Zanzibar – An Island in East Africa

The Island of Zanzibar: Location, prices, attractions, climate and more

Just 40 km from Tanzania lies the unique island of Zanzibar, which attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world with its spacious white sandy beaches, clear warm water of the Indian Ocean, exotic flora and fauna. African archipelago is gaining popularity every year and is one of the best tourist destinations today. Below we will consider in more detail why the island of Zanzibar is attractive.


Zanzibar is actually part of the African archipelago, which consists of 75 large and small islands. At the same time, Zanzibar is the central part of the African continent, because the capital is located on its territory.

Most tourists mistakenly believe that the island is part of Tanzania. But in fact, Zanzibar is autonomous. And the locals proudly call themselves Zanzibaris.

The area of Zanzibar is more than 2500 square kilometers, and it is home to about one million people. The religion in Zanzibar and Tanzania is Islam.

Tourists from all over the world are attracted by the white sandy beaches, comfortable hotels, reasonable prices for seafood and fruits of Zanzibar.

Where is it and how to get there

Where is Zanzibar? Which ocean is it in? These questions worry almost every tourist who wants to enjoy an unforgettable African vacation.

So, in the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean nestles the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. Previously, namely several million years ago, the island was part of Tanzania, but due to the movement of tectonic plates, it broke away 40 km from the African coast.

The people of Zanzibar: features and national composition

The island of Zanzibar was at various times under the control of the Arabs, British, Persians, which automatically affected the religious beliefs of the local population. Today the island professes Islam, which was handed down through the Persians. At the same time there is a minimal percentage of Christians.

The population of Zanzibar hovers around a million, not counting the thousands of tourists who visit the African island each year.


According to research scientists, about four thousand years ago the first settlers from Africa appeared on the territory of Zanzibar. The first islanders were engaged in agriculture and spoke the ancient Bantu language.

Historically the island was conquered about two thousand years ago by Arab traders, who contributed to the language and religion of the islanders.

Then there were the Persians, who established several colonies in the African archipelago and brought Islam with them. That is why today almost the majority of Zanzibaris are Muslims.

After the Persians, the Arabs, who traded gold, glass, spices and ivory, were active in trade with the islanders on the territory of Zanzibar. They also brought slaves from Tanzania to Zanzibar plantations.

The island was periodically invaded by the Portuguese and the British, who fought fiercely among themselves for African slaves. Eventually, the current Sultan managed to make Zanzibar independent through the active cultivation and sale of spices. The country was given its own flag in 2005, and the sights of the island are protected by UNESCO.

Zanzibar through the eyes of tourists

Every year the vacation in Zanzibar is gaining in popularity among tourists from all over the world. Positive reviews about the African archipelago encourage newcomers. So, what is so attractive to Europeans?

  • First of all, it is wide, covered with fine white sand beaches, where you can get a lot of pleasure and incredible experiences.
  • In addition, almost on the coast there are hotels of different price categories. Cozy bungalows with all the amenities with incredible views of the exotic garden and gentle Indian Ocean make the rest incredibly fabulous.
  • Fantastic diving, because along the coast of Zanzibar is a unique coral reef with exotic sea creatures. You can also go sailing and deep sea fishing.
  • Only fresh seafood and exotic fruits at affordable prices attract true foodies from all over the world.
  • Interesting sightseeing tours. You can visit the Turtle Island, Monkey Park, Stone City, Dolphinarium, go on safari in national parks to see rare and endangered animals. Only in Zanzibar there are colobus monkeys, as well as leopards, antelopes, lions, elephants, rhinos, zebras, giraffes and other endangered species.

So, Zanzibar guarantees a unique beach and outdoor activities at reasonable prices.


The main attractions of Zanzibar that are worth visiting first:

To visit all of Zanzibar’s popular sites, you should plan a two-week vacation.

Island Beaches.

It is because of the wide, well-groomed, with fine white sand beaches to rest on Zanzibar goes most tourists from all over the world. Today the African archipelago is considered one of the best places for a beach holiday.

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Especially popular among tourists enjoys Nungwi – the best beach in Zanzibar. It is here the soft clean sand, minimal tides, the best hotels, restaurants, bars, dive centers and stores. In other words, everyone will find something for themselves on this beach Zanzibar. Nungwi is suitable for active youth who like to have fun and do water sports.

Island Diving

In addition to beach holidays, Zanzibar is also ideal for diving in the Indian Ocean. Unique coral reefs with exotic inhabitants amaze with their unique beauty.

So, two coral reefs are ideal for snorkeling: Boribi and Renge. The latter is great for beginners, because the depth of immersion is no more than 14 meters. Between the coral reefs are shipwrecks, where you can see such exotic creatures as morays, stingrays, lobsters, seahorses and octopuses.

