Zanzibar is a stunning island located in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Tanzania. It’s well known for its stunning beaches, turquoise oceans, and lush rainforests.
Although it’s a popular tourist destination, there are still some things to keep in mind when traveling here.
1. Don’t wear revealing clothing
Zanzibar is in a conservative Muslim country, and it’s important to dress modestly when out and about. Leave the miniskirts and tank tops at home, and opt for something a little more covered up.
Tourists can actually be fined for not dressing appropriately, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
It’s best to wear loose-fitting clothing items that covers your chest, stomach, and legs. Try to avoid clothing that is see-through or too tight.
2. Don’t drink the tap water
The tap water in Zanzibar is not safe to drink, so be sure to stock up on bottled water instead. You’ll find bottled water everywhere, so there’s no need to worry about not having access.
3. Don’t drink alcohol
Zanzibar is a dry country, so there’s no need to bring any alcohol with you. And forget about trying to buy any while you’re there – it’s not sold in stores.
Of course, the same rules don’t apply if you’re staying in a resort in Zanzibar. There you will be able to buy alcoholic drinks, but it’s still best to drink in moderation.
4. Don’t visit Stone Town on a weekend
Stone Town is the main tourist hub in Zanzibar, and it can be quite crowded over the weekends. If you’re looking for a more peaceful experience, try visiting during the week instead.
It is recommended to go to Stonetown with a guide, however, as it can be easy to get lost in the narrow streets.
5. Don’t forget your insect repellent
Mosquitoes are rife in Zanzibar, so it’s important to pack a good insect repellent. You’ll find plenty of mosquito repellent for sale in Zanzibar, but it’s best to come prepared.
Most hotels and resorts will have insect repellent available, but it’s always a good idea to have your own just in case.
6. Don’t leave your belongings unguarded
Zanzibar is a safe place to travel, but it’s still important to be careful with your belongings. Don’t leave your bags or valuables unguarded, and always keep your passport and money on you.
There are plenty of safe places to stay in Zanzibar, so there’s no need to worry about your safety. Just use your common sense and you’ll be fine.
7. Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path
Zanzibar is a beautiful island, and there’s plenty to see and do away from the main tourist areas. If you’re willing to explore, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing hidden gems.
I would recommend only doing this if you’re confident you can find your way around, as getting lost in the jungle can be a little daunting.
I also wouldn’t recommend this to a solo traveler in Zanzibar, as it’s always best to have someone with you just in case.
8. Don’t take pictures of people without their permission
It’s considered rude and disrespectful to take pictures of people without their permission and is something you should definitely not do in Zanzibar.
You may be intrigued by the many beautiful native people in their colorful cultural clothing, but it’s best to ask first before snapping a photo.
If you’re caught taking pictures of people without their permission, you may be asked to delete the photos or, in more extreme cases, to leave the country.
If you want to take a picture, always ask first.
9. Don’t swim at the beach after dark
The beaches in Zanzibar are beautiful, but it’s best not to swim at them after dark. There have been cases of people being robbed and attacked at night, so it’s best to be safe rather than sorry.
There are also not much (if any) light on the beach after dark, so it can be difficult to see where you’re going.
If you want to swim at the beach, try doing it during the day instead.
10. Don’t forget your sunscreen
Zanzibar is a hot and sunny place, and it’s easy to get sunburned. Make sure to pack a good sunscreen, and apply it regularly while you’re there.
You’ll be able to buy sunscreen in Zanzibar, but it’s always a good idea to have your own just in case.
11. Don’t miss out on the food
Skipping out on the local food is a definite thing to not do in Zanzibar!
Zanzibar is known for its delicious food, so be sure to try as much as you can while you’re there. The best way to do this is to head to the markets and try the local food.
You’ll find a variety of different foods in the markets, from seafood to curries to sweet desserts.
Some of the best local dishes you must try while in Tanzania are:
– Mbausi (a spicy beef dish)
– Pilau (a rice dish with meat or vegetables)
– Mashua (a type of squash)
– Samosas (fried pastry filled with meat or vegetables)
– Mkate waMbaazi (flatbread made from millet flour)
– Chai (tea)
Be sure to sample them all – you won’t be disappointed!
12. Don’t walk around alone at night
It’s not safe to do so, as there have been cases of people being mugged and attacked. If you’re out and about after dark, it’s best to stick with a group of people. Zanzibar is known to be extremely dark at night, so it’s easy to lose your way and be a potential target for danger.
If you’re traveling solo in Zanzibar, try to avoid walking around at night. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
13. Don’t haggle excessively
Zanzibar is known for its lively markets, where you can buy all sorts of souvenirs to take home with you. However, it’s important to haggle for a good price – don’t be afraid to bargain.
Just remember not to haggle too much, as you may offend the seller.
Tanzania is also a poorer country, so remember to be respectful of people’s belongings and don’t expect them to give you things for free.
Haggling at markets is expected but be polite about it.
14. Don’t go to Zanzibar during the rainy season
It’s not only uncomfortable, but also potentially dangerous to travel to Zanzibar during the rainy season. The roads can be quite dangerous to drive on, and there’s a higher chance of getting sick from the mosquitoes.
If you’re able to, try to avoid traveling to Zanzibar during the months of April, May, and November.
Read more: When is the best time to go to Tanzania?
Overall, Zanzibar is a wonderful place to visit with plenty to offer tourists, and with a bit of common sense you’ll have a great time.
The best way to enjoy your trip to Zanzibar is to relax and go with the flow. Be prepared for things to be a little different than what you’re used to, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying everything the island has to offer.
Just remember to be respectful of the culture and people, always abide by the law, and to pack your sunscreen, insect repellent, and sense of adventure!