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Zanzibar Archipelago | Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar Archipelago | Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar Archipelago is made up of a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania. Centuries ago, the island was an important area for the spice trade, first with the Arab world since the eleventh century, before falling under the rule of Arab sultans who reigned over the islands for a number of years, integrating with the local Swahili. 

Unguja Island is the largest of all islands in the archipelago and more commonly known as Zanzibar. Stone Town, littered with Indo-Arabian architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When not languidly lounging on the islands impeccable beachfront, visitors can wander the narrow labyrinth of streets that make up the town, venture to the Forodhani Gardens’ night market on the waterfront across from the House of Wonders, and taste the local street food. 

While Zanzibar is known for being flat and sand-strewn, its neighbouring island, Pemba, is the land of cloves and mangoes, with terrain composed of hillocks that are fertile and lush with fruit and spice trees. Traditional dhows lie scattered across most of the coastline with fishing being a large part of Pemba’s culture. 

Tanzania’s expansive coastline is ideal for an exclusive beach holiday or relaxing end to your trekking or safari adventure.

CLICK HERE TO BROWSE TOP 8 BEACHES IN ZANZIBAR

Zanzibar’s past lives on in its extraordinary buildings, people and traditions. Stone Town consists of a fascinating mix of Persian, Moorish, sub-continent, Arabic and European architecture, its winding streets too narrow for anything but bicycles or motorcycles, the buildings fronted by long concrete benches known as bazaars, and by huge and intricately carved doors. 

With Darajani, its largest market, located in the centre of Stone Town, the new town or Ng’ambo – ‘the other side’ – situated across Creek Rd, and many of the city’s museums, palaces, forts and mosques (including the House of Wonders, Foradhani Gardens and what must be the world’s most beautiful pharamacy, the Old Dispensary) occupying prime spots along the beach front, Zanzibari City is an absolute delight.

Away from the city, small towns and villages occupy the interior, while, beach-wise, east is best, the further north the better. The accommodation is top drawer, and ranges from hotel to private house to beach camp.

Tanzanian, but at the same time very much its own place, Zanzibar is idyllic, and as such the perfect escape for fans of culture, the sun, sand and sea.

Please note that the sea is tidal and retreats significantly at low tide.

Top Activities in Stone town and Zanzibar

Visit Stone Town, its attractions and meet the local people: Stone town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the cultural Center of Zanzibar. The town is found in the main island of Unguja and gets its name from the 19th century buildings whose architecture was influenced by European, Arabic, Indian and Swahili settlers. Because of its Arab and European background, Stone Town has a history that is well documented. 

Taking a tour of the town is a great opportunity to understand the history of the island’s inhabitants spanning different eras. The town is located at the very heart of Zanzibar and was once an important stopover for both general merchandise and slave traders moving to and from the mainland. Stone Town has is characterized by very narrow streets, bazaars, ancient architecture and several mosques.

The Key attractions in the town are the Anglican church cathedral, the ceremonial palace, the Kidichi Persian Baths for Sultan Said (unfortunately the pool, massage table and changing rooms have not been well maintained), the Dunga ruins, the Peace memorial museum and Makusurani graveyard for past Arab rulers.

Ngome Kongwe/Old Fort

Old Fort is one of the oldest buildings in Stone Town, originally built by the Portuguese in the 17th century and later re-built by the Omanis in the 18th century. It is free to visit, and cultural festivals and happenings are often organised in the inner courts of the fort.

Local Markets in Stone town

Stone Town, you can visit the Darajani market and see how people make ends meet or go shopping for fruits, giant see fish, meat and vegetables. You can join in the fish auctioning where fish dealers put a price for the largest catch. Have Questions? WhatsApp: +255 759 694 668

Prison Island

One of the best Historical tour in Zanzibar. See the giant land tortoises of Prison Island, or Changuu Island, on a half-day trip from Zanzibar, with time to swim, snorkel, and sunbathe. Prison Island is also known as Changuu island. This town can be done in a day.

Snorkeling/Surfing/Scuba Diving

There are several water sports that one can choose to take part in while in Zanzibar. The parasailing experience is one example of a fun sport Top things to see and do in zanzibar.that will take your breath away as you discover beautiful aerial views of the island and its other hidden spots.

