Things to do Zanzibar - Baraka Natural Aquarium - Sea Turtles

Things to do in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is filled with positive white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and an overall island life vibe, which makes it a tourists’ dream. Whether you are looking for a bit of history, some fun in the sun, or some water activities, you will find something to suit your needs. Here are the top things to do in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Stone Town

A must-see on your visit is to experience Stone Town, Zanzibar. It’s the old historical town home to around 5000 people. One of the most iconic. It’s an old town bustling with history and one of the most iconic and revered artifacts are the doors that hold the history of the predecessors. Stone Town has a lot of Arabic and Indian influence. Doors with arches at the top depict Indian owners whilst doors with rectangles and chains showcase the Arabic owners who were involved in the slave trade.

The streets of the town are nestled together with winding lanes brimming with small stores run by the locals. You can find clothing souvenirs, fresh produce, meat and poultry, and so much more. Navigating these tiny streets is intimidating and confusing for a first-timer so a guide is a definite recommendation. The prices of Stone Town are more reasonable so you should purchase any gifts there.

The History

As the population of Zanzibar is made up of a majority of Muslim people and a handful of Christian and Hindu people, you will find numerous mosques, two main churches, and a temple in Stone Town. There are also ATMs here that you should consider using as you won’t find many working ATMs outside of this and in Zanzibar cash is king. You can check out my previous article which explains in detail the dos and don’ts of money in Zanzibar, Things to know before you visit Zanzibar.

Another spot in Stone Town to visit is the Forodhani Market which is a night market. It usually begins just before 6:00 pm with various vendors setting up shop. One of the must-try dishes includes the famous Zanzibar pizza which has a filling of cheese, onion, tomato, egg, and meat. This gives you an entryway into trying delicious local cuisine in bite-size pieces.

Where: Stone Town, Zanzibar
Entrance Fee: Free
Tip: It is best to go with a tour guide as the streets are narrow and dead-ends. 

Nungwi

A definite must-visit is a trip to Nungwi, it’s a town that can be found in the North of Zanzibar. One of the highlights of visiting this area is getting the opportunity to swim with sea turtles. The best place to do this is at Barraka Natural Aquarium. It is home to rescued sea turtles. There is a lagoon which fills with water from the ocean and therefore depending on the tide you can get to swim with these creatures.

After paying, you are able to spend as much time as you want and take as many pictures as you want. The good thing about this place is that you are supporting rescued sea turtles. The road to get to the centre is very bumpy with lots of potholes but if you are travelling with a local driver they will not have any issue getting you there.

Where: Baraka Natual Aquarium, Near Mnarani Cottages, Nungwi, Zanzibar
Entrance Fee: 10$
Tip: The best time to visit would be in the early afternoon before the high tide completely covers the lagoon. So you can get some great pictures. 

Kendwa

Arguably one of the best beaches on the island is Kendwa beach. Kendwa can also be found on the north of the island. Since the beach is facing the West, you can enjoy a spectacular sunset on the beach.

The beach is also lined with restaurants and shops selling all kinds of souvenirs. If you want better views of the sunset, you can take a sunset cruise and there is also a party cruise.

Where: Kendwa, Zanzibar
Cost: Free
Tip: The best time to visit would be in the afternoon so that you can enjoy a gorgeous sunset, do some shopping and have a meal at one of the restuarants. 

Snorkeling

If you are a water enthusiast and enjoy snorkeling then you will be spoilt for choice in Zanzibar. There are various tours that plan different snorkeling trips at various parts and around the island. Zanzibar is surrounded by the Indian Ocean so you have warm waters year long.

With most tours, snorkeling equipment is also provided so you don’t have to worry about carrying your own equipment. There are various species of fish and other marine life that you will get the opportunity to see up close. Some of the popular snorkeling spots can be found in the West and the North.

Where: Zanzibar
Cost: Varies (depending on tour)
Tip: You should book a tour and let the tour guides take you to the best snorkelling locations along the Indian Ocean. 

Spice Farm Tour

Zanzibar is a great explorer of spices around the world and as a result, there are lots of spice farms. You can find these all around the island. Different tour companies will take you to any of the spice farms to which they have an affiliation. On the tour, you will be taken around the spice farm to see how the various spices are grown. You will also get the opportunity to taste them directly from the source.

Once again depending on the spice farm, you visit, you will also have a fruit tasting sampling of indigenous fruit, including the red banana. There will also be pre-packed spices which you are able to purchase and this supports the local community.

Where: Jambo Spice Farm, Dole Soccer Field, Zanzibar
Entrance Fee: 10$
Website: https://www.facebook.com/jambospice/
Tip: You should carry some cash to tip the assistants at the farm as well as to purchase organic spices which help support the community. 

Prison Island

You can only access Prison Island also known as Changu Island via a 20-minute boat ride from Stone Town. Prison Island is a historical island that was initially home to slaves owned by Arab people. However, later it became a place where sick people were sent to isolate or quarantine.

