A Tropical Escape: 10 Things to Do on Your Zanzibar Vacation

Last updated on June 24th, 2023 at 01:18 am

Welcome to our guide to the top things to do on your Zanzibar vacation! Zanzibar is a beautiful tropical island located off the coast of Tanzania, known for its stunning beaches, clear waters, rich culture, and spice trade history. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or an adventure-filled vacation, Zanzibar has plenty to offer.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 amazing things to do on your Zanzibar vacation, from lounging on the beaches and exploring the underwater world to trying local cuisine and experiencing the island’s unique culture. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready for a tropical escape to Zanzibar!

1. Lounge on the Beaches

Are you in need of a little rest and relaxation? Look no further than the stunning beaches of Zanzibar Island. With crystal clear waters, soft white sand, and palm trees swaying in the breeze, it’s the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Nungwi Beach, located on the northern tip of the island, is a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, head to Paje Beach on the east coast, where you can relax in a hammock or take a stroll along the shore.

While you’re lounging on the beach, don’t forget to indulge in some of Zanzibar’s delicious cuisine. Fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and spicy curries are just a few of the local specialties that you won’t want to miss. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try a sip of the island’s famous spice tea, made with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.

But perhaps the best part of lounging on the beaches of Zanzibar is the sense of tranquility and peace that comes with it. The warm sun, the sound of the waves, and the gentle breeze all work together to create an atmosphere of relaxation and rejuvenation. So pack your sunscreen, grab a good book, and get ready to unwind on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar Island.

2. Go Snorkeling

If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure on your Zanzibar Island vacation, then you can’t miss out on the opportunity to go snorkeling. With crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful fish and vibrant coral reefs, it’s a snorkeler’s paradise.

One of the best places to go snorkeling in Zanzibar is Mnemba Atoll, located off the northeast coast of the island. The waters here are home to a vast array of marine life, including sea turtles, dolphins, and even whale sharks if you’re lucky. The coral reefs are also stunning, with intricate formations and a rainbow of colors.

Another great spot for snorkeling is Chumbe Island, a marine sanctuary located just off the coast of Stone Town. Here, you can explore a coral reef that is home to over 400 species of fish, as well as sea turtles and octopuses. And with the added bonus of being a protected area, you can snorkel with the peace of mind that you’re not harming the ecosystem.

Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or a beginner, there are plenty of options for everyone in Zanzibar. And with experienced guides and top-notch equipment available for rental, you can feel safe and comfortable while exploring the underwater world.

So don’t miss out on the opportunity to go snorkeling on your Zanzibar Island vacation. With its incredible marine life and stunning coral reefs, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

3. Take a Spice Tour

If you’re looking for a unique and educational experience on your Zanzibar Island vacation, then a spice tour should definitely be on your to-do list. Known as the “Spice Island,” Zanzibar has a rich history of spice cultivation and trade, and a tour of one of the island’s spice farms is the perfect way to learn more about this fascinating aspect of the culture.

During a spice tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see, touch, and smell a variety of spices and herbs, including cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and vanilla. You’ll also learn about their medicinal and culinary uses, and how they are grown and harvested.

One of the most popular spice tours on Zanzibar is the one offered by the Kizimbani Spice Farm, located in the center of the island. Here, you’ll be guided through the farm by a knowledgeable and friendly guide, who will explain the history and uses of each spice and give you a taste of some of the island’s famous fruits, such as jackfruit and durian.

Taking a spice tour is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture of Zanzibar and gain a deeper appreciation for the island’s unique history and traditions. So don’t miss out on this opportunity to spice up your vacation and learn something new!

4. Visit Stone Town

If you’re looking for a taste of history and culture on your Zanzibar Island vacation, then a visit to Stone Town is a must-do activity. This charming and vibrant town is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a rich history that blends African, Arab, Indian, and European influences.

