The Ultimate Zanzibar Travel Guide Series: One Week Fun-Packed Itinerary
The previous post in the series discussed how you can plan your Zanzibar trip, read all about it here. This post caters for what happens when you get there. It includes a one week, fun packed itinerary for you. Whether you’re there to relax, or explore, there’re exciting activities for you. This post will not talk much on how much these activities cost, there will be a separate post for that. Remember to subscribe to the blog to get email updates. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
DAY ONE (ARRIVAL): JOZANI FOREST
If you’ve chosen Zanzibar Airport Transfer like I mentioned in the previous post, then there will definitely be someone waiting for you at the airport once you arrive. Let’s assume your flight arrives early and you’re still energetic after the flight, you can arrange with the guys coming to pick you up to take you on a tour of Jozani Forest. If I do recall correctly, a Jozani Forest Tour costs $20 per person, not inclusive of transportation costs. Jozani Forest is a national park and known to have monkeys, bush babies, over 50 species of butterflies and 40 species of birds.
If your hotel is somewhere in Jambiani or surroundings, you’ll pass by Jozani Forest on your way to your hotel. You can reduce cost on the tour if you choose to visit the forest on your way to your hotel. Usually transportation costs are included in tour prices as it is quite difficult to move around. So you will have to rely on the tour guides to pick you up and drop you off. A return trip can cost anything between $20 – $40. But you can avoid that if you make a stop along the way. You would probably have to pay a little extra to your airport transfer price plus tour fee.
On the other hand, if you arrive Zanzibar late and don’t have enough daylight to explore, you can hang around your hotel, have dinner, sit by or walk on the beach till it’s bed time. Then, you can use DAY 2 as your DAY 1 and use DAY 1 as your DAY 7 (visit Jozani Forest on your last day).
I unfortunately never had the time to go see Jozani Forest, partly because I was told you could find snakes there. Lol, I think that was it for me, it wasn’t going to happen. So I don’t have pictures to share, but I have downloaded a couple off the internet just for you guys.
DAY TWO: VISIT STONE TOWN, PRISON ISLAND & THE NIGHT FISH MARKET
I’m certain you’ll wake up feeling really relaxed and super excited about being in Zanzibar. You will feel it, enjoy it and embrace the feeling. Time to visit Stone Town, Prison Island and the night fish market. You can arrange with the guys who picked you from the airport to take you into Stone Town. There’s a lot of history in Stone Town that you can get to hear about on a 30,000 Shillings for-two tour when you arrive. There are a lot of guys offering tours in the garden where there’s the usual night market. You can also try to display your negotiating skills because I know the 30,000 shillings we paid was too much for the tour.
After the tour of Stone Town and the markets, which was rushed so we could fit Prison Island into the day, we then paid $50 for two (if I’m not mistaken), for a trip to Prison Island. There are boats by the garden, which will take you to Prison Island, and you get a tour of the place, with lots of pictures of course. There’s a lot of slavery history here too and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the slaves, and at the same time angry at the people who started and managed such a business.
When you get back to Stone Town from Prison Island, make sure you wait till about 6pm for the night fish market. You get all kinds of fish from calamari to prawns, mussels, crab, etc. Also make sure you negotiate the prices. I think I should make this clear now, everything in Zanzibar is negotiable. No price is a fixed price. Coming from South Africa where there’s barely anything like negotiating or pricing, this was difficult to learn as I had forgotten all my Nigerian training lol. You can also order some sugarcane juice or several kinds of juice to go with your meat. It’ll probably be dark by the time you’re done, then you can head back to your hotel.
What a fun-packed day it’ll be, with a lot you would have learnt and a lot you would have been exposed to. You can then go to sleep, tummy filled with sea food and a happy and light heart.
DAY THREE: SNORKELING & EXPLORING
You’d have to wake early for this one and be out at about 9am, ready to go snorkeling (probably for the first time ever, if thats the case, then yay! It’s really an awesome adventure to go on). You’d have to walk to the sailing boat and sail into the turquoise blue waters. If this is your first time and you can’t swim (yes, you can go snorkeling even if you can’t swim), just wear a life jacket. It was my first time and my swimming skills were definitely below average, but one tip I’ll give is this, let that fear go. Secure your mask on so water can’t get in and fit the breathing tube into your mouth. Practice breathing with the tube before getting into the ocean.
