the (early) morning because you can beat the crowds, and the heat.
4. Take a Boat Trip to Nakupenda Sandbank
Nakupenda Sandbank is a beautiful sand strip in the middle of the ocean, known as one of the whitest sandbanks in Africa. When you’re staying in Zanzibar's capital city, this is the best place to swim and go snorkeling near Stone Town. As long as you avoid the crowds, it's a magical break from the hustle and bustle of Stone Town. It can get busy on Nakupenda Beach around lunch-time; for more privacy, I'd suggest getting there as early as possible.
As you dip in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the paradise white sand bank, your captain or other local fishermen will prepare a delicious seafood BBQ lunch including, calamari, octopus, shrimp, and tuna, accompanied by fries and local fruits.
The best time to visit the sandbank of Nakupenda (meaning "I love you" in Swahili) depends on the tides. There is no public ferry, so the best way to get there is by booking a Nakupenda Tour with a reliable tour operator or go to the beach to see if a local fisherman is available to take you there.
My Zanzibar Travel Tip: We did our Prison Island and Sandbank Tour with Zanzibar Nature Trails.
5. Soak Up the Sun on Zanzibar's Pristine Beaches
Zanzibar is synonymous with paradise beaches, boasting powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters. Some of them are listed among the most beautiful beaches in the world. From the secluded shores of Bwejuu to the vibrant nightlife hotspot of Nungwi Beach, there's a beach for every mood. Don't miss Kendwa Beach for epic sunsets and Michamvi-Pingwe for tranquil coves. Grab your sunscreen and get ready to unwind in paradise!
Visit the Best Beaches in Zanzibar
Zanzibar offers a diverse range of beaches, each with its own unique charm, ensuring there's a perfect spot for every taste. Discover a selection of the best Zanzibar beaches here:
- Kendwa Beach: Ideal for solo travelers, Kendwa offers various activities, serene sunsets, and calm waters. Kendwa Rocks hosts the popular Full Moon Party, while Zuri Zanzibar provides luxurious accommodations for honeymooners.
- Nungwi Beach: Similar to Kendwa but busier, Nungwi boasts all-inclusive resorts like Essque Zalu Zanzibar and a bustling village atmosphere. Makofi Guesthouse is recommended for solo travelers, and the Z Hotel is a favorite among visitors.
- Matemwe Beach: Offering a tranquil village life and proximity to Mnemba Atoll, Matemwe is untouched by tourism. Visitors can enjoy a relaxed stay at highly recommended hotels, like Matemwe Rock Villas.
- Paje Beach: Known for its beautiful beach and vibrant nightlife, Paje is perfect for kite-surfing enthusiasts. Drifters, Ebb & Flow Apartments, Mr. Kahawa, and Kahawa Lofts are recommended for accommodations
- Jambiani Beach: Similar to Paje, Jambiani offers a stunning beach and lively village scene. Red Monkey Lodge is a popular choice for travelers seeking an immersive experience. Another option is The Blue Oyster Hotel.
- Michamvi Beach: Known for its stunning sunset views, Michamvi-Pingwe Beach offers a quieter ambiance. Upendo Zanzibar and Kae Funk, a vibey funky beach bar provide sophisticated or laid-back Zanzibar accommodations, respectively.
- Pongwe Beach: A picturesque beach resort with a laid-back atmosphere, Pongwe is less crowded. The Island – Pongwe Lodge and Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort offer unique and luxurious stays.
- Bwejuu Beach: Embracing village life and quiet beaches, Bwejuu is close to nightlife hotspots like Paje. Tsunami Village offers comfortable accommodations for travelers.
For your convenience, I wrote an article focusing on the best beaches in Zanzibar, all explored by myself; hand-picked for you- including images to showcase my top picks.
Stay in the Best Beach Resorts in Zanzibar
If you want to book a Zanzibar holiday, you may want to look into some of the Best Beach Resorts in Zanzibar. I hand-picked 3 Beach Resorts located on the beach: Neptune Pwani Beach Resort, Essque Zalu, and Hekaya Beach Hotel. The last one is a more intimate boutique lodge with a swimming pool for those who want to avoid the crowds and love to have a more intimate experience.
