My 2 Week Trip to Zanzibar (beach huts, local food, activities and more)

My 2 Week Trip to Zanzibar (beach huts, local food, activities and more)

By |2017-04-06T08:12:06-04:00April 6th, 2017|Tanzania, Travel Costs, Travel Tips & Advice|84 Comments

Trip to Zanzibar - Jambiani Beach
A trip to Zanzibar…that exotic, mysterious land.

Never did I think I would make it to this island off the coast of mainland Tanzania but somehow, like most of my travels, it just happened.

After bouncing around Kenya and Tanzania for a while, it was time to take it easy and catch up on work, and Zanzibar seemed like a logical, and nearby, option. All we hoped for was a relatively quiet beach in a tropical setting, close to a local village, and where accommodation wasn’t too expensive.

And it didn’t take long to find our ideal setup. For two whole nights at least.

The place we chose to stay at is the Promised Land Lodge, located on the very southern tip of Zanzibar. Beautiful setting on the wild coast, large jungle bungalows on a cliff overlooking the shining water, great local food, hammocks, a beach bar, a nice swimming pool and the village of Kizimkazi only 20 minutes walk away.

Trip to Zanzibar - Promised Land Lodge hut

Trip to Zanzibar - Hammock at Promised Land Lodge

For $50 per night, with breakfast included, we were truly giddy over this gem of a find.

So, after two nights there, we packed up and left.

This is the downside of working online. The location of this lodge proved to be one of the last spots on Zanzibar without 3G internet coverage, so our SIM cards and data packages were useless. The internet provided at the lodge, as expected, didn’t work too well either. As a result, it was quite difficult for us to get our work done and we had no choice but to leave.

Off we went, quite bummed, in search of another option.

You can then imagine our surprise when, amazingly, with very little research and a lot of luck, we found another accommodation setup that rivaled, or at least matched, what Promised Land had offered.

Suddenly, our trip to Zanzibar took us to the village of Jambiani, on the southeast coast, where we happily threw down our bags at the welcoming and idyllic Mango Beach House.

We stayed here for eleven nights. And it was absolutely perfect.

Here’s how our stay went down…


If you’re looking for a quiet white sand beach with a laid-back vibe, local village life, perfect sunrises, warm ocean water, a good scattering of places to eat and that feeling of being in paradise, Jambiani is the place to go. I’ll admit that we didn’t really explore too many other parts of Zanzibar but once we found this ideal corner, we were more than happy to stay put.

The Beach

What a crazy, beautiful beach! I have never, in all my travels, seen the ocean act as weirdly as it did in Zanzibar. In Jambiani at least, the tide would be one kilometer out when low and then, in what seemed like a remarkably fast period of time, the tide would suddenly be high, very high, covering almost all of the beach. And the colors changed all day long, with such an impressive array of blues and greens sparkling away. It was strange, mesmerizing and spectacular all at the same time.

Trip to Zanzibar - Jambiani beach colors

When the tide was high, this beach was great for swimming. The only downside, at least in March, is that the water temperature was basically ‘hot’.

Go swimming in the morning though, before 9am, and in the evening, around 6pm, and it will be cooler at those times, offering a refreshing way to start and end your day!


There are probably 20 or so accommodation options to choose from along the three kilometers of Jambiani beachfront, ranging from inexpensive, basic rooms in a simple house (around $25 USD per night) to nicer guesthouses with tropical settings and more comfortable rooms (around $50 – $60 per night) and all the way up to fancier bungalows and hotels for $90 – $200 USD per night.

We must have checked out 15 of these places in our search for accommodation. In the end, though, as soon as we stepped through the gate of the Mango Beach House, we knew it was the place for us.

The local owner, Kiddo, was super kind, the rooms were spacious, colorful, airy, well-decorated and with a clear view of the ocean, the grounds were filled with palm trees and flowers, there were swinging beds, lounge chairs and raised platforms to hang out on and there was a cozy open-air cafe and restaurant.

Here’s a quick video tour I created:

The place was spotless, the entire team of four staff were extremely helpful and there were only four rooms, making it feel almost like a private retreat.

At around $50 USD per night (for 2 people), with breakfast included and a common kitchen to use, it was by far the best deal that we found in Jambiani. If I ever take another trip to Zanzibar, this is exactly where I would stay again.


At the Mango Beach House, like at most small accommodation on Zanzibar, if you let the staff know ahead of time that you want dinner, the in-house chef will cook you up some dishes. From fresh seafood to vegetable curries to grilled chicken, salads and more, for about $8 USD per person, we had an excellent evening feast several times.

