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Zanzibar Holidays

Zanzibar is an archipelago of historic Indian Ocean islands, awash with atmosphere, intrigue, and idyllic beach experiences. There are masses of accommodation options across the price spectrum, and plenty to see, do and discover. As the birthplace of the Swahili, site of Sultans' Palaces and renowned for its spice plantations, the little island republic of Zanzibar features larger-than-life on the world map and is a must-see at the end of any trip to Tanzania.
There are some fabulous beaches on the islands of Zanzibar, and many choices for an ideal spot to sit back and watch the white dhow sails cruising the startling blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Whether it is for a Zanzibar holiday, honeymoon or some post-safari relaxation; whether you prefer the blissful privacy of a private island or the amenities of a larger hotel; and whatever your preferred activities (diving and snorkelling, eating, sleeping, playing tennis, reading on a lounger...), there are good options for every traveller. Name any Indian Ocean activity and you name it, Zanzibar will have it. This is the sort of question that we will be asking you prior to booking your itinerary. It is quite possible to spend a little time at a couple of island locations...


What to do on a Zanzibar holiday? 


Snorkelling – Off the east and north coast of Zanzibar there is excellent reefs with colourful marine life. Pemba island is particularly good for those who are really keen

Diving – Diving trips can be organised from all the hotels we love to recommend. Again, Pemba Island offers some of the best diving in the world. Mafia Island diving is also exceptional with the mighty whale sharks in abundance here from October – March.

Jozani Forest Tour – In Zanzibar’s only national park find the endangered red colobus monkeys & many more tree hoppers such as bush babies…

Spice Tour – This is for those interested in trees, spices (for obvious reasons) & where everything is from. Learn about all the different spices in Zanzibar from their origins.

Prison Island Tour – Contrary to the name, no prisoners have lived on this island. It used to be an isolated area for the yellow fever epidemic sufferers, but now it is home to the Aldabra giant tortoises which is the main attraction of the island. A short 30 minute boat ride from Stone Town.

Stone Town Tour – Take a guided tour around the cobbled streets of charismatic Stone Town and learn about Zanzibar’s rich history & culture. Or just…Relaxing – The perfect place for it… And everything else… Dolphin tours, sunset dhow cruises, you name it & Zanzibar probably has it!


ZANZIBAR | THE AREAS

The best beaches on Zanzibar


1. Nungwi & Kendwa (North)– The best beaches on the island. Really beautiful & classic indian ocean paradise. Non-tidal turquoise waters & really powdery white sands. Can sometimes be busy.

2. Pongwe (East) – The only east Zanzibar beach to not be tidal – it sits in a little concave bit of coast line which means the beach is always glorious & the tide always in! Not the long sweeping beaches of the north, but a pocket of pure gold. Less busy than the north.

3. Paje & Dongwe (East) – Although tidal, here sit some of our absolute favourite luxury boutique hotels. You would not be let down here in terms of accommodation. The beach is beautiful, but getting your toes wet is a bit harder than in the northern Nungwi region…

4. Matemwe (North-East) – Slightly to the East of Nungwi, Matemwe is slightly tidal but then the tide is in there are a few of our absolute favourite fantastic value accommodation options.

For more information see our Zanzibar beaches page

Stone Town Zanzibar


Visitors to Zanzibar tend to arrive and leave via Stone Town, the island capital and an historic hub of commerce and culture. This ancient centre was the seat of the Sultans, whose crumbling palaces, bath houses and mosques are a legacy of this opulent and vibrant time at the heart of the gold trade.

The town has a very different commercial attitude today, and one that thrives on the growing tourist market. The labyrinthine streets are lined with traders selling everything from mass-produced art works to ancient wooden doors, from tie dye t-shirts to jewels. The muezzins’ call to prayer echoes across the rooftops at the break of day, while cats, goats, dogs, roosters and babies often make themselves heard in between! This old town remains a wonderful place to spend a night or two, getting lost among the elegant, ancient buildings, eating fresh fish on the sea front and breathing in the sights, sounds and smells of a truly Swahili centre. A stay in Stone Town is always a wondrous assault on the senses, but a couple of nights are enough if you value peace and quiet a good sleep! Nowadays there are a good number of Boutique hotels in Stone town - often recently renovated.

