Things to do in Zanzibar island

Zanzibar is a lovely paradise-like archipelago that carries the island vibe and easily makes its visitors fall in love. Is there something else you can experience, besides the beaches and the ocean? You’ll be amazed by all the diverse things to do in Zanzibar. So let’s jump into the jewel of the Indian Ocean, the gem of your Tanzania itinerary – Zanzibar!

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Mnemba island

Safari Blue

Safari Blue is one of the most popular things to do in Zanzibar. You start with riding to the southern part of the island, then you hop on a boat and explore smaller islands, sand dunes in the sea, to sail the sparkling seas. It is super cool to board the boat at low tide (Zanzibar is a very tide-dependent island). Walking on the slippery rocks for hundreds of meters is both adventurous and also not the typical boat tour experience.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Nungwi

Then you start sailing, passing away from the coastline, saying hi to small islands. You can even spot dolphins playing near your boat – just pay attention to the surroundings – we managed to see a few of them jumping by our boat for a few seconds.

Later you’ll reach a sand island and it is time for snorkeling. The underwater world was plentiful in the azure waters. There might be some nasty jellyfish to sting you but it’s no so bad – half of the people don’t even feel it. However, be more covered when you snorkel and you won’t have a problem. You can also swim to the sand island and walk on it – enjoy this little paradise!

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Safari Blue Tour

Snorkel around Mnemba Island

Mnemba Island is private and restricted that they’ll put a fine for you if you set foot on it and don’t have a reservation for the resort. But you can freely swim and enjoy the corals and the colorful fish. That was the place with the most plentiful underwater flora and fauna we experienced in Zanzibar. Mnemba Island is not far from the coastline of Unguja where you can still walk on the sandy beaches and enjoy this magical part of the island. The bird-eye view of the island and the area is even more magical. We’re not sure it’s worth paying the money to stay on the island (plus they seem to have nasty mosquitos), but you can experience it as a half-day trip from Zanzibar’s main island.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Mnemba island

Dive around Tumbatu Island

We really wish we had done this – diving around Tumbatu Island, as the feedback and the photos suggest it will be one remarkable dive. Tumbatu Island has the nicest coral gardens in North Zanzibar. its three dive sites – Shetani, Popobawa, and Mwana – have flourishing corals reef, with a large variety of soft and hard corals. The reef starts at 3 meters and drops down to 12 meters deep. So you can also snorkel there and even if you’re a beginner diver – that’s the place for you.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Safari Blue Tour

Kendwa Beach – dhow sunset cruise

It is said that Kendwa beach is probably the best beach on Zanzibar island. Even at low tide, it’s surprisingly easy to swim without walking hundreds of meters. The sand is nice and smooth. Well, the not-so-good news is that the beach is covered with resorts, and if you can get in any resort or find the secret path, you’ll reach the beach and enjoy it for yourself. We spotted some typical dhow boats on a sunset cruise and we couldn’t think of anything more romantic and magical to do at that very moment! So try the sailing with dhow boats and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of true Zanzibar!

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Kendwa

Nungwi beach – high-tide sunset drinks

Another very magical thing to do in Zanzibar, which includes a famous beach and sunset, is having delicious sunset drinks from one of the many bars on Nungwi beach at high tide. What used to be a white-sand beach had turned into moderate waves crushing the stone base of your bar. All you need to do is relax, get a front-row table, and wait for the sun to go down!

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Nungwi

Walk on the reef at low-tide

You can walk on the reef at low-tide on many beaches on Zanzibar island. In the beginning, we felt a bit upset – we had to walk a long time to get to the water. Later we realized it’s kind of the most interesting things to do in Zanzibar. You can do it anywhere you see the low-tide has left the reef naked. We especially like our time in Bwejuu village and its empty beach.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Eastern coastline of Zanzibar

Chwaka fishing village

Fishing is one of the main industries in Zanzibar. You can visit a fishing village to observe the whole process from boats going into the deep sea to fish left to dry up under the sun. We stopped by in Chwaka village to check out the whole process of fishing and the fish market (if you can survive the smell, go for it).

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Eastern coastline of Zanzibar

Play on the beach with locals kids

This blog post contains some affiliate links to services and products we like. If you book through those links, we’ll get a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you for helping us keep The Magic of Traveling going!

One of the best stops we had was somewhere in the Pongwe area. We let the drone fly but the best part was the nearby improvised football field where at least a dozen kids played. We quickly made friends with them (some of them spoke barely a few words in English) – but we had a nice toy so that’s what kept us together.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Eastern coastline of Zanzibar

The Rock restaurant

The Rock is a famous restaurant that is definitely worth a photo. We decided to skip having a meal because of the price list. Still, you can enjoy the beach nearby, swim or walk to the restaurant (depending on the tide) and meet many local people there, especially at sunset.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - The Rock restaurant

Are you fascinated by Tanzania?

Check out our new book “The Magic of Traveling in Tanzania”.
Hakuna Matata!

Spot the Zanzibar red colobus monkeys in Jozani Forest

The Zanzibar red colobus monkeys are endemic to Unguja island and they are definitely worth support as they are endangered species. Efforts are made for their conservation and one way to do that is to visit the Jozani Forest, pay the entrance fee, and have a guide walk you through the forest. You can also spot the blue monkeys – the neighbors of red colobus monkeys, other species in the swamp surrounded by majestic mangrove trees, and tiny frogs – up to up to 1-centimeter-long.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Jozani Forest

Spice Plantation Tour

Zanzibar is called “spice island” for a reason. You can smell the reason once you step on the island. Whereas you will pass many spice fields even when you drive around, you can also join a spice plantation tour. You’ll see where spices grow, among them cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, Zanzibar’s famous cardamom, cinnamon, curry, menthol, pepper, tamarind, and ginger. You’ll also see tropical fruits such as papayas, mangoes, and jackfruit. 