On other nights, and for most lunches, we would venture out into the village or along the beach where we found:

Local restaurants ($5 – $7 USD per person)
Stone Culture was our favorite, right next to Mango Beach Guesthouse…we came here 4 or 5 times for inexpensive, tasty local dishes cooked by the friendly owner/chef

Pishi Restaurant in the center of the village was another decent, cheap option

Trip to Zanzibar - Stone Culture Restaurant

Other hotel restaurants ($7 – $10 per person)
– The food at the Mamamapambo Boutique Hotel was wonderful, and great value, especially for lunch…try the masala iced tea and you’ll end up coming back every day (located next door to Mango Beach Guesthouse)

Western food ($5 – $10 per person)
Bahari Pizza is an Italian owned place with a perfect spot on the beach, great pizzas, excellent service and plenty of other quality dishes

Mr. Kahawa in Paje (the next village up the beach, about 5 kms from Jambiani) serves fresh and delicious sandwiches, salads, wraps, fruit juices, coffees and pastries in a funky, minimalist beach cafe setting

Trip to Zanzibar - Mr Kahawa's Cafe

Those are all the places where we ate. Not a ton of options, but definitely enough for a two week stay!

The Village

Jambiani is small and quiet, with about 1500 people spread out along a three kilometer stretch of beach. It’s a collection of sandy ‘roads’ and narrow sandy paths that weave between very simple homes and huts, some small shops and fruit stands and several mosques. The people are generally friendly, especially the younger generation who seem to have had more contact with foreigners. The locals working in the guesthouses and restaurants are really friendly and you can easily have a conversation with any of them. They are more than happy to discuss local life and answer any questions.

The village, like most of Zanzibar, is conservative and all local females have their arms and legs covered while outside. Most females, including young girls, also have their hair covered. Nobody seemed to mind travelers wearing more western clothing but you’ll definitely stand out and receive plenty of stares if you don’t dress somewhat conservatively while walking around the village. You don’t need to put on pants and a long sleeve shirt but wrapping a sarong around yourself while in the village seemed to be the method of choice.

On the beach itself, things were more relaxed and swimsuits were much more acceptable. Nobody appeared to mind beach clothing being worn at the beach.

We would go for a walk through the village once or twice per day more or less, usually to pop into a small store to buy water, snacks or bananas and to grab a local dinner. There isn’t much to do in the village apart from that but interacting with the kids, shopkeepers and others in the streets was always good fun while out and about.

Trip to Zanzibar - sugar cane juice

Nearby Activities

Paje – The next village up the beach, here you’ll find a wider stretch of white sand, a smaller village, a lot of kitesurfing schools and a lot more foreigners. We preferred Jambiani but I did enjoy the 1 hour walk along the beach up to Paje every now and then for a change of scenery. You can also take a taxi for around 10000 TSH ($3 USD).

Trip to Zanzibar - Paje beach

Jozani Forest – About 15 minutes by car away from Jambiani, this forest/national park is one of the last places in the world where you can encounter the red colobus monkeys.

You can always rent a car for around $30 USD per day to drive to other parts of the island. There are plenty of more beaches and villages out there than Jambiani so a couple of day trips would be a great option for those looking to explore during their trip to Zanzibar. Other popular areas are Nungwi (way up on the northern tip of Zanzibar), Matemwe (northeast coast), Pongwe (east coast) and Bweeju (about 11 kilometers north of Jambiani).

Trip to Zanzibar - women on the beach

Additional Details

Internet – If you need internet like we do (to work every day!), the connections offered at most accommodation will be very poor at best. However, if you buy a SIM card in Zanzibar City (the capital and main entry point of Zanzibar), you can get solid 3G connection if you’re staying in an actual village on the island, such as Jambiani. We found Airtel offered the most reliable service on the island and was quite inexpensive (3 GB for around $8 USD).

Taxi costs – Getting from Zanzibar City/Stone Town to Jambiani or Kizimkazi or pretty much any of the main beach areas on the north, east or southern coast should cost between $25 – $40 USD. A taxi from the airport to the center of Stone Town should cost around $8 – $12 USD. There are also local trucks/vans that have set routes around the island. Often very crowded and much slower than a taxi, they are indeed cheap, allowing you to travel a good distance for just a dollar or two. If you do plan to visit many parts of the island during your trip to Zanzibar, you might want to look at renting a car instead of using taxis as it will save you a good amount of money.

Tours and activities – If you’re looking to be more active than just sitting on the beach, there’s a long list of possible activities on Zanzibar, including snorkeling, diving, surfing, kitesurfing, dolphin trips, fishing, visiting outer islands, spice tours and more. Plenty of people will approach you on the beaches offering such tours. Keep in mind that these people are just middlemen and usually not connected in any way to the company that actually offers the activity. It’s worth talking to the staff at your hotel or guesthouse as they should have direct contacts with reliable tour operators, boatmen, drivers, etc and it avoids huge markups. It’s also perfectly acceptable to negotiate the price for any tour/activity.

