40 Amazing Things To Do in Zanzibar

Best Things to Do in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is one of my favourite places in the world. It has history, culture, gorgeous beaches, tons of activities, and flavoursome food. 

Whilst you’re planning your trip, you’ll want to think about when to visit Zanzibar and what you want to do on your trip.

There are so many things to do in Zanzibar and whether you’re backpacking Zanzibar, on your honeymoon, going for a 2-week holiday, or relaxing for a few days after a Serengeti safari or a trek up Kilimanjaro I’m sure you’ll love it. There’s a Zanzibar for everyone. 

I’m not the kind of gal who lies on the beach all day (but you can totally do that – I’m not judging), I want to experience the places I visit. I love to get an insight into everyday life, meet local people, go off-the-beaten-path places, and eat all the food. I also love doing touristy stuff. Good things become touristy for a reason, right?

And if you enjoy this post, don’t forget to check out my similar posts on Moshi & Arusha in Northern Tanzania.

So with this list, I aim to give you some ideas for the best things to do in Zanzibar.

Please Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Affiliate sales help with the running costs of this site, so thank you for your support!

Amazing Things To Do in Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Wander the Maze of Stone Town

One of my favourite things to do in Zanzibar is just to wander around Stone Town, which is the old town of Zanzibar City, the capital of the Zanzibar archipelago.

Whether you arrive by air or sea, you’ll pass through the city and I would definitely recommend spending at least two days in Stone Town to soak up the Swahili culture and unique atmosphere.

To get the full Zanzibari experience, stay in a real Zanzibari-style hotel. There are tons of great and reasonably priced ones, including this reasonably priced, beachfront hotel which is just a short walk away from Forodhani Gardens, or this seafront hotel, which is really close to the ferry terminal.

If you’re looking for somewhere extra special, I’d definitely recommend heading to the Park Hyatt which is set right on the beach, or Emerson Spice, a beautiful and traditional Zanzibari-converted merchant’s house.

MY TIP: Enjoy happy hour at the Park Hyatt every day at 6pm.

Stone Town Zanzibar

Watch Acrobatics and Capoeira on the Beach

Some evenings, just before sunset some of the local boys perform acrobatics and capoeira on the beach outside the Livingstone Beach Restaurant in Stone Town.

The beach in Stone Town, whilst not idyllic like those outside of the city, is usually busy with both locals and tourists enjoying the early evening light and splashing about in the water.

A crowd often forms as these amazingly talented young superstars start backflipping and somersaulting all the way down to the water.

MY TIP: Don’t be afraid to go over and have a chat – the boys are very friendly!

Stone Town, Zanzibar - Rock My Adventure

Buy Spices and Fabrics at Darajani Market

For a truly awesome, immersive, and sensorial shopping experience, head down to Darajani Market, the heartbeat of Stone Town. It’s a great, local experience as well as one of the free things to do in Stone Town (well, that is if you don’t buy anything).

Here you’ll find vendors selling all kinds of useful stuff – spices, clothing, mobile phones, oil, plastic goods, cooking utensils, fabric, fresh bread, fruit and veg, meat and if you go early in the day, you may catch the big fish auction.

Grab a samosa or chapati from a street food stall to keep your strength up as you wander around and don’t be afraid to have chat and enjoy the bartering process – Zanzibari people are very friendly!

Another good place to buy spices is Masa Japanese Restaurant above the Post Office on Shangani Street.

MY TIP: If you take any pictures of people in the market (or most places in Zanzibar), please ask first or take very general street scene pictures as it’s not polite to take pictures of people without their permission and a lot don’t like it, especially the older generation.

Things to Do in Stone Town (when you only have two days)

Eat at a Zanzibar Pizza at Forodhani Gardens

Each evening, at Forodhani Gardens on the seafront of Stone Town, street vendors set up their stalls, selling seafood and meat kebabs, samosas, urojo soup (Zanzibar Mix), fruit, grilled maize, Zanzibar pizzas, and sugar cane juice to tourists and locals alike.

In case you are wondering, “What the hell is a Zanzibar pizza?” – it’s that odd thing I’m eating in the picture above! It’s a thin pancake-style dough, filled with pretty much anything and everything and cooked in ghee. You eat it with a cocktail stick and they’re pretty good!

You can have sweet ones with bananas and chocolate sauce or savoury ones with meat, veg and cheese. In mine, I usually have… mango, avocado, onions, tomatoes, Happy Cow Cheese Triangles and an egg!

Head over around sunset, have a walk around, grab some food and a glass of sugar cane juice, sit on the wall, and just take it all in.

MY TIP: If you want to find the best place to eat, look to see where the locals are eating. I usually get mine from my friend, Mr Mango. You can find him near the sea wall, on the left if you’re looking at the market with your back to the sea. And I get my urojo and sugar cane juice from the stalls on either side.