Almost on every beach are diving centers, where you can for $20-30 to rent equipment, undergo coaching or a full course of training with qualified instructors.

Popular Hotels

Almost on every beach in Zanzibar are hotels in different price categories. So you can stroll along the coast to easily find the best option for a vacation.

Most hotels have bungalows with windows overlooking the exotic gardens or the Indian Ocean. Each hotel has outdoor pools, restaurants, bars, and spas. Most rooms have large beds, modern appliances, bathroom, terrace or balcony, and free internet. Room rates per night start at $40 per person. You can even rent a separate villa with all the amenities for $1,500 a night.

The best hotels are on the beach Nungwi, which has everything for an unforgettable vacation in the African archipelago.

Tanzanian Money

On the territory of Zanzibar there is only one national currency shillings. However, tourists should not worry, because everywhere you can quietly pay with American dollars.

Experienced tourists recommend taking enough cash with you right away, because there are no terminals on the island. In the local ATMs only shillings, and dollars change at an unfavorable rate. It is possible to pay with a bank card only at the airport, when buying a visa.

Photos of Zanzibar are shown below.

Prices for food, hotels, real estate, tours

Prices for holidays in Tanzania, Zanzibar are as follows:

  • Prices for fruits and vegetables at local markets range from $0.5 to $10. For example, you can buy tomatoes for $1 and chicken meat for $8.
  • Prices in restaurants range from $3 to $18. For example, seafood with a side dish can be bought within $8.
  • Prices in restaurants for locals range from $0.50 to $5. For example, seafood soup and fried fish with side dishes will cost $3.

Interesting facts about Zanzibar

Probably everyone will be interested to know more about the amazing African island of Zanzibar. So, we can highlight the following interesting facts:

  • The legendary singer Freddie Mercury was born exactly in Zanzibar. Today his house is a national monument, museum and mini-hotel.
  • Zanzibar was the first African state, where color TV sets appeared.
  • Thanks to the painstaking work of scientists who invented a unique method that completely eradicated the deadly tsetse fly on the island.
  • On the island lasted the shortest war in the world, namely half an hour. This record was listed in the Guinness Book.

Climate and Beaches

The coast of Zanzibar is washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. You can vacation here all year round through the favorable climatic conditions. The temperature does not drop below +25 degrees Celsius.

The resort season begins in June and lasts until October. The average summer temperature ranges from +27 to +32 degrees Celsius. In addition, the minimum rainfall makes this period the most favorable for beach holidays and safaris.

During the winter, from December to March, Zanzibar is a real African summer, when temperatures can exceed +35 degrees Celsius. Not every tourist can withstand the incredible heat. This period is great for diving and deep sea fishing. In addition, because of the heat there are no malarial mosquitoes.

The rainy season lasts from November to December and from April to May, when the island is practically flooded with heavy rains. This period is suitable only for fishing.


You can travel around the island by different modes of transport. The budget type includes local buses without windows and doors, which cost in the range of $0.8.

There are also shuttle buses from the airport to the capital and nearby hotels, which cost in the range of $1.2.

You can order a cab, the price of which will depend on the distance. Usually it is from 20 to 50 dollars.

You can rent a bike for $ 5 or rent a car from $ 200, not including the cost of fuel.

Experienced tourists recommend arranging a transfer directly from the hotel, which will cost half as much.

Public transport

There are two types of local transportation in Zanzibar. The first is windowless and doorless, also called a tuk-tuk. The trip costs $0.8. Buses with windows and doors are considered safer for tourists, the price for a ticket ranges from $1.2.


A cab can be taken from Zanzibar International Airport to the nearest hotel for $20. To a remote corner of the island you will have to pay about $50.


What to buy in Zanzibar as a gift for relatives and friends? This question bothers every tourist who wants to leave a good impression of an African vacation.

  • The first thing you should do is to stock up on fragrant spices and grain coffee at $9 for 1 kg.
  • Memory magnets are a must for every tourist. The prices range from 1 to 10 dollars. The most important thing is to haggle to save money and buy a nice African souvenir.
  • National African clothing will cost from 2 to 10 dollars.
  • Wood products from 5 to 15 dollars.
  • Cosmetics based on natural algae will cost from 2 to 6 dollars a jar.
  • Paintings in the African style to 20 dollars.
  • Exotic fruits – from $1 per 1 kg.

In order to get on the territory of the African archipelago, necessarily need to issue a visa. The visa is issued directly at the airport. The cost is more than 50 dollars. In addition, at the airport, only cashless payment. Therefore, you must have the necessary amount of dollars on your bank card. At the same time on the island, only cash is accepted. In other words, it is advantageous to pay for services by this method.