6. Snorkel and Dive the Coral Reefs
Zanzibar's coral reefs are home to a diverse array of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and dolphins. Snorkeling and diving in Zanzibar are popular activities, and there are many dive sites to choose from, suitable for both beginners and experienced divers. Here are some of the best spots to explore the underwater wonders of the Zanzibar Archipelago:
- Chumbe Island Coral Park: a protected marine area with vibrant reefs
- Bawe Island: a secluded paradise teeming with marine biodiversity
- Mnemba Atoll is the most famous Conservation area in Zanzibar. It consists of a seven by four kilometers reef, containing the tiny Mnemba Island. Besides the fantastic marine life and gorgeous coral reefs, it’s also known for being one of the most luxurious, private islands in the world.
- Tumbatu Island: features the best dive sites to get your diving certification in Zanzibar. It’s not too deep, the sites are protected from strong currents, and there’s plenty of pretty fish to see.
- Leven Bank or Big Wall: If you’re looking for more challenging dive sites in Zanzibar.
For Snorkeling in Zanzibar, the picturesque Nungwi and Kendwa beaches provide excellent snorkeling conditions, allowing you to encounter a variety of marine life or explore interesting Zanzibar snorkeling tours that meet your wishes and needs For find snorkeling lessons.
Like most tropical islands around the world, Zanzibar has relatively warm water temperatures for diving throughout most of the year. Whether you're an eco-conscious snorkeler, an avid underwater photographer, or just a beginner, Zanzibar promises unforgettable experiences in its unique underwater landscapes.
7. Spice Up Your Trip with a Spice Tour
Allow yourself to delve into the fascinating world of spices! Zanzibar is known as the "Spice Island" due to its rich production of spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I highly recommend taking a Zanzibar spice tour to learn about the different spices and how they are grown and harvested; an aromatic journey that offers a deeper understanding of Zanzibar's cultural and historical significance.
As you meander through the lush plantations on one of the Spice Farms in Zanzibar, a knowledgeable local guide will accompany you, highlighting various spice trees and plants. From cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger to an array of other spices, you'll learn about their origins and significance, including cultivation techniques, traditional uses of spices, and their medicinal and cosmetic purposes.
Kizimbani Spice Farm
We visited the 300-hectare Kizimbani Spice Farm, the largest spice farm on Zanzibar Island. They provide a 90-minute private spice tour that brings you close to nature. Although I already know a lot about plants, fruits, and spices, it's an educative and joyful experience while giving back to the spice farmers. On Kizimbani Spice Farm, you can learn about 30+ different fruits, plants, and trees.
Buy Spices as a Souvenir From Zanzibar Island
At the end of your Zanzibar Spice Tour, there’s an opportunity to buy spices, herbs, soaps, and (essential) oils. Visiting a spice farm is a half-day tour. The Kizimbani Spice Farm is located about a 45 minutes drive by car from Stone Town. For those with limited time or who prefer a different experience, a visit to the vibrant marketplace and spice shops in Stone Town is a perfect alternative. By purchasing spices as souvenirs, you also contribute to the local community.
8. Spot the Zanzibar Red Colobus in Jozani Forest
Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park is Zanzibar's largest conservation area and only national park, located in the middle of the island. It's home to the endangered red colobus monkey, as well as other wildlife such as Sykes' monkeys, bush babies, and birds. You can take a guided walk through the forest to see the wildlife and learn about the local ecosystem.
The Rare Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey
The Zanzibar red colobus (Procolobus kirkii) is listed as an endangered primate species on the IUCN Red List, found exclusively on the islands of Unguja and Pemba in the Zanzibar Archipelago, off the coast of Tanzania. The main threats include habitat loss due to deforestation, hunting for bushmeat, and the illegal pet trade. These arboreal monkeys are known for their striking reddish-brown fur, which sets them apart from other colobus species.
As one of Zanzibar's unique and precious wildlife species, the Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey holds significant ecological and cultural value. When visiting Jozani Forest, you have the opportunity to encounter these fascinating creatures up close, as they are known to be relatively tolerant of human presence. Joining a Jozani Forest guided tour is a way to give back and help in conserving this endangered primate species.
