Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania consisting of Zanzibar Island (locally, Unguja), Pemba Island and many smaller islands. Zanzibar island itself is approximately 90km long and 40km wide.
In 1896, Zanzibar was the location of the world's shortest war, surrendering to Britain after 38 minutes of naval bombardment.
- Stone Town – the vibrant and enchanting capital
- Nungwi – at the northern tip of the island. Very popular with tourists since swimming in the ocean is possible even at low tide. Quite overcrowded with tourists in season.
- Kendwa – a few km south of Nungwi, also very popular with tourists.
- Matemwe – a small traditional village in the North East.
- Paje – the liveliest village on the South East coast known for excellent kiteboarding conditions, Great diving, a stunning beach and excellent restaurants.
- Jambiani – a small fishing village on the southeast coast, 10 km south of Paje, with lots of small guesthouses and hotels - a quieter option than Paje with plenty of restaurants to choose from
- Michamvi – the remotest village on the South East coast, a small picturesque fishermen village with Zanzibar's greatest sunset beach.
- Makunduchi : at the south east tip of the island. 70 km from Stone Town. It has its own hospital, magistrates court, secondary school. The village is famous for the "Mwaka Kogwa" festival which happens in July. The beaches are some distance away from the village and are quiet, away from it all. For travelers who are looking for peace.
- Kizimkazi : small fishing village famous for the Dolphin tours. The most antic mosque in Africa is to be found in Kizimkazi Dimbani.
No visa is required for stays of less than 3 months for citizens of South Africa, Namibia, Romania, Rwanda, Hong Kong, Malaysia and all commonwealth member states (except the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Nigeria, and India). A Tourist Visa costs US$50 for a three-month single entry or US$100 for a three-month double entry visa. The visa can be obtained upon arrival. You can pay cash or with credit card. Fill in the form already on the plane. A yellow fever certificate is no longer required acccording to the latest WHO regulations. Holders of a US passport can only obtain a USD100 multiple-entry visa due to a policy of reciprocity by Tanzania (which can be purchased on arrival). US travellers departing from the US can pay USD20 for a rush service from the Tanzanian embassy, which takes three working days. The website of Tanzania's Embassy in the US gives the current requirements. Visas may also be obtained from any of Tanzania's diplomatic mission abroad.
Getting from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar
Dar airport is on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam and the Harbour/Ferry Port is in the middle of Dar. Traffic in Dar is horrendous, it can take you 2 hours or longer by taxi from the airport to the ferry port (the distance could be done easily in 30 min if there was no traffic). The taxi will cost anything from US$ 30 upwards to the ferry port. Make sure you agree on the taxi fare before you get into the taxi!
By ferry: www.azammarine.com is the ferry of choice! Ticket cost $35 - $40. Please check their website for departure times and any other information. The ferry takes about 90 min to 2 hours to reach Zanzibar.
Close to the entrance of the Zanzibar Ferry Port is KCB Bank (on Malawi Road) - the ATM is free for foreign cards (other banks 8000+) and maximum withdrawal is 900,000 (other banks 400,000).
By plane: Several local airlines offer flights from Dar to Zanzibar (the flight time is 20 minutes): www.fastjet.com (best offer), www.precisionairtz.com, www.zanair.com, www.coastalaviation.co.tz, www.tropicalair.co.tz, www.flightlinkaircharters.com, www.fly540.com, to mention a few. A departure tax is charged for domestic flights only from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam.
Passport. Although Zanzibar is part of the Union it maintains its own immigration service and you need to have a valid passport to enter, even if you come from mainland Tanzania. This farcically means you must fill out a Tanzania arrival card for your arrival in Stone Town, and a Tanzania departure card when you leave.
Getting to Zanzibar from Overseas
Direct flights to Zanzibar: Condor, Jetfly, Ethiopian Airways, Kenyan Airways, Oman Air, Qatar Airlines, Arkia Israeli Airlines, KLM, FlyDubai, Meridian, Fastjet, Mango and Turkish Airlines. There is talk that other international airlines (like Emirates) might get permission to land in Zanzibar in the near future. Other airlines fly to Dar es Salaam.
