As I already wrote in one of my previous posts – Zanzibar is a definitely a destination that chose me, not me choosing destination. I had a time of my life on this island which is located in Indian ocean, so I decided to write a few tips and tricks for those who are planing to travel to Zanzibar, or will maybe decide to go after this post!
Although I usually plan all my trips independently, this time I decided to go through an agency because I didn’t have time to plan such a long and complex trip. Regardless, I have collected all the necessary information for those who decide to go on a trip to Zanzibar in their own arrangement.
Zanzibar is an independent part of the African country of Tanzania, a visa is required for entry
Zanzibar is an independent territory that still falls under Tanzania, so you also have to pay for a visa at the airport. For a visa, it is necessary to pay 50 dollars and bring two photos of size 3.5×4.5 cm (although they are not often asked for). A visa can also be purchased in advance online, also this has been proven to be the best practice because it saves time and money.
Travel to Zanzibar and COVID-19
I am putting here some useful links where you can check up-to-date information for traveling to Zanzibar, as the information is constantly changing.
- COVID-19 info from Tanzanian GOV.
- Within 24 hours before entering the country, travelers must fill out this form.
Plastic bags have been banned in Zanzibar since 2019
When packing for your trip, don’t carry anything in plastic bags as they have been banned throughout Tanzania since 2019. High fines are paid for bringing plastic bags into the country.
Religion and culture – good to know when travel to Zanzibar
In Zanzibar, the majority of the population is Muslim. Accordingly, their culture and customs should be respected. During your stay in the city/village, you should dress decently. This means covering the knees and shoulders. Also, drinking alcohol in public areas is a great insult to them.
SIM card and mobile internet
If you decide to buy a SIM card for a mobile phone, it is best to do it in Stone Town. Zantel is their best service provider and has excellent coverage on the entire island and coast.
The price is about 6-10 dollars for 10 GB.
In my opinion, you don’t need to buy a SIM card because WiFi is more than available in all hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc.
And when you’re in a place as beautiful as Zanzibar, internet access during the day is really the last thing on your mind.
Medicines and cosmetics for travel to Zanzibar
Probiotic is good to take before and during travel.
What to bring?
Activate coal, dramina, something for diarrhea, probiotic, something for pain and cold as well as to relieve high fever, band-aids, gauze, disinfectant spray, mosquito spray, sun creams with a high factor are absolutely mandatory. The sun is strong throughout the year, and the temperature is always around 28 degrees.
Health insurance for a place like Zanzibar is good to have.
Vaccines, yellow fever, malaria and health in Zanzibar
Yellow fever vaccine is not required but can be taken.
It is not necessary to take malaria tablets. It is enough to bring mosquito spray, which you must use when the sun goes down. Despite claims to the contrary, malaria DOES exist in Zanzibar and is not a rare occurrence.
See other information about the vaccine in the blog post: TRAVEL AND VACCINATION – WHEN AND AGAINST WHICH DISEASES
Time zone and weather forecast in Zanzibar
The time zone in Zanzibar is GMT +3. Given that it is located almost on the equator, the weather there is 25-28 degrees throughout the year.
The only difference is the seasons depending on whether they are dry or rainy. They are dry when we have summer and winter, and rainy when we have autumn and spring.
Rent-a-car and driver’s license
If you decide to rent a car, you need to have an international driver’s license and get your local one at the police station. The price is about 30 dollars. It is best to research this information in detail before renting a car.
Search available car rental offers directly in the search engine or on the LINK:
Food and water in Zanzibar
The water in Zanzibar is not good or clean. Drink only water from the bottle with which you brush your teeth as well. Personally, I would avoid drinks with ice because you never know.
Seafood is the predominant. I highly recommend the choice of seafood and fish during your stay in Zanzibar. Tuna steaks and lobsters are exquisite and super cheap. I write about the prices of food and drinks below.
Money and finances for travel to Zanzibar
It is best to bring dollars to Zanzibar. The Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) is used there. You can pay in dollars, but then you will also have to pay a bit extra, so it is best to change dollars to shillings.
1 dollar is approximately 2300 shillings.
Dollar bills of $50 and up will get you a better exchange rate than $20 or less. Dollars must not be older than 2006. At the aerodrome in Stone Town there is an okay exchange rate on arrival.
What people are often unaware of is the fact that Zanzibar is not a cheap destination. The prices are roughly the same as in Europe. Meals in a restaurant are 10-20 dollars, cocktails are 8-15 dollars, 2 L of water is about 2000 shillings in the shop.
Souvenirs depends on how much you manage to bargain, but the fact is that most people overpay to souvenirs.
Buy something from Maasai warriors and girls if you want to support their work. They went far away from home to earn something and bring the money back to their tribes.
If you want something unique, buy materials like KANGA. The real price is 10,000 shillings for 2 parts.
On average, for 10 days in Zanzibar you will need around 500 dollars without excursions. Of course, the consumption depends on the person. In our group, people spent from 300 to 1000 dollars WITHOUT THE EXCURSIONS, so there are no rules.
Maasai warriors in Zanzibar
Maasai warriors are members of one of the oldest African tribes. Usually they live in the area of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, mainly around Kilimanjaro National Park.
They come to Zanzibar to earn money and buy cows when they return to their villages, because cows are their currency of value. Those who own less than 50 cows are considered poor.
Maasai warriors and girls stay there in Zanzibar and work in tourism. You will recognize them by the fact that they are dressed in red uniforms/dresses.