You can’t have a good time if you’re dealing with all that fear. Yes, the ocean is intimidating and scary but that’s only if you see it as that. You can choose to embrace and enjoy the beauty of the immense mass of turquoise blue ocean. When you decide to see it that way, the fear disappears. You should let your guide know that it’s your first time and you’re not so good at swimming, and they’ll take care of you. My guide got me a step to get out of the boat and told me to use the sides of the boat to move around.
With my snorkeling mask fitted on, I waded around in the ocean and my guide suggested I hop on his back and he’ll take me to where I can see fish. This was obviously scary and I won’t lie, the first time I nearly strangled the guy and barely enjoyed myself. Then I got back on the boat and decided I needed to make the most of this, after all I had paid 10,000 shillings for this. So I got out again, got on his back and this time, decided to trust in my mask, life jacket and the little swimming skills I had. Moved my legs around and I got more comfortable, and saw lots of fish and the bottom of the ocean, which is like the most amazing thing. The bottom of the ocean is filled with coral rocks, sea weed, lots of colorful fish (I saw the Nemo fish) and lots of natural decorations like the star fish.
Overcoming my fear was the best thing, and I ended up having an awesome time. Next you can explore other sides of the island. There’s so much to see, different people you can meet and so much you can do. You can even get to meet other tourists and find out about other hotels you’d probably love to visit the next time you visit Zanzibar.
DAY FOUR: PADDLE-BOARDING, SOME ZANZIBAR PARTYING
Have you ever gone paddle-boarding before? Either stand-up paddle-boarding or otherwise, it’s such a super fun thing to do. And don’t worry if you can’t swim, there’s no swimming expertise required for this. You just need to rent a paddle board, there’s a few on Jambiani beach and I used one close to my resort. You need to do this in the morning when the ocean is still calm and far away from shore. All you have to do is, carry your paddle board to a point where the water is ankle deep, sit on your board and try to balance, then stand, or just sit and paddle on. I can guarantee you’d fall a few times. Be careful of Sea Urchins, I stepped on a party of them and it hurt like hell!
If this particular day happens to fall on a Friday, then you should definitely visit the Jambo party in Paje that happens every Friday. With really awesome music, right on the now quiet and dry beach, and lots of other tourists drinking and trying to have a great time. You get the opportunity to meet lots of people here as it’s a major attraction for tourists. The music is great, the crowd is awesome, the ambience is jolly and lively. Definitely worth a visit.
DAY FIVE: DOLPHIN SIGHTING & CYCLING ON THE BEACH
Have you ever seen real life dolphins or even better, ever swam with dolphins? If your answer is no, this one is definitely for you. Even if your answer is yes, there is something about engaging in an activity in a different city or country, and who said you have to only try something once? Dolphin sighting is so much fun with a ride on a motor boat into the deep of the ocean, and being surrounded by deep turquoise waters. You should ensure you do this is the morning because by mid day or afternoon, the dolphins will be nowhere to be found. We (the ladies) were only able to see one dolphin on our tour but the guys were busy doing God-knows-what to sight that one dolphin, sadly. It was an amazing experience until I got sea sick and had to beg for us to return to shore. But if you’re like me, take mints with you as this helps a lot with the nausea, I wish I’d had enough mints.
After having a great time seeing the dolphins, which should take about an hour or so, you can get back and rent bicycle to ride on the beach. This experience was one of my best; riding on the beach in the rain, then stopping for a drink, dripping wet. Continued riding, in search of somewhere to eat, found a nice and cozy restaurant, still dripping wet, we all had to eat our delicious meals in towels, haha! It’s a great way to explore the other sides of the island, you can ride as far as you want and stop for a meal or two, a drink, or just explore other beautiful sights. Forever one of the best days my life.