ZANZIBAR is served by many international direct flights that are ever expanding. Zanzibar International Airport which is also named Kisauni Airport and is the only airport on the island of Unguja. Zanzibar is served by several airlines offering convenient flights from the United States and Europe. Ethiopian Airlines offers the most comprehensive flight schedules and most convenient service from the U.S. mainland Africa, Asia and Europe via Addis Ababa to Zanzibar: it regularly operates approximately 21-hour, one-stop flights from Washington D.C with a short stop in Addis Ababa. The airline also offers alternative convenient routes at a low cost with stops in other US or European cities for passengers traveling from smaller airports. Cheap and convenient flights to Zanzibar are available on many other airlines operating flights to Zanzibar. Airline choice is great and ever expanding, including major US and international carriers like KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, American Airlines in cooperation with Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Fly Dubai in partnership with Emirates. These major carriers offer multiple flights and schedules which can be customized to your needs. From www.govisitzanzibar.com
There are a number of taxis waiting for passengers when you exit the terminal. Despite having a "list" of prices for the various tourist destinations on the island, prices are negotiable. Although you can arrange a pick up at the airport with your hotel or tour company, even a little negotiating will get you a better price than the inflated one quoted by most hotels. However, some Stone Town hotels do offer free shuttle service from the airport.
Dala Dala: Cheapest way is the dala-dala, it costs TSH 2000 (about $0.80 as of 2019) per person to get from Stone Town to the Nungwi in the North. Prices are similar to the East or South coast. All journeys will go via Stone Town and there is no schedule, instead buses depart when full.
Shuttle Bus / Shared Taxi: Shared taxis operate on Zanzibar and by sharing the car with up to five others, it is possible to travel around the island for only $10 per person. The shared taxis are run by The Zanzibus and tickets can be booked in advance on their website. The shared taxis are a door-to-door service, meaning you will be collected from your current accommodation and dropped directly at your destination of choice. Essentially, it is the same as a regular taxi, just the journeys take slightly longer (because of picking up other guests). Sometimes, if you are lucky you will have the car to yourself and still only pay $10!
Taxi: A taxi from the airport or ferry port to the North / East or South coast is $ 50 and more. Try to book in advance. If you hail a taxi at the airport, it's usually $ 60. You can of course negotiate a price with the taxi drivers when you arrive. Make sure you agree on a price before you get into the taxi. From beach-to-beach the price for a taxi is around $ 70. Hotels are happy to arrange a taxi or rental car for you although they might add some (sometimes: a lot) commission to the price.
Car rental in Zanzibar: Make sure you chose a car rental company with excellent reviews. Rental cars in Zanzibar are in general about 15-20 years old with very low mileage - remember this is a small island. Therefore make sure you choose a rental car company that offers regularly serviced cars! Some of the car rental companies offer cars in bad conditions and don't have a backup/exchange service - it will be up to you to fix the car.
It works out cheaper if you take over your rented car at the airport or ferry port and return it there again. Hotel transfers are at least $ 50 one way. If you want your car delivered to your hotel at the coast, usually a delivery fee applies to cover the cost of petrol and driver. Same applies to collection of the car from the coastal areas.
There are many police checks on the roads. Make sure you have your driving licence, the temporary Zanzibar drivers permit, the car insurance as well as road license stickers on the windscreen. Also check that the rental car is roadworthy and the police will wave you through with a kind jambo. The temporary Zanzibar drivers permit can be obtained from local authorities. However, if you ask your car rental company in advance, they will get it for you and deliver it with the car. They need a scanned copy of your valid driving licence. Expect to pay $10 for the permit.
- A rental company with consistently excellent reviews and a free breakdown service is www.kibabucars.com Their cars are in very good condition and regularly serviced. Kibabu Cars is based in Stone Town. They deliver their cars free of charge to the airport, 24/7, and collect the cars again from the airport. They also organize the temporary Zanzibar drivers permit before one arrives in Zanzibar. An international drivers license is not valid in Zanzibar.
