Zanzibar…a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean...the Spice Island...authentic Swahili culture mixing ancient traditions with exciting new experiences. Zanzibar: the ultimate island destination in East Africa.
How to get to Zanzibar?
Zanzibar has a seaport and an international airport to welcome visitors to this spectacular island paradise.
Guests may arrive at Zanzibar’s Abeid Amani Karume International Airport domestically from Dar es Salaam or Arusha. These short, local flights are in small planes operated by local Tanzanian airlines.
Visitors can even fly directly from several of Tanzania’s top national parks directly to Zanzibar. There are active airstrips for charter planes in Serengeti, Tarangire and Manyara National Parks.
● If you are planning a safari in Tanzania’s mainland and would like to add a vacation in Zanzibar, it is advisable to book flights to Zanzibar through your tour operator, as these local airlines may not accept credit cards or bookings made on-line.
● Also, if there are any flight changes or issues with your tickets, your local tour operator will be updated and able to assist. It is easy for the local airlines to contact tour operators through their local Tanzanian numbers. If you book independently, you will not have these benefits.
Contact Altezza to plan your flight and other details for your time in Zanzibar. Altezza’s agents can also suggest what areas of Zanzibar to visit, depending on your interest in windsurfing, snorkeling, diving or visiting historical sites.
Zanzibar’s Airport is a fully-functional international airport, offering immigration and visa services on-arrival for travelers from around the world. Normally, international flights arrive on a regular basis through the following airlines:
● Kenya Airways
● Ethiopian Airlines
● Turkish Airlines
Please note that there may be some changes to the list due to the travel restrictions caused by ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Travelers with a love for the sea can take a ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar. This ferry operates three times daily and is an exciting, local way to travel to Zanzibar.
While the actual ferry ride usually takes 2 hours, plan for a total of 4 hours, including waiting at the terminal to board the ferry and passing through Zanzibar customs upon arrival in Zanzibar.
Guests visiting Dar es Salaam may enjoy the option of a ferry or a flight to choose from. However, guests coming from Arusha or the Northern Parks are encouraged to fly to Zanzibar, because of the increased travel time.
What makes Zanzibar special?
Zanzibar is where travelers can experience the soul of Swahili culture. From the language, the food and music, to the customs of Zanzibar, there is magic and beauty and history in every nook and cranny of Zanzibar.
Unique experiences, rich history, incredible food, amazing nature and beautiful beaches are what make Zanzibar the ultimate island destination in East Africa.
What to do in Zanzibar
There is so much to do and see in Zanzibar that many guests wish they had allowed themselves more than a few days to enjoy this island.
Relaxing on the beach, or getting a blissful name on a beach-side hammock are certainly possible for tired travelers. Zanzibar’s hotels and resorts offer amazing hospitality and island-charm for all who are seeking some rest on the island.
Travelers who want a mix of fun and relaxation, or are seeking unique island adventures have a variety of activities to choose from.
The entire area of Old Stonetown is a living, breathing artifact and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Guests can tour the Old Slave Market, where local guides provide an inspirational and emotional tour and explain the importance of teaching about this horrific abuse of human rights.
The House of Wonders and the Old Fort are some other popular historical sites that visitors may tour and learn more about the history of Zanzibar.
Visitors can spend a day on “Prison Island”, which never operated as a prison, but did help to halt the spread of the Spanish Flu in East Africa in the early 1900’s, when Zanzibar’s leaders used the small island to quarantine ships. Currently, Prison Island is home to enormous tortoises and a beautiful garden for visitors to enjoy nature, and take a fun boat ride in a small, local boat.
With locals operating businesses, children attending school and families living in Stonetown, the place does not feel like a museum, but rather an unique place where the past and present mingle together in a beautiful way.
Food and Spices
Zanzibar’s Swahili cuisine is often replicated in other areas of East Africa, but the most delicious and authentic dishes are found right on the island, made with the freshest ingredients and locally-grown spices. After all, Zanzibar is known as the “Spice Island” and is the top exporter of cloves in the world. Here, coffee, tea, rice, meat dishes and more edibles are made better with the addition of tropical spices and island flavors. Visitors can tour a spice plantation, and finish off with an authentic Swahili lunch that shows off the unique spices grown around the island.
The top-rated Emerson Spice Hotel takes reservations weeks in advance, so make sure to book ahead to experience an authentic, Swahili meal, served on the rooftop in the traditional Zanzibari fashion.
Many guests enjoy sipping a ‘sundowner’ in the evening as they watch the sun disappear with a magnificent show of nature’s colors reflected in the calm Indian Ocean. Enjoy this view from a floating restaurant or beautiful rooftop overlooking the ocean and historical Stonetown.
Zanzibar hosts annual music festivals, including Sauti za Busara that showcases upcoming talent across Africa and the Zanzibar Jazz festival that includes poetry and literary aspects, as well. ZIFF is the international film festival held in Stonetown each year, and a great opportunity to view independent and award-winning films while enjoying the beauty of a tropical paradise.
Zanzibar offers amazing diving for both advanced and beginning divers.
Mnemba Atoll is a famous reef area that brings divers and snorkelers from all over to view the incredible tropical fish and coral reefs of the area.
On the southern tip of Zanzibar is the small town of Jambiani, known for the wild dolphins that daily swim through the neighboring waters. Visitors can experience swimming with these amazing animals, which swim completely free and wild in this area.
There are options for boating and wind surfing in Zanzibar, as well.
What coast of Zanzibar to choose?
Choosing what area of Zanzibar to visit depends on your interests. There is something on Zanzibar for everyone:
Stonetown is the ideal place for those interested in history, learning about Swahili culture or who want to participate in any of the annual festivals held on the island. This is also where amenities such as banks and the post office and souvenir shops operate, so it is advised to spend at least one day in Stonetown, Zanzibar during your visit.
Northern Zanzibar is best for diving, snorkelling and swimming. The Nungwi area is family-friendly and offers many exceptional resorts and hotels, all prepared to give guests the best beach and ocean activities during their stay.
Northeast Zanzibar the famous and gorgeous Mnemba Atoll is found in Northeast Zanzibar, which offers amazing snorkelling and diving opportunities. Accommodations in this area tend to be more exclusive and luxurious, as well.
Western Zanzibar has wonderful accommodations that know how to have fun! Weekends along the western coast near Kendwa are known for beach-front parties that last all night, and quiet atmospheres for guests to relax and enjoy the serene beach during weekdays.
Southern and Eastern Zanzibar experience more extreme tides, offering quiet beaches for relaxation, but not ideal for swimming. However, low tide is perfect for windsurfing, and the Paje area offers a windsurfing school and other windsurfing events every year. Nearby, in the southern part of Zanzibar is where tourists come to see the wild dolphins around Jambiani, and some even get in and swim with the amazing marine mammals for a truly incredible experience.
When to visit Zanzibar
Zanzibar has island weather year-round, with the majority of the year being warm and sunny. However, April through the end of May is usually especially rainy and not as enjoyable for beach experiences.