Travelling solo presents some unique challenges — safety, loneliness, and booking activities for one. Then there’s also the question of what to do during your solo travel to Zanzibar. Do you completely immerse yourself in the island lifestyle or do you take advantage of the local culture, tours, and food?
As a tropical destination, Zanzibar welcomes all types of solo travellers. In fact, solo travel to Zanzibar is safe, cheap, and accessible. The island is host to a variety of beach destinations — some for partying, some for cultural experiences, and some for relaxing in paradise. There is something here for every solo traveller, with plenty of tropical island experiences, as well as a rich cultural history, which is never far away. Though it can be noisy and chaotic at times, it’s a wonderfully easy place to travel – in fact, there may not be anywhere else in Africa quite as relaxed.
Solo Travel to Zanzibar: Where to go
When planning solo travel to Zanzibar, you’ll need to decide where you’d like to stay. The islands offer plenty of room for everyone and cater to a variety of holiday preferences, but where you go will depend on what you’re looking for, as well as the season. For those who like the hustle and bustle, Nungwi is the most happening beach here. The best time to visit Nungi is in September and October and again from December to March.
On the other hand, Kendwa plays host to the best full-moon parties, even though it’s quieter or more relaxed than Nungwi. Both locations are great for meeting other solo travellers if that’s what you like. Paje, to the southeast, can also be quite lively, especially from June to August when the kite surfers descend.
If you’re looking for a quiet beach holiday, solo travel to Zanzibar offers plenty of options throughout the year. Places like Matemwe and Pongwe have more exclusive lodges and hotels, while Bwejuu and Jambiani have some good budget hangouts. Pemba and Mafia Islands are idyllic and almost deserted all year, and everything in Zanzibar is easily accessible a, boat ride or taxi transfer.
Solo Travel to Zanzibar: What to do
Zanzibar Island offers a wealth of things to do and see during your solo travels. The local guides and tour operators are friendly and knowledgeable, and always happy to assist. Exploring Stone Town’s labyrinth of streets is an essential part of any Zanzibar holiday. As a solo traveller, you can feel completely safe if you take simple precautions. If you don’t feel comfortable exploring on your own, excellent, organized tours can be arranged.
Aside from the historical side of Stone Town, it is also a vibrant community. For the foodies, there are wonderful restaurants and cafes to try, as well as the colourful street food market at Forodhani Gardens. Of course, fresh seafood is especially delicious in Zanzibar, and you can expect anything from octopus and coconut curries to spicy prawns and fried squid. The early evening bustles with rooftop bars where locals and tourists go for sundowners in the evenings, or you can attend a local taarab music performance, something for the books.
Outside of the capital, the islands sparkle with a variety of tours and experiences. From the famous Safari Blue tour, where you can explore the Menai Bay Conservation area from a traditional dhow to the intriguing spice and village tours, solo travel to Zanzibar really does offer it all.
Generally, you fly into Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, which is the main airport in the Zanzibar Archipelago located on the main island. It is approximately five kilometres south of Zanzibar City. Arriving in Zanzibar City is by far the most chaotic experience of your entire trip. However, most hotels will provide an airport taxi or shuttle, so be sure that you book this in advance. It will make the arrival experience much easier.
If you choose to take a ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar, you’re in for an amazing experience, especially between June and October when the weather is at its best. Please note: make sure you choose a reputable ferry operator. Azam Marine is one of the more dependable companies, and because the ferry is such a popular option, it is important to book and purchase each ticket a day or two ahead of time. Do not buy ferry tickets from people on the street who claim to be representatives or agents for ferry companies. Check out our guide on taking a ferry from Dar es Salaam.
Additionally, there are no foreign banks in Zanzibar. The local banks, however, are happy to exchange foreign currencies. From Monday to Friday, the banks are open from 9:00 to 16:00 and Saturdays and Sundays they are closed.
Find out more about Zanzibar, right here.