- There is a lot to see and to do on Zanzibar island. First and foremost, do enjoy the amazing white sand beaches especially at the north, east and south coast. The sand has the consistency of castor sugar! The best beaches are Nungwi/Kendwa, Matemwe/Kiwengwa and Paje/Jambiani, each offering different appeal.
- Zanzibar Island, a.k.a., The Spice Island, was an important stop in the Spice Trade centuries ago. Today, it is one of the few places in the world where saffron is produced, and many other Middle Eastern/Asian spices (cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, etc.) are grown here. Visit one of the spice farms where you can see how anise, pepper, cloves etc. grow; you can sample some of the exotic fruit grown on the island. And do check out the "lipstick tree".
- There are a number of historically important (and frankly, just plain beautiful) buildings in Stone Town, like The House of Wonders and The Arab Fort. It is easy to arrange a simple walking tour with a local guide who can teach you some history. The market in Stone Town is one of the largest, most vibrant open-air markets anywhere. Here, you can find several varieties of bananas, "elephant garlic" unique to the island, the largest avocados you'll probably ever see, and more. Prices are extremely reasonable. Even if you have no intentions of purchasing food, the spectacle alone is worth a visit. If seeing raw meat and fish covered in flies makes you squeamish, avoid that part of the market. Overall, pretty much all food that is not packaged in plastic is covered in flies.
- Zanzibar also has quite a lot of caves, e.g. Tazani near Nungwi or Kuumbi Caves in Jambiani. A tour company in Jambiani called "Mambo Poa Tours" offers excursions off the beaten track, for example to an abandoned eco-resort in the South of Zanzibar. Also, do a village tour that is offered all over the island. The villagers don't see tourists as intruders, to the contrary, they welcome foreigners.
- Please do make sure that you are dressed in a t-shirt and knee-length pants - Zanzibarians are 98 % Muslims and walking through villages in beach gear is disrespectful.
- A Zanzibar resident put together quite a lot of information on "Zanzibar Insider Buzz", you can google it. There are also useful facebook pages, such as Karibu Zanzibar, Backpacking in Zanzibar, plus any facebook page from one of the many tour operators.
- Jozani Forest has excellent nature trails, featuring some very exotic (and large) trees and plants. Even more interesting, though, are the Red Colobus Monkeys that live here. These Monkeys can only survive on Zanzibar, nowhere else in the world, since they need a diet of 70 different plants, berries etc. The Red Colobus Monkeys are a protected species. A major part of the entrance fees goes to the local farmers in the surrounding area. In the past, the farmers killed the Monkeys because they destroyed their crops. Ever since they are compensated for their losses, the killing stopped. They are very curious and playful and will likely pose for a picture. The entry fee (USD10) also include an optional visit to a beautiful mangrove forest which is highly recommended.
- Seaweed Center (Seaweed industry development project), (Paje, East Coast, Zanzibar), ☎ +255 772 37-18-44, . 3% of the world's commercial harvest of Seaweed is taking place in Zanzibar island. The industry has ~15,000 women seaweed farmers. The Seaweed Center is a socially responsible business that provides female seaweed farmers in Paje, Zanzibar with opportunities to improve their personal standards of living and develop economic activities that benefit the entire community. The project comprises a factory and gathering site to produce soaps and creams from seaweed that are sold locally and begin to be distributed throughout East Africa. Tours are available, showing the life of seaweed women, the work and the value added activities.ck tree". (-6.259426,39.533966)
There are a lot of things to do on Zanzibar Island. It just depends on where your interests lie.
- The inner city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, is a most unique city. Blending Moorish, Middle Eastern, Indian, and African traditions and architectures, it is possible to spend days winding through Stone Town's labyrinthine alleys. That said, a day will give you plenty of insight. The inner city is small and can easily be explored by foot. It is estimated that 85% of the historic building fabric (coral stone) of Stone Town is irredeemably lost. Only very few of the old magnificent buildings shine brightly, i.e. if they have been converted to (boutique) hotels, clubs, or restaurants. Most buildings are in bad shape and the rough sea climate has taken its toll on the structure.
