To do and not to do

Kindly read the latest Travel Advice dated 12 August 2022 above.

If your airline or country you travel to require a negative COVID-19 test, visit one of the Covid-19 testing facilities. Please note: you need to book an appointment on or download the App on Google Playstore “Zanzibar Covid-19 testing”. Please check their website for opening hours of the different facilities. Note: Travellers & drivers or anyone in their company must wear masks as they visit the testing centre to protect those working there.

It takes 48-72 hours to get the test results. For further details and feedback/comments from tourists that got the tests please check my facebook page Zanzibar Insider Buzz 

When you check in at the airport you need to complete a departure COVID form. Then get your COVID test verified at the desk opposite the check in desks.

Transfer to your hotel: If your hotel doesn’t offer to organise your transfer, rather get a taxi at the airport desk in the arrivals hall if you don’t know the normal rates for the distance to travel. You will be inundated by numerous taxi drivers when you leave the airport building which can be quite intimidating.

BE CAREFUL: Do not book any excursions with any taxi driver and most of all, do not pay them for any tours upfront. Apparently, some taxi drivers offer a Safari Blu tour for two for 500$ and demand upfront payment in full. Needless to say that they never arrive to collect the clients. (If you book directly with the price is 70$ per person!)

Local customs: 98% of the Zanzibaris are Muslims. Especially in Stone Town, but also in the villages, ladies please do cover your shoulders (good excuse to buy a beautiful Zanzibar pareo) and your knees. Men should wear knee length or long pants and t-shirts. Please respect the traditions of the people of the host country. This dress code doesn’t apply at the coastal areas though. At the beach you wear normal beach wear, no nude or topless sunbathing though.

Ramadan is the fasting period of the Muslim community (= about 98% of Zanzibaris). In 2023, Ramadan is supposed to begin on 22 March, it lasts for 30 days (probably until 20 April). The exact date of the end of it depends on the sighting of the New Moon. It is celebrated with the big Eid Al-Fitr Festival which lasts 3 days. If you are in Zanzibar at that time make sure you are in Stone Town!

The Zanzibar Government has set some basic ground rules for everyone in Zanzibar, including foreigners, to follow during the Ramadan season:

– no eating, drinking or smoking in public

– liquor stores, night clubs and bars are closed

– restaurants are closed during the day (except for those in hotels; there are also a few restaurants in Stone Town that operate during the day, but their outdoor sitting areas are closed). Alcohol is served at the restaurants and in hotels during Ramadan.

– the dress code in town and in the villages is always important here but during Ramadan it is strongly emphasized (see “local customs” above)

The Zanzibar government understands that these rules might not be common for foreigners. Therefore, there is no reason not to come to Zanzibar during Ramadan. You can still have your breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks etc. in your hotel and go out during the day and night and enjoy yourself. Stores and souvenir shops are open, as well as attractions and museums are all operational. But PLEASE do respect the guidelines given. This is part of the travel experience. This is our culture. This is part of Zanzibar.

Medicines: Besides your regular meds I suggest that you bring an emergency travel kit (e.g. cortison creams, multivitamins) which you could donate to the local clinic or medical practitioners* when you leave, it will be much appreciated. Please DO NOT give them to the hotel staff or the locals in general. Zanzibari are not educated about meds: they are often taken like sweets, or for the entirely wrong illness, or even in the early stages of pregnancy – often with disastrous consequences.

General precautions: Please keep your passports and valuables in the hotel safe. Only carry a photocopy of your passport with you. Especially when it gets dark, rather take a taxi back to your hotel instead of walking on the tar road or even on the beach back to your hotel – arrange a transfer service with a local taxi driver. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a lot of hardship here too, many lost their jobs and have no income at all. This had a sad effect on our previously pretty safe island. Reports of robberies of people walking alone especially at night are on the increase. One of the hotspots is the stretch of tar road between Paje and Jambiani.

