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Africa Travel Guide: What to Do & Eat in Zanzibar, Africa

Let's travel to: Zanzibar, Africa

Off the shores of East Africa from mainland Tanzania lays an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean known as Zanzibar. Zanzibar – the name itself murmurs on lips of vagabonds and seafarers is notorious for its spices, crystal clear turquoise waters, abundance of fresh seafood; and beaches with white sand that sinks in between your toes like cake flour.

Useful Information

  • Language: English, Swahili
  • Currency: Tanzanian Shillings and American USD
  • Visa: A Tanzanian tourist visa for 90 days can be obtained upon-arrival whther coming to Zanzibar by ferry from the mainland or by air. Tourist visa costs $50 USD in cash only, and a yellow-fever vaccination card must be shown upon arrival.
  • Transportation: The island is made for beach-hopping, so rent a Vespa, the scooter that the island is glittered with by the Italians, and drive around.
    • Or, take the “dala dala” a local bus where you sit in the back wagon of a truck for 30 cents to get from one point or the other. For the jetlag, a taxi would suffice.
  • Best Time to Visit: Being in the tropics in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the island has two main season: dry and wet. Avoid April-May where the long rains and high humidity takes over and businesses close down for the season. The rest of the year? Grab your bathing suit and soak up the African sun.
  •  What to Wear: Zanzibar is part of the Swahili coast, where a historic ties with the Middle East and Arabic culture steeps into its roots. With that, the dominant religion is Muslim, where women – and yes, even tourist, are modest with their clothing in beach towns and cities. This includes covering the shoulders and knees for women. However, when you hit up the beaches, you’re free to roam to your spirit’s content. As the weather is ranges from the mid 20s to the high 40s all year round, pack a lot of light pieces as well as beach wear.

To Do: Outdoor Activities

  • Prison Island is a boat ride away from Stone Town to it’s own island in the archipelago. In the past it was meant to be a prison for Zanzibar. Present day there’s a tortoise sanctuary where you can feed 150 year old tortoise the size of a Mini Cooper.
  • Snorkeling is a must is this archipelago. Whether you’re zipping over to the nearby sandbank from Prison Island to snorkel with stunning corals and fishes or jumping off a boat up North in Nungwi, the water is pristine to see the world down under.
  • Swimming with Dolphins – In the north of the island in Nungwi, boat out and swim in the Indian ocean with these giggling sea creatures. Don’t forget your gopro!
  • Spice Tours – Soak in the local culture on the spice tour, and see the mixture of cuisines coming together with wide ranges of taste from the Swahili and Indian Ocean.
  • Jozani Forest – Home to the native monkeys of Zanzibar where they’ll jump from vines to vines and even from shoulder to shoulder.
  • Cheetah’s Rock – with wildlife donated to the sanctuary from all over the world – come see and pet Zebras, cheetahs, and other fantastical animals of the African kingdom.
  • Kite Surfing – The beach town of Paje on the East Coast is famous world-wide for kite surfing. Spend the whole day out in the ocean whipping around on your board as you swerve with the winds.
  • Blue Safari – The equivalent to a safari – except in the water. Be on the look out for sharks as you zip from island to island in the archipelago, snorkeling and looking out for different types of dolphins and fishes. Then spend lunch with a seafood BBQ of calamari, lobsters, prawns on one of the more secluded beaches.
  • Scuba Diving – Whether you want to get your scuba diving license (Nungwi’s the place!) or just want to explore the deep blue ocean, Zanzibar offers plenty of shipwrecks and sea life for feed that adventurous soul.
  • Full Moon Party – Hosted by Kendwa Rocks whenever there’s a full moon and named by Huffington Post as one of the Top 10 Parties in the World – it’s the island must-go to celebration. Notorious for dancing bare-foot in the sand around it’s sky-high bonfire, DJs from around the world, feel the rhythm until you wake up in the morning on one of the many hammocks on the beach.

To Do: Landmarks

  • Stone Town – Yes, the whole capital, known as Stone Town, is a UNESCO World Hertiage Site. Take a walk through its winding labyrinthine with stunning Indian and Arabic-style wooden doors and the decaying beauty of its stone buildings.
  • Old Fort of Zanzibar – Built in the late 17th century by the Omanis in defense from the Portuguese, now it offers stunning aerial views of Stone Town.
  • House of Wonders – Named appropriately so because it was the first building in all of East Africa to get electricity and have a working elevator.
  • The Old Dispensary – Located by the harbor in Stone Town, is this historical building that served as a dispensary back in the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Slave Market – The history of Zanzibar is arguable rooted here in it’s heart where the slave trade took place. Take a walk through history,.  
  • Forodhani Park – A popular hangout in Stone Town that is right on the boardwalk facing the ocean. In the evening, come for the BBQ skewers and fresh sugar cane  drinks sold at the night market.
  • Darajani Market – Walk through people bargaining in Swahili, where fishes and squid are laid out being sold after caught fresh each day, where avocados the size of a football can be bought and all sorts of goods are sold by the locals.

To Do: Outside of Stone Town

  • Paje - A beach town on the East Coast of Zanzibar, known for their kite-surfing and high winds. Great parties and all-you-can-eat seafood BBQ on the weekends.
  • Jambiani - Just south of Paje, an easy-going backpacker’s beach getaway.
  • Nungwi - What was once a sleepy fishing village has since boomed into a vibrant beach community where the most stunning sunsets are from the beach.
  • Kendwa - Just north of Nungwi, hands down with the best waters in the island. More of a younger crowd than Nungwi, and often the “Spring Break” getaway for the kids of European diplomats.
  • Mnarani Marine Turtles Conservation Pond – Release the sea turtles! See and learn how these little sea creatures hatch and make their way into the Indian Ocean.
  • Zanzibar Butterfly Centre – As a butterfly farming project where indigenous butterfly species exclusive to Zanzibar are nurtured. Walk through a house full of these stunning flutters.

To Eat: Recommended

  • Lukmaan
  • La Taverna
  • House of Spices
  • The Silk Route
  • Emerson Spice
  • The Rock
  • Kiriku Happy Restaurant
  • Tamu Italian Ice Cream
  • Abyssinian Maritim Ethiopian
  • Zan View
  • Keki House
  • Passing Show
  • Demani Lodge Restaurant
  • Café Miwa

To Drink: Coffee Shops

  • Hurumzini Movie Cafe
  • Lazuli’s Café
  • Zanzibar Coffee House
  • Book Café
  • Archipelago Café
  • Travellers Café
  • Green Garden Cafe

To Drink Bars:

  • 6 Degrees South
  • The Post – Tapas & Wine Bar
  • Mercury’s Bar
  • Swahili House
  • Tausi Palace
  • Livingstone
  • Jambo Place
  • Maru Maru rooftop
  • Sunset bar at Africa House

List by: Logan Ly

Logan is a Digital Creative and globetrotting Photographer by trade; an adventurer and thrill seeker by vice. He resides in Stockholm, Sweden; but finds himself periodically being a nomad in different corners of the world. Currently on a yearlong cross-continental expedition of Africa, you can follow his adventures on Instagram: @logeyly  

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