Money – The main currency is the Tanzanian shilling but many prices are quoted in USD or Euros as well. Keep in mind that the only ATMs on the island are in Zanzibar City/Stone Town so it’s best to take out local currency there before you head off to your beach location. Otherwise, you’ll need to travel 45+ minutes back to Zanzibar City every time you need money and that can cost $60 USD roundtrip by taxi. Money exchange options are also limited on the beaches (Jambiani didn’t have any!) so if you don’t have enough local currency, you’ll have to pay in USD or Euros. Some restaurants and accommodation will accept visa credit cards but do add on a 3%-5% bank fee.

Stone Town – We also stayed in Stone Town, which is the old section of Zanzibar City, the capital of Zanzibar. And it’s definitely worth visiting. We spent one night there when we first arrived on Zanzibar and two nights at the end. You can spend an entire day getting lost in the winding maze of lanes, eating lunch at the excellent Lukmaan Restaurant, visiting the educational former slave market, spending time inside the House of Wonders (aka the best worst museum in the world), wandering through the colorful main market and enjoying a refreshing drink on the beach at sunset. It’s a cool place to hang out for a couple of days.

Trip to Zanzibar - lanes of Stone Town

Worst Museum in the World - the front

In Stone Town we stayed at the incredibly friendly and comfortable Zenji Hotel and at the more centrally-located Tausi Palace. Both were excellent budget options and I’d simply choose whichever one has the best rate on any particular dates.

Overall Costs of a Trip to Zanzibar

On a tight budget, your trip to Zanzibar could cost you as little as $25 USD per day if you stay in a hostel or simple room/hut and eat at the most local of restaurants and food stalls.

For $50 USD per day, you can stay in a quality beachfront guesthouse or beach hut (such as Mango Beach House, when split between two people) and throw in an extra activity/excursion every few days.

At $70 USD per day, along with your beachfront room, you could also eat some more expensive meals/dishes and hire a car to really explore the island.

Zanzibar is one of those destinations that can fit into any budget!

Trip to Zanzibar - sunrise in Jambiani

Getting There

Getting to Zanzibar from mainland Tanzania is quite easy. There are several ferries per day to/from Dar es Salaam with the company Azam Marine. The journey takes around 2 hours and costs approximately $35 USD per person.

Before you book the ferry though, be sure to check out Precision Air, one of Tanzania’s local airlines. They offer Zanzibar – Dar es Salaam flights for as low as $40 USD per person. That’s what we paid for the 15 minute flight and it came with gorgeous views of the island and the Tanzanian capital en route!

Any questions about Zanzibar? Any additional advice from those who have already been to this island?

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  1. Adriaan Theron August 8, 2020 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Good day me and my boyfriend want to visit zanzibar we are a gay couple where will be the best place to book an 2week stay

    • Derek August 9, 2020 at 6:43 am - Reply

      Hey Adriaan – I only know the place where we stayed, which was awesome. I’m not too sure about all the other options on the island unfortunately.

  2. Michelle June 16, 2020 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Hey – I just found your information via the Every Passport Stamp presentation you just did. Lots of good info. Will be subscribing to your newsletter.

    Question – it looks like you count Zanzibar as one of the countries you travelled to. Is it listed as an actually country? I’m not being nit picky – I’m just at the 98 country mark and am wondering to count it on my list o’ countries. I always just thought it was part of Tanzania. Thanks!

    • Derek June 17, 2020 at 6:23 am - Reply

      Hey Michelle – Thanks for signing up and I appreciate you watching the Q&A! As for your question, I’m honestly not trying to be too particular with my count. I generally talk about countries, territories, semi-autonomous regions and so on as separate entities but only because it seems clearer to do so. As for my actual count though, it’s only countries and fully autonomous regions that I include.

  3. Derrick February 18, 2020 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I travelled around Zanzibar a couple of years ago by hiring a scooter. Very cheap and lots of fun! But also pretty dangerous – the traffic is pretty crazy in Stone Town, and on the highways there are lots of trucks, surprise speedbumps and police roadblocks. Also it’s worth noting that the scooters may have one of two mechanical issues 🙂 We stayed at Paje after a day of riding, it made it absolutely worth it!