Stone Town Zanzibar - Rock My Adventure

Shop Til You Drop

Shopping in Stone Town is great, like a tiny version of Marrakech. I love all those little curio shops selling trinkets and Stone Town has plenty.

You can buy paintings, jewellery, material, wooden carvings, Maasai bracelets, Zanzibar chests, and tasty spices. A lot of these shops sell the same mass-produced stuff you find all over Africa, but you’ll find the odd unique item and it’s cool to say ‘I bought this in Zanzibar’.

MY TIP: Don’t forget to barter. Start low and then meet in the middle – it’s pretty fun when you get the hang of it! But just know that you can only barter in the markets and smaller shops, don’t try it in the bigger, fancier shops.

Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Travelling Africa Independently v's Taking an Organised Tour.

Take a Walking Tour of Stone Town

One of the best things to do in Zanzibar, in order to get a true understanding of the island, is to take a walking tour.

Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been to in my entire life. Seriously.

Whilst I’d say that taking a tour isn’t necessary and it’s absolutely fine to have a wander on your own, having a guide for a few hours will provide a great insight into the island (and save you from being lost in the labyrinth of alleyways… forever – just kidding).

Some of the best things to do in Stone Town (have a read of my dedicated Stone Town post) include the House of Wonders (which sadly collapsed on Christmas Day 2020 – sums up 2020 hey?), the Old Fort, Freddie Mercury’s House, St Joseph’s Cathedral, the Hamamni Persian Baths, Jaws Corner, the Abeid Curio Shop and the Zanzibar Cultural Arts Centre.

What I really love about tours in Stone Town, is that the guides point out all the tiny details of the architecture, things that you would never notice on your own as well as explaining a lot about the culture and the history of the island, the Omani sultans and Princess Salme, a feminist and rebel who wrote Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar.

I highly recommend Aiysha Mohammed as a guide or you can find a number of great Stone Town tours here

Emerson on Hurumzi, Zanzibar

Dine at a Rooftop Restaurant

Eating at a rooftop restaurant is one of the most romantic things to do in Stone Town and they are the perfect place to relax for the evening, enjoy the call to prayer and watch the sun as it sets over copper-coloured rooftops.

My favourite is the magical Emerson on Hurumzi, with a beautiful view over the city and live Taarab music. I always take my Rock My Adventure tour groups here and it’s always a highlight of the trip.

They also have a sister restaurant – the exquisite and romantic Tea House Restaurant on the top floor of the Emerson Spice Hotel that I visited a few years ago. The restaurant is known to be one of the best restaurants in East Africa. The 5-course menu changes daily, depending on what their fisherman catches that morning.

MY TIP: Book in advance, both restaurants get very busy and are limited on space.

Slave Monument Zanzibar

Learn About the Slave Trade

Zanzibar is described as a melting pot, with a blend of Arabic, African, Indian, European heritages, creating a unique cultural mix on the island, rarely seen elsewhere. One of the reasons for this is Zanzibar’s dark past and I think it’s important that people are aware of the atrocities that happened.

Zanzibar was a major trading hub for many things, including slaves. The slave trade was brutal, with hundreds of thousands of people being trafficked through Bagamoyo on the mainland (where I lived for a little while), to be sold in Zanzibar, then shipped to the east or the west, with many passing through Liverpool in the UK, where I am from.

Pay your respects at the Slave Monument (above) and you can also visit the old Slave Market and visit the house of David Livingstone, an important figure in the abolition of the slave trade, who once called Zanzibar home.

You can either wander around by yourself or if you want to get the full history, you can take a specific tour like this one.

Dala Dala Tanzania

Ride a Dala Dala

No trip to Zanzibar (or Tanzania) would be complete without a little ride on a dala dala minibus. These tend to be packed, sweaty, and with questionable safety records, but they are an experience and the cheapest way to get around the island.

MY TIP: The best place to catch a dala dala in Stone Town is Darajani Market. You can pretty much get anywhere on the island from here.

Africa House Hotel - 40 Incredible Things To Do in Zanzibar

Go For Sundowners at the Africa House Hotel

If you’re looking for a nice spot to have sundowners (sunset drinks) in Stone Town, Africa House Hotel is a great place to do it.

The building was built by an Omani slave trader and later turned into an English Club, now it’s a hotel and bar. The decor of the hotel is a mix of Zanzibari and colonial style and whilst it’s not cheap, it has a lovely terrace that looks out over the ocean. You’ll see traditional dhows sail past as the sun slowly sets below the horizon.

Although beware. You may think you have a nice seat facing the sunset, but lots of people want photos and will stand in front of you and block your view or squeeze in between you (it’s really annoying), so it may not be the relaxing experience you imagined.

MY TIP: To get a better and uninhibited view, you could head down to Shangani Gardens or do this instead.