Explore the Mangrove of Jozani Chwaka Bay
Jozani Chwaka Bay is also home to a huge mangrove area; a unique coastal ecosystem with special trees and marine life. You can go on guided walks along wooden paths to see this environment up close without disturbing it. It's a peaceful and educational experience that helps you understand the importance of these Zanzibar mangroves.
9. Explore Uzi Island's Hidden Gems
Escape the crowds and discover the untouched beauty of Uzi Island, a hidden gem off the south coast of Unguja. Immerse yourself in the island's rural charm as you interact with local fishing communities and explore pristine beaches. Uzi Island boasts a lush landscape featuring mangroves, banana and mango plantations, and towering baobab trees. As part of a conservation area, the island is rich in biodiversity, including seaweed, corals, and various plant species.
Don't forget to schedule your visit around the tides to experience the unique journey across the intertidal causeway during low tide! When the tide rises, the causeway disappears, requiring transportation by traditional Dhow boats.
10. Visit The Zanzibar Butterfly Center and Zala Park
The Zanzibar Butterfly Center is a conservation and educational center located in the village of Pete, very close to Jozani Forest. It's home to over 50 species of butterflies, including the rare and endangered Zanzibar swallowtail. The center also has a butterfly garden, where you can see them up close and learn about all stages of their life cycle, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult.
The Zanzibar Butterfly Center was founded in 1997 by Dr. Jonathan Timberlake, a British entomologist who has been studying butterflies in Zanzibar for over 30 years. The center's mission is to promote the conservation of butterflies and their habitats, and to educate the public about the importance of these insects. My Zanzibar Travel Tip for you is to combine a visit to this Butterfly Sanctuary with Jozani Forest. If you love reptiles, you can also explore the nearby Zala Park, housing reptiles like pythons and dik-diks.
11. Sailing Tour with Safari Blue
The Safari Blue Sailing Tour in Zanzibar particularly known for its full-day boat trips to the beautiful Menai Bay Conservation Area, where you can snorkel, swim, and explore the stunning coral reefs and marine life of the Indian Ocean.
Board a Traditional Zanzibar Dhow
The Safari Blue Experience Tour begins with a morning pickup from your hotel in Zanzibar and a scenic drive to the Fumba Peninsula. From there, you'll board a traditional dhow boat and set sail for Menai Bay. During the boat ride, you'll have the chance to admire the breathtaking coastline and spot dolphins playing in the waves (if you're lucky).
Snorkel in Mangrove Lagoon & Relax on a Powdery Sandbank
Once you arrive at Menai Bay, you'll be provided with snorkeling equipment and given a briefing on the marine life you might encounter. The bay is home to a diverse array of coral reefs, colorful fish, and other marine creatures, making it a paradise for snorkelers. When leaving Menai Bay, you'll visit a nearby white sandbank, where you can take a leisurely stroll, sunbathe, or simply relax and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.
Swahili Seafood Barbecue
After snorkeling and enjoying the white sand bank, you'll be served a delicious Swahili seafood barbecue lunch on the secluded Kwale Island, prepared using fresh local ingredients. Our lunch consisted of slipper lobster, tuna, calamari, jumbo prawns and chicken from the grill, chickpeas, and red lentil dahl, accompanied by rice, sesame & coconut bread, followed by different fruits and sweets like mango, pineapple, baobab fruits, dates, and halwa. We ended with a lovely coffee and Amarula (Zanzi cream). On the island, you can also find some souvenir stalls, and a stunning Baobab.
The Safari Blue Experience
Although I prefer private trips to group tours, this Safari Blue Zanzibar tour was one of my favorite things to do in Zanzibar, offering a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and exploration of Zanzibar's stunning marine treasures. It’s an all-in tour with only cocktails and wine at an additional price.
12. Swim in Blue Lagoon Zanzibar
Blue Lagoon Zanzibar is a popular tourist attraction in Zanzibar that offers you a glimpse of natural beauty and tranquility. An excursion to the Blue Lagoon is often included in half-day boat tours or full-day trips in Zanzibar.