Tour guides: Please be careful only to choose registered tour guides (ask for their ID from the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism!). You will be fined if you use unregistered tour guides and you might loose any upfront payments made to fake tour guides. To become a registered tour guide they have to complete a costly training course which has to be initially financed by their families and paid back from the earnings of the tour guides.  Sadly there is no official register available online.  In case you need a recommendation you are welcome to contact me on 

It is strictly prohibited to export shells, no matter what size!
Curio shops will offer them to you, or kids at the beach. Do not buy them! All luggage items are scanned at the airport before you even get to the check in counter. You will pay heavy fines if you are caught with shells in your luggage.

Curio shops will also try to sell you cow horns or any other animal parts. Only buy them if you receive an exportation permit from the Ministry of Agriculture. This applies to any animal part. The shop keepers will most probably tell you “hakuna matata” (no problem). It IS a BIG problem if you are caught with any animal part in your luggage without the official exportation permit.

Concerning ivory, one needs a CITES permit. Having said that, nobody should buy any ivory in any case. In Tananzia, the population of elephants reached shockingly low levels because of ruthless poachers who kill the elephants for their ivory. Our children’s children might not be able to see a live elephant anymore if people don’t stop buying ivory.

Zanzibar airport as well as Dar es Salaam airport have x-ray machines. Every piece of luggage is thoroughly checked. Please do not take any chances.

Plastic carrier bags are officially banned on Zanzibar. Zip-lock bags are exempt since tourists usually take them back home with. Kindly leave your plastic bags at home.

Please do walk through the villages. Zanzibaris are wonderful and hospitable people, super friendly, they smile with their eyes (dress code in villages is a bit more relaxed than in Stone Town but please do not walk through the villages in a bikini!). You will be greeted with plenty of “Jambo” (hello) while you walk through the village, please do reply  “Jambo”!  It would be rude not to.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence here and punished by imprisonment. If you see Zanzibari men walk holding hands it is a sign of friendship, not homosexuality – this only applies to locals!

At the beach / in the ocean:
Please do not pick up Cone snails or Cone shells (see photo). They are found on most of the beaches of the Indian Ocean. These shells look very pretty and are shaped like a geometric cone.  The snails are venomous and capable of stinging humans with the effect of paralyzing the area around the sting. The sting of small cones is similar to a bee sting, but the sting of a few of the larger species of tropical cone snails (found at the reef) can be serious.

cone snail shells

Watch out for the black sea urchins, spiky things that you do not want to step into.  They are clearly visible at low tide so watch your step; preferably wear special shoes.

black sea urchin

If you go snorkeling to the coral reefs please do not touch or even step on any corals.  If you are lucky enough to swim with dolphins, please do not touch them – they ain’t Flipper!

Sea turtles, starfish and any other sea creatures: PLEASE leave them in the sea! Some tour guides will tell you it doesn’t harm them when you take them out of their natural habitat, just to please you or for an extra tip. They have no idea that the creatures are harmed when they are taken out of the water! So please stop them if they attempt to do that. Thank you on behalf of these beautiful creatures.

You will encounter so-called “beachi boys” who offer you anything from going snorkeling, selling handmade jewelry, etc.  They usually are friendly guys and if you say no, they in all likely-hood want to just have a chat, finding out who you are and where you come from.  As I said, most of them are really friendly, except in more touristy areas like Nungwi/Kendwa they can be quite pushy. In case you don’t feel like chatting just tell them so. Do not pay a beachi boy upfront for any tour, snorkeling etc!

Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the beach! Locals ignore this and usually get away with it but if you are caught riding a scooter or quad bike on the beach, you will be fined heavily. Besides that, people come to our beaches to relax here and the sound of a scooter riding on the beach is most certainly annoying.

Lately, some ruthless people brought jet skis to the island.  They are PROHIBITED on Zanzibar!  Jet skis destroy the environment and also disturb the peace and quiet that our tourists come here for. Don’t take any chances. If you are caught renting or riding a jet ski you will pay substantial fines.

