By: M. Jackson
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 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, this will give you a layover. Also, the way the airport is run is a bit unorganized. The flight from there to the Zanzibar airport is about a 20 to 30-minute flight (this made no sense to me). So, we booked a direct flight the second time.
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 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.
Some areas I’m familiar with are:
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)
Some hotels/ resorts are: 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.) It’s the place in our episode of The Jacksons Visit on YouTube. It was beautiful and relaxing, but the internet was not the best at all, so be ready to unplug from tv/ electronics for the whole of your stay. However, they have a beautiful open restaurant, pool, private beach, pool table, and a small library. They have a spa too – great massages.
Some hotels and resorts may offer snorkeling and other activities too.
3. Available Tours:
Zanzibar Blue Safari (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
-goods, arts and crafts market
-the Mangroves tour
Turtle Island/ Prison Island (short tour but very interesting)
-pick up drop off
-hundred-year-old turtles that still live on the island
Stone Town tour (great tour)
-pick up drop off
-walking tour thru the town
-many historical places
-stop for lunch
-shopping in the town market place
Their currency is the Tanzanian Shilling.
$1 = 2,300 TZS or (3.67 AED)
$5 = 11,600 TZS or (18 AED)
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, do it before leaving the Zanzibar Airport. You may want to take at least $100 (US) to cover your visa when you arrive.
You can spend as much as $5 to $10 at local spots for a nice meal and maybe double at tourist hotels. It all depends on where you want to eat. We enjoyed amazing local food for much of nothing daily. If staying at a hotel or resort where breakfast is included, then that is one meal you don’t have to worry about.
If you decide to just 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.
Make sure to take what you think you need for your whole trip because the only ATMs (for foreigners to use on the island) are in Stone Town. You may be staying somewhere that is quite far from there. Also, while at the airport, think about getting a sim card for making calls because your mobile phone may not work there, and if it does your bill will probably shock you when it comes.
If you have any other questions about something I did not cover, please feel free to email me at the address below.
Lastly, if you don’t mind, please use the code below if booking thru www.booking.com. It gives both you and I a discount. We use this site a great deal and manage to find some really great properties around the world at discounted rates.
Thank you and I hope this helps to make your trip an amazing one!