  4. Tim Kelly February 11, 2020 at 2:34 am - Reply

    Hi mate

    Not sure whether to stay Zanibar Town side of the island or the East side. Im there solo for 6 nights later this year but looking to book accom now as it is filling up fast. If you stay on the west side, is it easier access to amenities like food, ATMs, tours etc? If you stay East side, are you basically stuck to your own hotel other than when you walk along the beach and pretty much just have to hang by the pool and do nothing?? I intend to do a fair bit of that, but also still want to do a fair few activities like scuba, snorkel etc so whcih has better access to these?? Dont really want to be travelling in a $60USD cab each day to go do something.


    • Derek February 13, 2020 at 8:07 am - Reply

      Hey Tim – The difference is that on the west side, you’re in a small city. On the east side, you’re on the coast with a more beach/village atmosphere. You can rent a car over there, take day trips and there’s plenty of stuff to do if you stay on the east side. But overall, Zanzibar isn’t exactly a destination with a ton of activities. It’s more of a place to chill. If you want to scuba and snorkel, you should stay on the east side where the nicer beaches are located and there is more access to such activities. Stone Town is a good place to see, either on a day trip from the east side of perhaps spending 2 nights there and 4 nights somewhere else.

      • Farah February 17, 2020 at 11:44 pm - Reply

        Hey. We are looking to go next week to Zanzibar.
        We really wanted to do some sort of a safari but we are on a budget. Do you have any recommendations of closer ones to Zanzibar?
        Also what would the weather be like now end of February time.

        • Derek February 18, 2020 at 4:07 pm - Reply

          Hey Farah – Since Zanzibar is an island, you won’t be very close to places that offer a safari. You would need to fly somewhere and to be honest, if you’re going to be in that region, you might as well go to the Serengeti for the safari as that is one of the best you can experience anywhere!

  5. Janet Lord February 10, 2020 at 10:53 am - Reply

    My husband and I are going on a Safari in Kenya and then flying to the Ocean Paradis Resort, Kijangwani, Zanzibar to extend our holiday. We have a choice of different board options and normally we would just go for the basic breakfast option but I have heard food and drink is quite expensive and that it isn’t that safe to go out at night. I am hoping that this is just scare mongering and that to go out and find restaurants at night would in fact not only be a great way to experience the culture but also to feel part of the local community. What are your thoughts? Thanks

    • Derek February 10, 2020 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      Hey Janet – To be honest, I’m not too sure. Where we stayed was a small village in Zanzibar and so there really wasn’t much to do at night. We did walk along the beach to a restaurant a couple of times at night without any issues but there wasn’t much going on in this village. The restaurants in the village were great and not expensive at all, but I don’t know too much about the more touristy areas of Zanzibar. I’m sure in those areas the restaurant prices will be more expensive (usually happens around resorts where they know people are paying a lot of money per night) but I’m not sure about safety in those areas.

  6. Yvie January 31, 2020 at 6:43 am - Reply

    Hi Derek,

    Awesome blog! I am looking to travel end of May into June for about 2 weeks. I haven’t decided weather to go North than south around the island or South around to North… Any suggestion is appreciated. Also what items are a must to take.
    Thank you!

    • Derek January 31, 2020 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      Hey Yvie – Either one works. I wouldn’t spend too much time thinking about it as the island isn’t that big. South to north or north to south are both doable and should be great experiences! There really isn’t any reason why I would choose one over the other.

  7. Natalia K January 29, 2020 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Great post! I have just came back from Zanzibar, I have stayed at Clove Island and I can say for sure that this was my best travel experience so far!

  8. Rebecca January 14, 2020 at 3:56 am - Reply

    Hey Derek! Just came upon your article and now I’m even more confused 🙂 I’ve been tossing up which area to stay – Nungwi or something a little more “local” like where you stayed. The reason I’m still deciding is because I’ll be a solo female traveller. I’ll just have spent a month in East Africa by myself on a pretty full itinerary, so I know I’ll be ready for down time (and Mango Beach looks perfect for that!) but I’m also not sure about whether a beach like where you stayed is ok for a solo female traveller? Hope you are well – not sure if you remember but we met at TravelCon in Austin a few years ago (I was sitting at your table in the lobby bar the day before the conference started), was great to meet you after all these years of following your blog!

    • Derek January 15, 2020 at 6:00 am - Reply

      Hey Rebecca – Very nice to hear from you and yes, I do remember meeting you in Austin! As for your question, that’s a tough one. On one hand, Mango Beach is such an awesome place but on the other hand, it is a little isolated and might not be the best time for someone who’s looking to do more than just chill out by the beach. Being a solo female traveler wouldn’t be a problem as the people are very nice and there are other guesthouses and hotels around, on the same beach. It’s just much quieter overall than the more touristy parts of the island. Definitely a tough call! If you want more activity and to be around a bigger group of other travelers, another area might be best. If you’re looking for peace and quiet and a cool local, chill experience, Mango is the way to go!