Kids will ask you for “pipi” = sweets, “pennie” = pen for school, or “dollar”.  PLEASE do not give them anything. They were taught by the tourists to beg and we all try to stop this.  If they invite you to play soccer with them, do so!  Please speak English with the small and big kids as much as possible, the English they learn at school is shocking.

If you do want to help and bring something for the local community, here are some suggestions:
– pens, pencils and other stationary (notebooks have to be of a certain format and must therefore be purchased on the island)
– your holiday is an ideal opportunity to clean out your closet: bring used clothes for girls, boys, women and men, trainers/shoes
– and old sunglasses, any shape or size – you can give them directly to the ladies at the beach who plant and harvest seaweed, PLEASE!

If you bring things for the kids, please do not just hand your gifts out to them on the beach – it encourages a begging mentality especially among the children. Kids should receive your donations not as a gift but as a reward, for example for collecting recycling garbage that is washed up at the beaches. There are quite a few such beach clean ups taking place all over the island, mostly organized by some hotels in collaboration with Zanrec (recycling company). Best inquire at your hotel who organizes these events and drop off your donations there. It will be much appreciated.

You can also drop off school books, pens and pencils (all of these you can buy here in stationary shops) at the Zanrec Office in Mwanakwerekwe/Stone Town or at their swop shops in Nungwi and Paje.

Zanrec is our only recycling company on the island. The swop shops were created for the school kids to drop off plastic bottles etc which are weighed and in return they receive school books, pens and pencils as a reward. This great initiative is worth much support.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of the hotels on the island signed up with Zanrec for the collection of their recycling goods. A large number of hotels still use local garbage collectors who use road sides, forests and other spaces as dumping grounds. If you prefer to choose a hotel that signed up with Zanrec please check the list on the page “environmental challenges”, I keep the list updated as everything else on this webpage.

If you are at the south east coast please visit “Move Zanzibar” in Jambiani. A group of five amazing acrobats just started an NGO to work with the local kids after school. Their applaudable motto is “inspire change in life”.
They acquired a building as their Community Center in Kibigija in the northen part of Jambiani – behind the Blue Oyster Hotel beside the football field. It is open every day after school and at weekends. The plan is to first finish a classroom for English lessons, then get a library room going, a computer room, a room for the girls’ drama lessons etc. The acrobatics and dance lessons are done in an area next to the house where also their performances take place.

I watched their weekly show (every Saturday from 16h30 – 18h30, free admission but donations are much appreciated) and was amazed, not only by the acrobatic/dance performance but especially by the utter joy and fun the kids had.

This great initiative is well worth a visit, and needs support, such as:
– used trainer shoes, t-shirts, shorts or pants for boys of any age
– pens, pencils and other stationary
– books in English (for example with pictures and the English name printed below the picture) – they will teach English in the Community Centre
– old laptops with chargers for their computer room
– old mobile phones, even simple phones, with charger

You can contact their leader Clalence on +255 718360613 (also Whatsapp) or check out their facebook page “Move Zanzibar”.

Even the smallest donation counts and will be appreciated by the local community. Additionally, you will then have space in your suitcase to fill up with our beautiful fabrics, crafts, jewelry and souvenirs.

Leasing property on Zanzibar: An increasing number of tourists fall in love with Zanzibar and want to buy land here. Some locals will tell you “hakuna matata, you can buy the land together with me since by law you must have a Zanzibari partner”. This is not true anymore, the laws have changed. Herewith a few guidelines:

– All land on Zanzibar is owned by the President/Government. The locals get a right of occupancy, which they can sell. Ownership remains with the government.

– If you lease land for personal use (you are not allowed to do any business or derive any income from the property): Besides making a sales contract with the local occupant of the land, you must apply for a LEASE from the Government. The lease initially is for 33 years, but can be extended to 66 or 99 years. This is a long process.

A beach plot can only be acquired for commercial purposes, not for private use.

– If you lease land or a property for commercial use, you must register a company with ZIPA. Visit them BEFORE you buy a property and get as much information as possible.