Cheetah’s Rock

For those who love wildlife and animals in general, this is a place you must go to while in Zanzibar. The facility has got Cheetahs, lions, zebras and many of Africa’s famous wildlife. The facility opens on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday (between 2 and 6pm) and is located in a place called Kama. Have Questions? WhatsApp: +255 759 694 668

Full Moon Party at Kendwa Rocks

The Full Moon Party officially began in 1996 on a clear full moon night with a group of friends and some guests. In the light of the beach fire watching the acrobatics show and dancing to the drums late into the night. The Full Moon Party now welcomes thousands of people from all over the world to share and enjoy the talent and rhythm of Africa.

Sample Itenerary

Stay on any one of these islands’ many beachfront towns where you have your choice of accommodation and a wealth of activities including water sports, diving, spice tours, and more. Take a look at one sample itinerary, which can be customized to include everything you would like to experience in this unique bit of East African paradise.

Zanzibar Archipelago Map

Zanzibar Archipelago FAQ

Yes, Zanzibar is safe for travel. Zanzibar is one of the safest African destinations, even for solo travellers so do not hesitate to visit Zanzibar on grounds of safety. The local people of Zanzibar like most African people are generally warm and welcoming. With the amazing sunny weather, picture-perfect white sand beaches, and rich culture amidst so much that Zanzibar has to offer, many tourists do visit this beautiful island for Zanzibar holiday tours including Zanzibar adventure holidays and Zanzibar honeymoon holidays. So yes, Zanzibar is safe for travel, any time of the year.

Notwithstanding however the negative effects of tourism say crime, it is good to always be alert and take precautionary steps to avert any mishaps say pickpocketing, and theft. Apart from theft, it would also be a good idea for you to dress appropriately to respect cultural norms of Muslims who are predominantly in Zanzibar. Keep your valuables safely kept in the safe boxes in your hotel rooms. As a precautionary measure, do not walk alone after dark, do not carry valuables to beaches, check for crime hotspots near your lodge or hotel of stay so as to avoid them if any.

Zanzibar is safe for all kinds of travellers, including solo female travellers. If a solo female traveller stays in hotels and lodges with security and also get to use basic or common sense, chances of bad experiences are minimal if not non-existent. Booking through a trusted tour operator knowledgeable of these kind of aspects would be great.

The waters in Zanzibar are safe for swimming. So yes, it is safe to swim in Zanzibar. The Indian Ocean waters are warm and the waves are usually small, making it possible to enjoy swimming. Apart from swimming, Zanzibar is a popular destination for adventure activities like snorkeling and scuba diving.

There are reef sharks in Zanzibar, which are totally harmless. The mafia island has whale sharks, which you can comfortably swim with without fear of attacks.

Zanzibar is open for visits all throughout the year, for as long as you have time off your busy schedule for beach holiday. The best time to visit Zanzibar is however during the dry season in Zanzibar in the months of June to October and January to February. Zanzibar is a tropical region which receives warm temperatures even during the wet season in Zanzibar. What is the best month to visit Zanzibar? The best month to visit Zanzibar is definitely June to September or October, when the sky is very clear and blue, as well as mid-December, January and February.

Whereas many travellers tend to think that Zanzibar is expensive to visit, Zanzibar is actually a great destination to visit even on budget. Zanzibar is not expensive to visit; every traveller’s taste and preference is catered for with the availability of various options for you to choose from, from super luxury, luxury, and mid-range and to budget, thereby catering for all kinds of travellers.

All Zanzibar beaches are really great and worth a visit. Zanzibar beaches along the north-eastern coast of Zanzibar island particularly are great for swimming, diving and are easily accessed, and are the most visited of all the Zanzibar beaches therefore expect crowds especially in the peak season of travel. Nungwi beach and Kendwa beaches are by far the best and finest Zanzibar beaches.

More about Tanzania Travel Guide:

Planning your trip? Whether you’re looking for things to do in Tanzania such as events and attractions, key traveller information to make your Tanzania visit run smoothly or are planning where to stay in Mwanza, you’ll find everything you need for your Tanzania holiday on Our Website. Tanzania Travel guide has the information about latest events not to miss while you visit Tanzania – there’s always something going on, so don’t miss out on the latest exhibitions, shows and more on your trip Tanzania

Discover the best day trips from Dar-es-salaam  or other Tanzania’s Cities. If you’re here as a family, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Tanzania with kids and find suitable accommodation such as Tanzania holiday apartments. Whether you’re looking for the best weekend breaks in Tanzania or planning a longer holiday in, you can be sure you’ll find all the information you need. 

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