The Blue Lagoon Bay or Blue Lagoon Zanzibar, is a stunning shallow tidal pool located on the eastern coast of Zanzibar. It is renowned for its vibrant turquoise waters that create a mesmerizing sight. The lagoon gets its name from the striking blue hues caused by the shallow depth and white sandy bottom. Visitors can enjoy swimming, wading, or simply basking in the serene ambiance of the lagoon. The calm waters make it an ideal spot for families and those looking for a relaxing escape.
13. Admire Starfish Sandbank Zanzibar
Starfish Sandbank, also referred to as Starfish Island or Starfish Beach, is a picturesque sandbank home to a significant number of starfish that dot the shallow waters. The sandbank emerges during low tide, creating a magical landscape of glistening sand and crystal-clear waters. You can walk along the sandbank, spot starfish of various sizes and colors, and enjoy the idyllic surroundings. Important: Please note that handling or disturbing the starfish is discouraged to protect their natural habitat.
The best place to find Starfish in Zanzibar is at Blue Lagoon, Michamvi Pingwe Beach, South East coast of the Island, or off the coast of Stone Town. Explore Zanzibar tours that include Starfish Beach.
14. Watch Dolphins in Zanzibar
Embark on a dolphin watching excursion in Zanzibar with the possibility to swim with wild dolphins (no touching!). Zanzibar's warm coastal waters are home to various species of dolphins, including bottlenose dolphins and humpback dolphins. Dolphin tours in Zanzibar offer the opportunity to witness the magic of dolphins in their natural habitat.
Best locations to see Dolphins in Zanzibar
One of the most popular locations for dolphin tours is Kizimkazi, a fishing village on the southern coast of Zanzibar. The area around Kizimkazi is under the protection of the government, which recognizes the importance of preserving the natural habitat of dolphins in Zanzibar. Another popular spot for swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar (in the wild, without touching them) is the protected marine area ‘Menai Bay Conservation Area’, the reefs around Mnemba Island, located on the southwestern coast of Zanzibar Island.
Dolphin tours typically take place in the early morning, when the chances of encountering dolphins are higher. Boat captains, often local fishermen, navigate the waters, using their knowledge and experience to locate the dolphins' frequent feeding and resting areas. Once the dolphins are located, it’s also possible to swim and snorkel alongside the dolphins, if circumstances permit.
Dolphin Tour Kizimkazi
Because Kizimkazi is known for their responsible dolphin tours, acknowledging the importance of dolphin conservation in Zanzibar, we decided to watch the Dolphins in Kizimkazi. On our dolphin tour in Kizimkazi, the sea proved to be rough, adding an extra element of challenge to our journey. The turbulent waves made it difficult to spot the dolphins, making it an adventurous experience. But in the end, we were lucky to get a glimpse of the dolphins.
However, the sighting was accompanied by a flurry of boats, all eager to witness these remarkable marine creatures up close and swim with them. The rule is that a maximum of five boats are allowed at a dolphin sighting. Unfortunately, there were more boats around which felt overwhelming to us and probably stressful for the dolphins.
We couldn't help but feel a pang of concern for their well-being amidst the chaotic scene and we decided to not go in the water to snorkel with the dolphins. We tried to maintain a respectful distance and cherish the precious moments we spent observing these graceful beings in their natural environment. Our Zanzibar dolphin tour, with all its challenges and complexities, served as a reminder of the importance of responsible tourism and the need to prioritize the welfare and conservation of dolphins in Zanzibar.
15. Discover the Zanzibar Caves
Zanzibar offers a fascinating array of caves to explore and swim in. It’s fascinating to explore the limestone formations and crystal clear turquoise fresh waters. During our Zanzibar trip, we explored three magnificent caves, but you can also book several Cave Tours in Zanzibar. From the lively ambiance of the Swahili Cave to the awe-inspiring beauty of the Maalum Cave and the vibrant local community feeling at the Kuza Cave, each offering its unique ambiance and treasures:
The Swahili Cave has a lively atmosphere with the rhythms of live music. A designated area with a bar provided the perfect setting to unwind, sip on refreshing drinks, and savor some (finger)food. While the cave itself may have been less visually striking, the lively ambiance made it an enjoyable experience.
