Zanzibar is an island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Tanzania. It is known for the historic trade center of Stone Town, with its narrow streets, coral stone buildings, elaborate wooden carvings and spice markets. The majority of the population is Muslim, and there are a number of beautiful mosques on the island. Zanzibar is sometimes fondly referred to as the “Spice Island,” due to the historic farming of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. It boasts pristine white sand beaches, abundant sunshine, exotic Swahili dishes, a hospitable people and luxury tourist resorts.
About the Island
Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa
1,464 sq km (565 sq mi); the island is about 85 km (53 mi) long and 39 km (24 mi) wide
When to go
June-October (cool & dry) or December-February (hot with short rains)
fly from Kilimanjaro Int’l Airport or Dar es Salaam or take a ferry from Dar.
What to do
Stone Town & Spice Tours, Jazani Forest visit, snorkeling & dolphin excursions
Stone Town: This historic town exists today much as it did in the days when the “Isle of Spices” was a great trading center. Its architecture reflects the diverse influences underlying Swahili culture, giving it a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. You will visit the Zanzibar Museum and Old Fort, also known as the Arab Fort, the oldest building and a major visitor attraction of Stone Town.
Spice Tour: Historically, Zanzibar was one of the world’s leading producers of spices such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. The Spice Tour takes you to an organic farm where you will see how the spices, herbs and fruits grow and are cultivated. The tour finishes with a stop at a spice stall selling freshly packaged spices (cash only).
Dolphin Excursions: Bottle-nosed dolphins and Humpback dolphins can be sighted following a short boat trip from the village. The dolphins are very friendly and playful, and the best part is getting into the water and playing with them.
Snorkeling: There is a wealth of snorkeling opportunities around Zanzibar. Many of the sites have reefs that almost reach the surface, where the fish are familiar with divers and often cluster nearby. All snorkeling trips are accompanied by an experienced guide who will help you find the fish, answer any questions you have about them and ensure you are safe and comfortable. All equipment is provided and is of a high standard.
Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park: This park features several habitats, including swamp forest, evergreen thickets and mangroves. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including the rare Zanzibari Red Colobus Monkey.
Zanzibar Butterfly Centre: This is an interactive butterfly exhibit near to Jozani-Chawka Bay N.P. The exhibit consists of a netted tropical garden with hundreds of butterflies, all of which are native species to Zanzibar. The enclosure is one of Africa’s largest butterfly exhibits and provides residents and tourists of Zanzibar with an interactive and visual environment to learn about butterflies.