      • Rebecca January 16, 2020 at 6:14 am - Reply

        Appreciate it, thanks Derek! I’ll have to see how I’m going after a few weeks travelling… I think by then I’ll probably be very ready to do absolutely nada, so Mango sounds perfect for that!! 🙂

  9. Joanna December 28, 2019 at 4:46 am - Reply

    Hey Derek,

    Your Article is amazing.
    We would like to go to Zanzibar for our Honeymoon in November.
    How is the weather in November?

    Thank you so muchh 🙂

    Joanna and Alexis

    • Derek December 28, 2019 at 11:06 am - Reply

      Hey Joanna – It’s a decent time to go there but you can expect heavy rain for short periods during the day.

  10. OLGA December 24, 2019 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Hello Derek! Is there any vaccination required in order to get into a boat to Zanzibar? Thanks in advance!

    • Derek December 24, 2019 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      Hey Olga – Nothing is required so it’s a personal decision. But there is a high risk of malaria and it’s always good to have your general Hepatitis vaccinations for any country.

  11. Doris August 27, 2019 at 4:28 am - Reply

    Jambo Derek!;) Very informative article, thanks a lot! I’m arriving in Zanzibar next month. I will be staying in Makunduchi (Clove Island – and although the place itself is really awesome, I’m hungry for seeing new spots and doing a lot of different things. Your article inspires me!:) Thanks once again! Can’t wait 🙂

    • Derek August 27, 2019 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      Hey Doris – Enjoy!! I’m sure you’ll love it over there!!

  12. Harry Wilks August 9, 2019 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Hi there. I am going to Zanzibar in September and flying from the uk so I won’t go into any yellow fever risk countries. Will I still need a certificate?

    • Derek August 11, 2019 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      Hey Harry – If you’re coming from the UK, you won’t need to show proof of a certificate.

  13. Kay-Lee Heaver July 12, 2019 at 2:48 am - Reply

    Hi there,
    Thanks for the great informative post :-)Are scooter/motor bikes freely available for rental in Zanzibar in stead of a car? How much would a rental cost per day?
    Thanks so much.

    • Derek July 15, 2019 at 11:32 am - Reply

      There were scooter rentals available but I’m not sure how much it would cost per day. The island is quite large and the roads not that great, so I don’t think a scooter would be too comfortable for exploring. It would take a long, long time to get around. But there are definitely places to rent them, at least in the bigger tourist areas.

  14. Sara July 11, 2019 at 10:22 am - Reply

    So we are flying to and from Zanzibar but have 3 weeks to play with during which we want to safari in Tanzania. What do you recommend!?
    Thanks Sara

    • Derek July 11, 2019 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Hey Sara – Well, that’s plenty of time of course but keep in mind that the safari areas of Tanzania are quite a distance from Zanzibar. You’ll most likely want to fly from Zanzibar to Arusha and then start your safari experiences from there.

  15. Judit Magdolna Molnar June 1, 2019 at 5:25 am - Reply

    hi Derek

    we going to Jambiani in November. where we can hire a car? airport? we planning to be quite active so car would help us out a lot. and travelling between airport 4x as going to safari too in Tanzania can save us a lot.
    thank you

    • Derek June 1, 2019 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Hey Judit – Just do a quick search on any car rental booking site and you’ll see your options. It’s probably best to rent a car from the airport or from Stone Town.

    • Alex July 10, 2019 at 6:08 am - Reply

      You can get a little suzuki or toyota 4 seater for $25 dollars a day from here They are technically 4×4, but are not suitable for extreme terrain… will be fine for just cruising around Zanzibar though 🙂 You also need to get a permit to drive on Zanzibar (these cost $10) and watch out for corrupt traffic police – they are always after bribes, especially from tourists. An alternative to hiring a car is using the shuttle bus run by – these are door-to-door transfers and cost $10 per person to go to/from anywhere on the island. The shuttles are a good budget option, although if there are more than four of you it will be about the same price to book your own taxi. By the way, November is low season so try to negotiate a discount with your hotel!

  16. edward mcguinniety May 25, 2019 at 2:10 am - Reply

    hi there – just wondering if you could advise me re going with family (6) in December 2019 and if I really need to book in advance or would it likely be that I could just wander around and find something reasonable, I am much keener to follow my nose than book something in advance and be stuck with it, however don not want to get here and find no room at the inn !
    many thanks for your time – Luke

    • Derek May 25, 2019 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Hey Luke – That depends on what kind of accommodation you’re looking for. If you have 6 people and need 3 rooms or so, it can be a little risky as places can easily fill up. December is one of the high tourist seasons. I would recommend booking in advance. You could probably find something if you didn’t but it will take much longer and you might only have a couple of options left.