The Maluum Cave is our favorite pick! Although pricier, the extraordinary experience was worth the money. You will love the stunning environment and tranquil atmosphere. On top of that, they serve lovely fresh juices at the bar. The facilities are clean and well-maintained, providing a comfortable haven to relax. The Maalum Cave truly exceeded our expectations and therefore among the best things to do in Zanzibar.
The Kuza Cave
Kuza Cave is a place that emanated a distinct local community feeling. Here, you can witness the vibrant essence of Zanzibar coming alive. We were welcomed by locals playing drums, and we were even asked to join them. The cave itself was a little unexciting, but the water was crystal-clear. A good thing is that the profits of all visits go directly to the community. You can find Kuza Cave adjacent to the Congo Man Cave and Restaurant or book an excursion to Kuza Cave.
16. Skydiving in Zanzibar
Get a bird's-eye view of the stunning Zanzibar coastline by booking a tandem skydive. Skydiving in Zanzibar is one of the top things to do in Zanzibar.
The panoramic views from the small plane showcase Zanzibar's turquoise waters, pristine beaches, and lush greenery, creating a picture-perfect scene. Then, the exhilarating moment arrives as you leap from the aircraft, free-falling through the sky with the wind rushing past you. The adrenaline surges through your veins as you descend, feeling a sense of liberation and awe as you witness the breathtaking beauty of Zanzibar from above. You will land on the white powdery sands of Kendwa Beach; one of the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar.
17. Go Kiteboarding, Parasailing, Supping or Jet Skiing
For adrenaline seekers, there are thrilling water activities in Zanzibar to choose from, like surfing, riding a jet ski, snorkeling and parasailing. Kite surfing on Paje Beach with its consistent trade winds and shallow turquoise waters is another great water adventure in Zanzibar. And if you are a lover of fishing, go Deep sea fishing in Zanzibar. If you want to visit the mangroves in Chwaka Bay, consider a unique Mangrove SUP Tour organized by Surf Zanzibar.
18. Experience the Thrill of Scuba Diving in Zanzibar
For the ultimate underwater adventure, book a scuba diving excursion to Zanzibar's most renowned dive sites. Explore the Nyange Reef near Stone Town or the vibrant coral gardens of Mnemba Atoll. Keep your eyes peeled for barracudas, moray eels, and other fascinating marine creatures as you dive into the depths of the Indian Ocean.
A PADI scuba diving course in Zanzibar ranging from 1 to 3 days is also a popular choice.
19. Visit the Seaweed Center in Paje
The seaweed center in Paje is a renowned hub dedicated to promoting sustainable seaweed farming and empowering local communities. It serves as a vital platform for research, education, and community development, with a focus on improving the livelihoods of seaweed farmers and preserving the marine ecosystem. A highly recommended cultural activity in Zanzibar.
The seaweed tours at Mwani Zanzibar provide a unique cultural experience in Zanzibar, allowing you to interact with local farmers and understand their traditional farming techniques. Supporting the Seaweed Center contributes to the livelihoods of the Mwani Zanzibar Mamas, who have been farming seaweed for generations.
Note that the Seaweed Center is not open the whole year. Our Zanzibar Travel Tip: if the seaweed center is closed, you can also visit Jambiani Beach and see the women collecting seaweed during low tide.
20. Learn Swahili Words & Phrases
Try to learn a few Swahili words and phrases to talk to the locals; they will appreciate your effort! The locals often greet you with 'Jambo' or 'Hakuna Matata'. Navigate to my Swahili lessons to learn Swahili for beginners.
21. Explore Nungwi Village on a Cultural Tour
Nungwi Village Tour: One of the best things to do in Nungwi. You'll have the opportunity to interact with the locals and gain insights into their traditions and way of life. The Nungwi Village Tour is a great way to explore Nungwi and I rate this among the top things to do in Zanzibar.
22. Embark on a Romantic Sunset Dhow Cruise
Sail on a traditional dhow boat during sunset for breathtaking views of the coastline. Leaving from Stone Town's harbor, a Sunset Dhow Tour in Zanzibar is a highly popular activity in Zanzibar for the wonderful display of colors in the sky reflecting on the water.
