Over the centuries, the islands of the Zanzibar archipelago have been a hub for spice merchants, intrepid explorers, and big game hunters. But a new wave of upscale luxury resorts has transformed Zanzibar into a destination for travelers seeking five-star comforts, as well. The country is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, comprised of numerous small islands and two large ones (Unguja, the main island, and Pemba) in the Indian Ocean, just off the east coast of Africa.
But if you visit Zanzibar, you'll still hear that wild call of nature that has long been a siren's song for backpackers and adventurers. Few places on the planet are as beautiful, entrancing, and exotic as the Tanzanian archipelago. Our Zanzibar travel guide will help you get the most from your vacation.
Things Not to Miss in Zanzibar
• Stone Town is Zanzibar's historical capital. It is a World Heritage Site, home to numerous historical and cultural sites, including Makusurani graveyard, where many of the islands' former Arab rulers are buried; the Dunga Ruins, palatial ruins dating for the 15th century; and the Peace Memorial Museum, the national historical museum.
• Go diving, snorkeling or dhow sailing in the clear Indian Ocean or lounge on the beach.
• Zanzibar is famous for its spices—the islands are colloquially known as the Spice Islands. Take a spice tour to sample clove, nutmeg, vanilla, black pepper, and coriander.
When to Go to Zanzibar
Zanzibar is an equatorial paradise, with a warm climate and almost no seasonal variation (high temperatures are between 82 and 91 degrees F year-round). As such, the only consideration you need to account for when making Zanzibar travel plans is precipitation. March through May is the monsoon season, when the islands get about a twelve inches of rain per month. It's also the least touristy season, so plan accordingly.