By: Michelle Jackson
July 19, 2020
Zanzibar is one of the most beautiful islands to visit and explore! It is located off the coast of Tanzania and is also a part of the country of Tanzania. However, when travelling there for the first time, there are a few things to know that could help make your trip a great one.
If possible, try to book a flight that takes you directly to Zanzibar Airport. You can get your visa there, and you are already on the island. However, if you book a flight to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, you will have a layover. The flight from there to the Zanzibar airport is about a 20 to 30-minute flight (this made no sense to us). So, we booked a direct flight the second time we booked a trip to the island.
Visas on arrival for Americans are $100 per person, but they last for one year.
*For reliable transportation/pick-up from the airport to your hotel and for helpful tour guides, etc. contact us for additional information via email.
Zanzibar is an island, so you want to be sure of where you want to stay. If you don’t want a long drive from the airport then maybe you want to stay in an area nearby, like Stone Town. However, many areas (villages) further away are located on gorgeous beach fronts and have many amenities.
Stone Town is a city/town with many things to see (there is a tour that takes place there as well). It is closer to the airport. However, it can be a bit noisy and busy.
Stone Town Harbor
AREAS WE ARE FAMILIAR WITH:
Nungwi (northern tip)
Pongwe (east side of the island)
Kiwengwa (east side)
Stone Town (western side of the island) – near the airport
Paje (east side)
HOTELS/RESORTS WE RECOMMEND:
Kiwengwa Beach Resort – 5 stars
Zanbluu Beach Hotel – 4 stars
Marafiki Bungalows – 4 stars
Kiwengwa Bungalow Boutique Resort (3 stars)
Pongwe Bay Resort (4 stars) – *(We stayed there our first time visiting Zanzibar.) Here’s a link to the video of our first vacation there in 2016 (The Jacksons Visit Africa For the First Time). It was beautiful and relaxing, but the internet was not the best, so be ready to unplug from tv/ electronics for the whole of your stay. They may have upgraded things since 2016, so if you require internet, I suggest contacting them before booking to be sure. However, they have a beautiful open restaurant, pool, private beach, pool table, and a small library to keep you busy. They also have a spa – great massages!
They also offer packages for visiting local attractions, snorkeling and other activities.
If you are traveling with a large group, you may be interested in renting a beach house or bungalow. You can find many choices on sites like Booking.com.
3. AVAILABLE TOURS IN ZANZIBAR (we recommend):
ZANZIBAR BLUE SAFARI TOUR (full day tour – excellent)
Drive to another part of the island to take a boat
-pick up and drop off
-snorkeling and swimming
-seafood lunch at the beach
– a stop at a goods, arts and crafts market
TURTLE/PRISON ISLAND TOUR (short tour but very interesting)
-pick up drop off
-taking a boat to the island
-historical site – prison and old resort
-hundred-year-old tortoises that still live on the island
STONE TOWN TOUR (great tour)
-pick up drop off
-walking tour thru the town
-stopping to get the history on many historical places in town (markets, amphitheater, museum, etc.)
-stop for lunch
-shopping in the town market place
-a stop at the harbor
Zanzibar’s currency is the Tanzanian Shilling.
2,300 TZS = $1 USD
11,600 TZS = $5 USD
The conversions may be off just a little depending on where you exchange your money, but you will pay a fee regardless.
If taking money to exchange when you arrive, you can do that before leaving the Zanzibar Airport. You also want to take at least $100 (US)/ per person to cover your visa when you arrive.
In reference to meals, you can spend as much as $5 to $10 at local spots for a nice meal and maybe double at tourist spots/ hotels. It all depends on where you want to eat. We enjoyed amazing local food for about $5/per meal daily. Staying at a hotel or resort where breakfast is included is a great way to cut down on spending for at least one meal a day.
If you decide to withdraw money when you arrive, use the ATM machine outside the airport to withdraw what you need for your trip. (It will come out in Tanzanian Shillings) …no worries. ** We did this because the fee for exchanging currency was less than using the currency exchange booths.
If you are one of those people who like to travel with cash, make sure to take what ever spending money you think you will need for your whole trip because the only ATMs (for foreigners to use on the island) are in Stone Town and at the airport. This is in case you may be staying somewhere that is quite far from these places. Also, while at the airport, think about getting a sim card for making local calls because your mobile phone may not work on the island, and if it does your bill will probably shock you when it comes after returning home from your trip.
If you have any questions about something that wasn’t covered, please feel free to email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for stopping by, and I hope this helps to make your trip an amazing one!
All Photos by: Unapologetic Nomads