The dangers of the island

Any African country, including Zanzibar, carries a risk for unprepared tourists.


Zanzibar, a coral island that may once have been part of the African continent, is a true gem in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. The island beckons tourists with coconut palms swaying in the tropical breeze, picturesque hills, in some places covered with primeval forest, and wonderful white sand beaches. Another magnet for visitors is the abundance of coral reefs surrounding the island. It’s a real fairy tale for divers!

Save money on your trip!

Video: The World Inside Out. Zanzibar


Zanzibar’s middle name is Ugunja, keep that in mind when traveling, as some people call the island that. Also note that Zanzibar is also the name of the archipelago, which in addition to the island of Zanzibar itself also includes the island of Pemba.

The island also abounds in flora and fauna. On Zanzibar, two kinds of turtles lay eggs near the lighthouse at Ras Ngunwi.

Humpback whales, usually migrating in spring and September, are also clearly visible from the coast of Zanzibar. The bottlenose dolphins are very fond of these waters. Swimming with dolphins under the guidance of lifeguards is a favorite tourist attraction.

Zanzibar, Tanzania City of Zanzibar Pemba Island Bungalows on the coast Red thickets in Jozani Park

The monkeys found in Jozani Park are red fatheads and blue monkeys; this is the largest area of mature primeval forest left on the island after years of vegetation destruction.

Fishing plays an important role in Zanzibar’s economy as well as tourism. The locals still grow coconuts and cocoa for export and, together with the people of nearby Pemba Island, harvest most of the world’s cloves. Visiting spice plantations or searching for carved figurines in the central market can be a fascinating experience.

The Narrow Street of Stone Town

The history of the island is a history of foreign occupations, lively trade and slavery. The first known inhabitants of the island were the Bantu-speaking Africans, the Hadimu and Tumbatu people. According to local legend, Persian sailors who lost their way came here in the 10th century. They lived here for a long time waiting for a fair wind and finally decided to stay here forever.

The city of Zanzibar is a melting pot of different cultures, where Africa meets Persia, Arabia, India, China and Portugal and where Dutch and British influences are visible.

At low tide.

The influence of Indian culture can be felt in the decorative balconies and colorful glass, the British left behind impressive imperial style buildings standing “secluded” in selected parts of the city, with some of their inhabitants still unable to leave Zanzibar. It may not be a very romantic name, but Stone City is the old town and the heart of Zanzibar, it has hardly changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of crooked streets, bustling bazaars, mosques and stately Arab mansions whose original owners competed with each other in the luxury of their homes.

History of Zanzibar

This island has a solid area and is separated from the continent by wide straits, so Arab merchants felt completely safe here. The Chinese Zheng He may have visited Zanzibar in 141 5 or 1418 but the first serious threat to the Arabs was the Portuguese Armada. In the late seventeenth century, the entire archipelago gathered under the flag of Oman and in 1856 Sultan Seyyid moved his court from the shores of the Persian Gulf to the island of Zanzibar. In 1862 the sultan ceased to control his former possessions in the Arabian Peninsula, but he was not too distressed. His successor Majid ruled not only the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, but also a large chunk of the mainland, where he founded Dar es Salaam.

Historical drawings and photos of Zanzibar

The third Sultan of Zanzibar, Bargash, lived less freely: he lost the income from the slave trade and was forced to share power with the British consul. When Bargash tried to drive the British out in 1896, it ended in the shortest war in history, lasting only 45 minutes. The fighting took place on the roadstead of the archipelago capital, and 18 years later the first naval battle of World War I took place there. The German cruiser Konigsberg shot the British Pegasus anchored at point-blank range, the last attack by an external enemy in the island’s history. But the civil war broke out just a month after the British left, in early 1964. Unwilling to see an Arab sultan as head of state, the black workers disarmed the police and carried out a pogrom, which also affected Indians, Europeans, Chinese and all other non-Africans. Then the rebels united with the mainland neighbor, but Zanzibar still elects a president (he is also considered vice-president of all Tanzania), and foreigners are given entry stamps in their passports.

