Here is MY list that you should not miss when you arrive in Zanzibar;
1- Join a boat tour and snorkel in Mnemba Atol.
2- Visit Chumbe Island Coral Park for snorkeling.
3- Join Sandbar Picnic tours.
4- Lie down at the beach and watch the amazing tide changes.
5- Rent a car and drive around the african villages.
6- Sunset in Zanzibar is a must. Don’t MISS.
1- Enjoy the silence and relax all night in your resort.
2- Enjoy the night at Kendwa rocks. Ideal place to party in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is the name given to the archipelago of islands that lies around 35 -50 km off the coast of mainland Tanzania. Zanzibar archipelago comprises the islands of Unguja (also called Zanzibar) and Pemba.
Dar Es Salaam is the gateway to Zanzibar as most of the international flights land here. There are very few direct flights to Zanzibar. If you are flying from Europe, there are direct flights from Istanbul to Dar Es Salaam with Turkish Airlines everyday.
Once you arrive in Dar Es Salaam, you have two options to reach Zanzibar. By ferry or by plane. I don’t recommend going there by ferry as you need to pay for the taxi (roughly 30 USD) + ferry ticket (35 USD). Total will be 70-80 USD. Taxi will take 25 minutes. Ferry will be 2 hours. Ferry conditions may be good but don’t forget that there will be rush moments in ferry and taking care of your luggages all this time may not be comfortable after a long flight. Many people don’t know that ferry accidents may occur time to time while reaching these islands. Hundreds of people are reported as dead or missing in the previous ferry accidents.
At this point I highly recommend flying option to Zanzibar. It takes roughly 30 minutes to reach the island. Precision Air and Zan Air are the most preferred carriers. I personally try to choose Auric Airlines as they have earlier flights and planes are smaller than Precision Air. This means you can just sit next to the pilot and have an amazing flying experince. I always choose Auric just for this !
Main problem with the flying option is, there are not earlier flights if you are landing Dar Es Salaam in the middle of the night. You need to wait in the airport till 07:00 or 08:00 am to catch the first flight. Dar Es Salaam airport is a safe place to wait. But inside the aiport I saw nothing to eat or drink. There are some small shops outside the arrival terminal but bringing your own food will help you while waiting your flight.
As I have mentioned I try to use use Auric Airlines as they have earlier flights around 07:45 am. They use Terminal 1. As this is a smaller terminal, don’t go there if you have more than 2 hours to your flight in the early morning. Airport is opened around 05:30 This terminal is in just 5 minutes taxi ride distance from the internation terminal. 5 USD (10000 Shillings) is enough for the taxi ride.
After reaching Zanzibar, a similar airport will welcome you. Once you reach there, you have 3 options to reach your hotel.
First option is the most expensive one. Let your hotel arrange everything. This will cost you around 100 USD (one-way) for a hotel in Kendwa. Ride takes a bit more than 1 hour.
Second option is renting a car. 35 USD is an average daily rate for a regular jeep. At this point I recommend Sabry Juma if you are looking for an car rental agency. I rented 3 times and had no issue with him. You can rely on this guy. You can contact him from this website.
You need to consider some important facts if you are planning to rent a car in Zanzibar.
1) Driving Permit ! Tell your car rental to arrange your driving permit which will cost you 5-10 USD. You just send your driving license details to them. They arrange everything and bring the paper when they meet you. Please don’t forget to arrange this permit. Essential !
2) There are many police checkpoints in the island. Most of them will stop you and ask this permit and driving license. If the police is making a problem on a silly issue, read to pay a bribe. Otherwise you will have no problems with the police. These checkpoints are good as they are near to the entrance of these resort areas.
3) Regarding the traffic conditions in Zanzibar. You drive on left in the island. You will passing through amazing African villages. Get your Go Pro and cameras ready. It is safe to drive and no one makes problem as they come across tourists everyday in the island. Just be very patient when driving in populated places, especially near to the Stone Town. Don’t speed up at any time. There may be crazy traffic in populated areas. But as you go far away from Stone Town, there will be less traffic. Main roads are in good conditions. But the roads that are going to the hotels area in Kendwa and Nungwi region are horrible. Still you can drive on that bumpy poor roads. You may even think that the road is not going to a hotel area. Keep calm ! You will be in paradise shortly.
Where to stay in Zanzibar ? Best Beaches & Hotels
First thing you need to consider tide changes. We believe you have never witnessed such a natural event like this.