As you wander through the narrow streets and alleys of Stone Town, you’ll be transported back in time to the days of the sultans and spice traders. Admire the stunning architecture, with its ornate doors and balconies, and stop by the many markets, shops, and cafes that line the streets.

One of the highlights of Stone Town is the Forodhani Gardens a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Here, you can sample a variety of street food, including grilled seafood, Zanzibar pizza, and sugar cane juice. And as the sun sets, the gardens come alive with street performers and live music.

Other must-see attractions in Stone Town include the House of Wonders museum, the Palace Museum, and the Old Fort. And for a true cultural experience, consider visiting during the annual Zanzibar International Film Festival or the Mwaka Kogwa festival, a celebration of the Persian New Year.

So if you want to immerse yourself in the history and culture of Zanzibar Island, make sure to add a visit to Stone Town to your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed!

5. Take a Dhow Cruise

If you’re looking for a romantic and unforgettable experience on Zanzibar Island, then a dhow cruise is a must-do activity. A dhow is a traditional wooden sailing boat that has been used for centuries by fishermen and traders in the Indian Ocean, and a cruise on one of these beautiful vessels is an experience not to be missed.

As you sail on a dhow cruise, you’ll be able to take in the stunning coastline of Zanzibar Island, with its white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and picturesque villages. You can also snorkel in some of the island’s most beautiful and secluded spots, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of dolphins or sea turtles.

One of the most popular dhow cruises on the island is the sunset cruise, where you can watch the sun dip below the horizon while sipping on a refreshing cocktail and enjoying delicious local snacks. It’s the perfect way to end a day of exploring the island.

With experienced captains and comfortable amenities on board, a dhow cruise is a safe and relaxing way to experience the beauty and tranquility of Zanzibar Island. And with so many different options available, from half-day excursions to multi-day cruises, there’s something for every traveler.

So if you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience on Zanzibar Island, don’t miss out on a dhow cruise. With its stunning scenery, warm hospitality, and peaceful atmosphere, it’s an experience that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

6. Visit Jozani Forest

If you’re a nature lover looking for a unique experience on Zanzibar Island, a visit to the Jozani Forest is a must-do activity. The forest is home to the endangered Zanzibar red colobus monkey, which can only be found on the island, making it a rare and special sight.

As you explore the forest, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees and lush vegetation, and you might even catch a glimpse of other exotic wildlife, such as bushbabies, Ader’s duikers, and chameleons. But the real highlight of the visit is the chance to see the playful red colobus monkeys, with their striking red fur and long white tails.

Guided tours are available to help you navigate the forest and learn more about its unique ecosystem and the efforts being made to protect the endangered species that call it home. And if you’re lucky, you might even get to see a mother monkey with her young offspring clinging to her back.

Visiting the Jozani Forest is a peaceful and educational experience that allows you to get up close and personal with some of the most fascinating wildlife on Zanzibar Island. So don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the island and its incredible inhabitants.

7. Try Local Cuisine


Zanzibari cuisine is a fusion of African, Arab, and Indian influences, resulting in a diverse range of dishes that are both delicious and unique.

One of the most iconic Zanzibari dishes is the Zanzibar pizza, which is a mouth-watering combination of thin crispy crust, eggs, cheese, and a variety of toppings such as meat, vegetables, and seafood. Another must-try dish is pilau rice, which is a flavorful rice dish made with a blend of spices, meat, or vegetables, and sometimes served with a side of coconut chutney.

For seafood lovers, Zanzibar Island is a paradise, with an abundance of fresh fish, lobsters, crabs, and prawns. Some of the most popular seafood dishes include grilled or fried fish served with coconut rice and vegetables, or the Zanzibari seafood platter which is a combination of different seafood dishes.

In addition to the unique flavors, Zanzibari cuisine is also known for its use of aromatic spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. A visit to the local spice markets will give you an insight into the local culinary traditions and provide you with the opportunity to taste and purchase some of the most exotic spices in the world.