– DO NOT make any deals regarding land or property directly with locals. Often one person says they own the property but in the end an entire family owns it. Or they don’t have any legal papers for the land, for example.

I strongly advise to get a really good lawyer or Advocate involved if you want to lease a property on the island. I acquired land here several years ago without involving a lawyer, which was a big mistake. I had to hire a lawyer who was useless, then another one etc etc. I had shocking experiences with incompetent, corrupt and ruthless lawyers on the island, which turned out to be a very costly experience. I finally found an excellent lawyer whom I can fully trust and who speaks excellent English, I highly recommend him. Please contact me on for his details.

– Please bear in mind that Zanzibar is an African island, everything here works at a verrrry slow pace, which applies to anything, lawyers included! You need to follow up constantly.

Please DO use some Swahili words:
The people of Zanzibar are incredibly friendly. Greetings like saying “Hello” are a must.

Here are some basics:

Jambo “Hello” – you will hear plenty of Jambos on this island, please always reply with a friendly Jambo, and a smile
Mambo    slang for Jambo – reply “poa” (OK, fine, cool)
Habari    also means Hello, but more respectful (reply mzuri)
Habari za asubuhi    good morning
Habari za jioni    hello, during the day
Usiko mwema    good night
Lala salama    sleep well
Shikamo    greeting used for elders, respectable people – reply “Marahaba
Kwaheri    good-bye

Nzuri    good / nice / beautiful / I am fine
Karibu    welcome, come in, also said when someone offers you something
Ahsante    Thank you! (reply to Karibu)
Tafadhali    please
Sana    means “very”, for example Ahsante sana = thank you VERY much.
Samahani    excuse me, sorry
Pole    “I am sorry for your misfortune” This applies to everything from watching someone tripping over something, or if someone is sick
Pole pole    “slowly, slowly” everything is pole pole on Zanzibar
Haraka    faster, quickly

Ndiyo    yes
Hapana   no
Sawa    you hear this quite often, it means “allright, ok, understood”
Poa    slang for OK, cool
Sijui    “I don’t know”
Hapa    here
Safari    journey “Safari njema” = safe journey
Picha    picture, photo
Choo    toilet
Polisi    police
Hatari    means danger, you might see a sign “Hatari” on the roadside warning you of building works

Leo    today
Kesho    tomorrow
Kesho kutwa    the day after tomorrrow
Asubuhi    morning
Mchana    lunch time
Jioni    afternoon
Usiko    evening/night
Saa    time
Saa ngapi?    what time? – please note that on Zanzibar, the new day doesn’t begin after midnight, but at 06h00 in the morning, which means that 07h00 am is 01h00 am here. Yes, it is confusing.

Chakula food, in general
Chakula chema enjoy your meal
Maji water
Kahawa coffee
Maziwa milk
Chai tea

Hakuna matata! no problem, no worries

Fantastic poster of New Teddy’s Place, Paje

56 thoughts on “To do and not to do

  1. Hi dear!

    Your page is just marvelous, its so helpful and I love each and every useful tips you give! Keep it up 🙂

    Me and my friends (7 girls) are planing to travel to Zanzibar on the first week of February, we want to go to the beautiful sandbanks in Nungwi and explore stone town, but it all depends on which hotel we find. My question is if it is possible to hire a taxi for all of us, (where?) and how long does it take from ex Nungwi to Stone town. Do you maybe know the price? 🙂

    And if our plane arrives at 1Am, is it possible to find taxis at that hour, by the airport, to take us to our hotel?

    Thank you dear,


    • Hi Isra,

      I am very happy to hear that you enjoy my webpage.

      Taxis are usually available 24/7 at Zanzibar International Airport. However, it works out cheaper if you book the taxi beforehand, besides the peace of mind factor. I always recommend Kibabu Cars since they are consistently reliable and offer a great service (, be that for rental cars or taxis.

      The trip from Nungwi to the airport takes approx. 1 hour. The taxi fare should be US$ 50. I doubt though that all 7 (or 8?) of you plus luggage will fit into one taxi (mini bus). Please check that when you inquire for the taxi.