Maalum Cave Zanzibar

Visit the Maalum Cave

This is a new edition for 2023, but I recently visited the Maalum Cave near Paje and it was SO GOOD!

Here you get to swim and snorkel in a beautiful blue/green natural swimming pool. For $20, you get a 90-minute slot to relax in nature! What could be better?

Jambiani, Zanzibar - Rock My Adventure

Take a Village Tour

Whilst it’s fine to visit a lot of villages on the island, going on an organised village tour with a guide is a good way to get an insight into daily life whilst contributing to the local economy. Jambiani on the east coast is a great village to visit and the people very welcoming.

You can visit the fishermen, local women’s groups, herbalist and seaweed farms. Many tours, like this one, include a traditional Swahili lunch too.

Again, taking photos of people without their permission is really not the done thing in Zanzibar (hence why you don’t see a lot of people in my pictures) but on a tour, you should be fine. If you go it alone, please, please, please ask before you take pictures of anyone in the villages.

Zanzibar Door

Admire & Photograph the Zanzibari Doors

Zanzibar doors are something else. Whilst some doors and buildings are succumbing to ruin, there are still many of the original doors intact, ornately decorated, and have meanings behind them.

The most famous and photographed door is the one at Tippu Tip’s House (above), a Zanzibarian slave and ivory trader from the 18th century.

Sauti za Busara Zanzibar

Go to a Festival

Zanzibar hosts 3 major festivals a year:

Sauti za Busara: A music festival in Stone Town, featuring a number of awesome artists from all over Africa and the name means ‘Sounds of Wisdom’. The festival usually takes place in February. I went in 2018 and it was a lot of fun!

The Zanzibar International Film Festival: East Africa’s largest film, music, and arts festival. They showcase some of the best talent around and the theme of the festival for 2017  was ‘Finding Joy’ (I love that).

The Zanzibar Beach and Watersports Festival: This is a community-led not-for-profit festival. They have watersports competitions, music, and food stalls! Sounds delightful! The festival takes place in Jambiani usually in September.

MY TIP: Be sure to book your Zanzibar festival accommodation ahead of time as it gets very busy.

Stone Town, Zanzibar - Rock My Adventure

Try the Local Foods

Being an important trading hub on the old spice route between the east and west, the Zanzibari cuisine, is as you’d imagine, pretty amazing. Taking influences from all over the world, I’d go as far as to say, that the food in Zanzibar is my favourite in all of Africa!

There are tons of lovely foods you can buy off the street including my favourites – kashata, urojo soup, mishkaki and mango with chilli. To find some of the best places, you can take a Zanzibar food tour with a local guide.

If you’re looking for a restaurant, that’s cheap, and authentic but really, really tasty, go to Lukmaan or The Passing Show Hotel in Stone Town. Local foods include fried fish, chicken, curry, biriyani, and pilau rice, as well as samosas and chapatis.

Jaws Corner Stone Town

Drink Coffee at Jaws Corner

If you want to do as the locals do, head to Jaws Corner in Stone Town. A popular spot for people (men mostly) to gather, chat about politics, current affairs, and gossip whilst drinking black coffee with ginger from pretty little cups with no handles. We stopped here for a while eating cassava chips, baobab fruit and mango with chilli and salt – surprisingly delicious.

MY TIP: Wiggle your cup if you want a top-up. Try a piece of kashata with your coffee – it’s delicious.

Let Yourself Be Pampered at the Mrembo Spa

When you’ve been travelling around Africa for a while, I can promise you that you and your body will need a little TLC. Your feet will be ruined, your skin will be dry from the heat and dust and those ‘African Massages’ (what they call it when you drive on VERY bumpy roads) are not very relaxing!

Many of the hotels around the island have spas, but one of the best places is the Mrembo Spa in Stone Town which offers lots of gorgeous treatments, including Singo, a scrub traditionally used by Swahili women on their wedding day!

I had a wonderful facial there on my last visit. It’s everything you would expect from a Zanzibari spa and it’s all organic too!

The Old Dispensary Stone Town

Visit the Old Dispensary

Opposite the ferry terminal in Stone Town, you’ll find the Old Dispensary, where once upon a time, as you’d imagine, dispensed medicines.

It’s one of the prettiest buildings in Zanzibar (so great for photography buffs) and inside has a pretty courtyard and a small museum about the history of the island.

Emerson on Hurumzi, Zanzibar - Rock My Adventure

Learn to Cook Zanzibari Style

Food plays such a big part in daily life wherever you go in the world, so what better way to get an insight into the local culture? There are a few different classes on the island and some will even take you to the markets to buy the ingredients first like this one.

Enjoy the Call to Prayer

I’ve heard the call to prayer in a number of places around the world, but there’s nowhere quite like Stone Town.

The melodic and mystical call automatically transports me to some other time, some other life. I don’t even mind when it wakes me up at 5.30am, it’s beautiful.

