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Stone town, Zanzibar

Top 9 Things to Do and See in Zanzibar - Must-Do Attractions & Experiences

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Best Things to Do in Zanzibar

Zanzibar, a tropical paradise off the coast of Tanzania, is a destination that blends rich history, stunning beaches, and a vibrant culture. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a beach lover, an adventure seeker, or a family looking for an exotic getaway, Zanzibar has something unique for everyone. Let's explore the top attractions and activities that make this island a must-visit destination.

Aerial view of the fishing boats on tropical sea coast with sandy beach at sunset.  Summer travel in Zanzibar, Africa. Top view of boats, yachts, green palm trees, clear blue water, colorful sky photo.
Aerial view of the fishing boats on tropical sea coast with sandy beach at sunset. Summer travel in Zanzibar, Africa. Top view of boats, yachts, green palm trees, clear blue water, colorful sky photo.

Stone Town

Stepping into Stone Town is like stepping back in time to a place with a fascinating history and a distinct blend of Swahili, Arab, Persian, Indian, and European elements. The narrow streets, intricately carved wooden doors, bustling markets, and historic buildings showcase a rich cultural tapestry that has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage status. Visitors can explore landmarks like the Sultan's Palace, the Old Fort, and the iconic House of Wonders.
Who it appeals to: History enthusiasts, culture lovers, and architecture aficionados will be enchanted by the unique blend of influences in Stone Town. The area also offers excellent photo opportunities and is suitable for families with older children.
Insider Tips: Get lost in the maze of narrow streets to discover hidden gems, interact with locals, and sample authentic street food. Consider taking a guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of the town's history and culture.
Practicalities: Stone Town is best explored on foot, and visitors should be mindful of uneven streets and stairs. The best time to visit is early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat and crowds.

Sunrise over Zanzibar
Sunrise over Zanzibar

Prison Island

Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, offers visitors a fascinating blend of history and natural beauty. The island is famous for its population of Aldabra giant tortoises, some of which are over a century old. Visitors can take a boat ride to the island and spend time interacting with and learning about these incredible creatures. The island also has picturesque beaches and coral reefs, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and swimming.
Who it appeals to: Nature enthusiasts, animal lovers, and those seeking a peaceful beach escape will find Prison Island to be a delightful attraction. Families with children can enjoy interactions with the tortoises and exploring the island's natural wonders.
Insider Tips: Bring snorkeling gear to explore the vibrant marine life around the island, and don't miss the opportunity to take photos with the magnificent tortoises. It's also recommended to visit early to avoid the midday heat and potential crowds.
Practicalities: Visitors can access Prison Island via boat from Stone Town. The best time to visit is during the morning when the sea is usually calmer, allowing for a smoother boat ride.

Anna of Zanzibar
Anna of Zanzibar

Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

For nature lovers, a visit to Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park is a must. The park is the largest area of mature indigenous forest on Zanzibar and is home to unique species, including the Zanzibar red colobus monkey, which is indigenous to the island. Visitors can take guided nature walks through the forest to spot these monkeys and learn about the park's diverse ecosystem and conservation efforts.
Who it appeals to: Nature enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and eco-conscious travelers will appreciate the opportunity to connect with nature and observe rare and endangered species in their natural habitat. Families with older children can also enjoy the educational aspect of the park.
Insider Tips: Engage with knowledgeable local guides who can provide insights into the flora and fauna of the park. Keep a respectful distance from the wildlife and follow the park's guidelines for a responsible and sustainable visit.
Practicalities: The park is located approximately 38 kilometers from Stone Town and can be reached by car. Guided tours are available, and it's advisable to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring insect repellent.

Anna of Zanzibar
Anna of Zanzibar

Kizimkazi

Kizimkazi, a coastal village in Zanzibar, is renowned for its marine adventures, particularly dolphin tours. Visitors can take boat excursions to encounter pods of wild dolphins in their natural habitat and have the opportunity to swim and snorkel alongside these majestic creatures. The village also has a historical mosque, the Kizimkazi Dimbani Mosque, which dates back to the 12th century.
Who it appeals to: Marine enthusiasts, snorkeling and diving aficionados, and those seeking cultural immersion will find Kizimkazi to be an intriguing destination. Families with children can enjoy the thrill of spotting dolphins in the open sea.
Insider Tips: Opt for responsible and eco-friendly dolphin tours that prioritize the well-being of the animals and their habitat. Respect the marine life and follow guidelines for sustainable interaction.
Practicalities: Dolphin tours can be arranged from local operators in Kizimkazi. It's important to choose reputable and ethical tour providers to ensure a respectful and low-impact experience. Visitors should also inquire about the best times for dolphin sightings to maximize the experience.