The island is also home to around 50 tortoises. These were donated to the —— by the —— . The tortoises have been on the island for many years with the oldest being over one hundred years old. After paying an entrance fee, you are able to explore the island and visit the former prison quarters.

There is also a restaurant on-site if you want to stop for a meal. When you enter the area where the tortoises are kept, you are given some lettuce which you can feed to the tortoises. You can pet them and feed them for as long as you like. When you exit, they do request that if you are able to donate some money for the care of the tortoises. As the island is surrounded by the ocean, you are also entranced with beautiful views.

Where: Prison Island (Changu Island), Zanzibar Archipelago
Entrance Fee: 10$
Tip: Carry some cash to donate to the tortoises which help support their upkeep. 

Dolphins

If you have ever dreamt of swimming with dolphins then this might be the opportunity. These are wild dolphins so they are in their natural habitat and therefore seeing them is unpredictable. However, if you choose to do this, a tour can be arranged and the guides will check where the dolphins were spotted last.

They will take you on a boat ride deep into the ocean and if you are lucky and brave, you will see them and may want to jump into the ocean to swim with them. It is definitely one of the more unique experiences to try.

Where: Zanzibar
Cost: Varies (depending on tour)
Tip: You should book a tour and let the tour guides take you to the best locations along the Indian Ocean to spot and swim with dolphins. 

The Rock

In Zanzibar, The Rock is a restaurant that can be found in the South of the island in Pingwe. It’s a unique experience as the restaurant is built on literally a rock. The Rock is in the middle of the ocean so when the tide is high, you will have to take a boat to enter.

However, when the tide is low you can walk all the way to the entrance. The restaurant is known for its delicious meals. But more so far it’s a beautiful view and is a spot where most tourists stop by to take a picture.

Where: The Rock Restaurant, Pingwe, Michmvi, Zanzibar
Entrance Fee: Free to visit, meal prices vary depending on your choices
TIP: You should try to get there in the early afternoon as at that time The Rock restaurant will be surrounded with water. You will need to use a boat to arrive. Also make a booking if you plan on stopping by for a meal as it gets very busy. 

Paje

You can find the town of Paje in the South. It is a popular tourist spot, especially for kitesurfing. The beach is filled with lots of shops and many resorts and restaurants offering different cuisine and you can walk along the pavements checking them out.

A must-try restaurant which is a bit of a walk along the beach is called Abdi’s Place. They serve local Zanzibanian dishes so you are able to sample authentic seafood dishes. Despite the walk, the food more than makes up for it as well as the hospitality of Abdi and his staff. You can also do some shopping compared to other parts of the island.

Where: Paje, Zanzibar
Entrance Fee: Free
TIP: You should carry comfortable shoes so you can make the walk along the shore to Abdi's Place and also visit the streets of the town. 

Sunrise

If you are keen to see the sunset in the North, then you won’t want to miss the sunrise in the East. The area of Uroa is found in the East of the island. If you get to the beach before uprise, you will be able to watch this spectacular event.

In addition, because it is early, around 6:00 am, most people are not awake so you will have the beach almost to yourself. You will experience the splendour of the sky lighting up and coupled with the receding ocean, it makes for a great start to your day.

Where: Uroa Beach, Zanzibar
Entrance Fee: Free
TIP: Wake up early and carry your camera, the views are splendid.  

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Kwale Island

Another must-visit place is Kwale Island which is around 30 minutes or so away from the West, by boat ride. This is usually the island where most companies doing the Safari Blue tour stop for a seafood lunch. The island is also lined with shops selling various goods for tourists.

You will also find a great baobab tree as you walk inward. Your guide will have the opportunity to see and taste the baobab fruit and you are able to purchase some if you want. There is a,o a restaurant on the island if you want to have your own lunch.

Where: Kwale Island, Zanzibar Archipelago
Cost: Varies (depending on tour)
TIP: You should carry some cash to purchase gifts as the vendors here are cheaper than other parts of Zanzibar. Also carry a camera to take pictures of the giant baobab tree. 

Island Hopping

Zanzibar is made up of several islands so there are lots of islands which you can explore. Some of these islands are inhabited like the main island, Unguja, and Pemba Island. Whilst others are uninhabited, there are also sandbanks all around.

The tour companies and local guides can arrange tours to different islands depending on where you want to go and what you want to see. But since Zanzibar is made up of lots of islands, you need to visit as many as you are able to, including Kwale and Prison Island.

Where: Zanzibar
Cost: Varies (depending on tour)
Tip: You should book a tour and let the tour guides take you to the different islands surrouning Unguja. Be prepared to spend some time on the boats to get there as the islands are far apart.     

As you can see there are lots of things to do in Zanzibar depending on your preferences and interests. If you have tried any of these, please let me know in the comments below.

And if you enjoyed this, check out Ultimate Travel Guide to Zanzibar which gives you detailed information about all things Zanzibar.

* Please note that all prices and contact information are correct at time of publication. Please check the venues websites as prices may change without notice. *

2 Comments

  1. I’ll be in Zanzibar soon! Looking forward to it. Thanks for the great info.

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