  2. Dear Gaby,
    Thank you for so many wonderful information.
    Would you please help me out to know the perfect month to visit/stay in Zanzibar?
    Warm Regards, Ajay


    • You are most welcome.
      Besides April and especially May (rainy season) any month is good to visit Zanzibar. If you are not used to hot temperatures, avoid December and January which are the hottest months here.
      Cheers, Gaby


  3. Hi! My friends and I are going to Zanzibar for a few weeks in December, we were wondering a couple of things;
    For sunbathing is it recommended to start on a higher than normal sun factor, considering where Zanzibar is on the equator?
    What possibilities are there for ATM withdrawal? Is Debit or Master/Credit Card preferred? Or cash?
    Also, Visa is obtainable at Zanzibar airport for European (UK, Scandinavian) citizens yes? 🙂


    • Hi, I suggest that you use the strongest sun block available. Rather start off with sun bathing in the shade.
      Please read the pages “money / ATMs / internet on phone” and “how to get here/visa” for your other questions.


  4. Such a lovely blog. Thanks for all the info.

    I’m travelling to Zanzibar with my husband but have just heard that smoking is frowned on. Is that true and are cigarettes easy to buy?


    • Hi, you are most welcome. Smoking in public is not common here. You can smoke at the resorts or restaurants and cafes though. Should you be here during Ramadan please do not smoke, eat or drink in public. Nobody will say anything but it will be a sign of respect for the locals if you refrain from doing so.
      Have a wonderful holiday on my beautiful island.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi ,
    Very useful blog!
    So we’re planning on going to Zanzibar in May. Around the 18th. For our babymoon. We just want to have a quiet time and relax on the beach. Is may really bad timing? Does it rain all day? Should we consider another destination?


  6. Hi Gaby!
    I’m sure by now you must be tired of hearing this BUT you really do have a blog unlike anything else I could find on the internet! 😀 My partner and I are coming for 7 days in December and planning on doing a self-drive trip around the island. I have two questions:

    1. Is there a specific order of driving around the island that is better i.e. heading North first then West and then South or vice versa?
    2. Do you know of any reputable fishing companies? My partner is very interested in doing a fishing outing but we want to use a company that is trustworthy and respectful to the ocean and its wildlife.

    Thank you so much for your time.


    • Hi Lize,
      I never get tired of hearing that my blog is fantastic 🙂
      1. There is no particular order when exploring the island. It entirely depends on your interests.
      2. I don’t know of any fishing companies but suggest that you contact Safari Blue on They are on the island for over 20 years already, taking care of the environment by minimizing their footprints. They also improve the lives of Zanzibaris through their programme of Social Corporate Responsibility. I am certain that Eleanor will be able to recommend a responsible fishing company.
      Have a wonderful holiday on my beautiful island,


  7. Mambo Gaby!

    Thank you for lots of great info. You mention the need for unused sunglasses (we have probably 10 lying around!) – what would your suggestion be for getting those to the ladies that need them? We will be staying close to Paje and doing a moderate amount of moving around.


    • Mambo poa. That’s fantastic Manny. You can either bring the sunglasses to the Seaweed Centre in Paje and ask the manager to distribute them to the local ladies who harvest the seaweed. Or you can hand out the sunglasses to the ladies yourself, just walk on the beach at low tide towards Bwejuu where the seaweed grows. Many blessings.


  8. I hope you don’t mind but I have two questions

    1). Can you but bottles of wine in restaurants and shop in jambanai zanzibar

    2). What’s the average weather in Middle February and Middle March – have looked at forecasts but sadly all different!!!!!
    We would like hot weather with very little rain but not the height of season for tourists
    Kind regards Jan


    • Most hotels and restaurants on the island stock bottles of wine for their guests. You can buy wine and other alcoholic beverages in Paje at the Supaduka.

      Temperatures mid February to mid March are usually around 25-30 degC. There might be short rain showers in March.

      Cheers, Gaby


  9. Jambo!!

    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog!