MY TIP: If you don’t like to be woken early, bring earplugs. Some hotels provide them, but not all.

Th Manta Resort Zanzibar

Take a Trip to Pemba Island and Sleep With the Fishes

Zanzibar is actually made up of a few different islands and Pemba Island is one of them. It lies north of the main island Unguja, which is what people generally mean when they talk about Zanzibar.

This is where you’ll find the world-famous Manta Resort. The one with the underwater room that shows up on every list of ‘10 Amazing Places to Stay Before You Die‘! Seriously – every list! How amazing would it be to stay here.

Ferries from Stone Town run on Wednesdays and Saturdays and do the return journey on Thursdays and Sundays. Flights depart daily and you can compare prices here.

Tanzania Tour for Solo Travellers

Go on Safari Blue

Safari Blue is known to be Zanzibar’s best boat trip!

You start in the small village of Fumba on the south coast, sailing on a traditional dhow to Menai Bay where dolphins you have the chance to see and swim with dolphins. Snorkelling is the order of the day and you have a chance to explore the reefs. Lunch is a seafood buffet that includes fresh lobster, fish, calamari, chicken, and veggie options served on a sandbank. Drinks are also included!

It’s a full day trip, so in the afternoon you sail to Kwale Island take a ride on a Ngalawa canoe, explore the mangroves, see an ancient baobab tree and relax on the beach before sailing back to Zanzibar at sunset.

You can book your Safari Blue tour here.

MY TIP: It may be best to take this trip before you leave Stone Town, or whilst staying on the south coast, so you are not travelling back on yourself from the beaches. It’s around an hour and a half drive from Kendwa/Jambiani.

Take a Spice Tour

Zanzibar is called ‘The Spice Island’ due to the spices grown on the island. You’ll get to taste things like vanilla, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon as well as many others, used for cooking or in traditional medicines. Your guide will explain what the spices are used for and their unique properties. I swear you’ll end up putting turmeric in EVERYTHING!

Pretty much every hotel or tour agent offers these trips. They can be a little touristy and before you know it you’ll be stood there wearing a palm leaf hat, that some dude made for you and then plonked on your head.

MY TIP: If you want to do it a little differently, I recommend doing a spice tour with a Darajani market trip and a cooking lesson from Tangawezi Bistro in Stone Town. A lot more fun and great to see the spices through their full journey.

See the Red Colobus Monkeys in Jozani Forest

Jozani Forest, is home to the rare red colobus monkey. As you walk through the forest, you’ll get the chance to see the monkeys up close and learn about the various plants and animals that call this place home.

You could either rent a car or take a tour to Jozani Forest.

Cycle the Island

Now, this is on my bucket list. How cool would it be to cycle the circumference of the island?

Bike Zanzibar, led by Juma, is your one-stop shop for cycling activities in Zanzibar. These guys offer day tours, cycling holidays (including women-only trips), bike rental and tailor-made trips.

MY TIP: They also offer a spice tour by bike, which takes you to see the red colobus monkeys in Jozani Forest too. So if you are short on time (or just want to be really efficient) this could be a great combo!

Sunset Zanzibar

Go on a Sunset Dhow Cruise

What better way to see the sunset from out on the water? There are various different ones, from romantic cruises to crazy party boats most include drinks and some also include food.

Most of the sunset cruises depart from the main towns on the West of the island, like this 3-hour sunset cruise departing from Kendwa. You can also take cruises from Nungwi and Stone Town.

If you’re on the east coast – don’t worry, you can still enjoy the sunset too. There are a few companies that sail from Michamvi and takes you around Chwaka Bay (the only place on the east coast for sunset).

Go Deep Sea Fishing

Zanzibar is a mecca for deep-sea fishermen!

With its position, far out in the Indian Ocean, the Zanzibar Archipelago attracts all kinds of weird, wonderful and big game fish, like barracuda, wahoo, kingfish (my favourite), yellowfin tuna, sailfish, and marlin (blue, black and striped) to name but a few (all seasonal).

Spending a day on a boat, bobbing around in the middle of the ocean, and trying to reel in some fish is not my idea of a fun time, in fact, I’d probably spend the whole time puking over the side, but my other half loves it.

Scuba or Snorkel at the Mnemba Atoll

Take a trip out to the Mnemba Atoll and go snorkelling or scuba diving in one of the most beautiful spots around. You’ll find an abundance of marine life and may even see some dolphins!

This trip is quite different from the Safari Blue trip, so you could even do both. You can book your trip in advance here.

Zanzibar Kite Paradise
Photo Credit: Zanzibar Kite Paradise

Go Kitesurfing

Did you know that Zanzibar is an AMAZING place for kitesurfing (aka kiteboarding)? What did I say about those trade winds?