Stone City

If the Swahili people were an independent nation, the city of Zanzibar would be its capital. Approaching it from the sea, the first thing you see is the Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph, the turret of the sultan’s palace, and to its right the low, dark walls of the 18th-century fort. The passenger pier marks the border between Stone Town, the oldest part of Zanzibar, and the Malindi area, where a new port was built in the 20th century. After disembarking and going through the free “entry formalities” (you have to fill out the immigration card again), you find yourself in front of the former quarantine hospital, a beautiful building with balconies. Turn right and walk to the huge banyan tree, then turn left and go straight ahead. This is the Kiponda neighborhood, where you will find several hotels. Continue on into the UNESCO protected areas of Zanzibar and take approximately 15 minutes to get to Forodhani Market. The wide street running parallel to the market is called Creek Rd. and serves as the eastern border of Stone Town as well as the main exit from the capital to the north and south. Therefore, the market square also serves as the city’s main bus station. When you turn right and walk to the end of the market, you will see a Barclays Bank branch on the left (on the opposite side of Creek Road) and the tall spire of the Anglican cathedral on the right. The first Protestant church in Africa was built in 1874 on the site of a slave market (legend has it that the altar stands where slaves were punished with a whip). In the courtyard of the cathedral you can see a monument to enslaved Africans and several old buildings – the one to the left of the entrance is the ticket office, where you can pay 5000 sh. to visit the cathedral, and the cellars, which were meant to hold live goods (08.00-18.00) .

Creek Road Streets of Stone City Zanzibar Supreme Court Building

Back on Creek Road, continue south to Jamhuri Gardens on your left and at a second junction you’ll find a white Mosque-like Indo-Saracenic building. It was built in 1925 in memory of the victims of the First World War and is called the Peace Memorial Museum (Beit-el-Amani) but is now closed for renovation along with the small Natural History Museum across the street. The street between the two museums is called Museum Rd. It takes you on to the wider Kaunda Rd. to the State House. There is no sign of the palace, but further along Kaunda Road (about 200 m, on the left) you’ll see the famous Supreme Court, built by J. Sinclair in 1908, which faces the square, decorated with a brick arch in the English Gothic style. Stay on Shangani St., one of the largest streets in Stone City. There is a Barclays Bank branch at the very beginning of the street, and behind it, in the left side alley, stands the historic Africa House Hotel. On the second floor of the hotel there is a lovely hookah lounge with oriental sofas and an outdoor terrace cafe overlooking the harbor.

The first right turn off Shangani Street is the turn onto Kenyatta Rd. There are plenty of cafes and stores on this street, and at the very end (on the right) is a little-noticeable yellow two-story house from the ’50s where the future pop idol Freddie Mercury allegedly lived in the early years. You can recognize the house by its plaque and a photo booth with the star and the Zanzibar Gallery (+255-022-32721) artists’ shop. The street ends at the old German Consulate building, a stone’s throw from the fort and the Sultan’s Palace (passing through an archway to the left of The Silk Route Indian Restaurant) .

Mtoni Palace Peace Memorial Museum

West and North of the Island of Zanzibar

The west coast of the island (facing the mainland) and its northern tip are the most famous. You can get there by taking the highway from the market to Creek Rd. The drive, to the northernmost point, Nungwi, takes about 1 hour, the dala dala costs 2,000 sh. Between Zanzibar and Nungwi, on the west coast of the island, are such resort villages as Bubububu and Kendwa . The former was the terminus of Africa’s first 10-kilometer railroad, built in the late 1870s for the entertainment of the sultan. Bububu’s main attraction today is the long Fuji Beach . About 10 kms to the north lie the largest Mangapwani Caves, located in the village of the same name right on the seashore. There are also the remains of the coastal defenses built by the British in 1940 to protect the island from a possible German landing.

Turquoise Indian Ocean Fishermen in Bububu Kendwa Nungwi

Kendwa is reputed to be a budget destination suitable for youth holidays – it’s about 2 km from the hugely popular Nungwi. If taking a dala-dala or cab from Zanzibar to the north, get off at the fork just 3km before you reach Nungwi, then take the side road to the left from the sign for Zanzibar Watersports Dive Centre and Scuba Do Zanzibar (about 1.5km) .

Fuji Beach Unusual Rock Restaurant

Although the beaches at the northern end of the island are not the best (at high tide they are completely covered by the surf), the concentration of hotels here is the highest in all of Zanzibar. Getting out at the final stop in the village of Nungwi, cross a wide vacant lot, where the local kids play ball. Then any native will show you how to walk between the houses to the beach. All the guesthouses, hotels and restaurants are lined up along the sea – only a small bakery and an unimproved supermarket are located in the village (near the dala dala stop) . The Nungwi Inn and the Spanish Dancer Divers Center are at the beginning of the beach, extending north to Cape Ras Nungwi. It’s a safe distance to walk. On the way you can stop by one of the shipyards that builds sailboats in the open air right on the beach. It takes about a month to build a medium-sized dhow. While Kenya’s dhows have a straight bow, Zanzibar’s are more gracefully beveled. No less interesting are the ngalawa, the narrow, long planked boats with a balancer, on which the islanders are not afraid to go far out to sea. Beyond the shipyards, the stretch of beach narrows as the tide turns in the afternoon and the surf gets dangerous, so it is better to walk early. On the northern tip of the island of Zanzibar is the white tower of Ras Nungwi lighthouse (photographers and visitors are not allowed). As you approach it along the beach, you will notice that the shore forms a small open bay with an adjacent lagoon communicating with the sea through underground channels. The lagoon is where sea turtles are raised – you can visit this nursery (Mnarani Marine Turtles Conservation Pond, 0 9.00-18.00, 7500 Sh) .

