Best time to go to Zanzibar
Zanzibar’s weather can be neatly summed up as hot and wet or hot and sunny. Ideally, go for the latter.
When it’s hot, it’s very, very hot, and when it’s wet, it’s horrid. Well, in March to early May anyway, when the long rains bring daily torrential downpours, high humidity and churned-up, silty seas. Outside these times, most visits to Zanzibar will be pleasant, with dry, sunny June to October peak season on the beach (and in Tanzania’s game reserves if you’re on safari first). January to March are also hot and dry, but quieter, and while November to December bring Zanzibar’s short rains these tend to be isolated showers which won’t lead to a holiday washout. Temperatures hover around 30°C all year round. March, October and November are generally considered the best for diving and snorkelling – with warm seas, little wind, and excellent visibility. Whale sharks can be seen from September to December.
Zanzibar Weather Chart
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Zanzibar travel advice
Izzy Greaves, Zanzibar expert at our tailor made holiday specialists Audley Travel shares her Zanzibar tips:
“It is a Muslim island so you do need to be respectful of the local people, particularly in Stone Town. Zanzibar combines very well with safari in both Tanzania and Kenya with daily flights – a light aircraft flight from Dar es Salaam only takes 20 mins. The island has something for everyone, water sports and land activities.”
Moving beyond the beach
“There is plenty to do on the island that isn’t at the beach, I recommend spending a night or two in Stone Town which has fascinating history with the East African slave trade, beautiful architecture and buzzing day and night markets.”
Tips for getting away from the crowds
“Zanzibar has become more commercial over the years, it is still a beautiful island but definitely has become more popular. Therefore if you want to really avoid the crowds and go off the beaten track I would recommend looking at Pemba Island or Mafia Island.”
Responsible tourism tips
“We highly recommend staying in the family run/manager run properties which are smaller and more boutique. These will often have their own responsible tourism values and will work closely with local communities. When booking local tours only book recommended ones from your hotel or tour operator and avoid swimming with dolphin tours as they are not particularly well run.”
Marie Cavie, from our Tanzania experts Native Escapes shares her top tips for Zanzibar:
“The sun is very strong and it is humid throughout the year, averaging 25°C. Pack lightweight loose clothing in fabrics such as linen and cotton which can be washed and dried easily. Some of the higher end beach accommodations request that men wear long trousers at dinner times too, so best to check before travel. If visiting Stone town, or areas outside of the beach resorts, clients should be respectful and wear appropriate clothing to cover up. Being predominately Muslim this is particularly applicable for women who should also cover shoulders and make sure knees are covered too. Definitely no short shorts!”
“Take an excursion to a sandbank for a picnic and a visit to Changuu Island – better known as Prison Island. Head to Fumba Island for dolphin spotting, Jozani Forest to see the endemic Red Colobus monkeys, partake in a spot of dhow making, visit a spice plantation, or merely immerse in the sights, smells and sounds in Stone Town’s melting pot of a city.”