    Me and my girlfriend are going to visit Zanzibar at the end of October for 2 weeks. May I ask do you know anything about Jambiani beach? Is it a safe part of Zanzibar?

    We are planning to ask hotel to send us a taxi which will pick us up.

    Our flight going to leave after midnight so is it safe if we stay at the aiport at the night?

    Also we are planning to bring lots of school acceroies and some clothes. :)))



    • Sijambo! Karibu.
      Zanzibar is as safe as it gets. Of course, the ever increasing number of tourists has the unwelcome side effect of petty crimes. Only keep a little cash on you when walking on the beach, leave your passport, credit cards, jewellery and other valuables in the hotel safe (only carry a photocopy of your passport with you). There were some reports lately that tourists got robbed while walking at night on the beach of Jambiani and on the tar road.
      Jambiani has quite rocky stretches of beach, it depends on where you intend to stay?
      I personally prefer the beaches of Paje, Bwejuu (my favourite), Dongwe, Pingwe and Michamvi.
      Check the price of the taxi, it should be max. 50 US$ from the airport to Jambiani. You can also prebook your taxi, I have very good experiences with Kibabu Cars (, they also offer a taxi service. Very reliable.
      Zanzibar International Airport is safe at any time.
      Many blessings and thank you for bringing school accessories and some clothes. Please don’t hand them out directly to the kids, it will only promote begging. Check with your hotel who will organize the next beach clean-up and rather donate your gifts to the organisers, they will then be used as rewards for the kids for collecting recyclable rubbish at the beaches.
      Cheers, Gaby


  10. Dear Gaby I am planning to stay in Stone town for four nights with my sister and friends. We are booked at the Park Hyatt but I find it very expensive.I would like to stay close to the group and found the Doubletree Hilton a third the price. It looks like comparable accommodation and I could donate the differences to a charity like HABS. My question is how far is it between the two hotels and is it safe to walk at night .Thanks for your help.


    • Dear Jbc, the Double Tree Hilton is a 2 minute walk from the Park Hyatt. If you are all females rather get a trusted male to walk with you at night. The ever increasing number of tourists has the unfortunate side effect of thugs being drawn to Stone Town from other African countries, besides some local petty thieves. As a general rule leave your valuables and especially your passport in your safe (only carry a copy of your passport) and only have a small amount of cash with you. Rather be safe than sorry.


  11. Hi Gabi,

    You are just amazing! 🥰

    I am planning to come in November, found beautiful hotel in Nungwa but my concern is if it is safe for a lady to travel alone?
    Of course I would not go anywhere alone at night and planning to arrange day trips during the day, I guess I would not be alone on these trips. If you have any good and reliable guide to recommend in Nungwi that would be great.

    Thanks a lot


    • Hi Danijela.
      Thank you for your kind words. Zanzibar in general is as safe as it gets, also for solo female travellers. Be streetwise. Don’t walk around with your passport (a photocopy will do) or jewelry. Keep only cash on you that you will need for the day. Nungwi is very touristy which obviously attracts thieves etc from other countries, besides some locals.
      I haven’t been in Nungwi for years. Rather ask on Tripadvisor if anyone can recommend a local guide.
      Cheers, Gaby


    • Safi kabisa, habari za asubuhi?
      To my knowledge there are no schools on Zanzibar for tourists to learn KiSwahili. If you are at the south east coast check out the lessons offered by Mustaphas Place in Bwejuu (as per their facebook page).


  12. Hello, Gaby!
    Your answers are very comprehensive. Can you please tell me whether there is a tax when leaving Zanzibar with locally made souvenirs. I’d like to get a traditional Zanzibar chest.
    Thank you.


    • Hello Chris, I have no idea if there is a tax for such souvenirs. You might want to post your question on the Tripadvisor Zanzibar Forum to get feedback from tourists who have also bought chests here. Good luck.


