Discovering Zanzibar

February 1, 2019

The Archipelago

Zanzibar, one of the Indian Ocean Islands, is situated east of Mainland Tanzania.

Zanzibar united with Tanganyika in 1964 to form what is now Tanzania.

The Zanzibar archipelago is made of two large islands, Unguja and Pemba and many other small islands.

The capital of Zanzibar is Zanzibar City in Unguja Island. Many people refer to Zanzibar City in Unguja when they talk about visiting Zanzibar (The Archipelago made of Unguja and Pemba). Often, the other island, Pemba seems to be left out of the equation when Zanzibar is being mentioned.

The Zanzibar Archipelago, together with Mafia Island, are commonly referred to as the Spice Islands. Some of Zanzibar’s main economic activities include the production of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper, hence the name.

The Beaches of Zanzibar

The North Coast

The northern part of Zanzibar boasts some of the best sandy beaches in the world, perfect for ocean swimming and sunbathing.

The South Coast

Drive through Jozani forest to visit the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a protected area for sea turtles located on the south coast. Jozani forest is home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys and a number of other primates.

The West Coast

The west coast of Zanzibar is covered mostly by Stone Town, the port city of Zanzibar. Trips to Chole Island Marine Park and the nearby Prison, Grave, and Snake Islands can be easily done from Stone Town as day-trips.

The East Coast

The east coast of Zanzibar is characterized by larger and greener beaches filled with coral reefs and sandbars. Explore the shores during low tides where you will come upon corals and pools of water with starfish, jellyfish, crabs, sea-weeds and other smaller fish.

What to See and Do in Zanzibar

Ocean and Beach

Enjoy the abundant white sandy beaches that Zanzibar has plenty in store. The northeast coast and south coast are your best bet for a sandy experience in Zanzibar.

Beach Activities in Zanzibar include:

  • Surfing on the Southeast Coast.
  • Deep Sea Fishing in Nungwi in the North Coast.
  • Kitesurf at the Ras Nungwi beach and Paje.
  • Zanzibar Cycling Adventures on the northern region of Zanzibar.
  • Diving and Snorkeling trips to the famous Mnemba Atoll Marine Park known for its clear warm waters.
  • Fishing with local Dhow in Jambiani or simply go on a sunset ride.
  • Dolphins Tour in Kizimkazi.

History and Culture

Spice Island

To capture Zanzibar’s deep history, take a trip to the Spice Island, a once important stop in the spice trade, and today’s rare producer of saffron and spices like cardamom, ginger, cloves and nutmeg

Stone Town Tour

Take a walking tour of Stone Town City and relish on the few remaining building depicting Zanzibar’s deep history of Arabic and Indian influence. The inner city is so small that it can be done on a walking tour. While on the tour, a visit to the spice market is a must for a true Zanzibar experience.

Visit the historical building such as The House of Wonders and The Arab Fort, which can both be easily organized during your stay in Zanzibar


Taste Zanzibar’s local food by visiting Forodhani Gardens after sunset. Enjoy seafood or taste the famous Zanzibar pizza.

Nature and Wildlife

Jozani Forest

For nature and wildlife lovers, a trip to Jozani forest will be worth their while. Jozani forest features excellent nature trails and is home to the Red Colobus Monkeys which can survive nowhere else in the world but Zanzibar.

Seaweed Center

The center is a socially responsible business employing female seaweed farmers in Paje. The centre produces soaps and creams from seaweed. Visit the centre to see the women at work, and support the business by buying their products as souvenir.


While in Zanzibar, you can take a tour of the Tazani caves in Nungwi and Kuumbi caves in Jambiani.

Observing the Culture

Zanzibar is largely a Muslim community and men and women should make an effort to wear decent clothing, i.e cover their legs and arms. Avoid public display of affections as is considered inappropriate by the locals.

If you happen to be in Zanzibar during Ramadhan, the month of fasting, extra precaution should be taken. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public during the fasting hours.

Drinking alcohol in public should be avoided at all times, Ramadhan or not.

How to Get There

Zanzibar is accessible by local flights from Mainland Tanzania. It also hosts an International Airport, Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, where international flights arrive and depart from.

Zanzibar is also accessible by ferry boats from Dar es Salaam.