There are two winds that blow through Zanzibar, the Kusi Winds and the Kaskazi Winds. The Kusi blows in from the southeast from mid-June to mid-October and the Kaskazi blows in from the northeast between December and April.

Paje, on the east coast, is probably the most popular place to stay and it attracts a cool crowd. 

Go Surfing

Whilst we’re feeling active, why not try a little surfing?

Zanzibar isn’t known as a surfing destination and you won’t find many surfers there, but there are a few spots around the island! The only downside is that conditions aren’t always ideal, so timing is everything. There are two surf schools I know of, Aquaholics and Surf Zanzibar. They’ll take you to the best places, at the best time. The season generally follows the same dates as the kite surfing season.

MY TIP: The best places to stay for surfing are along the southeast coast – Paje, Bwejuu, Jambiani, and Dongwe.

SUP Zanzibar

SUP Through the Mangroves

If you’ve ever tried stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), you’ll know how much fun it is. Not as physically demanding as surfing or kitesurfing, but still great for fitness and core strength.

Surf Zanzibar offer a few different SUP tours in a beautiful lagoon and through mangroves in Chwaka Bay. They also rent out boards and paddles if you want to do it yourself. After their tours, you can enjoy a free drink on the terrace.

Go to the Full Moon Party at Kendwa Rocks

Every month (usually on a Saturday), the Kendwa Rocks hotel on the north of the island holds a Full Moon Party. Now, these aren’t nearly as crazy as the Full Moon Parties you’ll find in Haad Rin on Ko Pha Ngan (I’ve been to both) – there’s no glow paint and no drinking out of buckets – I definitely prefer this one. The normal Saturday nights are fun too! You can find dates for the Kendwa Rocks Full Moon Party here.

The African beats are banging, the food is good and there’s always a great mix of travellers and locals enjoying the party. You’ll spend the night dancing barefoot in the sand, listening to reggae under the stars, watching leopard print-clad dancers and fire twirlers doing their thing – I’ve even seen a bit of line dancing before. For those who want to chill, there are fire pits where you can sit back, relax and watch everyone trying to twerk.

MY TIP: If you want to stay at Kendwa Rocks, book in advance, they get very busy! You can check availability and prices here.

Party Hop

Even when it’s not a full moon, there’s always a party going on somewhere! On any given night, the bars in the beach resorts take turns in hosting the party of the night! Ask the guys at your hotel bar, they’re always in the know!

Aside from Kendwa Rocks, other popular places include Cholo’s and Coccobello in Nungwi and Jambo Beach Bungalows in Paje.

Red Monkey Lodge is a great place to stay in Jambiani and they hold a Crazy Monday Jam Session every week – one not to be missed! Some of the hotels offer shuttles or they can organise a taxi! Clubbing in Zanzibar is always fun!

Ladies – just watch out for the men. They are generally very harmless but VERY forward and persistent in Zanzibar (and Tanzania in general) and it can get annoying.

Yoga Zanzibar - Yoga Retreats, Classes and Teacher Training in Zanzibar
Photo Credit: Yoga Zanzibar

Go on a Yoga Retreat

Like any self-respecting beachy paradise, Zanzibar has its fair share of yogi activities!

Yoga Zanzibar, based in beautiful Nungwi offers all kinds of amazing packages and classes – retreats, SUP yoga and teacher training courses and you can also combine the retreats with things like safari, diving, and even tango dancing!

The Rock Restaurant, Zanzibar

Eat Lunch at The Rock Restaurant

If you want to tick off one of the big bucket list things to do in Zanzibar, head to the southeast of the island where you’ll find The Rock Restaurant, just off Michanvi Pingwe beach. This restaurant is unusual because it is literally built on a rock, in the Indian Ocean!

The food isn’t cheap and it’s not the best food I’ve ever tasted, but it’s nice and it’s the setting that really is the draw here! Plus, they have nice, cold wine!

Go whilst it’s light so you can make the most of the setting and go when it’s high tide as it’s much, MUCH prettier at high tide. Book ahead as it does get busy. For my tips on how to make the most of your trip to The Rock, click here.

Learn a New Skill

Fancy creating your own beauty products, perhaps dying some batik or blending some spices? Then book in at a class at the Mrembo Spa. You could even turn your gorgeous new batik material into a dress!

They also offer lessons in music (drumming and other traditional Swahili instruments used in taarab music), dancing, and tinga tinga painting – a distinctive painting style you will see all over East Africa. These lessons support the Dhow Countries Music Academy, so they’re good for everyone!

Prison Island Zanzibar

Visit Prison Island (Changuu)

Changuu (Prison Island) is a former slave prison, just off the coast of Stone Town.

Today it is home to giant Aldabra tortoises, imported from the Seyshelles. You can feed the tortoises, enjoy the forest, sunbathe on the white sandy beach and get a great view of Stone Town.

