Is Zanzibar safe for tourists?

When it comes to choosing an idyllic vacation destination, Zanzibar often finds its way to the top of travelers’ bucket lists. This archipelago off the coast of Tanzania is renowned for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and rich cultural heritage.

However, before embarking on a journey to this African paradise, one question echoes in the minds of many potential visitors: “Is Zanzibar safe for tourists?”

It is important to note that while Zanzibar is generally considered a safe destination, as with any travel experience, it is crucial to exercise caution and remain vigilant. By understanding the local dynamics, respecting the cultural norms, and adhering to recommended safety practices, you can maximize your enjoyment while minimizing potential risks.

In this blog post, we will look at several safety aspects in Zanzibar, including crime, local traditions, health aspects, tropical illnesses, and much more. So let’s dive in.

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Zanzibar beach

When is the best time to visit Zanzibar?

For your dreamy beach vacation, the best time to visit Zanzibar is during the long and short dry seasons. The long dry season is from June to October and the short dry season is January and February. These times are also best for your safari in Tanzania therefore you can make both trips at the same time. For more details, read my article here.


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Is Zanzibar Safe For Tourists?

Zanzibar is a very popular tourist destination, therefore the government and local people trying their best to keep it safe. Based on my own experience visiting Zanzibar, I can say it is a safe country. Of course, traveling to Africa is different than traveling to Europe, so you need to be cautious and adapt to the local culture.

However, as with any destination, in order to be safe you need to behave responsibly, follow certain rules, respect the culture, and use common sense.


Streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar

Crime in Zanzibar

As tourism is the main source of income for the country, crime in tourist areas is low, however, it does exist. When you are visiting Zanzibar or any African country, there is no need to bring expensive and flashy jewelry with you.

When going to the beach, do not take your passport, credit, and debit cards, cash, and other valuable things with you, and keep them in your hotel safe. Unless you are a group of people when someone can still watch the belongings. Never leave your belongings unattended on the beach as they can be stolen very easily.

When you are going out of your hotel for a tour, visiting different places or Stone Town, take a copy of your passport instead of your actual passport and some cash. When in Stone Town, take care of your bag, have it close to you, and keep valuable things in a smaller pocket inside the bag. Always make sure the bag is closed.

While you are shopping in Stone Town when the prices are not fixed, you should negotiate the price, just make sure you are not putting the price too low to offend the person.

If you want to go for a tour, always book through a reputable company online or through the hotel you are staying in. You will be approached by sellers on the beach or street trying to offer you a tour, so be nice and tell them you already have tours organized.

Never walk on the streets or on the beach after dark. It is very dangerous. Not only because of thefts but also the sexual assault of women. Especially in the Stone Town.


Stone Town, Zanzibar

Religious and cultural customs

Zanzibar is a Muslim country, therefore people are more conservative. There are certain rules that you need to follow in order to respect the culture and religion and not get in trouble.

When you are on a beach and in your hotel resort, you can wear a bikini and clothes you like. However, when you go for a tour, visiting villages, Stone Town, make sure you are dressed more conservatively.

This means wearing anything up to your knees at least and covering your shoulders. It is illegal to dress unrespectfully while outside of your hotel resort.

Zanzibar being a Muslim country means, that it is also a dry country, so you will not be able to buy alcohol there in stores. Also, do not bring alcohol with you to the country. However, there is alcohol in your hotel resort where you can drink.

When it comes to drinking alcohol, make sure you are not going over the top and ending up on the streets lost as this is not only dangerous but can lead to trouble if police see you.

Otherwise, local people are very friendly, nice, and laid back and you can get into conversation with them easily. If you want to take a picture of anyone, just ask for their permission.


Natural disasters

There are no natural disasters in Zanzibar. The only thing that can happen is longer rain during the rainy season. Therefore it is better to avoid going during this time if you love sunny weather and want to enjoy the white sandy beaches.


Sea Urchins in Zanzibar

Swimming in Zanzibar

Swimming in Zanzibar is very safe. Usually, there are no big waves, but it also depends on the season and the beach you are on.

Some beaches experience big differences in low and high tides, so, during the low tide, you may see some starfish or sea urchins. Therefore I recommend wearing shoes for water and taking care where you are stepping.

Zanzibar is also popular for snorkeling and scuba diving.


Tap water in Zanzibar

Never, never drink tap water in Zanzibar. The water is not clean and can cause stomach issues. Always drink bottled water or bring a special water bottle with a filtration system.

When you are having a drink in a restaurant or a bar, rather ask for it without ice as you don’t know whether the ice is not made of tap water.

If you have a very sensitive stomach, you may be cautious with street food and fruits.


Malaria and Yellow Fever in Zanzibar

Unfortunately, there is Malaria present in Zanzibar. The good news is it is not as bad as in some other African countries, like Kenya for example. It is more dangerous during the rainy season, but during the dry season, the mosquitoes are not so present.

In any case, bring mosquito spray with a strong repellent with you and use it if you are out early in the morning or later in the evening.

There is no Yellow Fever in Zanzibar. However, if you are coming from a country where the Yellow Fever is present, you must have a Yellow Fever vaccination.


Group of females in Zanzibar

Safety in Zanzibar for female travelers

Do you want to visit Zanzibar as a solo female traveler? No problem, Zanzibar is safe even for solo female travelers.

However, stay around your hotel resort and if you want to go for a tour, always book it with a reputable company or hotel where they will pick you up and drop you off in your hotel.


Safety in Zanzibar for LGBTQ

As a Muslim country, the law of Zanzibar does not support any other than heterosexual relationships. However, if you are not showing a public display of affection, you are completely fine.

By the way, the public display of affection is also not tolerated among heterosexual partners.


Conclusion-Is Zanzibar safe for tourists?

So, is Zanzibar safe for tourists? While no destination is entirely risk-free, Zanzibar has demonstrated a commitment to the well-being of its visitors and continues to attract travelers seeking a unique and unforgettable experience.

Zanzibar offers a wealth of attractions, from the picture-perfect beaches to the historical wonders of Stone Town and the aromatic spice farms. By immersing yourself in the rich mosaic of Zanzibar’s sights, sounds, and flavors while keeping safety in mind, you can embark on a remarkable journey that will leave you with cherished memories.

To make the most out of your trip to Zanzibar, it is crucial to stay informed, exercise caution, and adhere to recommended safety practices. Familiarize yourself with the local customs and traditions, respect the local communities, and remain aware of your surroundings. By doing so, you can greatly minimize any potential risks and enjoy a memorable experience on this enchanting island.

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