What to take for a beach vacation in Tanzania?

Making sure you have everything for Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia
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1 July 2021

Tanzania has some of the most beautiful tropical islands in the Indian Ocean. If you’re planning a trip to Tanzania, make sure to include some time at the beach!

Learn more about visiting Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Islands.

Packing for a safari or Mount Kilimanjaro climb is very, very different than packing for a beach vacation. To help you manage your luggage, here is a quick run-down of what to bring (and what not to bring) on a beach vacation in Tanzania.

What to pack

For an island vacation trip in Tanzania, we recommend all travellers to take the following:

- Swimsuit

- Sandals

- Sunscreen

- Sun hat

- Snorkeling gear/swimming goggles

- Water-proof bag for your camera and electronics

You will be able to rent snorkeling gear for a reasonable price if you don’t have your own.

Women should also pack:

- Swimsuit cover-up

- 2-3 maxi dresses or long skirts

- Light shoulder covering (kimono-type or lace is fine)

- 2 Light, loose-fitting blouse or tops

The tropical islands are very warm, so it is not advised to bring any thick or heavy garments. Women may be asked to cover their shoulders if viewing certain historical or tourist sites, but generally beachwear is acceptable when at the beach.

Men should also pack:

- 1-2 long shorts

- 2-3 light tops or T-shirts

- 1 pair light trousers (linen blends are a good choice)

Beachwear is appropriate for the beach, but please put on a shirt if you’re eating inside a restaurant or walking in town. Short, tight-fitting shorts are not recommended. Jeans are not advised, because they are very hot for the island weather.

What NOT to bring

Just as important as what to bring is what NOT to bring.

Keep in mind that the islands of Tanzania adhere to very traditional customs. What is culturally appropriate in terms of clothing may seem conservative to some travelers.

The rules for local towns differ from tourist spots and beach resorts. Basically, what is acceptable to wear at your hotel or along the beach may not be appropriate for a stroll in town.

For example; feel free to wear a bikini or tight swim shorts while at your resort, but put on more conservative clothes if you’re walking around Stonetown, Zanzibar to do some souvenir shopping.

If you would like to visit some of the sites of Zanzibar, you may be requested to cover your shoulders (especially on Fridays, the Muslim day of worship). We recommend women wear skirts or dresses that reach to the knee or longer, and that men wear a shirt.

For that reason one shouldn't pack: 

- Short, tight shorts

- Crop-tops

- Transparent clothing

Impractical Items you can also leave at home include:

- Heavy closed-toed shoes

- Socks

- Jeans

- Towels (your hotel will provide these)

Tanzania’s islands have amazing diving! If you’re interested in getting off the sand beaches and viewing the reefs of the Indian Ocean, check out this post. You probably don’t need to bring your own diving equipment, but can rent from the local diving centers, or your hotel directly.

Ellen is a Tanzania-based travel writer. She is passionate about exploring every corner of this beautiful East African country and she loves sharing her experiences with new or prospective travelers through her writing.

Ellen has written for Altezza Travel since 2019. Her ongoing goal is to climb one mountain, anywhere in the world, every year. Ellen writes about climbing Mt Meru, Ol Doinyo Lengai and Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as visiting Tanzania's incredible national parks.
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