  17. lisa May 3, 2019 at 11:07 am - Reply

    This is a great post. thanks for sharing ! We are looking to go somewhere a bit different with our 3 children 2, 7 and 9 years. would you say this was a good place to stay and is there anything we should consider. Sorry if this has been asked already. thanks

    • Derek May 4, 2019 at 7:30 am - Reply

      Hey Lisa – It’s a great place if you’re looking for something laid back. You could easily book their family room or two of their regular rooms and you’d have plenty of space, right on the beach at a great price. There aren’t many amenities as it’s not a proper resort or anything like that but the staff are wonderful, the breakfast is great and if you want a relaxed experience, you’ll definitely have that here.

  18. Marcela March 14, 2019 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Hi Derek! Thank you very much for all the info and advice.
    I will be staying in Jambiani and I wonder if I can rent a car from there.
    I understand one can contact the car rental in Stone Town to deliver the car to Jambiani, but do you know if one can directly rent it from Jambiani village?
    I will be staying at the Mango Beach House.
    Thanks for your time in advance 🙂

    • Derek March 21, 2019 at 3:07 am - Reply

      Hey Marcela – There are no car rental companies in Jamibiani but if you ask Kiddo, the owner of the Mango Beach House, he will help you out I’m sure. Please tell him I say hello!

  19. Bessy March 14, 2019 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Hi Derek, all the information that you provided here are very helpful!
    Me and my fiance are planning to go there from 1st of May (for 10 days), but we are not sure about the weather conditions at that time.
    What is you suggestions for visiting Zanzibar on early May?!


    • Derek March 21, 2019 at 3:09 am - Reply

      Hey Bessy – May is a good time. There can be some rain though so that should be expected. But overall, if you don’t mind some rain, the temperatures are quite warm and the water should be quite warm too.

  20. Fatim February 14, 2019 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Hi Derek
    I am going for a week only. I already found a guesthouse but I was wondering what budget should I bring along. I wanted to visit 3-4days out of 7 and go to market to buy some local gifts. What budget would you advice me to take? I will be on my own.
    Thank you.

    • Derek February 15, 2019 at 1:42 am - Reply

      Hey Fatim – That is hard to say as it really depends on what you want to buy in the markets and also on how you will get around the island. Buses will cost much less than taxi for example. But for normal things – meals, water, general things you need to buy – I would say that $25 – $35 USD per day would work. This would be for good, simple meals. It does not include accommodation or transportation.

    • Betsi February 19, 2019 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Be extremely cautious with nightlife as there is a lot of scam going on. I would not recommend you go out of the disco with the local girl as they might rob you. We met a guy who was robbed. Try to go with somebody you know as a suport. I does not mean it will happen to you, just be carreful. Good trip to you! Zanzibar and Tanzania are so exotic and beautiful!

  21. Mario February 12, 2019 at 5:10 am - Reply

    Nice and helpful post Derek!

    How about nightlife in Zanzibar? Are there some bars/clubs options and is it safe?


    • Derek February 12, 2019 at 5:23 am - Reply

      Hey Mario – Where we were there wasn’t any nightlife as it was a quiet village on a nice stretch of beach. There are a couple of areas up north where there are bigger tourist hotels grouped together and I’m sure there’s some options there. However, keep in mind that the main religion on the island is Islam and it’s very difficult to find alcohol in general as a result.

    • Snigs August 10, 2019 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      Hi Derek,
      I am going for 8 nights to Tanzania from Zambia. Wanted to spend 3 nights in Zanzibar and 3 nights doing game viewing. Would you suggest tours and a budget for a basic trip…no frills but clean comfortable time. Thanks Snigs

      • Derek August 11, 2019 at 12:17 pm - Reply

        You’ll have to do some research for that. I simply visited Zanzibar for 2 weeks. But for a game drive, you can organize that out of Arusha and you don’t need a tour for Zanzibar. You can easily do that on your own.

  22. thadubsdavid January 26, 2019 at 3:33 am - Reply

    HI Derek,
    What about mosquitos on zanzibar island? My girlfriend and me eventually stay in an Airbnb but we are not sure about getting bitten and so on..
    What’s your experience due to Maleria/mosquitos =)

    • Derek January 28, 2019 at 8:40 am - Reply

      Honestly, I don’t remember many mosquitos. When there are mosquitos in a destination, we simply spray in the evenings and that’s about it. I don’t take malaria pills as I don’t like the side effects. It really comes down to covering yourself and spraying when the mosquitos are out and about!