- While in Stone Town, you can shop for souvenirs, drink the occasional tea, or visit the few city's historic sites. Be aware that -being close to the equator- even the little alleys may offer little shade/protection from the sun. Water is also important and can be bought in plenty of stores along the narrow streets.
- The House of Wonders is currently closed due to reconstruction work (Oct 2014). It carries this name because it was the first house in Stone Town to have electricity, running water, and an elevator.
- Former Slave Market (Entry fee is TZS10,000 or USD $5 as of Dec 2016). This is the site of the old Slave Market. The museum only consists of slave chambers (one for 50 men and one for 75 women and children), a memorial, and an Anglican Church built on the site of the tree that served as whipping post. Unfortunately it provides only very few information on the history of the building or slave trade in Zanzibar. Apart from the slave chambers nothing is left, as a hospital has been built into the old market. However, you can go into the holding chambers in the cellar to see how this wretched piece of history played itself out in small dark dungeon-type cells. The property was purchased by Dr David Livingstone (one of the biggest proponents of the abolishment of slavery) who wanted to turn the grounds into a haven after the atrocities committed there by the Oman Arab and British slave traders.
- Dhow Countries Music Academy www.zanzibarmusic.orgis the only music school in Zanzibar, located in Stone Town on the top floors of the Old Customs House, on the Mizingani Road waterfront. The Academy promotes and preserves music heritage of Zanzibar. It organizes weekly concerts: traditional Ngoma every Wednesday, traditional taarab every Thursday, and afro-fusion every Sunday (entry fee is TZS 10,000) as well as monthly jam sessions and street concerts on Hurumzi Street. Drumming, dancing and intrumental workshops are also offered for tourist. You can find a small music store with CD's from Zanzibar and t-shirts.
- In the tourist areas around the waterfront, Kenyatta Road and Shangani Road, you will be beset by all manner of papasi, touts and others wanting to offer you taxis, spice tours, music, gifts, etc. A polite but firm No, thanks usually doesn't do the trick, and can get exhausting. Best thing to do here is to keep walking and wander into the more residential alleys where you won't be disturbed.
- Africa house in Stone Town was the old English club and explorers like Livingstone and Stanley relaxed in the bar and billiards rooms before exploring the main land. The billiards room now is an Arabic shisha smoking lounge.
- Around Stone Town
- Spice tours are being offered by many companies, they take you out to a spice farm, where your guide will show you how things like cinnamon, jack fruit and kukurma are grown, and will let you taste most of them. Be wary of buying them on the street, in which case the tout might just take your money without a booking. Another common scam is for a tout to follow you into (or give you directions to) the office, in which case the tour price will change from USD10-15, with you paying the commission.
- If you have a car you can just drive to the Kizimbani area yourself, where plenty(!) spice tours are offered. Again, depending on your bargaining skills you may be able to get it for TZS22,500 (two persons) plus the tips (6000).
- Surfing on the Southeast Coast Surfing is getting more popular on the island. The Southeast Coast offers a variety of surf spots for different level surfers. Guaranteed uncrowded surf in crystal clear warm waters with a consistant waist high wave for beginners and shoulder to head high wave for advanced can be found on the island. The reefs are flat and beginner friendly in some sections and can be gnarly with sea urchins if you do not know the spots. Self exploring missions are not recommendable. For a good surf experience in Zanzibar a guide is essential. Aquaholics Zanzibar  is the only surf school on the island and offers trips for beginners, intermediates and advanced surfers. A variety of surf boards is available to rent.
- Deep Sea Fishing with " Hooked on Fishing" in Nungwi in the North Coast.
- Kitesurf at the Ras Nungwi beach with www.kiteboardingzanzibar.com. Full equipment rental runs USD60 (half day) and USD90 (full day). Lessons can be booked (Group introduction of 3 hours at USD165 and private lessons (1h) at USD90). They also offer Kendwa beach and Matemwe kite beach.