  13. Hello Gaby! 🙂

    You’re great and your site is great – but you already know it! 😁
    Thanks for all the information regarding Zanzibar, because they mean a lot to those who come there for the first time. ❤️

    My husband and I are coming to Zanzibar (Nungwi) in July for our honeymoon and we are so excited! 🤗

    But, some things we didn’t understand or didn’t know, so we need some more explanations… 😁🙈

    1. Does prohibited plastic bags mean that absolutely nothing of the sort should be kept in a suitcase? Do they already check it at the airport or…? I ask, because usually we pack shoes, cosmetics, laundry and something like that into bags, then put into a suitcase… 🤷‍♀️
    2. Did I understand correctly: No smoking on the beach (most of the island, except at the hotel / restaurant)?! 🤭 Can I bring a few packs of cigars to Zanzibar or do I have to buy cigars there?
    3. How much cost these sneakers that can probably be bought there (for water)?
    4. Is it better to pay for trips, souvenirs and food in dollars or in zanzibar shillings?
    5. What is the average cost of a meal per person at restaurants?
    6. Is it allowed to harvest fruits on the island (primarily coconut, bananas …)? 🙂
    7. Is drinking water purchased and how much does it cost (a bottle)?

    I think I asked enough. 🙈🙂

    Thanks a lot dear Gaby ❤️


    • Hello Ivana,
      Great to hear that you will spend your honeymoon on the island!
      1) you can bring those plastic bags but please take them back home with you agajn.
      2) you can smoke anywhere on the island. The non smoking rules apply only to the duration of Ramadan
      3) I have no idea. Better bring those shoes from your home country
      4) souvenirs and food are better paid in Tanzanian Shillings (Tzs). Tours, taxis in USD or Tzs
      5) that depends where you eat. In local restaurants 15-20,000 Tzs, hotel restaurants 15 USD and more I guess (I only eat out in local restaurants)
      6) you cannot just harvest fruits, that would be theft, the fruits belong to the farmers (same as everywhere else in the world). You can buy the fruits and coconuts at many stalls
      7) drinking water is Tzs 2000 per 1.5 ltr bottle


      • Hello once again dear Gaby 🙂

        Thanks a lot for the answers! Much of this is more clear to me now. 🙂
        For the fruit picking I was joking – I guess it’s not wild fruit on the island and people make a living from it. 🙂 We will buy from the locals of course, I really want to try everything! 🙂

        One more thing about money, because I’m not sure I understand that at part “MONEY / ATMS / SIMCARD”…

        We come from Europe, so we would like to change Euros to Tanzanian Shillings (Tzs). I understood that euros do not receive, but they can be reduced to shillings, right? I mean, I don’t want to bother to change euros into dollars, then shillings, than… That’s so tiring.
        Where’s generally best to exchange money – at the airport, or in villages / hotels …?

        Thanks for all Gaby 🙂


      • Hello again, you can exchange Euros to Tzs only at exchange bureaus or banks. In the villages and at hotels you will not get good rates. You can also draw Tzs with your credit card at ATMs.


  14. Hi
    We are arriving on Sunday 1st March, money is our main concern do we bring dollars and change at money exchange or should we use ATM’s. We are staying in Jambiani.

    Any help would be good



    • You should have a mix of US$ and Tzs. You can either exchange $ to Tzs at the airport exchange bureaus or use an ATM (there is one in Paje, although it sometimes runs out of money) to draw Tzs with your credit card.


    • As I have written on this page:
      Buying property on Zanzibar: An increasing number of tourists fall in love with Zanzibar and want to buy land here. Some locals will tell you “hakuna matata, you can buy the land together with me since by law you must have a Zanzibari partner”. This is not true anymore, the laws have changed. Herewith a few guidelines:

      – All land on Zanzibar is owned by the Government. The locals get a right of occupancy, which they can sell. Ownership remains with the government.

      – If you buy land for personal use (you are not allowed to do any business/derive any income from the property): Besides making a sales contract with the local occupant of the land, you must apply for a LEASE from the Government. The lease initially is for 33 years, but can be extended to 66 or 99 years. This is a long process. A beach property can not be bought for private use, only for business.