Around sunset in Zanzibar, the locals become very active. They walk along the beaches, and people gather to play sports like football and volleyball. In Stone Town, people sit together, talk, and share laughter. The markets also get busy, with vendors selling fresh food and local dishes. You can feel the lively spirit of the local community. It's a memorable experience that you won't forget.
23. Taste the Zanzibar Cuisine
Exploring the local Zanzibari food scene allows you to experience the island's culture and savor its delicious dishes. Whether you're looking for traditional Zanzibar eateries with local specialties or international fusion restaurants, the island offers a wide range of options to suit different tastes and budgets.
Dine at Popular Zanzibar Restaurants
We enjoyed a variety of curries, fresh seafood, and exotic fruits. Some famous restaurants in Zanzibar include Cape Town Fish Market, Emerson Spice Restaurant, and Secret Garden in Stone Town, as well as The Rock Restaurant and Boho Social in Pingwe and Oxygen in Paje. There are also tours that include the Rock Restaurant and Secret Garden in a Zanzibar day-trip or discover other Zanzibar Food and Drinks tours.
Take a Zanzibar Cooking Class
Another great way to explore Zanzibar's culinary delights is by participating in a Zanzibari cooking workshop where you learn to cook Zanzibari Style with various spices of Zanzibar.
Book a Zanzibar Food Tour
Experience the local Zanzibar foods by indulging in traditional Swahili dishes like the Zanzibar pizza, seafood curries, and samosas in street-side cafes. To get to those hidden gems, best to taste the local Zanzibar dishes, consider a Zanzibar food tour with a local guide.
24. Dine at the Rock Restaurant Zanzibar
The Rock Restaurant in Pingwe is a unique and iconic dining spot in Zanzibar that you shouldn't miss. Perched on a rock formation in the sea on the Michamvi Peninsula, this charming restaurant offers breathtaking views and a lovely dining experience. During low tide, you can walk towards the restaurant, but at high tide, the restaurant is surrounded by water, creating a magical ambiance that makes you feel like you're dining on a secluded island that is only accessible by boat. The Rock Restaurant is also a famous spot to watch the sunset in Zanzibar.
The menu features a variety of fresh seafood and lovely dishes, making it a perfect place to enjoy a meal while embracing the beauty of the ocean surroundings. I must be honest, the food is expensive and not the best food I ever had (I loved the food at Boho Social more), but it's definitely one of the most iconic spots in Zanzibar. Therefore, The Rock Restaurant is a must-visit. On GetYourGuide, you can find several Zanzibar tours that include The Rock Restaurant.
My Zanzibar Rock Restaurant Tip: enjoy a perfect view of the Rock Restaurant itself while having lunch or diner at Boho Social, located across the Rock. They have great food and I loved their healthy freshly-made juices.
25. Discover the Islands in the Zanzibar Archipelago
In addition to the main island of Zanzibar, called Unguja, the Zanzibar archipelago offers other stunning islands to explore, all with unique things to do and offer. Like, for example, Pemba Island, a green island renowned for its excellent diving and snorkeling sites, Mnemba Island, known for its exclusivity and luxurious beach experience, Mafia Island, well-known for the whale seasons, coral reefs and mangroves, or Chumbe Island, a protected marine park.
26. Enjoy the Zanzibar Nightlife
When the sun sets in Zanzibar, the island comes alive. In Stone Town, immerse yourself in the historical charm while enjoying live music at Forodhani Gardens or sip cocktails at rooftop bars overlooking the Indian Ocean. A favorite spot among tourists traveling in Zanzibar is Emerson on Hurumzi, that includes live Taarab music and offers beautiful views over Stone Town.
For those seeking a beachfront party scene, head to Paje, where beach bars like Mr. Kahawa and Kahawa Lofts offer lively atmospheres and stunning ocean views. In Nungwi and Kendwa, known for their bustling beaches by day, the nightlife doesn't disappoint. Experience the Kendwa Rocks Full Moon Party or visit Coccobello in Nungwi. Dance the night away at Coco Blue Night Club in Jambiani or join the Monday night jam session at Red Monkey Lodge for a taste of local culture and music. Whether you're into beach parties, live music, or cultural experiences, Zanzibar offers a vibrant nightlife scene that adds excitement to your island adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions Zanzibar
- What is the best time to visit Zanzibar? The best time to visit Zanzibar is during the dry season, in the months from June to October.