  23. Craig Lunn January 9, 2019 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Hi Derek
    Just making a little detour on the way home to SA – and stopping in Zanzibar for two weeks.
    Just wanted to thank you for all the great info. Just the sort of information, I was looking for !! 🙂
    Many thanks again

  24. Sue January 3, 2019 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Hey! Did you stay in Dar at all? If so, do you have any suggestions for places to stay?

    • Derek January 3, 2019 at 6:56 am - Reply

      Hey Sue – We just spent one night at a guesthouse near the Dar es Salaam airport before our flight out the next day. I don’t even remember the name as it was a simple place that had good reviews, about 1 mile from the airport.

  25. Sam Rule November 11, 2018 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Hi, does anyone know of spots where you can snorkel straight off the beach, rather than taking a boat trip?

  26. Nic July 18, 2018 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Derek,

    Thanks for this, such an informative post.

    We traveled to Zanzibar three years ago when living in Arusha and had a lovely time.

    Is Uber available and did you have any issues driving on the roads? I know on Tanzania mainland Uber has a strong presence.

    Thanks again,


    • Derek July 19, 2018 at 8:49 am - Reply

      Hey Nic – I don’t know if Uber is available. I don’t think so. Most people we met just hired a car or you can easily negotiate with locals you meet to take you places. The distances are quite large between towns/beaches/etc. But there were no issues driving on the roads. They were in pretty good condition.

  27. Enzo July 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Derek,

    good to read such blogs about affordable and safe options to visit Zanzibar. Last night we stumbled upon blogs and comments that only mentioned how expensive and how unsafe Tanzania in general is.

    Let’s hope we can squeeze Tanzania in our budget 🙂 BTWm is it safe to drive on Zanzibar roads?

    • Derek July 3, 2018 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      Hey Enzo – It’s quite safe to drive over there. Most of the roads are pretty good, paved and there’s not a lot of traffic outside of Stone Town. Enjoy it if you go!

  28. Ravikumar June 25, 2018 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Derek, First of all, thank you so much for useful info’s and tips particularly on cost saving. I’m intrested in visiting Ngorongoro crater, tanzania. Need your opinion / rating art ngorongoro compared to masai marra? is it possible to big 5’s in ngorongoro? planning to visit with 7 yrs old daughter. is it safe to take my daughter?
    thanks in advance. Ravikumar.

    • Derek June 26, 2018 at 9:08 am - Reply

      It’s safe for sure, but it’s recommended to join a group or at least hire a driver to organize the trip for you. I personally prefer Masai Mara…I love that place as it is generally much less crowded than Ngorongoro. But yes, you do have a chance to see the Big 5 in both parks.

  29. Victoria January 28, 2018 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Hey! Great post. I booked tickets to Zanzibar from 24th of March and didn’t realize it was rainy season at that time. Do you think I will be strongly affected by the rain or do you still think Zanzibar will we be worth visiting? Thank you!

    • Derek January 28, 2018 at 11:12 am - Reply

      Hey Victoria – You should be fine. It can rain in the morning and evenings usually, but it shouldn’t rain all day. So you’ll probably face some wet weather but you should still have much of the day to enjoy. Of course, it’s difficult to actually predict but that’s the general idea.

    • pitons March 10, 2018 at 6:12 am - Reply

      could still be amaizing!!! mostly 9 hours of sunshine and about 6 rainy days in march..will be fun and worth visiting..Enjoy!!

  30. Vicky @ Avocado Pesto November 7, 2017 at 7:43 am - Reply

    Looks AMAZING! Thinking of heading to Zanzibar for a “working” holiday and just had an internet question. Did you tether the internet to your computer from the sim card? Or did you only use the internet on your phone for working? Do you remember if the wifi provided at Mango Beach House was decent?

    • Derek November 16, 2017 at 12:34 am - Reply

      Hey Vicky – Yes, we just tethered from our local SIM cards. The wifi at Mango Beach House was okay at best, which was pretty much how it is all over the island. We didn’t find any place that had fully reliable internet unfortunately. It’s best to get SIM cards from a couple of the networks that operate on the island so that you’ll be connected wherever you are.

  31. Ayana September 26, 2017 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Nice post! I went there in February. It was my first solo trip 🙂
    I really enjoyed my stay there and felt safe the whole time (I’m a woman). I stayed in Stone town and did day tours to explore the Island.
    + 1 for Luukman restaurant! I mostly ate there and at fodorhani garden.

    • Fatim February 14, 2019 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      Hello Ayana
      Did you use a tour company? If yes what’s the name please? I am travelling solo in a couple of weeks and I am a bit apprehensive.

