The famous islands of the Zanzibar archipelago are located about 25 miles off Dar es Salaam on the mainland coast of Tanzania.
What makes Zanzibar special?
What makes Zanzibar different to other tropical island destinations is the eclectic mix of sun, sea, sand and spice. But there is much more - vivid history, culture and a variety of excursions that makes this one of the most popular all-round beach destinations for people of all ages and interests. Apart from this, a whole range of endangered species can be found in the warm tropical waters around the archipelago - from bottlenose dolphins and green turtles to the once assumed extinct coelecanth! Zanzibar also hosts annual festivals and events drawing people from all over East Africa and the world.
With owned hotels on Unguja Island, better known as Zanzibar, and agreements with almost all the major properties on the island, Africa Spirit is able to provide accommodation at all levels, from 3 * to 5 *, not only Zanzibar but on the whole archipelago and on the Shwaili Coast.
What will you find?
Zanzibar is an archipelago of islands - the most famous being Unguja located 25 kms from the mainland coast at Dar es Salaam. The island is famous for its mix of exotic beaches, famous spice plantations, history (Stone Town being the capital) and diverse culture. Unguja (the main island in Zanzibar) is also home to many endangered species including the red colobus monkey and green turtle. The North and East Coast of Unguja have particularly inviting beaches with powder white sand lapped by turquoise blue warm waters of the Indian Ocean and framed by many coconut and wild date palms. This makes for an ideal location to relax particularly after a safari or trek up Kilimanjaro. There are many excursions and water sports for people to indulge in and a whole range of accommodations to choose from.
Accommodations in Unguja, Pemba and Mafia
Zanzibar and Mafia have a whole range of accommodations to suit different interests and budgets. Generally, the hotels in Stone Town are ideal for exploring the historic city, taking Spice plantation tours and visiting little isles around the main island (eg Changuu/Prison island, Bawe island, Chumbe island), various historic palaces and ruins, as well as taking in a lot of local culture and events .
The East Coast is very popular, with superb white sandy beaches and coral reefs teeming with underwater life. Lots of different hotels from the very small and intimate to the large, bustling resorts.
The North Coast is generally considered to be the best for those seeking more adventurous underwater safaris -scuba diving and deep sea diving particularly along the Mnemba Atoll. The beach resorts here range from standard to exclusive.
Aside from these, there are perfect private island get-aways - offered in the form of individual resorts on the little islands around the main island - Chumbe Island, Chapwani island, Mnemba Island, Bawe island and Changuu island to name a few.
Pemba and Mafia Islands
These islands are found east of Tanzania on the Indian Ocean. Pemba is north of Unguja and Mafia island south of Unguja.
Strictly speaking, Mafia island has always been part of mainland Tanganyika. Pemba island on the other hand, is part of the Zanzibar archipelago, the second largest island in the group, and famous for its spice (predominantly clove) and coconut plantations. Known as "Al-Khudra" (the Green isle), Pemba lies 40 km north of Unguja (the island most visitors refer to as Zanzibar).
Pemba is favored by divers and those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of Unguja. Although generally quiet and rural, this island hosts some great bull-fights emanating from the era of Portuguese colonialists. The islanders also celebrate Mwaka Kogwa with traditional rituals and the burning of an old "hut".
Note: Do not confuse Pemba island with Pemba in Mozambique.
Mafia island is little known to many tourists, yet well known amongst those in the diving world as one of the premier spots for deep sea diving. The coral reefs around this island teem with undersea creatures of all kinds including endangered and rare species like whale sharks, dugong and bottlenose dolphins. Big game fishing is also done around Mafia island.
Climate and weather (when to go)
Temperatures in Zanzibar are high throughout the year. The climate is tropical, hot all year round, with two rainy seasons: one more intense, known as the "long rains" season, from March to May, with the peak in April, and the other less intense, known as the "short rains" season, between mid-October and December. The best months to enjoy the sun and the sea of Zanzibar are July, August and September. Many travelers will combine time on Zanzibar's beaches with a visit to northern Tanzania, for the Serengeti Wildebeest migration.
What to pack
In winter (June to August): pack light clothes, a sweatshirt for the evening, a light scarf for the breeze, and sunscreen. When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes. In summer (December to February): pack tropics-friendly, loose-fitting clothing, a light sweatshirt for the evening, a light raincoat or umbrella in December, and sunscreen. When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a travel medicine professional. Not all of the vaccines listed here will be necessary for every individual.
Recommended vaccinations for travelers: Hepatitis A, Malaria (pill form), Meningitis, Rabies*, Typhoid, Yellow Fever (*Rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for very high risk travelers given that it is completely preventable if medical attention is received within 7 – 10 days of an animal bite). Travelers may also be advised to ensure they have received the routine vaccinations listed below. Some adults may need to receive a booster for some of these diseases: Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), Chickenpox, Polio, Influenza. Older adults or those with certain medical conditions may also want to ask about being vaccinated for shingles and/or pneumonia.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for travel to all regions, both foreign and domestic.
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