The Zanzibar archipelago sits at the crossroads of Africa, Arabia, and India. This semi-autonomous territory is a popular post-safari destination, offering a tropical beach paradise to cap off your East African adventure.
Zanzibar, also known as the Spice Islands, is more than just a beautiful beach destination. Zanzibar has it all, from turquoise surf and white-sand beaches to excellent diving and vibrant culture. But, where is Zanzibar?
Where is Zanzibar located?
The Zanzibar archipelago is located just off the coast of East Africa and is made up of several islands, the majority of which belong to Tanzania. Unguja Island, colloquially known as Zanzibar, is the most densely populated and is home to the region’s capital, Zanzibar City. Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Zanzibar’s “old quarter,” is located in the heart of the capital.
Zanzibar at a Glance
Zanzibar is an archipelago of over 50 islands and islets located 22 miles off the coast of Tanzania. The two main islands, Unguja and Pemba, are thought to have been part of Africa before breaking away between 5 and 23 million years ago.
Zanzibar, which joined Tanzania in 1964, is now one of East Africa’s best beach holiday destinations, with idyllic white sands and crystal waters stretching as far as the eye can see. For over a millennium, Zanzibar has been a unique cultural meeting place, blending African, Indian, Arabian, and European cultures as a primary trading post on the spice, silk, and slave trade routes. This is most noticeable in Old Stone Town, one of Africa’s few remaining ancient towns.
Stone Town is a maze of tangled alleyways interspersed with towering limestone houses, each with intricately carved hardwood doors with brass finishes and terracotta roofs. Zanzibar is distinct in its cuisine, religion, politics, and way of life, in addition to its architecture. It’s very different from mainland Tanzania and makes an excellent starting or ending point for an East African safari.
Why visit Zanzibar?
What is Zanzibar well-known for? Zanzibar’s most well-known feature has to be its beaches. Just a few hours from South Africa, a tropical paradise awaits, with soft, white beaches baking in the sun, lapped by deep blue water and sheltered by coconut-heavy palms.
After you’ve had your fill of sun, sand, and vitamin sea, the turquoise depths offer the chance to go diving amongst abundant marine life and corals in a magnificent aquatic environment. Snorkelling in Zanzibar should be at the top of your list if you prefer to stay closer to the surface.
When to visit Zanzibar
The best months to visit Zanzibar are July and August, as well as December and February. Because these are the dry seasons, the weather is pleasant and there is less chance of rain delaying planned excursions. If you want to combine your trip with a safari or trekking in Tanzania, these seasons are ideal. Zanzibar, like Tanzania, has two rainy seasons: one short and one long. From March to May, the long rainy season often sees monsoons, which means the beaches are empty and hotels offer discounts.