Where To Go In Zanzibar? The Zanzibar Archipelago is made up of several islands, with Zanzibar Island, also known as Unguja, being by far the biggest and most well-known. Zanzibar’s coastline is so varied that there are a variety of experiences to be had on the main island, from vivacious culture in the south to idyllic barefoot luxury in the north. There is much to see beyond regal palm trees, snow-white beaches, and malachite-colored water; we’ve compiled the Zanzibar top destinations based on our extensive travels.
A number of much smaller islets off the main island provide a more private, away-from-the-crowds experience and are ideal for honeymooners and romantics. First, let’s take a look at Zanzibar’s various regions, where to go, and what to expect in each:
Zanzibar East Coast: The east coast of the island is home to some of the most beautiful and best beaches on the entire island. However, due to the tidal nature of the Indian Ocean, you might have to walk if you want to go swimming or snorkeling.
Zanzibar’s North Coast: Generally speaking, the beaches on Zanzibar are more secluded and less crowded as you travel further north. The tidal range has the least impact on the north coast.
Zanzibar’s North-East Coast: The majority of Zanzibar’s luxury lodging is located on the north-east beaches because of the island’s ideal location. The best reefs in the archipelago are located off the coast of Mnemba Island, where diving is excellent and there is little tidal variation.
Zanzibar’s South Coast: The population of Zanzibar increases as you travel further south. Along with people, culture also follows; for cultural and spice tours as well as more chances to interact with the locals, head south.
Zanzibar’s Southeast Coast: On the southeast coast of Zanzibar, there are many beaches and resorts, but the tidal range is more pronounced than in other areas.
Zanzibar West Coast: The west coast of Zanzibar has fewer lodges and feels a little more isolated, but it is, of course, where Stone Town, which is situated on the island’s central-west coast, is located.
Stone Town: Without visiting Stone Town, a World Heritage Site and the former capital of the main island, one would not have fully experienced Zanzibar. There are many interesting locations dotted around the city, not the least of which is the former sultan’s palace, Beit el-Ajaib (House of Wonders). Take guided tours to learn more about the former slave and ivory port’s history, culture, and cuisine, or just explore on your own schedule.
WHERE TO GO IN ZANZIBAR?
Here are the top 4 best place to visit in Zanzibar:
- Stone Town
Zanzibar is probably what comes to mind when you think of clear waters, snow-white sand, and swaying palm trees. Zanzibar is more than just a pretty face, though. The historical and cultural heart of Stone Town is a labyrinth of charming lanes and historic structures that beckon exploration. People from all over the world have immigrated to Zanzibar due to its rich and varied history, and this cultural blending is most evident in Stone Town, where African, Indian, Arab, and European influences harmoniously coexist. This gives the island a completely unique vibe that will permeate your soul and stay with you forever. To make the most of your stay, stroll through the Darajani Bazaar to look at the fresh produce or stop by the former slave market to learn more about Zanzibar’s history.
- Spice Plantations
Spices from Zanzibar have really made a name for themselves in the global market, rivaling its beaches for recognition, and no trip to the island would be complete without taking the time to get to know them. On a tour of one of Zanzibar’s numerous spice plantations, you can see spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and pepper. A knowledgeable Focus East Africa local Tour guide will typically lead tours, and in addition to teaching you about the culinary and medicinal benefits of whatever spice you happen to come across, he or she will also explain the spice’s historical context and its significance in the spice trade route.
But visiting Zanzibar’s spice plantations is not just about learning about turmeric and chilli; it’s also about seeing the island’s rural side and interacting with its residents. Along with tourism, the spice industry is the cornerstone of the region’s economy, so it would be a shame to visit the island without learning about it.
- Prison Island
Prison Island, also called Changuu Island, may not sound like the most alluring location in the world, but this tropical haven is the ideal place to get away from the crowds of the main Zanzibar and unwind in the sun. This area of outstanding natural beauty, which derives its name from the fact that it was once a slave prison, is home to many giant tortoises that roam free throughout the island. By boat, you can get to the island from Stone Town in about 30 minutes, and once you get there, you won’t be able to help but dive right in. Since the water is so clear and teeming with unusual marine life, it is best to bring snorkeling gear along. After enjoying the shoreline to the fullest, move inside Prison Island and keep an eye out for butterflies before exploring the ruins of the prison building. Booking a transfer from Stone Town is simple.
- Butterfly Centre
The Butterfly Center in Zanzibar has recognized the full potential of these magnificent creatures, the beauty queens of the insect kingdom. The butterflies in the center are not just there for aesthetic purposes; they are crucial to the organization’s goal of eradicating poverty. The center collaborates with residents of the area and trains them in butterfly farming. When these new farmers deliver butterfly pupae to the center, which form a component of the exhibit on display for the benefit of visitors, they will then receive payment. By visiting the Butterfly Center, you directly support the neighborhood because the money to pay these farmers comes from the revenue from the gardens’ admission fees. You can observe the butterfly farmers at work and learn about their farming practices by taking a guided tour of the gardens or the nearby village.
ZANZIBAR’S ‘OTHER’ ISLANDS TO VISIT
Some of Zanzibar’s top attractions immerse you even more in the atmosphere of an African island. The Zanzibar Archipelago is dotted with locations that have never been featured on a map of the world; we love showing clients who are looking for an authentic and laid-back beach vacation these hidden gems.
Mnemba: a classic ‘desert island’ experience
Mnemba is a tiny island that is a mile or a kilometer north-east of Zanzibar Island. It is a classic beach paradise. The island serves as a nesting ground for the critically endangered green turtle, and the reefs just offshore make for excellent snorkeling and diving locations. Despite being privately owned, Mnemba Island’s reef is accessible to all and a well-liked day trip from Zanzibar. Mnemba can be completely rented out to become a private island holiday paradise, drawing very discerning and exclusive-minded visitors.
Pemba: remote, little-developed island with amazing diving.
Pemba Island, which is 50 km (31 mi) northeast of Zanzibar and largely undeveloped, is home to a few fishing settlements, some ancient ruins, and miles of untamed coastline. Due to its pristine coral reefs, water temperatures between 25°C (77°F) and 28°C (84°F), and visibility between 20 and 40 meters (66 and 131 feet), Pemba ranks among the best dive sites in the world despite its limited infrastructure and young tourism industry.
Pemba Island offers a wide range of additional activities, including spa services, sunset dhow cruises, excursions to mangrove forests, and water sports. Pemba provides the discerning traveler with a significant amount of privacy and exclusivity, a more relaxed atmosphere than Zanzibar, and a safari on the mainland of Tanzania.
Chumbe: exceptional diving and snorkeling in a marine sanctuary
Uninhabited Chumbe Island, which is 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) south of Zanzibar Town, was made Zanzibar’s first marine reserve, and it now offers an amazing underwater experience within the bounds of strictly regulated eco-tourism. The pristine shallow-water reefs are home to 370 different species of fish, rare birds, and turtles.
Mafia: superb diving, far from the crowds
Mafia, a traditional tropical island off the beaten path, offers the discerning traveler a tranquil and exclusive hideaway far from the crowds of Zanzibar. Mafia, the largest island in the Mafia Archipelago, is renowned as one of the best dive sites in the Indian Ocean and is located 120 km (75 mi) south of Dar es Salaam. Mafia’s top-notch lodges offer diving supplies and logistics, and the staff will take you to secluded beaches and pristine reefs. For the best weather, travel between late May and mid-October; rain falls between April and May and once more in November, while February and March can be very hot and muggy.