- Zanzibar Cycling Adventures takes you to some of the islands hidden treasures, offering cycling tours around the Northern region of Zanzibar. You get a bit of culture, history, exercise and fun... all on a bicycle! [www.zanzibarcyclingadventures.com]
- Do not miss out on one of the best dives in East Africa with Spanish Dancer Divers www.divinginzanzibar.com who arrange daily trips to the famous Mnemba Atoll Marine Park for divers and snorkelers. Mnemba Atoll is known for having clear warm waters. Dolphin and Green Turtle encounters are very common, though not guaranteed.
- On the North Western coast is beautiful. Here you can swim during low and high tide, which is not always possible on the East side of the island. Just beware of the "Sea Urchins" that give a powerful sting if stepped upon during low tide.
- Kendwa offers lots of beach bars and restaurants serving everything from pizza to local curries.
- Kendwa Beach is also known for the Full Moon Party, arranged Saturdays just before or after a full moon. While not as big or extreme as those arranged in Thailand, the parties on Zanzibar attract quite a large group of people, especially when the full moon coincides with public holidays in Europe and North America (eg Easter and Christmas).
- Kendwa Village Tour is offered by a local NGO that runs Kendwa Community Tours & Saffaris (beach office located between Gold and Eden hotels). The tour is a unique cultural experience of 3 hours for 20$ if booked directly through the office.
- The Beaches on the South East coast are popular among travellers. The sand is brilliant white, and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are a deep teal. Here, you can:*
- Fishing with local Dhow with and "jumping" out of coral reef like a local, the most exciting feeling must try in a life time.
- Sit and stare at the water for hours on end.
- Arrange for a ride on a local's dhow (a carved, wooden boat).
- Cooking course with local women .
- Rent a bicycle and explore the village .
- Makunduchi * Join the Mwaka Kogwa festival in July .
- Kizimkazi is famous for the Dolphin Tour. You can take this beautiful (but not necessarily moral) tour from the beach after negotiating price with the local captains.
- * Kitesurf is a popular sport in Paje Beach, where the crystalline lagoon waters and reef protection offer ideal conditions for both advanced and beginner kitesurfers. At full moon the lagoon maybe very full and conditions may be suboptimal. Zanzibar Kite Paradise www.zanzibarkiteparadise.com offers beginning classes as well as rentals.
- Find plenty of opportunities for scuba diving; Rising Sun Dive Center www.risingsun-zanzibar.com (based at the Breezes beach resort)
- Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, Pete village (1km before Jozani Forest Park), . 09:00-17:00. The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre (ZBC) is a community and environmental project located in Pete village next to Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park. ZBC has trained local people from the Pete community to farm the butterflies sustainably and buys their pupae for the netted garden. Revenue generated by tourist admissions supports ZBC with the project’s aims of poverty alleviation and conservation of the local forest. ZBC provides visitors with a unique and fascinating opportunity to learn about all the different butterfly life cycle stages close up in one of Africa's largest butterfly exhibits. Visitors can enjoy an interactive tour with one of the knowledgeable guides in the tropical garden where hundreds of butterflies, all of which are native species to Zanzibar, fly freely. USD5 per person. USD5.
- Menai Bay Conservation Area Snorkel Excursions (Fumba Water Sports), Fumba (25 minutes south of Zanzibar airport), ☎ +25 5 774878701, . Menai Bay Conservation Area in the southwest side region holds very pristine and colourful coral reef systems with abundant sea life. Take a morning trip out to snorkel or dive in a traditional Swahili dhow then come back to an all inclusive lunch from Fumba Beach Lodge. USD45-95. (-6:317346,39.277298)
Zanzibar currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS), which was being exchanged at a rate of around €1 = TZS2492 or USD1 = TZS2232 in May 2017.
At the beach resorts, US dollars or euros are accepted but at a bad exchange rate. Best is to exchange some euro or dollars in Stone Town (best rates are given for 50 and 100 notes). US$ notes printed before 2004 will not be accepted. Exchange bureaus will often have better exchange rates than banks. Compare! One ATM is outside the arrivals hall on Zanzibar airport, however, it is mostly out of service. Other ATMs are only in Stone Town. There are NO ATMs outside Stone Town, not even at tourist centers like Nungwi! The ATMs usually have a maximum withdrawal of Tzs 400,000. If you need more, use your credit card on different ATMs. Credit cards are only accepted by the larger hotels and a few stores in Stone Town - usually with a surcharge of 5%. Travelers cheques are not accepted in Zanzibar.
