Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, its islands strung like little sandy pearls across the Indian Ocean. The largest of these islands, Unguja, more colloquially referred to as Zanzibar Island, lies 23 miles from the mainland and is fringed by some of the world’s highest-ranking beaches. Carpeted in lush vegetation and dotted with small farming villages, the island’s interior is beguiling in its beauty and authenticity. From the maze-like streets of Stone Town, to the spice and coconut plantations, you’re guaranteed a warm reception. Small island, big personality.
Luxury Holidays to Zanzibar
Nothing screams luxury like a tropical island getaway, but Zanzibar is so much more than a coastal retreat. Indulge in the ancient aromatics, the intricate architecture, and the one-of-a-kind nature experiences that will take your holiday in Zanzibar to the realms of the deluxe. Delicious meals and even spa treatments are imbued with healing and fragrant African spices; the island’s UNESCO-protected hub beckons with historic treasures; and the postcard-perfect beaches speak for themselves.
Great Reasons to Holiday in Zanzibar
Beach & Beyond – Zanzibar Island is home to mile upon mile of jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches. Top spots include the northern beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa, whilst you can swim with dolphins at Kizimkazi and spot small reef sharks and the odd manta ray whilst scuba diving there. Soak up the sunshine on sugar-like sands whilst doing the absolute minimum, or try your hand at adrenaline-pumping water sports.
More haste, less speed – In Swahili, you can describe the pace of life in Zanzibar as pole pole – or ‘slowly, slowly’ to you and me. As you adjust to waiting a little longer for some things, you’ll begin to appreciate the philosophy of stopping to smell the flowers. A longer wait waiting for your meal at a restaurant, for example, means a longer time soaking up the views and working up an appetite.
Taste the World – Once at the intersection of the spice trade, there are now a myriad of influences on Zanzibar’s cuisine. Arab traders, Portuguese invaders Indian immigrants and so on have ensured an eclectic Zanzibari palate. Enjoy rice dishes, like pilau and biriyani, or opt for a Swahili mutton curry with fried plantain. Middle Eastern style kebabs and Persian dips with flatbreads, falafels and tagines also appear on the menu.
Things to See and Do in Zanzibar
Set in Stone – It’s not difficult to get lost in Zanzibar City’s ancient, labyrinthine streets. Absorb the charming effect of faded colonial buildings rubbing shoulders with crowded markets, hole-in-the-wall businesses, and diverse religious and historical sites. Don’t miss the iconic Palace Museum, the crumbling Old Fort, and the UNESCO-supported Former Slave Market. Queen fans may want to stop for a snap at Freddie Mercury’s place of birth!
Spice it up – Known as the ‘Spice Isle’ for a good reason, Zanzibar produces cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla, chillies, and even saffron, to name just a few. A spice tour around the rural farmlands surrounding Stone Town is a great way to see the countryside and sample the spices and exotic fruits growing wild or in kitchen gardens.
Natural Wonders – If you can tear yourself away from the beach, we’d recommend a trip to Jozani Forest, which is centrally positioned on the island. Here you can find the rare Kirk’s red colobus monkeys leaping through the trees. Nearby, you can also visit the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre for a tour of the tropical gardens aflutter with native butterfly species.
In the Market – By day, do a tour of the Daranjani Bazaar in Stone Town, where you can discover all manners of local produce – from coffee and herbs to fruit and trinkets. By night, you have to head over to Zanzibar’s Forodhani Gardens, which transforms into a night market, exhibiting a huge variety of cuisine. Try the Zanzibari pizza and wash it down with fresh sugar cane juice, followed by crepes.
Island Hopping – One of the great things about holidaying in Zanzibar is its proximity to other islands. Take the 45-minute journey by boat to Chumbe with its winking lighthouse and spectacular marine conservation area. Alternatively, it’s just a 30-minute flight to Pemba, with its easy-going fishing villages and utterly fantastic diving. For an even lesser-frequented isle, Mafia Island is also a diver’s dream with heaps of barefoot charm.
Zanzibar’s weather follows the patterns you’ll find in Tanzania very closely due to its geography. Generally, there are two rainy seasons – the first lasting between March and May (the ‘long rains’, and the second between November and December (the ‘short rains’). During these periods, humidity is high and temperatures usually hit around 35°C. Between June and October, rainfall is out of the norm and whilst temperatures vary according to your location and altitude, you can almost guarantee sun and clear skies.
Facts about Zanzibar
- Population – 1.3 million
- Area – 2,461 square kilometres
- Official languages – Swahili, Arabic, English
Zanzibar Holidays 2024 / 2025
Beat the crowds and book your 2024/2025 Zanzibar holiday in advance with Kenwood Travel. Our Africa specialists will be glad to walk you through our options for a deluxe getaway to Zanzibar – whether you are looking for five-star family fun, a romantic escape, or a solo adventure. Put our 45 years of experience to the test and find your holiday match with Kenwood.