They are mostly located in tourist spots such as Paje, Nungwi and Kendwa.
For me, hanging out with them was super fun experience and I would recommend everyone to give them the opportunity to get to know them.
You will often see them in nightclubs where they definitely fill the atmosphere of African nights.
From the airport to the accommodation: Transportation around the island
For transportation from the airport to accommodation and viceversa, taxi is most popular option.
If he wants reliable transportation, you can always book a transfer. See an example HERE: ZANZIBAR TRANSFER.
Transferi za aerodrom:
Stone Town as the capital: where to buy souvenirs
Zanzibar actually consists of two islands. The larger one, which we often call Zanzibar, is called Unguja, and the smaller, less well-known one is called Pemba.
STONE TOWN is the capital of the Zanzibar Islands, and at the same time the main port connecting with the African mainland. It got its name from the fact that it is built entirely of coral stone.
Stone Town is also the center of trade. You will probably spend less money if you decide to go shopping. Of course, it is not the only choice for shopping, for me it was much better to shop in Nungwi and on the beaches than Maasai warriors.
What to see and visit whe travel to Zanzibar
There are so many beautiful places in Zanzibar that I can’t fit them all in this short review about Zanzibar from my experience. I will write about those that I personally visited, in the order in which we visited.
Nakupenda (meaning “I love you” in Swahili) is a sandbar in the middle of the Indian Ocean, about half an hour away from Stone Town.
A “party station” is set up there throughout the day, where a DJ plays music under a tent all day. It was brilliant for me there. If you like good timez, I highly recommend a trip.
Prison island – island of giant turtles
Prison Island is home of giant turtles. The largest weighs 250 kg, and the oldest is 190 years old. It is truly a unique experience to see these turtles. This island is also located about 30 minutes away from Stone Town.
If you want to independently search for plane tickets to Zanzibar or another destination, you can do so directly in the search engine:
A tour of the spice farm – a unique experience where you can also see the “butterfly man” climbing a palm tree.
Paje village and beach
Paje beach and Paje village are ideal places to spend the afternoon. They are located on the opposite side of the island from Stone Town, and there you can see cows walking freely on the beach.
In addition to cows, there is a famous palm tree where everyone likes to take pictures.
Blue safari and blue lagoon
The Blue Safari consists of 3 points, the Lingua di sabbia di Kwale sandbar, diving above the corals and the island of Kwale where there is an old baobab tree.
Diving and swimming with wild dolphins
My favorite excursion was diving with wild dolphins. Somewhere near the private island of Mnemba (supposedly belonging to Bill Gates), you can take a boat to the part where there are dolphins.
There you wait on the boat, and when you see dolphins you jump after them! Swimming next to wild dolphins is a wonderful feeling. Those who are a little more lucky can also see humpback whales.
Pingwe, Kae Funk, Rock restaurant
A trip to Pingwe, where the Rock Restaurant is located, which is often called the symbol of Zanzibar (although I don’t agree with that) is ok, it’s cool to see how guests go to the restaurant by boat during high tide.
For lunch at the Rock, you will have to spend a minimum of 60 dollars.
Nearby is Kae Funk, which every evening has a show with acrobats in which guests can also participate, and a campfire that gives a special experience.
Nungwi & Kendwa
Nightlife is the best in Nungwi/Kendwa. In Nungwi there is a party in one of the clubs every night. Every night different club.
By far the best is Coccobello, which hosts a show with dancers that you can’t miss on days when the club is open at 9pm and 1am.
Kendwa is probably the best place to spend a day at the beach. There is a lot of content and there is always something going on.
Once a month on the full moon, a “full moon party” is held there, which they say is the best party of the month.
Tours in Zanzibar:
Some of the tours include meals and drinks, most include hotel pick up. In addition, some prices are per group, not per person.
- Transfer areund the island and to and from the airpot
- Trip to Prison island (turtle island) + Nakupenda sandbar
- Trip Prison island (turtle island) + tour of Stone Townu
- Trip: Kwale island (blue safari, blue lagun)
- Swimming with dolphins (price for a group)
- Trip to Muchwagi
- Private Food tour (spice farm)
- Parasailing in Zanzibar
- Tura Stone Townu
- Stone Town pub crawl
- Stone Town bike tour
Tours and trips:
- Tour: Spice farm + includes lunch
- Izlet Prison island (otok kornjača) + tura po Stone Townu
- Prison Island tour + lunch + extra
- Swimming with wild dolphins + visiting Jozani forest where you can see monkeys
- Rock restaurant + cave
- Tura with 4×4 + visitng local villages
- Prison island private tour
- Changuu Island + Stone Town tour + lunch
- Spice Farm tour from Stone Town
- Tour around the north of the island and visitng turtles + swimming with turtles
- Private tour: swimming with dolphins + snorkling
A few final details for travel to Zanzibar:
Bring a three-prong power adapter for your travel to Zanzibar.
The language spoken by the locals is called Swahili. Everyone uses the English language more or less well.
If you want to photograph someone, ask for permission. Mostly they have nothing against it.
For clothes, bring summer and light cloths, and something longer for colder nights and a tour of the city.
Take care of your belongings, there is a lot of theft in Zanzibar, despite what the guides tell you to the contrary.
If you want to know more about the culture and history of Zanzibar, you can read the book Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar – the autobiographical work of a princess who was expelled from the island because she fell in love with a German.
*All photos and text of the article are the property of the author and may not be used without consultation.