Is Zanzibar worth visiting?
Zanzibar is located in the Indian Ocean and it is an archipelago, meaning it consists of more than just one island. It is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. The main island that people refer to as Zanzibar is called Unguja. The other smaller islands there are Pemba and Mafia.
Zanzibar is a very popular travel destination. Zanzibar is having one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches, a rich history, and friendly people. It is close to Tanzania and Kenya and it is a safe country to travel to. In this article, we will have a look at some reasons why is Zanzibar worth visiting.
As the owner of this website, I’ve included some recommendations for your trips. When you use the links to make a purchase, I may get a small commission. You will not get charged extra. Full disclosure.
Is Zanzibar Worth Visiting?
White sandy beaches
White powdery sandy beaches are the main reason why people visit Zanzibar. The beaches are so beautiful, the sand is so soft and the water is so crystal clear, which can be compared to many beaches in expensive destinations like Maldives, Seychelles, and the Caribbean.
Whether you are coming directly from your home country to Zanzibar for a beach holiday or just to take a few days relaxing after your safari adventure in Tanzania or Kenya, the beaches in Zanzibar will bring you satisfaction, relaxation, and rejuvenate your body and soul.
Moreover, Zanzibar is a great place for your honeymoon. Actually, it is quite popular not only among honeymooners but also to have your wedding here. There are many hotels that will make your special days special.
Crystal clear waters
Zanzibar is one of the few places where you can experience the lovely crystal-clear turquoise water. During the low tide, you can see starfish, sea urchins, and small corals under the water.
You can just walk around and experience the beauty of nature. I recommend wearing water shoes and taking care where you step.
Zanzibar is a great place to snorkel and dive. For experienced divers, the island Pemba is recommended, however, even in Unguja, there are great places to see beautiful underwater life. At Mafia Island, you can swim with whale sharks which are safe to swim and dive with.
Rich culture and history
Zanzibar has a rich culture and history influenced by Arabic, Indian, African, Persian, and European heritage. When you are in Zanzibar, you should not miss visiting Stone Town, the old town of Zanzibar City, which is the capital city of Zanzibar.
In Stone Town, which is also part of a UNESCO Heritage Site, you will walk through the narrow alleys to absorb the culture from the architecture of the doors on the buildings that are very special to Zanzibar. Each door has a story to tell.
Not only the doors but also buildings like the House of Wonders, the old Turkish Baths, and Old Forth, which is the oldest building in Stone Town are worth seeing.
In Stone Town used to be a big open slave market. Now there is an Anglican church where slaves were kept underground. This part is very depressing and sad. I don’t recommend it for weaker personalities.
Also, did you know that Freddy Mercury, singer from the band Queen was born and lived in Stone Town? You can actually see his house here.
Not only the buildings but markets, bazaars, selling fruits, and spices, and the smell of delicious traditional food will add to the experience of the culture.
Bear in mind that Zanzibar people are 90% of Islam’s religion. Therefore be respectful and dress appropriately so as not to get unwanted attention. Also, don’t drink alcohol in public.
I do recommend visiting Stone Town with a tour guide who will take you to all the important sights and provide all the information and knowledge.
Zanzibar Island is also known as Spice Island. Many spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, turmeric, lemon grass, cloves, and more are farmed here. The spices in Zanzibar are used for culinary and medical purposes. Visiting the spice tour is a must-do while in Zanzibar.
You will walk through the plantation and see how different spices or fruits grow, you will meet the farmers, and learn about the history of spices and the local lifestyle.
At the end of the tour, you can purchase some spices to take back home and at the same time support the local farmers.
Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park
If you don’t mind leaving the lovely beach for a few hours, you should visit Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. This National Park is home to endangered Red Columbus Monkeys, which are one of the rarest primates in Africa.
Except for these monkeys, you can see different kinds of birds, butterflies, bush pigs, chameleons, and a variety of interesting plants.
Prison Island was built in the past to keep the slaves there. However, this plan was never applied and today this Island provides sanctuary for the endangered Aldabra giant tortoise. The first ones were gifted by Seychelles and its population has grown since that time.
When you travel to any country you usually want to meet and talk to local people. You will learn a lot about the country, culture, and way of life. They can show you or recommend interesting places to see and you will experience much more than just sitting around a hotel resort.
People in Zanzibar are very friendly. The truth is that many times they talk to you because they want to sell you something, but even if you are not interested, they will talk to you in a friendly way without pushing the sale. I personally didn’t have any bad experiences with people in Zanzibar.
Relax after the safari
Are you planning to go on a safari to Tanzania or Kenya and thinking about whether Zanzibar is worth visiting? For sure it is. You can get direct flights from Nairobi, Kenya to Zanzibar or from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
From Dar Es Salaam you can also take a ferry, which we did. The ferries are modern and clean. At least the ones we used.
You can purchase tickets from the ticket booth. Do not buy from people outside. It is a short distance from both countries and you can relax and enjoy lovely beaches.
As already mentioned, the culture in Zanzibar is a mix of Arabic, African, Indian, and European influences. Therefore you can expect the flavors and traditions of these countries in the food.
Moreover, they are enhanced with the local spices that Zanzibar is known for. You can try different curries, chapati, seafood, or Zanzibar pizza here.
Safety in Zanzibar
Is Zanzibar a safe place to visit? Many people are asking this question. Zanzibar is one of the safest places in Africa. However, you should behave responsibly. Meaning, dress appropriately, don’t wear shiny and expensive jewelry, don’t get drunk, and don’t walk on the streets in the dark. This way you will be safe.
FAQs: Is Zanzibar Worth Visiting?
So you are almost sure you want to visit Zanzibar but you still have some questions in mind. Here are some more questions that you may have while planning your trip to Zanzibar.
Is there malaria in Zanzibar?
Yes, there is malaria in Zanzibar, however, it is at the lowest level. You don’t really need anti-malaria tablets, however, the mosquito spray with repellent is necessary to use in the evenings and nights.
Is Yellow Fever vaccination needed for Zanzibar?
It is only mandatory if you are coming from countries where Yellow Fever is present. Kenya for example.
Is Zanzibar expensive?
Yes, Zanzibar is quite an expensive destination. However, not as expensive as Maldives or Seychelles. To lower your costs, choose less luxurious hotels, sometimes all-inclusive or half-board could be a better option as dining in the hotel can be costly.
Also, it depends on the activities you want to do. Simple relaxation on the beach will cost you less than taking tours and visiting some other areas.
Can I wear shorts in Zanzibar?
Yes, you can wear shorts in Zanzibar when you are around your hotel or beach. When you are visiting a town or village where you meet the local people, I would recommend wearing long trousers or a skirt.
Conclusion: Is Zanzibar Worth Visiting?
Whether you are coming for a romantic beach holiday, honeymoon, relaxation after your safari, or exploring the history and traditions, your visit to Zanzibar will be worth the trip. For me, Zanzibar is a very beautiful place that I wish to visit again.