Every 6 hours tide changes from high to low tide. This means with low tide the water will be drawn back up to the reef which is about 1km away from shore. The dept of the water left in the ocean will depend on the positioning of the moon. Around full moon the water is completely drawn back up to the reef. So, around high tide you can swim everywhere. When the tide is going down you have a timeframe from around 4 hours around high tide to swim. When it’s low tide there are always options to swim around lagoon area’s close by.
In Kendwa region tide changes are not that big so there is always ocean where you can swim. This is almost the same for Nungwi region. Briefly, north & north west side of the island are not affected. But if you are planning to arrange a hotel on the east coast of the island. You need to think twice. There might be no ocean for 5-6 hours depending on the tide calendar. But many people find this very interesting and arrange their hotel on the east side. You may walk on the sand and collect.
Secondly, if you are a sundowner you will love the sunsets in Zanzibar. If you are looking for sunsets, best place is again Kendwa.
Thirdly, if you are looking for nights with parties, Kendwa and Nungwi has good places to hang out. Amazing full moon parties are organized. Have a look at this website and arrange your holiday dates according to the party calendar.
If you are looking for a quite holiday, then you need to focus on east coast of the island. You will not be able to find party places in here.My recommendation is Dreams of Zanzibar Hotel.
I recommend three locations for best beaches in Zanzibar. Best beach area is Kendwa. You may choose Gold Zanzibar (luxury option) and Kendwa Rocks Hotel (cheaper option) in Kendwa. I am not a fan of Nungwi as beaches are not that good as in Kendwa. Other amazings beaches are on the east coast. My favorite one is Kiwengwa and you may choose Dreams of Zanzibar Hotel. Matemwe is the other good option on the east coast and also this area is looking out Mnemba Island. Don’t forget that east coast is usually affected by tide changes and ocean is gone for hours as stated above.
For more details about beaches visit www.thetanzaniaspecialists.net.
Don’t forget to discover Zanzibar’s surrounding islands – Pemba, Mafia, Chumbe and Mnemba with daily boat trips.
Mnemba is a private island and boats can approach to the island at a distance. One of Zanzibar’s most exclusive resort, Mnemba Island Lodge is located in this island and welcomes celebrities all around the world. As a guest you can only take photos of this beautiful island from your boat.
Snorkelling around Mnemba Island is the most popular tour as it is surrounded by coral reefs. I recommend Scuba Fish Zanzibar. They depart from (Matemwe Beach) the east side of the island. This means reaching to Mnemba Island from east coast is easier than the west coast. If you are staying in Kendwa region, you may find tours in Kendwa Rocks Hotel. Depending on the was and tides, this trip may take more 2 hours. We had this problem once and never plan departing from the west coast. Scuba Fish Zanzibar has pickup services. Ask to be picked up !
Kite surfers prefer Paje.
When you are entering Tanzania, you might be asked to show your “Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate” to the officers. They are asking it because you are coming from a country that has yellow fever risk. Actually there is no yellow fever risk in Tanzania. You should be vaccinated at least 10 days before you travel. This protection lasts at least 10 years.
Unfortunately there is malaria risk in Tanzania. Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent malaria. As a precaution; anti-malaria tablets are used. You need to start using them just before your trip and continue using them after you arrive home. This means you need to use the tablets maybe for a month. Don’t forget that these anti-tablets might have side effects on some people. One of the side effects is nausea. Some people also suffer sun points appearing under the sun. Ask the details and side effects of the tablets to your doctor.
Both yellow fever and malaria are transmitted from animals to humans and among humans by mosquitoes. My recommendation is; no need to have yellow fever vaccination as Tanzania has no yellow fever risk. But if you are travelling all the over world, this is a must. Get your yellow fever vaccination as soon as possible.
For malaria, if you are planning for safari, you have to take the anti-malaria tablets as there will be a lot swamp areas and mosquitoes around. Malaria could be a risk there. But take side affects into consideration as well. If you are only coming to Zanzibar, you really don’t need to get anti-malaria tablets. Risk is not the same as in safari areas. But in June and July there are too much mosquitos in Zanzibar. Some repealers will be fine. In February, you will see almost no mosquitos around. I have been to Zanzibar three times and never used anti-malaria tablets.
There is no specific treatment for yellow fever. Malaria treatment is easier than yellow fever. Blacks are naturally immuned to yellow fever.