Stone Town is a one-stop-souvenir-shopping for the traveler. You can find beautiful textiles, handmade jewelry, intricate wood or stone carvings, spices, knick-knacks, and the list goes on and on . . . Do haggle! It is part of the sales process and is expected and loved by the sellers. Start with half the price they are asking and work your way up to a price you find acceptable.
The curio market can be found next to the food market. Here you will find all the gifts you may want to take back to friends and loved ones. Do not buy the first thing you see. First take a walk through the market, and you will see prices get progressively less. You must always haggle and bargain with the vendors or try to set the prices off against each other. This is their way of doing business and it also ensures that you get the best price.
Please don't buy any shells, it is prohibited to take shells or sand for that matter out of Zanzibar. Any ebony products are fake (from Kenya and other African countries); besides that, ebony products shouldn't be purchased anyway.
If you want to hire a guide, ask your hotel to recommend one. If you opt to chose one of the many guides offering their services in Stone Town, arrange for the fee upfront. Be aware that he most probably will only bring you to shops where he gets a commission.
At the south east coast, you find community projects to support the local women like Jenga in Pingwe/Michamvi with beautiful handmade clothing from Kanga or Kitenge, sandals, handbags, laptop/notebook covers made of old kites, jewellery etc. or the Seaweed Centre in Paje offering soaps, seaweed juice etc.
- Forodhani Gardens is a nightly affair by the water. It starts at around 5 and gets busy after the sun sets. If you are not scared of local food, then this place is definitely worth a visit. It is possibly the cheapest food you will find on the island, and value for money too. Ranging from crab claws, calamari steaks to plain old chips done in big woks. You are well advised to try the local sugar cane juice.
- A few prices as of Oct 2014 - depending on your bargaining skills you may be able to get lower prices: Zanzibar beef pizza (TZS3000 - delicious!), Small sugar cane juice (TZS1000), Shrimp on a stick (TZS5000), Octopus(whole) on a stick (TZS6000), small beef on a stick (TZS300 - usually three or four are bought at a time and dipped into a hot sauce before finally barbecued), chicken massala on a stick (TZS3000).
- Some consider the market to be overrated -- the food quality can be mixed and food stands will advertise their food. The twilight atmosphere, however, makes for a nice setting to have a cheap meal.
- "Terrace Restaurantat maru maru hotel in Stonetown with a 360° view. All UNESO world heritage sites along with Magnificent Indian ocean can be seen from this famous restaurant. You can also enjoy happy hours everyday from 16:00 to 19:00 hours. Cocktails, local mishikaki , Asian food is a must try. Great place to watch the sunset.
- Hurumzi', earlier known as Emerson and Green and later as Emerson's Tower Top Restaurant, is well worth a visit. It can be found at 236 Hurumzi Street in Stone Town. Amazing food and sublime atmosphere. While dinner is quite expensive and has to be booked in advance, the rooftop view of the sunset punctuated by the sound of prayer calls is not to be missed.
- Kidude, near Hurumzi, serves traditional Zanzibari cuisine at moderate prices.
- Amore Mio, on Shangani Street, serves good Italian gelati ice cream, pizzas and pasta (~ USD10-15 per person).
- Monsoon Restaurant, just to the west of the Tunnel at the edge of the harbour and the southern corner of Forodhani Gardens.
- Passing Show Restaurant, next to the Malindi Police Station just outside the harbour. A place where they have very decent local food, like pilau, and all sorts of stews. All the men go there in the evening to drink tea. Muslim place, so no alcohol.
- Mercury, near the port, is dedicated to the Rock singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury who was born on Zanzibar. The only interesting thing in the place is the atmosphere and the nice view over the harbour and bay -- skip the food unless you're in for a stomach ache.
