Home / Discover Zanzibar Island

Discover Zanzibar Island

Famous for its exotic beaches and spice plantations, Zanzibar is the perfect destination for those seeking coastal adventures or just a tropical escape. There is the Zanzibar Archipelago, which is composed of two large islands — Zanzibar (also referred to as Unguja) and Pemba to the north, as well as many other smaller islands.

While Pemba Island doesn’t receive as much attention as its sister to the south, it certainly deserves the visit. Abundant with the sights and smells of cloves and mangoes, Pemba’s culture is influenced by Arab traders who worked here for centuries. It is also known as the “Green Island’ due to its fertile soil. Many also like to visit the Ngezi Forest for long walks.

The capital of Zanzibar is Zanzibar City, where the historic hub of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located. Here one can enjoy the cultural sights and sounds of the country. Adjacent to Stone Town are several islets such as Chumbe and Chapwani, known for their excellent beaches and properties.

Looking for a snorkeling or diving adventure? Known for its warm waters and coral reefs, Zanzibar boasts important marine ecosystems and is an essential part of their economy. One will find ancient Aldabra tortoises on the island.

Bawe and Prison Islands are great for day excursions, with opportunities for excellent snorkeling available. Misali Island is a great destination for diving. Mangapwani Beach, located on the west coast of Zanzibar, has gentle shores and is deserted, and doesn’t depend on the tides as the beaches located on the east coast. Located on the east are the beaches of Matemwe, Pwani Mchangani, Kiwengwa, Uroa, Bwejuu and Jambiani.

Zanzibar Island, along with Tanzania’s Mafia Island, are commonly called the Spice Islands, and many enjoy visiting to learn about the various spices produced there, such as nutmeg, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, lemongrass, and black pepper.

The region is famous for its carved doors and chests. There are nearly 600 carved doors in Zanzibar, with the oldest one dating back to 1694. In addition, you will see cobblestone alleys, as well as captivating architectural styles through various mosques, old mansions, and palaces.

Our favorite excursions in Zanzibar include:

Plantation Tour

From cloves to cinnamon, there’s nothing better than taking in the aromas of the spices produced on the island. Other tropical fruits such as jackfruit, custard, apple, Rambutan, Carambola can also be seen and tasted. You will also get the chance to visit the Kidichi Persian Bath, built by the first Sultan of Zanzibar.

Bay National Park

Here’s your chance to see the red Colobus monkeys! The only national park in Zanzibar, this reserve boasts over 160 species of birds, nearly 100 species of butterflies, as well as many species of fish and dolphins.

Prison Island

Also known as Changuu Island, this popular tourist destination offers beautiful shoreline and pristine waters. The former prison building located on the island, which was actually used as a quarantine station for those with yellow fever, was later restored by its present owners as a guesthouse for tourists, while still preserving its historical significance. The island is also home to over 200 Aldabra giant tortoises.

Dolphin Tour

One can spot these majestic marine creatures in the Kizimkazi fishing village, home to bottled-nose and Humpback dolphins. The best time to go is early in the morning. The village also offers cultural perspective, as it has a 12th-century mosque, the earliest evidence of Islam in East Africa.

Zanzibar Country Information

Time Zone: GMT + 3
Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (Tsh)
Official languages: Swahili and English
Electricity: 220 – 240 V AC, 50 Hz
Religion: Predominantly Islam
International Dialing code: +255 24, followed by 7-digit local number

Weather: Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year. The heat of summer is seasonally often cooled by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coasts. Being near the equator, the islands are warm all year-round, but officially, summer and winter peak in December and June respectively. Zanzibar is blessed with an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine daily.

Government: It is a semi-autonomous government made up of a Revolutionary Council and House of Representatives. The present government is led by the island’s President, Amani Karume. The government body responsible for tourism promotion is the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism.

Economy: Fishing and agriculture are the main economic activities of the local people. Zanzibar was once the world’s largest producer of cloves, and her economy was based on large incomes thus derived. Although cloves are still a major export along with coconut products and spices, tourism has been ear-marked as the primary foreign exchange earner, with more visitors coming to Zanzibar each year. At this stage, the numbers are still low (less than 100,000 annually) and the potential for tourism is relatively untapped. Zanzibar’s tourism private sector is represented by the
Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI).

Entry and Exit Requirements: All visitors require a passport, valid for the duration of their stay. Preparations are under way for visitors to obtain visas at any entry point, and this time-saving facility is available to visitors arriving at Zanzibar International Airport. Other points in Tanzania currently offering visa on entry are Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro International Airports, and Namanga on the road border between Tanzania and Kenya. Nationals of some countries do not require visas, so it is advisable to check with your nearest Tanzanian Embassy, High Commission
or Consulate prior to visiting.

Tanzanian Embassy
2139 R Street NW
Washington DC 20008
United States
Tel: + 1 202 9396128

Plan Your Safari