- What is the currency of Zanzibar? The currency of Zanzibar is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS).
- What is the official language of Zanzibar? The official language of Zanzibar is Swahili.
- Is Zanzibar safe to visit? Zanzibar is generally considered safe for visitors, take normal safety precautions. Be mindful of your surroundings, and avoid displaying valuables. It's also a good idea to check the latest travel advisories before your Zanzibar trip.
- Do I need a visa to visit Zanzibar? Yes, you will need a visa to visit Zanzibar, unless you are a citizen of a country that is exempt from visa requirements. It's important to check the specific visa requirements based on your nationality before traveling to Zanzibar. You can now apply for an Online Tanzania e-Visa to visit the United Republic of Tanzania (both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar).
- What are the main attractions in Zanzibar? The main and must-visit attractions in Zanzibar include Stone Town in Zanzibar City, the Jozani Forest, The Safari Blue Sailing Experience, and the beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa.
- What are some of the local dishes to try in Zanzibar? Some of the local dishes to try in Zanzibar include pilaf, coconut rice, and seafood dishes.
- Cultural Etiquettes: What are the local customs and traditions I should be aware of? In Zanzibar, it's important to be respectful of the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites, and ask for permission before taking photos of people. It's also customary to greet people with "jambo" or "hakuna matata" as a sign of respect. Additionally, it's polite to remove your shoes when entering someone's home.
- How can I get around in Zanzibar? In Zanzibar, you can get around using various modes of transportation such as taxis, dala-dalas (minibuses), and hired cars. Additionally, you can also explore the island by renting a scooter or bicycle. It's important to negotiate fares in advance and ensure that you are using a licensed and reputable transportation service.
- Is Zanzibar worth visiting? Yes, Zanzibar Africa is a destination that deserves a spot on every traveler's bucket list. Although beach tourism remains the major highlight of Zanzibar, it offers more than just beautiful beaches, warm turquoise waters, and luxurious beachfront resorts. In the last few years, Zanzibar tourism has emerged, attracting travelers from around the world. Zanzibar has a reputation for being a safe destination for travelers. For that reason, traveling to Zanzibar solo is also a perfect option.
I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions about Zanzibar.
Conclusion: Top Things to See and Do on Zanzibar Island
With its beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, and diverse wildlife, Zanzibar Island offers an array of top tourist attractions and interesting things to do for an unforgettable Zanzibar Vacation. Even for budget-conscious travelers, Zanzibar on a budget is doable. Explore affordable Zanzibar accommodations without compromising on quality.
To summarize, here are the best things to do in Zanzibar:
- Stone Town Guided Walking Tour
- Wander Stone Town's Alleys
- Prison Island and Aldabra Tortoises Tour
- Nakupenda Sandbank Boat Trip
- Visit Zanzibar Beaches
- Snorkeling and Diving at Coral Reefs
- Take a Spice Tour
- Wildlife in Jozani Forest
- Uzi Island
- Zanzibar Butterfly Center & Zala Park
- Safari Blue Tour
- Blue Lagoon Zanzibar
- Starfish Sandbank Zanzibar
- Dolphin Watching Zanzibar
- Zanzibar Caves
- Skydiving in Zanzibar
- Kiteboarding, Parasailing, Supping and Jet Skiing
- Scuba diving
- Seaweed Center in Paje
- Learn Swahili
- Nungwi Village Cultural Tour
- Zanzibar Sunset Dhow Cruise
- Taste the Zanzibar Cuisine
- The Rock Restaurant
- Discover the Islands in the Zanzibar Archipelago
- Zanzibar Nightlife
If you're looking for a reliable tour operator to book your Zanzibar Tours, I highly recommend Zanzibar Nature Trails. Tell Shauri (the CEO), you came through Kim from 'Our Planet in my Lens' or explore affordable Zanzibar Tours and Activities on GetYourGuide; one of my favorite travel resources to book tours and other activities.