Sunset on the island of Zanzibar

There are no exchangers or ATMs in Nungwi, and only the most expensive hotels accept cards.

Diving in Nungwi

The reefs start about 1 km from the beach (6-10 minutes by boat) . In the vicinity of Cape Ras Nungwi there are a dozen excellent places for diving with depths of 8-10 m, including the atoll Mnemba (Mnemba Island) on the north-eastern side of the island. The variety of reefs and fauna inhabiting them is exceptionally high, including bizarre wing-fish and cuttlefish shimmering with neon lights. A double dive with rest and light refreshments (approx. 4-5 hours) costs $95-112. Services, including instruction, are offered by:

  • Spanish Dancer Divers (+255-0777417717, 0777430005; . The most famous dive center.
  • Poseidon Diving (+255-07777720270, . The office is in the Baraka Beach Bungalows hotel.
  • Divine Yoga and Diving (+255-0772299395,0776310227; . Diving, yoga courses, and tours of the island.
  • Zanzibar Dive Adventures (+255-0773235030; . Has two centers in Nungwi – they are based at Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel and Paradise Beach Hotel. Another center is located in Kendwa Rock.
  • Scuba Do Zanzibar (www. . Located in Kendwa Roque. Three offices at Sunset Bungalows (+255-0777417157), La Gemma Dell’Est (+255-0245502170) and My Blue Hotel (+255-0777715040).

Sea Fishing

Fishing Zanzibar (+255-0773875231, 0772219612, 077-3548774; . Two boats, full tackle kit. A 6-hour fishing trip near Nungwi for $700.

East coast of Zanzibar

The beaches on the east (ocean) side of the island are divided into two sections, north and south of Chwaka Bay. The main villages in the northern half are conveniently located in relation to the capital of the island and are called Matemwe, Kiwengwa and Pongwe. Each is accessed by dirt road from the main Zanzibar-Nungwi highway (there is a dala-dala from Creek Road, 1.5-2 hours, 2000-3000 ш.) . A little farther from the capital are the southern villages of Paje, Bweju and Jambiani. There are resorts and budget hotels everywhere.

Halfway between the capital and the southeastern beaches there is an area of wild jungle that once covered the island. Over time, they gave way to plantations of spice plants, but a small area is still known as the forest of Jozani (Jozani Fore St.) . You might get lucky and see one of the last Zanzibar leopards. They were under protection back under the British, but in 1964 the revolutionary authorities declared the cats “noxious” and allowed hunting. Zoologists hope that in the most remote corners of Jozani the leopard may have survived. Among other large animals in the jungle there are wild boars, you can also see many birds and even rare colobus monkeys. Tours to Jozani are organized by any hotel or travel agency in the capital of the island ($70-80) . The forest adjoins the coast of Menai Bay . Its area is considered a nature reserve: it is one of the best places in Tanzania for observing marine animals, especially dolphins.

The Jungle of Zanzibar Chwaka Bay Changu Island

The usual set of excursions offered by Zanzibar hotels, resorts, etc., include a visit to a spice plantation (from 2 to 4 hours with lunch, from $ 50 / person) and boat trips to swim in unspoiled coastal areas (from $ 50) or on islands around Zanzibar ($ 50-135, depending on distance) . The most popular of the latter are Changu (Changuu Island, 5 km) and Chapwani (Chapwani Island, 7 km) . The first is known as “Prisoners’ Island” because in the old days they sent unruly slaves and dangerous patients there. The second island is called the “Island of Graves” because of the few fishermen’s graves and the cemetery of European sailors. Trips to the islands by sailboat dhow take all day and include a picnic. Dolphin tours (Dolphin tours, from $110) at Menai Marine Reserve are popular. Encounters with paddleboard cetaceans are believed to be most frequent in the Kizimkazi area in the southwest of the island.

How to get there

There are no direct flights from Russia to Zanzibar Island. The most comfortable way to get to Dubai, where you can take a flight to Dar es Salaam and then take a ferry or a small plane for the remaining 50 kilometers.

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