So if you’re looking for a culinary adventure on Zanzibar Island, don’t miss out on the chance to try the local cuisine.

8. Visit the Mtoni Palace Ruins

The Mtoni Palace was built in the 19th century as a residence for Sultan Said Barghash and it was the largest palace on the island at the time.

Today, the palace ruins are a fascinating glimpse into the past, with remnants of the palace’s grandeur still visible. You can explore the ruins of the palace, including the harem, the sultan’s baths, and the reception hall. The surrounding gardens are also a delight, with a variety of exotic plants and trees.

While visiting the palace, you can also learn about the history of Zanzibar and the sultans who ruled the island. The guides are knowledgeable and friendly, providing insightful commentary and answering any questions you may have.

In addition to the palace ruins, you can also visit the nearby Mtoni Marine Centre, which offers a range of activities such as kayaking and snorkeling. It’s the perfect way to combine history and adventure on your visit to Zanzibar Island.

So if you’re looking for a unique cultural experience on your trip to Zanzibar Island, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit the Mtoni Palace Ruins. It’s a fascinating journey back in time, filled with rich history and breathtaking scenery.

9. Visit Prison Island

Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, is a small island off the coast of Zanzibar that is well worth a visit. Despite its name, the island has a rich history and a number of attractions that make it a must-visit destination.

One of the main draws of Prison Island is the giant tortoises that call it home. These majestic creatures are over 100 years old and can weigh up to 600 pounds! You can get up close and personal with the tortoises and even feed them making it a great experience for animal lovers of all ages.

The island also has a fascinating history having been used as a quarantine station for slaves in the 19th century and as a prison for rebellious slaves in the early 20th century. You can explore the remains of the prison and learn about the island’s past through informative exhibits.

In addition to its historical and natural attractions Prison Island also boasts some of the best beaches in Zanzibar. Relax on the pristine white sand, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding ocean.

Overall, a visit to Prison Island is a unique and rewarding experience that combines history, nature, and relaxation. Don’t miss out on the chance to see the giant tortoises, learn about the island’s past, and soak up the sun on its beautiful beaches.

10. Learn to Kitesurf

If you’re looking for a thrilling and unique activity to try on your trip to Zanzibar Island, kitesurfing is a perfect choice. With its consistent winds and warm waters, Zanzibar is a top destination for kitesurfing enthusiasts of all levels.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced kiter there are plenty of schools and rental shops on the island that can provide you with everything you need to get started. The instructors are knowledgeable and friendly providing personalized instruction to help you learn the basics and improve your skills.

Kitesurfing is an exhilarating experience that combines the thrill of surfing with the excitement of flying a kite. As you gain confidence and skill you’ll be able to ride the waves and perform tricks that will leave you feeling like a pro.

Aside from the excitement of kitesurfing itself Zanzibar’s stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters make it the perfect setting for this activity. You’ll be able to take in the beauty of the island as you ride the waves and feel the wind in your hair.

Overall, if you’re looking for a thrilling and unforgettable experience on your trip to Zanzibar Island, learning to kitesurf is a must-do activity. With its perfect conditions and friendly instructors, you’ll be able to master this exciting sport in no time.

Best Time to Visit Zanzibar Island

The best time to visit Zanzibar Island is during the dry season, which runs from June to October. During this time, the weather is generally sunny and dry with little to no rainfall. The temperature is also cooler, making it more comfortable for outdoor activities such as exploring Stone Town, going on a spice tour, or lounging on the beaches.

The rainy season in Zanzibar runs from November to May, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in April and May. While the rain can cool things off and provide some relief from the heat, it can also make some activities difficult or uncomfortable. For example, the seas can be rough, making it challenging to go snorkeling or diving, and some dirt roads can become muddy and impassable.

Overall, if you want to enjoy the best of what Zanzibar has to offer, plan your visit during the dry season from June to October.

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