The islands off Zanzibar


Pemba Island – Pemba is truly off the beaten tourist track. It is beautiful, culturally rich & with a few top notch hotels which we love to recommend. It has some of the absolute best diving in the world on offer & for those who love to be active, this is you place. The only downside is that the beaches are very very tidal – so if you are looking for long white sands, you are better off on Zanzibar.

Mafia Island - Alike with Pemba, Mafia is relatively new to the tourism industry. However, it is home to some great lodges. Many are drawn to Mafia for the whale shark diving – an experience not to be forgotten. Give yourself 5 days here and you have a fantastic chance of seeing these majestic creatures up close.

Private islands off Zanzibar


Mnemba Island – This private island has only one lodge, the aptly names Mnemba Island Lodge… It is the ultimate Indian Ocean beach destination for those who want complete seclusion away from the crowds. Mnemba is the ultimate Tanzania honeymoon beach lodge. This tiny island is everything you can imagine of a remote windswept paradise and often voted one of the most romantic destinations on the planet.

Fanjove Private Island – Yes, Mnemba is the ultimate, but for those who do not wish to fork out over $1,500 per person per night & want a private slice of pure beach heaven, you cannot get better than Fanjove. Beach-shack-chic but ideal for those who crave luxury in its purest natural form…

Thanda Island - At around $15k a night, it has got to be unbelievable. But take a large group and occupt it’s 9 luxury rooms, & it becomes a more affordable option for those who want complete Indian Ocean exclusivity.



THE BEST HOTELS ON ZANZIBAR

Zanzibar Hotels | Where to stay on Zanzibar


Zanzibar has a wide range of hotels to suit all budgets and interests. We have categorised these to Zanzibar Beach Hotels, and Zanzibar Stone Town Hotels. You could spend days and days trawling through the internet finding the best options..> There are a lot! We only use about 10% of Zanzibar’s extensive range of accommodation options, so whether it’s big or small, romantic or family orientated, boutique or luxury (or both!), we have personally vetted each one we love to recommend to ensure you dodge the rubbish and get to the gold.


Budget hotels on Zanzibar


Pongwe Beach Hotel – This funky hotel is perfect for those looking for a bit of luxury without blowing the budget. Private plunge pools at $180 per night on one of the best beaches on the island means you really can’t go wrong here…

Sunshine Hotel – Slightly more intimate than Pongwe, this is a fantastic option for those who want their little bit of privacy & personalised service for an unbeatable price.

Breezes – Family friendly & full of fun, Breezes has a fantastic atmosphere. As a larger hotel you would thin it may not, but it offers a surprising communal experience with so much on offer activity wise. An ideal choice for a family holiday hotel… Importantly, without blowing the bank!

Mid-range hotels on Zanzibar


Palms – Romantic, private & in true Zanzibari style, Palms is a great option for those who are after a memorable & intimate honeymoon. With private beach huts, great rooms, fantastic service & a nice beach at a very reasonable price, what’s not to like?

Zuri – The exciting new member of our Zanzibar hotel family; Zuri seems to have it all. Set on the most beautiful beach on the island & with 54 fantastically equipped rooms, it offers you real luxury for an incredible price. Did we mention how amazing the beach is? It is, really, really, really amazing.

Matemwe – Asilia’s beach property is a well ran little lodge & a great option for family’s with the Matemwe Retreats… It offers you a nice & private retreat (as the name suggests) with all the benefits of Zanzibar’s fantastic activities to be enjoyed by all ages.

Luxury hotels on Zanzibar


Xanadu – Wow. Luxury villas with private pools all set within luscious gardens & on a fabulous beach… Could it get any better than this? Oh yes, yes it can, because the chef is ex Michelin star… The ultimate Zanzibar honeymoon choice.

Kilindi – Similar ideas to Xanadu & set just 5 minutes the best beaches on the island.

Zawadi- Sleek & stylish. Zawadi is real luxury. The food is excellent, the rooms pristine & the views from your room completely idyllic.

Baraza - A true Zanzibari style hotel. A fantastic romantic spa & a kids club makes it a fabulous choice for both honeymoons and families alike. A bigger hotel, but with everything you could need for a luxurious stay on the island.

White Sands – Perfect for tamilies who want a bit of luxury & their own space. You get a whole villa to yourself if you have 4 people & your own pool and living room area.

Why go on a Zanzibar Family Holiday?


