Zanzibar is famous for its powdery swaths of white sand lapped by an impossibly turquoise ocean, but what is the weather in Zanzibar like for a holiday? The climate of this exotic island archipelago is tropical, and hot all year round, with two rainy seasons. It is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania and is home to some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world, as well as a fascinating Swahili, Arabic, and Indian culture.
The two rainy seasons are known as the “long rains” season, which runs from March to May and peaks in April, and the “short rains” season, which runs from mid-October to December. The total annual rainfall in Zanzibar is approximately 1,600 mm, while in Pemba it is roughly 1,900 mm. April and May are the wettest months, with heavy rains causing flash floods. However, brief thunderstorms can occur at any time of year.
The Wet Season Weather in Zanzibar
Though it rains frequently and you might want to bring an umbrella, Zanzibar’s wet season is far from monsoon-like and will not keep you marooned in your hotel room. This period lasts from March to May, and temperatures average around 29°C. During this time, you’ll have many opportunities to go scuba diving off the island’s coast and see the coral reefs up close and swim with the marine life below.
When visiting Zanzibar, you may experience downpours for about 30 minutes or so, sometimes lasting up to two hours. However, the sky always clears so you’ll be able to enjoy a few hours of sunshine to go sightseeing or swimming. For this time of year, the island receives between 150 and 400 millimetres of rain per month on average.
Zanzibar’s second wet season lasts from November to around the first week of December. Though not as wet as the first wet season, you can expect a few good days of rain with occasional sunny skies.
The Dry Season Weather in Zanzibar
Zanzibar has two dry seasons, one of which is more popular with tourists. During July and September, the weather in Zanzibar means groups of tourists can bathe in the sunshine and pristine Indian Ocean, with temperatures around 26°C. Most days are warm and perfect for the beach or enjoying a Zanzibar excursion. This time of year is ideal for solo travellers, young groups of friends, and couples looking to spend some romantic time together.
The holiday season, which runs from December to February, is the second dry season and a popular time to visit Zanzibar. This time of year is very popular with families who generally take their year-end break during the festive season and when their children are not in school. The weather in Zanizbar during these months is essentially considered the summer season, with an average high of 29°C, and as a result, you might find the island can become crowded.
The Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Zanzibar is between July and September when it is warm and balmy, and then again between December and February, when it is famously dry. Zanzibar has a wet season during March, April, and May.
Tourists and adventure travellers flock to Zanzibar for a variety of reasons, and the best time to visit Zanzibar will largely depend on what you’re looking for. From beach walking and swimming to breathing the sweet aromas of spice tours around Stone Town, or diving in the Indian Ocean to search for and admire the beautiful creatures beneath the surface, Zanzibar has something for every holidaymaker.
Ready to plan your holiday to Zanzibar?
Get in touch with one of our Travel Experts to help customize a trip that’s right for you.