Find a huge ship “parked” on Mangapwani beach

During one of our wanderings on Unguja Island, we took a detour to check out a beach and a resort but we stumbled upon something even better. There was a huge ship “parked” on a beach, standing a bit lonely. We met a few people fixing different kinds of smaller boats and it was quite interesting to find a bit forgotten but so authentic part of the island.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Western coastline of Zanzibar

Historic sights in Stone Town

When you reach the capital of Unguja – Stone town, or Zanzibar City, it’s time to take a dive into history. We recommend visiting the National Museum of Zanzibar, the House of Wonders, and the Old Fort. Those places are saturated with history, and architecture, and one can learn so many things about the rich past of the Zanzibar archipelago.

Don’t forget to check out the house where Freddy Mercury himself lived – it’s nowadays a hotel where you can stay, or you can do as most travelers do – take a photo with the facade and then hum a Queen’s song until the end of the day.

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Stone town

Get lost on the streets of Stone Town

Stone Town is an incredible mix of Oriental, Arabic, Islamic, and Persian cultures and you can’t get bored with its architecture, taste, or smell. The best thing to do in Stone Town is to get lost on its network of tiny streets. Behind every corner, you’ll stumble upon a wonderful piece of architecture. If you follow the various aromas, you’ll get to a market, a workshop, or another surprise. Leave at least a few hours to get lost on the streets of Stone Town and don’t hurry to find yourself!

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Stone town

Forodhani night market

Forodhani night market is definitely a bit touristy and the prices for non-locals tend to go higher, but it’s definitely an experience in Zanzibar. You can try the famous Zanzibar pizza, Biryani, Ugali, date nut bread, coconut bean soup, and so many more delicious bites. Don’t forget to bargain for the price and enjoy your Zanzibari feast in the lit-up Forodhani garden!

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - Stone town

Learn the history and meet giant tortoises on Changuu Island

From Stone Town, you can take a boat or a tour to Changuu Island, which is much more known as Prison Island. On the island, you will learn about that dark piece of history of slavery and how slaves were treated before they were transferred to other parts of the world. Changuu Island is also famous for its giant tortoises so you can have a lovely encounter with those beautiful and peaceful creatures.

Travel in dala-dala

The ultimately cool means of transportation in Zanzibar is called dala-dala. It’s kind of a minibus that can fit anyone who wants to get in and it will transport you from A to B in a colorful, funny, and a bit crazy way. Dala-dalas on the narrow roads of Zanzibar are such a contribution to the island’s charm!

10-day Tanzania and Zanzibar itinerary - dala dala

Kigodoro dance

A typical traditional dance from Tanzania, Kigodoro is nowadays too controversial. Women shake their bottoms frivolously, while some get into a “trance” state and get totally undressed. We were lucky to just spot the first part – a spontaneous dance by some local ladies on the beach. The state has blacklisted the “new generation” version of the dance but it’s still popular, especially at weddings.

Zanzibar tours

If you want to explore Zanzibar on a tour, we suggest that you take a look below and find the best tours in Zanzibar!

Where to stay in Tanzania and Zanzibar

Apart from our safari package, we booked all our accommodations ourselves via booking.com. We are so happy because we found some unbelievable places for pennies, most of them with lovely hosts! Here are all the accommodations we stayed at in Tanzania and Zanzibar. We tried to avoid hotels and resorts and to stay at guesthouses, small hotels, bungalows, hostels.

  • Banana Farm Eco Hostel in Arusha – lovely setting inside a banana farm. They prepared a late dinner for us and said goodbye with a pack of homemade coffee! Highly recommend!
  • Migombani Campsite – amazing place in the wild for camping or glamping with majestic views towards Lake Manyara, a cool swimming pool, and Maasai security guards.
  • Green Mountain Hotel in Arusha – if you need a place near Arusha downtown, with super clean rooms, a swimming pool, and conference facilities – that’s the place for you. The staff was awesome and attentive.
  • Mpole Bungalows in Michamwi, Zanzibar – friends of ours recommended us the bungalows in a tiny calm village on the East coast of the island. The atmosphere, the friendly team, the beach is 50 meters away – we could have easily stayed longer!
  • Green’s Guesthouse Nungwi, Zanzibar – it’s not only the fresh green theme that runs around the guesthouse premises that makes the place special. It’s the super accommodating owner who even gives you a tour around Nungwi. And the breakfast is plentiful and super delicious! We couldn’t even finish half of it!
  • Stonetown View Inn in Zanzibar City (Stone town) – the perfect place to get away from Stone town’s bustling rhythm. The staff was friendly and even helped us arrange a parking spot for free.

So those were our suggestions on the best things to do in Zanzibar so you can explore the island’s nature, culture, and history. Let us know what’s your favorite Zanzibar experience! Don’t forget to check out our article with things to do in mainland Tanzania.

Are you fascinated by Tanzania?

Check out our new book “The Magic of Traveling in Tanzania”.
Hakuna Matata!

Do you like this post?

Travel with us and share our journey on Instagram! Do you want to support us – learn how here!

Keep up with our latest travel adventures and projects!
Subscribe for our Traveletter!

Leave a Reply