With so many fantastic hotels, kids clubs galore & activity central, Zanzibar is a top choice for young families and older teens. Combined with a safari in Southern Tanzania, and you have a family holiday of a lifetime.

Why go on a Zanzibar Honeymoon?


The name of the island alone evokes the exotic, mysterious and romantic. We get lots of requests for honeymoons involving Zanzibar and for good reason - very few other parts of the world can lay claim to such beautiful beaches with such a vast array of accommodation all within a couple of hours of world-class safari areas.


ZANZIBAR – THE FACTS

Where is Zanzibar?


Zanzibar is conveniently located on the shores of Tanzania and exceptionally well placed to bookend a safari of a lifetime. With so much on offer here accommodation and activity wise, Zanzibar has something for even the most selective of travellers. The vast and wild Selous Game Reserve is a mere 45 minute flight away... As you can see, with a Tanzania beach and safari holiday, nothing so luxurious could be easier...


How to get to Zanzibar | Flights to Zanzibar


Zanzibar is only a short 20 minute flight from Dar es Salaam international which is the landing point for flights from all over the world. You cannot directly fly to Dar es Salaam from London or the US, but many airlines (KLM, Emirates) have two stop flights which make the travel fairly easy (usually via Amsterdam & Dubai).

When to go to Zanzibar | Zanzibar weather


November: Short rains. Not advisable if wanting consistent sunshine, but good value. January - February: A good time to go. March: A bit hit and miss weather-wise, but a good time for hotels at a reduced rate. April - May: British summer time... Not advisable to travel in these months! Heave rains expected. June: A bit hit and miss weather-wise, but a good time for reduced rates. July - October: Prime Zanzibar travel season. Good weather & amazing nearby safaris (Seous & Ruaha)


Is Zanzibar safe?


The general answer is yes! However, as with anywhere, things can always change. Please see Government Foreign Travel Advice for up to date information and advice.


Dar to Zanzibar – Safari & Zanzibar Holiday


After your 20 minute flight to Dar es Salaam, you only have to hop over a short 40 minute flight and you are in the beautiful & watery Selous Game Reserve. Add another half an hour west, and get to the wild & fabulous Ruaha National Park (the office’s favourite!). Northern Tanzania is pretty easy too, though flights are rather more expensive – give yourself just over an hour in the air though and you can hop from a famous Serengeti safari right into Indian Ocean paradise… Quite the combo.


Zanzibar Package Holidays with Tanzania Odyssey


Zanzibar has a lot of hotels.. Some of them are fabulous, and some not so fabulous. We have visited every single hotel we like to recommend on Zanzibar so will be sure to find you something unforgettable which suits both your budget & preferred style. In fact, we only really use 10% of Zanzibar’s vast array of accommodation options – we are that picky! Combining a safari is also never simpler than with us – we have been working in Tanzania for over 20 years with regular revisits to the best safari lodges & wildlife spots, so we really do know our stuff.


Zanzibar Further Reading


While we try and make our website as comprehensive as possible, if you would like some more background information, have a read through the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania and Zanzibar - Zanzibar Chapter, written by one of our directors Annabel. The most recent edition was published in 2005 so some of it might be slightly dated but generally it’s as comprehensive as they come.

We don’t just know Zanzibar!


For more information on Zanzibar, the best thing to do is to give us a ring for an impartial chat. We have also been experts in Tanzania safaris for over 20 years now, and this perfectly complements a Zanzibar holiday so please do check out our safari page or just give us a call to discuss the huge world of safari possibilities!
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Some of our favourite beach lodges



Some of our favourite Stone Town lodges



Map of Zanzibar



We have specialised in tailor-made Tanzania Holidays and Tanzania Safaris since 1998.  Our knowledge and experience will guarantee you the very best possible itinerary for your budget and travel dates, and your money is protected by our ATOL bond.

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Tanzania Map Tanzania - Serengeti Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania - Lake Manyara Tanzania - Tarangire Tanzania - Kilimanjaro Tanzania - Selous Game Reserve Tanzania - Ruaha Tanzania - Mahale Mountains Tanzania - Katavi Tanzania - Zanzibar Tanzania - Pemba Island Tanzania - Mafia Island Tanzania - Dar es Salaam Tanzania - Arusha
Map of Tanzania
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