- Serena Hotel, Stone Town, has a very nice restaurant with live music almost everyday. Beautiful view of the ocean and excellent, although expensive, food.
- Botanic Country Resort, Tunguu central region, 14km from the Stone Town towards the East Coast behind the new Tanzanian Houses of Parliament. Taarab Square and Kipepeo Grill and Pub/Beer Garden with discotheque on weekends, live music on public holidays including outdoor cinema and live sports events on giant screens. Beautiful Gardens, food is from traditional Swahili & Zanzibarian dishes to International Cuisine.
- Lukmaan, a small restaurant on the same road as the slave market does very affordable and delicious food. Point at what you want and you get it right away. The prices and convenient speed makes it a favourite for many lunchers.
- Pakacha Bungalows, Bwejuu, South East Coast, . A little local run hotel tucked between the Indian Ocean and quaint Bwejuu village, Pakacha is a local legend for its quality swahili and seafood dishes. Owner Ali takes the best of the fresh local produce and delivers exceptional flavours using traditional recipes and techniques in his tiny kitchen. The chilli fried octopus, fried calamari, crab in coconut sauce and fish curry are expat favourites. Ordering in advance is recommended, everything is made to order so you can expect at least a 1 hour wait - but it's worth it!
While predominantly a Muslim community, small bars can be found everywhere in Zanzibar. Try the ginger beer - tangawizi. The sugar cane juice and fresh coconut milk are not to be missed.
- The Old Dispensary has a basic "top storey" bar which offers nice views on the harbour and beaches (Local beer: TZS4000). Despite its location it is off the beaten track and you may find yourself with a few locals and a band sipping at quite some height.
- Roof top Lounge at maru maru hotel is a place for evening sunset, cocktails for USD3 per drink, cool chillout and lounge music and a view of town.
- Africa House Ice cold beer and a huge balcony that overlooks the ocean - great at sunset.
- Taarab Square At the Botanic Country Resort, Tunguu Central Region offers reasonably priced spirits and drinks compared to most of the bars on the island. Live sports bars and the only outdoor cinema showing Indian, African and English movies, discotheque over weekends and live music on public holidays.
- Various Beach Bars On the beaches you will find beach bars who will supply you with good local beer and cocktails. You must try a Dawa-cocktail!
Zanzibar does not offer much cheap accommodation. Most budget hotels in Stone Town charge US$30 per night and more. Choosing a cheaper option will probably demand compromising on location, quality and most probably both.
Although Zanzibar is generally safe, tourists should be aware that problems do occur from time to time. For example there was a series of armed robberies at east coast hotels during 2008 until the suspect was shot and killed by police. The best practice is to wear the minimum jewellery, never carry large amounts of cash and do not confront attackers.
- Flamingo Guest House is a great budget place 10 minutes from the city centre. It is simple, clean and all rooms have a shared bathroom. The breakfast is quite nice and substantial including fruit, a loaf of bread, eggs, and coffee/tea. (TZS24,000)
- Funguni Palace Hotel, Funguni Road (near to Ferry), ☎ +255777411842 ([email protected]). This hotel contains 11 rooms in Zanzibar traditional style inside.Some rooms have self-contained bathrooms and some use shared bathrooms. There are air conditioners in rooms. 35$.
- Chavda Hotel is in the middle of Stone Town, 15min by foot from the Harbour (or TZS1,000 by taxi). Rooms are nice but without luxury. Double beds, 2 single or 3 single beds are available, all with air conditioning and mosquito drapes. Breakfast is small (it's better to eat around the corner) but the cheap hotel bar is on the roof of the hotel and offers nice views of Stone Town. Rate for a room with double bed was USD90 incl. breakfast and taxes (10% charge when you pay by Credit Card).
- Pongwe Beach Hotel www.pongwe.com is a small hotel on the eastern side of the island. It is ideal for those looking for a relaxed and secluded "paradise island" experience.
- Pearl Guest House is a simple budget guest house for backpackers. Don't expect much (common bathrooms, cold water shower and without breakfast) but the owner is friendly and it offers a very good value for money (8-12$ pp). The Pearl is located in middle Stone Town, about 5 minutes walk east of the port/ Mercury's Restaurant. If your are coming from the market, it is about 2 minutes walk east of the junction of Creek Road and Malindi Street.
