The Zanzibar archipelago consists of more than 50 islands, ranging from tiny outcrops to the larger, more populated islands of Zanzibar (more properly called Unguja) and Pemba. The beaches are often stunning, with powdery white sand, shaded by palm trees. The sea is shallow, but venture further out into the sparkling, turquoise water and you'll find coral reefs for great snorkelling and diving. The larger islands are lush and highly fertile and everywhere the air is suffused with the aroma of fruit and spices: it's an intoxicating, exotic atmosphere
See Zanzibar in style with Safari Travel Deals. We’ll create a personalised experience trip just for you. And we’ll help you choose the best , boutique and character accommodation along with your perfect mix of locations and activities in this interesting country.
This African island, paired with it’s Arabian history, makes for an excellent safari add-on. With intriguing architecture evident in the main town, Stone Town, you will be able to experience a mix of culture and landscape with pristine beaches and crystal clear waters.
From the traditionally garbed Maasai striding across the beach and Swahili and Indian traders in their own beautiful traditional dress, the blend of cultures is intriguing to say the least.
Tailored to fit your time and tastes perfectly, we’ll help you design an itinerary planned down to the smallest detail for an effortless trip that allows you to simply enjoy where you are.
Get inspired by browsing through some of our most popular example trips below. Then call one of our expert Zanzibar Travel Designers to start planning the journey of a lifetime.
About Stone Town
Stone Town possesses a richness like no other really. The visible lines and layers of the many cultures and centuries etched into the profile of this port town, once the Indian Ocean’s most important trading post, mixed with the heady scent of cloves and its bustling labyrinth of streets make it such an incredibly intoxicating place to be.
On the western side of the island facing mainland Tanzania, Stone Town was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000 and once you lay eyes on its faded grandeur, you’ll understand why. Once the crossroads of Indian and Arab traders, Moorish explorers, Persian travellers European settlers, and Swahili residents, each has left their mark on the intricate winding alleys, busy bazaars, mosques, minarets, cathedrals and grand Arab mansions fronted by finely decorated doors (once a sign of the occupiers wealth).
And really the best ways to explore the town is by foot with one of our expert, local guides leading you through the maze of streets and alleys to the best bazaars for food and clothing, through doorways often shut to the public to meet local residents and take in the views from their rooftop terraces. Then of course onto the more main attractions of: the Sultan of Oman’s residence now called the Palace of Wonders, the Old Fort, the cathedrals, the Hamamni Persian baths, the Malindi Mosque, markets, gardens and perhaps even the house of David Livingstone.
We can also organise you excursions and private tours around the rest of the island.
When to go: Zanzibar is an all year round destination with pleasant, consistent temperatures averaging 30°c (86°?f).
Activities in Stone Town
Jambiani Village Tour - Half-day including lunch: Tear yourself away from the soft white sands of Zanzibar to get under the skin of the history and culture of Jambiani village. Join a knowledgeable local guide to discover the intricacies of day-to-day life in this traditional coastal village, with much of the profits being ploughed back into the community
Jozani Forest Tour -Half-day: For nature lovers, Jozani Forest is a must. One of the last sanctuaries of the red colobus monkey, it features a diverse range of habitats, from mangrove forests to salt marshes. Keep your eyes peeled, too, for other forest residents, including Sykes’ monkey, bushbabies, duikers and more than 40 species of bird
Spice Tour -Half-day including lunch: Discover the captivating story of the smart and rebellious Princess Sayyida Salme, the youngest daughter of Sultan Said. Join a knowledgeable local guide to follow in her footsteps through palaces and plantations, as well as the fascinating Zanzibar spice trade on a working plantation.
Prison Island Tour- Half-day: Escape the hustle and bustle of Stone Town on a 30-minute boat ride to Changuu Island, now commonly known as Prison Island. This is your chance to find out about the darker side of Zanzibar history, as well as to get up close with the island’s Aldabra giant tortoises, and to engage in a spot of coastal snorkelling.
