Zanzibar is a beautiful island. But before you head there, you may be wondering: ‘What to do on Zanzibar!’ After all, apart from white beaches and blue sea, there is much more to experience. Check out a comprehensive overview below with all kinds of tips for your visit to this island near the coast of Tanzania.
Take a guided tour of Stone Town
Stone Town is the old centre and historic part of Zanzibar Town, which in turn is the capital of Zanzibar. When travelling to this beautiful island, be sure to visit Stone Town. Of course, you can explore the narrow streets on your own, but nothing beats a guided tour. That way, you can be sure to hear all about the town’s history and not miss a highlight of this special place.
Take a diving course
There are not many places in the world where you can dive as well as off the coast of Zanzibar. If you already have your PADI, this is the place to be to have a great dive. But even if you don’t have your PADI yet then Zanzibar is the place to be. You can definitely add taking a diving course to your ‘what to do in Zanzibar list’!
Watch giant tortoises on prison island
Prison Island is about a 25-minute boat ride off the coast of Zanzibar. And although the name suggests that this island was once a prison, it is not.
The main magnet of this small island is the fact that it is home to a large colony of giant tortoises. Let yourself sail there and behold these heavy behemoths, some of which are more than 150 years old.
Admittedly, this tip to view giant tortoises is also listed on Zanzibar’s main attractions page. But consider it an extra recommendation then. After all, you don’t want to miss this.
Tip: On this page you can read all about the main activities Zanzibar. But also read the article with all the Zanzibar sights.
Eat at Rock Restaurant
This restaurant is surely the most spectacular restaurant on Zanzibar and you might know it from one of the many photos. This restaurant should therefore not be missed in this article on what to do in Zanzibar.
At low tide, you walk right to it and at high tide, you take the boat and then climb ‘on board’ at the restaurant. If you want to eat here, you have to make a reservation, because there are only 12 tables and, as you can understand, there are more people who like to eat here.
Book a table at this special restaurant >>
Snorkel or dive off the coast of Mnemba Island
Mnemba is an uninhabited island about 3 kilometres from Unguja, Zanzibar’s largest island. If you want to spend a night on the island, you have to dig deep (count on around €1000 (!) per night). Unfortunately, if you are not staying on the luxurious island, you are not allowed to set foot on land there. But that won’t stop you from snorkelling or diving off the coast of this island, which is home to one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world with some 600 different species of fish.
Geniet van een prachtige zonsondergang
Op Zanzibar kun je de mooiste zonsondergangen bekijken. Het eiland is perfect gelegen voor een spectaculaire en fotogenieke zonsondergang. Met een beetje mazzel varen de traditionele boten, Dhows, voor de ondergaande zon langs om je een nog unieker moment te laten beleven. Je kunt overigens ook aan boord van een Dhow stappen om vanaf daar te zien hoe de zon langzaam ondergaat.
Een van de beste plekken om dit natuurlijk fenomeen te aanschouwen is Nungwi strand. Maar eerlijk is eerlijk, je kunt op de meeste plekken op het eiland een prachtige zonsondergang verwachten.
Enjoy dinner on a rooftop terrace
There are several places in Zanzibar town where you can have a great meal with a beautiful view. Highly recommended is ‘Emerson on Hurumzi‘. The food there is good and it is a magical place to spend a few hours. Of course, you can also choose to just have a drink here. Especially around sunset, this place is extra spectacular.
Visit Forodhani market
Forodhani market is a night market in Zanzibar. Experiences at this market vary widely: some find it a nice place to be, others consider it a tourist trap. Visit this market yourself and make your own judgement. This market is located in the gardens of Forodhani in Stone Town and in the evening there are lots of food stalls where you can buy good food.
Some caution though: eating off the street can result in a nasty stomach infection. If you are sensible stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere without risking your health. If you do want to eat something, observe very carefully how the meal is prepared before you eat some. Also keep in mind that you cannot drink alcohol in the Forodhani Gardens, so do not bring your own drinks either.
Learn to cook like a local
If you want a truly unique experience, consider taking a Swahili cooking class with a local cassava farmer on a spice farm. This way, you will learn the traditional (cooking) customs of the island up close.
Incidentally, this is also fun for anyone who is not necessarily a big fan of cooking, as you will also learn about all kinds of tropical fruits and local spices. Taste the typical flavours of Zanzibar during a delicious Swahili lunch.
Learn to kitesurf
Zanzibar is the perfect place to (learn to) kitesurf. The conditions around the island are ideal for anyone wanting to take their first steps in kitesurfing. But even for those with experience, there are beautiful spots on the island where you can really let your hair down.
Thanks to the warm water – more than 24 degrees all year round – you can kite without a wetsuit. How nice is that!
Find a good school – especially around Paje there are a lot to be found – and learn the tricks of the trade.
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