  32. Skate July 14, 2017 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Hi Derek,

    Great article; full of good and useful info. I am traveling to Kenya then on to Zanzibar in a few weeks. After researching, I am still confused about needing a visa for each country. Tanzania’s official website writes about a transit Visa, do you have any advice? Thanks!

    • Derek July 20, 2017 at 3:22 am - Reply

      It depends on your nationality but most countries do need a visa to travel to these destinations. But you can usually get the visa on arrival at the airport (for most nationalities).

  33. Aydın YILMAZ June 16, 2017 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Zanzibar sounds great! This is 2. or 3rd time i am reading this post and i know that i will definetely go there some day 🙂
    Thank you for informing us about such great places Earl!
    I have been following you and learning a lot from your posts about 5 years now and you have been truly inspiring to me 😉
    Go Earl, we will follow you!

    • Derek June 18, 2017 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment! Looking forward to hearing about your travels to Zanzibar once you do make it there!

  34. Wanjiku May 11, 2017 at 2:35 am - Reply

    Great post Derek. I was in Zanzibar in January. Travelled by road from Kenya, stayed in Moshi for two nights then proceeded to Dar es Salaam to cross to Zanzibar by ferry. I only toured Stone Town though. I hope to go back soon to explore the East coast.

  35. Andrea Crain May 9, 2017 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Fabulous place to stay for a week or two. Beach is looking just perfect. I am planning to take a break and relax at some place like this. Thanks for the details and recommendations 🙂

  36. Rosemary April 9, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Hey Derek

    Just returned from Kenya and Tanzania….loved the latter in particular.

    I have a friend who’s a small, Tanzanian-based tour operator; I live in Melbourne, Australia. He’s keen to grow his business and, given you’re probably a bit of an East Africa expert by now, I thought you might be about to give me/us some suggestions on how to do this, and also your thoughts on joint ventures/partnerships with Western-based companies.



    • Derek April 11, 2017 at 11:05 am - Reply

      Hey Rosemary – If you want to send me an email through my Contact link at the top of my blog, I’ll be happy to answer any questions and offer some suggestions!

  37. Perfect timing… I’m going in three weeks! Was it easy to book things as you went along? We’ve booked three nights in stone town but that’s it so far.

    • Derek April 8, 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      You should be fine. We just walked up and down the beach in Jambiani, checked out each place and went with the one that was best for us. It’s also low season now…actually, many places close for the months April and May (restaurants, beach huts, etc.). So there might be fewer options but also fewer people, so you should be able to find something by just showing up!

  38. Ray April 7, 2017 at 12:25 am - Reply

    Did you get a chance to visit Freddy Mercury’s childhood home while you were in Zanzibar? 🙂

  39. Bridget April 6, 2017 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Lukmaan! I love that place. And Zanzibar in general. I also stayed near Jambiani and mostly just went from the ocean…to lunch…to the pool…back to the ocean…to dinner… It was so relaxing. Good memories :).

  40. Martha April 6, 2017 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Is it only nice for couples or are there more solo travellers? What about safety for women?

    • Derek April 7, 2017 at 1:23 am - Reply

      Hey Martha – There was definitely a mix of travelers, both couples and solo. In the village of Paje, there were more foreigners overall, so more solo travelers there too. As for safety, everyone we spoke with said the same thing – the island is very safe if you use the same common sense you would use pretty much anywhere. It’s best not to walk alone at night but apart from that, during the day, all was good. We didn’t hear of any problems or meet anyone who had any safety issues during their stay.

  41. Stephanie April 6, 2017 at 10:29 am - Reply

    I stayed at Zenji when I was there about 2 years ago. I loved the hotel and its location! One of my favorite things to do was go to Fordhani Gardens in the evening, grab a few kabobs and a cup of sugar cane juice, and sit and smoke hookah while people watching. It was pretty incredible. Zanzibar remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

    And, my boyfriend and I are already making honeymoon plans to visit more of that area. We’re thinking Madagascar, but I can’t wait to read your Seychelles article to see if it makes sense for us to go there as well.

  42. Veronika April 6, 2017 at 8:56 am - Reply

    So happy to have read this, Earl! I wanted to go to Zanzibar before (and actually looked at the options of having a wedding there) but then shied away. At Jambiani, were there often many people on the beach selling stuff? I mean those who don’t take no for an answer?
    From your photos it seems like a more secluded spot further from the resorts.
    Thank you!

    • Derek April 6, 2017 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Hey Veronika – There were a handful of people that would appear every now and then selling stuff but they left if we said ‘no’ once. I didn’t come across anyone who wouldn’t take no for an answer. It is a very laid-back beach/village and even the beach sellers were extremely relaxed and friendly.

      • Veronika April 6, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

        That’s great to hear, thank you Earl 🙂

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