- Hotel Marine, near the harbour Gate, 1 minute walk from ferry and 5min drive from Zanzibar International Airport. Budget hotel at the centre of Stone town. Most tourists prefer this hotel due to it's location, services and price. All rooms are self contained with Cable TV, Air condition, hot water, Internet Wi-Fi, parking area for safe car park, Breakfast and many more. They do arrange tours packages across Zanzibar Archipelago. The Hotel is in just walking distance of the major tourist attractions which include, Forodhani park, house of wonders, people's palace, market and all the places that are situated in Zanzibar Stone Town. Banks, taxis and all major offices are located just outside the Hotel.
- Island View Hotel located in Kilimani (right next to Stone Town) is a great option for budget travellers. A night for two people goes for USD35-40/night which includes a big breakfast. Rooms have a TV with many channels, clean washrooms, a telephone and the option of air-conditioning. Staff are very friendly and helpful!
- Botanic Country House located in Tunguu, central region (behind the new Tanzanian House of Parliament) is a great option for budget travellers who have had enough of the beach. A night for two people goes for $40 US/night which includes a tasty breakfast. Nights are cool and it is a mosquito free environment in the countryside of Zanzibar.
- Tamarind Beach Hotel, Uroa Village, East Coast, ☎ +255(0)777411191, . Bungalow hotel by the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Zanzibar. USD80.
- Mustapha´s Place, Bwejuu (at Paje junction turn left and drive for a few minutes until you see a sign for Mustapha's Place on the right - follow this), ☎ +255 774 366 841, . Mustapha's is popular with backpackers, volunteers and families and offers rustic accommodation and reliable food about 2 minutes form Bwejuu beach USD15-60.
- Malindi Guest House Hotel, Funguni Rd (Near the ferry), ☎ +25 5777410011. checkin: any time; checkout: 10:00am. Established in 1976, Malindi Guest House is among the oldest Guest Houses in Zanzibar. It is located so close to Zanzibar Port (off Malindi Street). 25$ per person per night.
- Milele Villas (Private Holiday Villa Rental), Fukuchani ([email protected]), ☎ +255-773-828026, . Environmental friendly and self-sufficient set of villas located on the North-Eastern tip of Zanzibar. Sleeps from 2-12 people, and includes facilities such as an infinity swimming pool, sea-view and volleyball court.
- Echo Beach Hotel, Echo Beach, Bwejuu, Zanzibar (East Coast - 45/50min drive East of Stone Town), ☎ 0773 593260, . Perfect destination for couples that want to enjoy a romantic break or honeymoon. 5 acre stretch of unspoilt beach to create a unique boutique hotel. There are now nine individual villas combining unpretentious African architecture with state of the art technology, interior design, fixtures and fittings.
- Villa Dida Resort (Villa Dida Resort), Pwani Mchangani (Pwani Mchangani), ☎ 00255/777810100, . Villa Dida is an Eco-resort in Zanzibar located on the east cost of Zanzibar in Pwani Mchangani. The resort has a private beachfrom where you can enjoy kilometers of white sand and palms lining the crystalline sea of the island.
Zanzibar is largely a Muslim community. Although they are used to Western ways, you should try to be respectful. This means:
- Women and men should make an effort to cover their legs and arms.
- It is regarded as disrepectful to show public affection.
- Be discreet when drinking alcohol.
- During Ramadan -- the month of fasting -- travellers should avoid eating and drinking publicly during the daytime. Also, be sure not to smoke in front of people, nor chew gum, and it is polite to avoid talking about the nice lunch you had.
You can take the night ferry to Dar, it's the cheapest option, USD20, and you also save a night's stay in a hotel. It leaves at 22:00, and arrives at about 06:00 in Dar. But the night ferry has no bed rooms so you must be ready to rough it. Several accidents (ferries capsizing) on these kinds of ferries have been reported in the last years; the tourist ferries may be safer to use.
Another option is to fly.
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