Surrounding the island is a coral reef, good for snorkelling and the water is dotted with colourful starfish.

Go Horse Riding

There are a couple of places that offer horse riding on the beach and through the coconut plantations in Zanzibar!

I’ve only been horse riding a couple of times, along the banks of the Nile in Uganda and on the shores of Lake Malawi, which were amazing, so I can imagine riding along the beach and in the water at sunset in Zanzibar is just… wow!

The Zanzibar Horse Club in Nungwi and the Sea Cliff Resort on the west coast, halfway between Stone Town and Nungwi are the best places to go horse riding.

Learn Some Kiswahili

Whilst a lot of people speak English, knowing a little bit of Swahili goes a LONG, LONG way in Zanzibar (or any part of Tanzania).

Just speaking a few greetings will get you a huge grin, a lot of respect and the response ‘Ah, you speak Swahili?”

You respond “Kidogo, kidogo” – trust me, it will be well received. 

Helen in Wonderlust in Zanzibar

Relax on the Beaches

After all these activities,  there’s only one thing left for you to do and that’s to unwind at the beaches, perhaps with a cold Kilimanjaro beer in hand.

Zanzibar has some world-class beaches all over the island, so wherever you go, you’re sure to love it!  Here are a few of my faves:

  • Kendwa: There are lots of activities on offer, great for solo travellers, with beautiful sunsets, and calm water. Very chilled in the daytime. Kendwa Rocks is a great hotel and holds the Full Moon Party. For a honeymoon or treat, stay at Zuri Zanzibar, it’s beautiful.
  • Nungwi: Nearby and similar to Kendwa, but slightly busier (there’s a big village here) and more all-inclusive type resorts, lots of travellers and things going on. Nungwi also has one of the best hostels for solo travellers on the island called Makofi Guesthouse and I love the Z Hotel.
  • Matemwe: Very chilled, village life, unspoiled by tourism, close to Mnemba Atoll. Try one of these highly recommended hotels.
  • Michamvi: The only place for sunset in eastern Zanzibar, looks out over a beautiful bay, quieter than the other resorts. Stay at Upendo Zanzibar for a sophisticated stay and great views of the Rock Restaurant (no sunset on this side of the peninsular) or on the other side (with sunset), try Kae Funk for a chilled out vibe, or Michamvi Sunset Bay.
  • Pongwe: Pretty beach resort, not as crowded as the others, very chilled. Try The Island – Pongwe Lodge, a very cool hotel set on a little island off the coast. Or for some real luxury, the Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort.
  • Bwejuu: Village life, gorgeous beach, quiet – but close to the likes of Paje and Jambiani for the nightlife. Stay at Tsunami Village (nice place, unfortunate name)!
  • Paje: Beautiful beach, kitesurfing, backpacker-friendly, great nightlife, great for solo travellers – although for obvious reasons it can be windy and sometimes there’s a lot of seaweed on the beach. My favourite hostels and hotels are DriftersEbb & Flow Apartments, the Mr Kahawa (formerly The Waterfront) and the beautiful Kahawa Lofts.
  • Jambiani: Similar to Paje, beautiful beach (in the picture above), great village, Monday night jam session, watersports, nightlife. To be in the action, stay at Red Monkey Lodge.

Stay on a Private Island

Last but not least…

Feeling fancy? Then book yourself into the &Beyond luxury lodge on Mnemba Island, where the sand is brilliant white and the water crystal clear. Living the dream!

With prices starting from $1,854 per person, per night, it’s certainly not cheap, but it is super luxurious and romantic. Bill Gates is a fan apparently. One for the bucket list!

I hope you enjoy this list of things to do in Zanzibar! If you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comments below!

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Things To Do in Zanzibar
Things To Do in Zanzibar

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  1. OMG Zanzibar looks amazing! I really want to now!

    When are you announcing the date of your trip? If I can afford it, I’m there!

    1. Thanks Jen! I’ll be announcing the itinerary and cost within the next week, but the trip will start on 12th August and end on 22nd August! Hope you can make it! 🙂

      1. Hi my husband has just got a job out there at a resort on the north side of the island. he leaves in 2 weeks but I have to work my notice and cant join him until end of July. It would be good to meet up and you can give me some tips 🙂 We’ve lived in Seychelles and in the BVI but Zanzibar looks like a whole new world of experiences compared to those islands.

  2. I have been there and loved it so much , Take a Walking Tour of Stone Town is my favorite activity there. Your post made me think of planning my next trip there.

    1. I am currently undertake my field research on new attractive tourism destination in Zanzibar. May you please inform me about the mostly knkwn and newly importn tourist attraction destination?

