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The Zanzibar Islands, located in the Indian Ocean, are highly sought-after beach destinations for tourists from Africa and around the world. The captivating history and breathtaking nature and landscapes of Zanzibar attract a diverse range of visitors from all over the globe. 

In this article, we will explore and provide detailed answers to frequently asked questions regarding planning a trip to Zanzibar for a holiday experience.

Common Questions About Visiting Zanzibar.

1. What Is Zanzibar Known For?

While Zanzibar is a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean, it is a very well-known destination due to many reasons. As a tourist destination, Zanzibar is popular because of its pristine beaches, rich history and wonderful culture.

What many people might not know is that Zanzibar has been popular for centuries because of its ideal position in the era when people and goods were first moving across oceans. The long history of Arabs, Asians, Europeans and Africans makes Zanzibar a unique place for culture, history, cuisine, etc.

zanzibar clear waters

2. Is Zanzibar A Country?

Zanzibar's popularity exists partly separate from Tanzania and this can make some people wonder if Zanzibar is a country on its own. 

Zanzibar encompasses several islands that are part of Tanzania as a country. While Zanzibar is partly self-governing, it is not a country, but simply a part of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean.

After the uniting of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the Republic of Tanzania was formed and Zanzibar stopped existing on its own. Therefore, the 'TAN' in TANZANIA represents the mainland - formerly known as Tanganyika, and the 'ZAN' represents the various Islands that comprise Zanzibar. TANganyika+ZANzibar=TANZANIA

3. Do You Need A Visa For Zanzibar?

Unless your country has a visa-exemption agreement with Tanzania, you will need a visa to go to Zanzibar for a holiday. Since Zanzibar is part of Tanzania, you shall be acquiring a tourist visa for Tanzania.

tanzania visa

You can apply for Tanzania's visa online or from the nearest embassy. The process of getting the e-visa is quite straightforward and should take you a short amount of time.

Here is the official government website where you can apply for Tanzania's e-visa

Related article: Tanzania Visa requirements, processes & exemptions

4. Is Zanzibar Safe To Visit?

As with travelling anywhere, safety is one of the most important concerns. In the case of Zanzibar, the island is very safe tourists needn't worry.

Since tourism is the biggest industry in the Zanzibar Archipelago, the safety of visitors is paramount and the local people are very warm and hospitable. This is why many tourists come back to Zanzibar several times, thus the popularity of the island destination.

As with any place, caution is always important to avoid petty crime and bad characters. 

Related article: Is Zanzibar safe for tourists.

5. Do They Speak English In Zanzibar?

The most commonly spoken language in Zanzibar is Swahili but many residents also speak Arabic, French, English, and Italian. Most people in the travel and hospitality industry are fluent in English, as well as some other international languages. 

As a visitor, you shouldn't have much trouble communicating. If you don't speak English or any of the more common languages, ask the travel handlers to organize a guide that is good in your language.

Additionally, you can easily learn some Swahili words for greeting, saying thank you and saying bye. A few Swahili words could enhance your overall experience with the locals.

6. What Is The Religion Of Zanzibar

Zanzibar's main religion is Islam. Around 98% of the residents are Muslims and the remaining percentage is shared between Christian and traditional faiths.

zanzibar beach

7. Can You Drink Alcohol In Zanzibar?

While Zanzibar's population is almost entirely Muslim, you will find plenty of places to have a drink. It is advisable to drink in moderation to avoid drunken behaviour that would be offensive to the residents of the island.

Given the religious factor, it is advisable to be respectful, especially in the month of Ramadhan when people are fasting.

As long as you are being respectful with your booze, Zanzibar has a thrilling party scene where you can have a wonderful time.

kite surfing in zanzibar

8. Can I Wear Shorts In Zanzibar?

While there are no strict rules on shorts, revealing clothes are frowned upon. Because of a strong Muslim background, it is best to wear shorts and skirts that reach down to the knees, as well as ensure that your shoulders and upper arms are covered.

Except for pools and the beaches, it is better to dress more modestly.

Much as people will not tell you about your shorts or any revealing clothes, this is more out of politeness than 'not noticing'.

9. When Is The Best Time To Visit Zanzibar

The best time to visit Zanzibar is during the dry season months between July and September.

Zanzibar can however be visited all year round because the sun always comes out and the temperatures don't fluctuate a lot between seasons. The average temperature ranges between 25 and 28 oC (77 and 84 oF) throughout the year.

Related article: Best time to visit Zanzibar

Stone Town in Zanzibar

10. What Can I Do In Zanzibar

Zanzibar's most obvious activities for guests are visiting the beaches to enjoy some sun and swimming. With the expanse of the Indian Ocean, other activities like scuba diving, kite surfing, surfing, fishing, and snorkelling are immensely popular.

Besides the beach, Zanzibar's history is worth exploring along with some land wildlife as well as local spice markets and cuisines.

Related article: 12 things to do on holiday in Zanzibar

11. Is It Safe To Swim In Zanzibar?

Zanzibar's popularity stems from its incredible beaches that are ideal for many water activities, most notably swimming. It is therefore very safe to swim in Zanzibar. The waters are warm and the waves are not too big to pose a problem for most people.

As an Archipelago, Zanzibar is surrounded by wonderful beaches each specifically preferred by guests for different reasons.

Among the top beaches for Swimming are Nungwi Beach, Pongwe Beach, Mnemba Beach and Paje Beach among others.

zanzibar swimming in the ocean

12. Is Zanzibar Expensive To Visit?

As a popular travel destination, Zanzibar holidays can get expensive but budget travellers visit all the time and easily stick to their set amounts.

Most guests coming from Europe and North America have to consider the pricey and long international flights and this can easily bump up the cost of the trip.

If you are budget-conscious, taking some more time to plan can have you spending very little and enjoying the beaches and waters you came for. Whether it is looking at 2 and 3-star hotels or travelling in the low season, there are ways to hack the holiday.

Final Thoughts

Like all places, the decision to visit Zanzibar might bring about so many questions. From the things, you will do in Zanzibar, to the cost of your holiday and so much more.

While these questions do not cover everything, we hope they give you a good starting point. 
You can talk to us about any further questions you have about your specific holiday and we'll help you however we can.

Zanzibar is a wonderful destination to visit and you shouldn't let the overwhelming task of planning a trip stop you from visiting these magical islands.

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