Located off the east coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of two main islands, Pemba and Unjuga, and many smaller ones. Unjuga is the larger of the main islands and home to the capital of Zanzibar Town, though the whole island is often also referred to as Zanzibar.
While this can be a bit confusing, it's a small hurdle for swimming in crystal-clear waters, relaxing on golden sands and exploring the historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If Zanzibar sounds like your kind of place, here’s the Flexicover team’s guide on why you should go and what to do when you get there.
Planning your trip
Average high temperatures are a pleasing 29C to 33C throughout the year, though March, April and May are more prone to heavy rainfall. Accommodation is cheaper than in Western Europe; expect to pay £25 to £30 per night for a room in a mid-range hotel. The local currency is the Tanzanian shilling (you'll currently get about 3,000 shillings to the pound), but virtually all hotels, bars and restaurants allow you to pay in dollars, euros or sterling. There are no direct flights from the UK, but several carriers fly there via hub airports. As with any part of Tanzania, you'll need a visa to visit Zanzibar. You can pick one up on arrival for $50. Easy peasy, right?
What to do
A growing number of large-scale resorts can be found along the coast, and Zanzibar's aquamarine waters are also a paradise for divers and snorkelers. Popular sites include Mnemba Atoll Marine Park and Menai Bay Conservation Area, characterised by their abundant sea life and colourful coral reefs. If your visit coincides with a full moon, make a beeline for the beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa on the northern coast. Islanders flock here for monthly full moon parties, where the ambience is distinctly African. When it's time to step away from the beaches, consider the remote village of Michamvi, which boasts the best spot on Unjuga to catch the sunset.
What to see
History buffs should spend a day or two immersing themselves in the myriad winding alleys of the 19th-century Stone Town, offering a unique blend of architecture thanks to its Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian and European roots. No tour of Stone Town is complete without seeing the imposing Old Fort and visiting the former house of legendary explorer David Livingstone. Fancy a bite to eat or some liquid refreshment while you're here? Check out Mercury's Bar, named for Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who was born in Stone Town. Meanwhile nature lovers can head inland to the nature trails of the Jozani Forest – you might even be lucky enough to see an extremely rare Red Colobus monkey.
Where to stay
Whether you're after high-end or rough and ready, you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation in Zanzibar. Stone Town's first five-star hotel, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar, blends Middle Eastern stylings with direct access to a glorious white sand beach - plus it's right in the heart of the historic district. Opposite the Mnemba Island Marine Conservation area, you'll find Matemwe Lodge, an eco-resort perched on a coral cliff that boasts a dozen beautiful villas and two pools. Want a beachside location without the premium resort price tag? Opt for the surprisingly affordable Shooting Star Lodge, which offers splendid four-poster beds and a highly rated restaurant.
What to eat
Spices are an integral part of Zanzibari food. From cloves and coriander to nutmeg and vanilla, a wide variety of fragrant ingredients help to characterise the archipelago's signature dishes. Biryani is a culinary staple, and you'll see variants of this delicately spiced curry everywhere from street markets to upscale restaurants. For a taste of local street food, try a weird-but-wonderful Zanzibar pizza. Unlike its Italian namesake, it incorporates a range of fried ingredients - including cheese, egg and peppers, plus optional meat or fish, served in a thin parcel of dough and drizzled with chilli or tomato sauce.
Wherever you plan on heading to this year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.