      Thank you

  3. An amazing list! Zanzibar is great but I really loved Mafia Island as well…especially swimming with the whale sharks. Looking forward to reading more 🙂

    1. Thanks!

      I did think about including Mafia, but I’ve never been and as it’s so far, I just stuck to the main 2 islands. But I would love to go to Mafia someday. I looked at a volunteering program there years ago but went somewhere else in the end! One day I will go! 🙂

  4. I loved Zanzibar when I was there nearly 30 years ago! It looks like there’s a lot more tourism and infrastructure now, but still seems like a lovely place to visit.

    1. Hey Anne! It’s definitely changing, it’s different now than when I first went 8 years or so a go, but there are still lots of great places and secluded spots! It’s still fabulous!

  5. I loved visiting Zanzibar last year for our honeymoon and dream of going back as soon as we can – it’s such a magical place! We at the Emerson Hotel restaurant while in Stone Town and the food and views were amazing! We also loved Cheetah’s Rock – the owner rescues and cares for animals and you get to learn about and interact with them. There are only a couple of tour times each week and you can tell she really loves the animals. It was one of the best parts of our trip!

  6. Thank you for all the Information. We would like to go there in November. I have Never been so far away and would like to ask you aber the Safety? My Husband is fotografer and I was wondering if its possible to Go with a Guide for Taking pictures.

    1. Hi Johanna,

      It’s pretty safe! I would just be wary of taking your camera out and walking down dark alleys at night. You can hire a guide in Stone Town or via Colors of Zanzibar! 🙂

  7. Hello there! Loved your post… I am about to go to Zanzibar and I would like to know the contact details of the tour guide (Farid Hamid) u had in Stone town…

    Thank u in advance

    1. Hi Spyros, this is the last number I had for him +255777484734 – if you can’t get hold of him, try through the Cultural Arts Centre or maybe Colors of Zanzibar, they should be able to sort you out a tour.

  8. Hi Helen,
    That is One of The Best Blog I gone Through till now,
    I also Read About you, Your First trip to Africa, From where your Traveler career start. No doubt the Africa is the place where your concept of Traveling will totally change. and Zanzibar is much more then I expected and use just beautifully Describe it as it feels like I must have a 1 month vacation to Visit Zanzibar, As a traveler you also know that If your are visit some place it would be Done complete so that no place will left behind and Zanzibar from your Post convincing me to go for it as soon as possible, Its Beaches, Forest, natural wild life, Parks, The stone city, Every single destination describing it’s own nature and beauty by it self.
    Awesome pictures, and Great Blog.
    Once again Thank you For sharing Helen,
    Looking forward for your trip to Zimbia and Accra,
    Have a good Days.

  9. Hello Helen,

    Thanks for sharing. I and a friend will be visiting Zanzibar this weekend. We are on a budget and are a bit worried as to how much it will cost us in USD to do the amazing activities mentioned in your post. Please assist in providing information. Also recommend a lovely beach front hotel for us.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Dharmmie, which activities are you thinking of? If you let me know, I can help you with prices.

      Also which beach resort are you looking for? stone Town or elsewhere on the island?

  10. Hi Helen,
    I’m enjoying your blog–interesting and useful information with a good dollop of humour. We (family of 4) will be spending ~12 days in Zanzibar this summer; this following two weeks elsewhere in Tanzania! I would appreciate contact details for Farid as he sounds like a super Stone Town guide. Thank you!

    1. Hello! The last number I had for him one this one! Farid on +255777484734

      But you could also try him via Emerson Spice or the Cultural Arts Centre! If not, try Colors of Zanzibar!

  11. Great Tips! We spent our honeymoon in Zanzibar and I must say it was an amazing trip. We did most of the tours you have in your list 🙂 If somebody is interesded, we used services of “Zanzibar Car Hire&Expeditions” (www.visit-zanzibar.com) and weren’t disappointed

  12. Thank you so much for this blog post! I’m heading down mid August for my honeymoon, can’t wait. Will defiantly use this as a look up source for things to do 🙂

  13. Hi Helen,
    Thanks for your super informative (and cool) blog about tips for things to do in zanzibar. We will be visiting the island in August and have already made reservations at the rock for an early dinner 😉 we are intrigued by Farid and would like to contact him for a guided tour of stone town. A) would you recommend with kids? (Ages 8-11)? B) if yes, could you please share with me his number?
    Thanks! And hope you keep enjoying and documenting your travels 🙂

  14. Hi Helen,
    I’ve been studying Zanzibar. I wish I’d come across your post before. I love the photos and the way you’ve included tips. It’s informative and fun (and yes it makes me want to go to Zanzibar. I’m getting similar comments after people have read my chick-lit/adventure romance novel ‘The Zanzibar Moon’. It starts in Australia (I’m Australian) and travels to Zanzibar and other parts of East Coast Africa. I’m working on the prequel ‘Kendwa’s Secret’ (yes he’s named after the town). I just thought I’d get in touch and hope you don’t mind if I contact you if I have any Zanzibar questions during the research of ‘Kendwa’s Secret’. You may be interested in reading ‘The Zanzibar Moon’. I’d love your feedback. I have bookmarked your blog, so will definitely be reading more, when I have time. Cheers from Oz. Donna 🙂

  15. Hello Helen,
    Thanks for the post!! I am planning to Visit Ngorongora, Tarangire, Serengeti( 4 days) and Zanzibar(4 days) for my Honeymoon.
    Your post helps to add things to my to do lists in Zandibar 🙂

  16. This post brings back some good memories 🙂 I went there solo for my birthday in February! I fell in love with this Island. The people are so friendly! I became friends with the only local women guide and she took me around.