Stone Town Discovery Tour- Half-day: Spend a morning wandering through Stone Town’s maze of alleyways with an erudite Zanzibari resident, meeting with the locals, marvelling at its fusion of architecture and cultures, learning about the food, music, beliefs and everyday life, for an utterly fascinating experience.
Where to Stay in Stone Town
About Northern Zanzibar: One or two hours drive from Stone Town, lies the villages of Nungwi at the northern tip with Pongwe and Matemwe to the north East.
About Nungwi: This large village at Zanzibar Island's northernmost tip was once best known as a dhow-building centre. Today it's a major tourist destination, thanks in part to the beautiful beach and stunning sunsets. The result: a place where traditional and modern knock against each other with full force. Fishing boats still launch from the beach – a scene unchanged for centuries – but they're overlooked by a long line of hotels. Some travellers say Nungwi is a definite highlight; others are happy giving it a miss.
About Matemwe: The idyllic beach at Matemwe has some of the finest sand on Zanzibar, and in this sleepy village life still moves at its own pace, despite the hotels and guesthouses nearby. Of all the coastal destinations on Zanzibar Island, this area seems to have the most 'local' atmosphere. For tourists, this tranquil unhurried ambience means Matemwe is definitely a place where it's easy to switch off.
About Mnemba: Mnemba Island (also called Mnemba Atoll) is one of the best-known and most popular dive sites in Zanzibar, and on the whole coast of East Africa. Here you can see a wonderful variety of marine life, including tuna, barracuda, moray eels, reef sharks, turtles, dolphins, and shoals of batfish, trigger fish and humpback snappers. During the migration season, it's even possible to spot humpback whales.
About Pemba: Once occupied by the Sultan of Muscat in the 17th century the Arabs called it ‘Pemba’ meaning Green Island, and as Zanzibar’s more undiscovered sister in its archipelago it has remained pleasingly unspoilt with an abundance of greenery, fertile lands for growing cloves and diving sites rich with corals and marine life.
Throughout, Pemba remains largely 'undiscovered', and you'll still have most things to yourself, which is a big part of the island's appeal.
Just 50 kilometres north of Zanzibar and one of the three ‘Spice Islands’, Pemba is considered to have more of an island profile than its siblings with lush rolling hills covered in dense forests, creeks coursing through steep green valleys, mangrove-knotted shores and beautiful flour-white beaches.
Largely off the beaten track, Pemba is an authentic Swahili experience and where villagers are sometimes still taken by the sight of a visitor.
For much of its history, Pemba has been overshadowed by Zanzibar Island, its larger neighbour to the south and, relatively few tourists cross the channel. Those who do, however, are seldom disappointed.
Where to stay in Pemba Island
Fundu Lagoon Resort
Pemba Crown Hotel
About Mafia: Lying just south of Zanzibar, the beach and ocean wonderland of Mafia Island is an exciting and adventurous alternative to its popular neighbour. The largest island in an archipelago system, Mafia offers guests white sand beaches, sublime marine wildlife and the exclusive feeling of complete seclusion.
The island is surrounded by a barrier reef teeming with sea life and almost half of its coastline has been designated as protected marine park. Exotic fish, turtles and more than 50 different types of coral populate the waters while on land small hippos, flying foxes, sunbirds, bushbabies, pygmy shrew, monkeys and monitor lizards can be found.
Islets and sand bars call out to be explored and there are beautiful bays, beaches and a blue lagoon just waiting to be discovered. The island is dotted with secluded picnic spots, magnificent baobabs, mangrove thickets and patches of rainforest. Those with an eye for history will be captivated by the 12th century Kua ruins while diving enthusiasts will find excellent opportunities for both novices and advanced divers.
Mafia Island Marine Park: At around 822 sq km, Mafia Island Marine Park is the largest marine protected area in the Indian Ocean, sheltering a unique complex of estuarine, mangrove, coral reef and marine channel ecosystems. These include the only natural forest on the island and almost 400 fish species. There are also about 10 villages within the park’s boundaries with an estimated 15,000 to 17,000 inhabitants, all of whom depend on its natural resources for their livelihoods.