White sand beaches of Zanzibar's Pemba Island
White sand beaches of Zanzibar's Pemba Island

Nungwi Beach

For travelers seeking postcard-perfect beaches and crystal-clear waters, Nungwi Beach is a top pick. Located on the northern tip of Zanzibar, Nungwi offers pristine stretches of sand, swaying palm trees, and a laid-back coastal vibe. Visitors can partake in water sports, enjoy sunset dhow cruises, and explore the local fishing village to gain insight into the island's maritime heritage.
Who it appeals to: Beach aficionados, water sports enthusiasts, and those in search of relaxation and natural beauty will find Nungwi Beach to be an ideal escape. The area is also suitable for families looking for a tranquil beach experience.
Insider Tips: Venture beyond the main beach area to discover quieter spots for sunbathing and swimming. Engage with local fishermen to learn about their traditional dhow building techniques and seafaring customs.
Practicalities: Nungwi is easily accessible by road from other parts of the island, and there are accommodations and dining options available. It's advisable to bring sunscreen, hats, and reusable water bottles to stay comfortable and eco-friendly during beach visits.

Chapwani Private Island

For a serene and luxurious escape, Chapwani Private Island offers an exclusive retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the main island. The island features pristine beaches, lush greenery, and a tranquil atmosphere, making it a perfect hideaway for relaxation and rejuvenation. Visitors can enjoy water activities, spa treatments, and romantic beachfront dining experiences.
Who it appeals to: Luxury travelers, honeymooners, and those seeking a secluded and upscale getaway will appreciate the privacy and pampering offered by Chapwani Private Island. The resort also caters to couples celebrating special occasions.
Insider Tips: Indulge in the island's offerings, such as private beach picnics, sunset sailing excursions, and stargazing experiences. Take advantage of the personalized services to elevate the overall stay.
Practicalities: Access to Chapwani Private Island is typically arranged through the resort's management, and visitors can expect a high level of service and comfort. It's recommended to inquire about available activities and amenities in advance to tailor the experience to personal preferences.

Forodhani Gardens

Forodhani Gardens, located along the seafront of Stone Town, is a vibrant meeting place and culinary hub known for its open-air food market. Visitors can indulge in an array of authentic Zanzibari dishes, including seafood skewers, grilled maize, and sugar cane juice, while immersing themselves in the lively atmosphere of the waterfront. In the evenings, the gardens transform into a bustling night market, offering a variety of street food and local crafts.
Who it appeals to: Food enthusiasts, cultural explorers, and those interested in experiencing Zanzibar's local cuisine and street food culture will find Forodhani Gardens to be a flavorful and lively attraction. Families can savor the diverse flavors and engage with local vendors.
Insider Tips: Arrive at the market before sunset to secure a good spot and witness the transformation of the gardens into a food and cultural extravaganza. Try a variety of dishes for a comprehensive taste of Zanzibari flavors.
Practicalities: Forodhani Gardens is easily accessible from the central areas of Stone Town and is typically crowded in the evenings. Visitors should be mindful of their belongings and be open to engaging with the local vendors for a memorable experience.

Mnemba Island

Mnemba Island, situated off the northeast coast of Zanzibar, is a pristine private island known for its exclusivity and pristine natural environment. While the island is privately owned and accommodations are reserved for guests, day visitors can enjoy snorkeling excursions to explore the surrounding coral reefs, which are home to an abundance of marine life, including colorful fish and sea turtles. Mnemba Island is a marine conservation area, making it an excellent spot for eco-conscious travelers.
Who it appeals to: Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, eco-travelers, and those seeking an undisturbed marine sanctuary will appreciate the conservation-focused experiences offered at Mnemba Island. Families can partake in educational snorkeling experiences suitable for children.
Insider Tips: Book snorkeling trips with reputable and eco-friendly operators to ensure minimal impact on the marine ecosystem. Observe marine life responsibly and follow guidelines for sustainable snorkeling practices.
Practicalities: Day trips to Mnemba Island can be arranged through authorized tour operators, and visitors should inquire about the environmental policies and regulations for snorkeling activities. It's essential to respect the conservation efforts and guidelines of the marine protected area.

Cheetah's Rock

For a unique and interactive wildlife experience, Cheetah's Rock provides visitors with the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of rescued animals, including big cats, primates, and reptiles. The conservation center focuses on animal welfare and education, offering guided tours and encounters that foster respect and understanding for the resident animals and their natural habitats.
Who it appeals to: Animal lovers, families with children, and those interested in ethical wildlife encounters will find Cheetah's Rock to be a meaningful and educational attraction. Visitors can support the center's conservation efforts through responsible tourism.
Insider Tips: Engage with the knowledgeable guides to learn about the individual stories and behaviors of the resident animals and participate in interactive experiences that prioritize the well-being of the animals. Carry a reusable water bottle and adhere to sustainable practices during the visit.
Practicalities: Cheetah's Rock is located within a short drive from key areas of Zanzibar and offers guided tours by appointment. Visitors should adhere to the center's guidelines for respectful animal interactions and sanctuary visitation.

Let's Go

Plan your trip to experience the diverse wonders of Zanzibar with Adventure Life. Our expert trip planners are ready to assist you in tailoring your ideal itinerary and ensuring a seamless, once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. When you travel with Adventure Life, you'll be accompanied by local guides who are fluent in English and dedicated to enhancing your exploration of this captivating destination. Contact us to start planning your Zanzibar adventure today.

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