  17. Hey Hellen! Thanks for the awesome tips 🙂 We’ll be setting off to travel the world for a year and our first stop is Zanazibar 🙂 Will you be there in November? Would be cool if we could meet up!

  18. Beautiful post. Zanzibar is a mind-blowing place for a trip. This island is a favorite tourist spot. Huge no. of tourist comes to visit this island. While reading your post I am very excited to visit this island. The white sand beaches, turquoise blue beaches, coral reefs and fresh seafood are bound to attract all (Kilimanjaro Vikings).

  19. I want to do the full moon party. I land in Nairobi on Feb 27 and was thinking of making my way to zanzibar to catch the full moon party on March 3. Alternatively there is another full moon party on March 31. I’m scared to go to that one because it’s the beginning of rainy season. Have you been to zanzibar in March? Is it worth visiting March 31, or is it better to go in early March

  20. There are just so many beautiful islands. Unfortunately we don’t all have unlimited vacation time or budgets to see them all! A cruise is a great way to see at least a few of them on your trip.

  21. Hi Helen, thx for you suggestions. I will go to Zanzibar in August and already excited. May I ask you a question: have you ever felt to be unsafe there or in Tanzania? I’ve read, that the crime rate in Tanzania is allegedly pretty high and it is not recommendable to go there. What was your experience regarding that?

    1. Hi Max,

      I’ve never felt unsafe. Where did you read not to go there? You’re probably safer in Tanzania than in a lot of European cities! 🙂

      However, you do need to keep your wits about you and not put yourself in a vulnerable position. Don’t be on your phone with the car windows open, someone could snatch it at traffic lights. Don’t walk around the alleyways of Stone Town late at night. Be careful in the cities of your stuff etc.

      You will love it there!

  22. Fantastic Post! This has been incredibly helpful. Thanks for sharing some of the tours I would have never been able to find on my own and now I’m finding it easier to condense a few stops into one or two activities so I can make the most of my few days in Zanzibar! I’m definately going to do the bike spice tour and the walking tour with Farid.

  23. Thanks for the wonderful recommendations! We met Farid and enjoyed a wonderful walking tour with him. It was great information, and gave us a good appreciation to the island

  24. If you don’t mind when happen again be in ZANZIBAR please visit our Restaurant BLUE FISH RESTAURANT in Pwani Mchangani

  25. This is a great article! I am preparing for a solo trip to Zanzibar and although I’ve read nothing but positive things about it I was beginning to get nervous about spending 7 days by myself. You just reassured me that I’ll be fine and that there’s plenty for me to do. Thank you from Philly!!!

  26. We will be in Zanzibar next week and my wife would LOVE to learn how to cook a full/whole fish. How would you suggest we meet a local friend as you described and invite ourselves over? 🙂

  27. Fabulous, thank you for your amazing and detailed advice.
    I have dreamed of going to Zanzibar for 20 years, and think this is a perfect destination for my upcoming 50th birthday!

  28. Hello Helen,

    Thank you so much for advice. I really like the way you described Zanzibar.
    I am going early April and hope it won’t rain too much.

  29. Great guide and information, thank you! I will be going to Zanzibar for 2 weeks (flying out tomorrow from London) and found your blog, I wanted to add to the information included in the Tanzania LP guide (2018)..

  30. I love the local food in Zanzibar, Very Fresh sea food, and also i visited prison Ireland has a very clean and attractive beach. I found many best places in Zanzibar through bizyciti.com, you can also try to check

  31. Jambo Helen!;) Very informative article, thanks a lot! I’m arriving in Zanzibar next month. I will be staying in Makunduchi (Clove Island) and although the place itself is really awesome, I’m hungry for seeing new spots and doing a lot of different things. Your article inspires me!:) Thanks once again! Can’t wait to be there!

  32. Don’t forget to do your informal cooking class while in Zanzibar
    its great fun, we are no longer owning restaurant as we are getting busier for cooking classes.

  33. Oh, this looks absolutely amazing. I have only visited South Africa so far and I am really curious to see other African destinations. Whenever I hear people visiting Zanzibar, they just go to a resort…. and I always figured there’s just so much more to explore.. Zanzibar is so much more than its beaches! Although its beaches are pretty great i can say..

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