DAY SIX: CATCH YOUR OWN MUSSELS, VISIT A DIFFERENT BEACH & ANOTHER ZANZIBAR PARTY
Ever gone fishing before? If you have, have you ever caught mussels before? This is a very easy way to tick fishing off your bucket list as you don’t really need a boat or fishing line. Just get a bowl, squat on the shore and dig into the sand for mussels. This was very exciting and therapeutic, you can then ask the chef at your hotel to cook them for you, with pasta, couscous or rice. This also has to be done in the morning when the tide is still close to shore but low.
Next, I’d suggest you visit Nungwi beach as I heard it is one of the best beaches in Zanzibar. I unfortunately was able to visit, and visited Mangwapani Beach instead, which is like the ugliest and more irritating beach ever. There’s algae everywhere, it stinks and looks filthy. My entire body was itching the whole time. Like, I had to eat my food backing the ocean because the view was so irritating. Apparently, the beach looks better when the tide is high but I really could not stand it. My advice, do not go near Mangwapani Beach. The only amazing thing was the super cheap meals. We found out that the only restaurant in the area reduces their menu prices by over half the normal price in low season. That was the biggest perk, like I got to see the menu for high season and low season and it was legit. You’d really spend a lot more on your trip if you choose to travel in high season, this is one real proof.
Nungwi beach is known for attracting lots of tourists because it is apparently extremely beautiful. I stayed in Jambiani, which is said to be a more expensive part of Zanzibar, but I mean, I can totally understand why, it’s beyond amazing. Jambiani is miles away from Nungwi, so if you’re staying in Jambiani like I did, you’d have to take a taxi to Nungwi, which is about 1 hour drive or more away from Jambiani.
After that, you can ask people around for best places to party on Saturdays. I visited another beach party on Saturday, which was the night before my birthday, and it was beyond awesome! I don’t remember all the details of that night, so you can understand how much of a madness it was. I only remember walking into the place, everything else is a very dense blur, hehe! I do remember that the music was really good, the vibe was crazy and the people were amazing. So, you should definitely ask around.
DAY SEVEN: LUKMAAN’S RESTAURANT, SPICE TOUR, HENNA & MORE SEA FOOD
This is probably your last day and you definitely want to get more of that cheap sea food, so let’s plan a day that involves visiting Stone Town again. One place you absolutely have to visit is Lukmaan’s Restaurant. It’s where all the tourists go for local food. There’s a large variety of local food to choose from. From Chappati to food with names I can’t remember but totally enjoyed. It has a very local vibe to it so be ready to watch people eat rice with their bare hands. After a delicious lunch or breakfast, next you should get on a spice tour of the amazing spice farms in Zanzibar. I never visited any of the spice farms on my trip because to be honest, it wasn’t my thing. But I certainly visited Stone Town twice, for the sea food. I’m not sure how much the spice tours costs but like I said early, always remember to negotiate. I’ve heard you get to learn a lot and you can certainly buy some spices to take back to your country with. I also heard that the spices at the spice farms can be quite pricey because they know they’re selling to tourists, that was another thing that discouraged me from visiting. Instead, I got some spices from the public market in Stone Town, which is cheaper than the Spice Farms.
After having a great walk exploring the farms, if you still have some time left before the night market opens, you should probably get henna done. This was my first time ever getting henna-ed and I absolutely loved that I did it in Zanzibar. After that, you can then go grab yourself some delicious sea food. And remember to try the different juices they offer at the market to wash down your meal.
There’s lots of other things you can do in Zanzibar, this itinerary is based on what I did and certainly enjoyed and some more. Zanzibar is a very fun place to visit, the people are super friendly, the food is delicious with so much to choose from, there are a bunch of beach activities to choose from, and the night life is amazing. Feel free to dress which ever way you want on your trips, but don’t go overboard. Basically, don’t do what you wouldn’t do in your own city.
I had an amazing time in the one week spent in Zanzibar, and with this guide, you will too. The next post is going to be on outfit ideas and what you can wear while in Zanzibar, from what’s decent to what’s not. After that, there will be another post on cost breakdown; hotel, flight, food, activities and other costs. Remember to subscribe to this blog below to get immediate updates when the other posts in this series are published. Till next time, xx.