      – If you buy land or a property for commercial use, you must register a company with ZIPA. Visit them BEFORE you buy a property and get as much information as possible.

      – DO NOT make any deals regarding land or property directly with locals. Often one person says they own the land but in the end an entire family owns it. Or they don’t have any legal papers for the land, for example.

      – I strongly advise to get a really good lawyer or Advocate involved if you want to buy a property here. I bought land here a few years ago without involving a lawyer, which was a big mistake. I had to hire a lawyer who was useless, then another one etc etc – I had shocking experiences with incompetent and ruthless lawyers on the island, which turned out to be a very costly experience. This seems to be the norm here. Luckily, I ultimately found really good Advocates who also communicate well (!). I will gladly share their contact details, please send me an email (

      Please also read


  15. This is a great guide! good job. A correction if I may:
    I apologize for the length however I think it is important to make this known as we Zanzibaris seem all too willing to let visitors erode our language in the interest of making money, when in reality we don’t have to.
    So , here goes:

    With regard to:
    Jambo “Hello” – you will hear plenty of Jambos on this island, please always reply with a friendly Jambo, and a smile
    Mambo slang for Jambo – reply “poa” (OK, fine, cool)..

    Frankly this is wrong 🙂 sorry to be so blunt but sometimes it’s best to rip the band-aid off quickly!

    The correct greeting is “Hujambo” (How are you?) singular, the response to which is “Sijambo” I am fine/well.
    When greeting a group you say “Hamjambo?” (How are you? [second person plural]). To which they will respond “Hatujambo” (we are well/fine)

    If you want to speak like a local when you meet a group say “Jamani Hamjambo” this translates to “How are you my people?” But in spirit it’s like “How are you all doing?”

    So you may be asking then, why does everyone say and reply Jambo to me? Simply put, because ( and I do not mean this in any derogatory way) you are white.

    The Kenyans started this nonsense lol. And now we say Jambo to tourists under the belief (perhaps) that two extra letters “hu” are beyond your abilities. Jambo is a Mzungu greeting. You will NEVER hear one Zanzibari or Mainlander say this to another.

    Mambo is ABSOLUTELY not slang for Jambo as Jambo is itself just a made up greeting to make things simple for European tourists. Mambo is not slang per se,it’s an actual word which means “things” but it is a slang way of saying hello. Don’t use it for elders only age peers and those younger than you.

    Here are your greetings if you want to protect our language and not let it be eroded because of our need for commerce:

    Say “Hujambo” instead of Jambo when greeting a single person.
    and “Hamjambo Jamani” when greeting a group – this has the added benefit of making you look like a veteran visitor.

    Say “Mambo” to young people but not to elders – reply “poa”.If you are feeling adventurous say “poa tu,vipi hali” 🙂 – just fine,how are you?

    If someone is clearly your senior by age i.e. you are 20 and they are 50. or they are old enough to be your parent/Uncle you can say “shikamoo” but this is really more of a mainland thing so don’t worry about it too much.

    If all of this seems complicated, in Zanzibar you can pretty much get away with an “asalam alaykum” for everyone, but that’s boring 🙂 at least go with “Asalam alaykum jamani” answer: alaykum salam.

    I hope that both clarifies and helps.

    Karibuni Zanzibar! 🙂
    (welcome [plural] to Zanzibar)

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Hi, thanks for the amazing site, we looking to come to Zanzibar in December. We saw a Jet Ski tour to the snorkeling islands by one of the tour operators on Trip Advisor. Should we avoid this?


    • Hi, you are most welcome. Our coastlines are environmentally protected areas, which include the many islands of the Zanzibar archipelago. You run the risk of facing substantial fines if caught. Besides that, we all should do our utmost to protect the natural beauty and the peace of Zanzibar. It would be advisable to avoid these jet ski tours.


  17. Hi Gaby, Thanks for your great efforts.
    Regarding PCR test the process you mentioned of paying and timing is it on all three places? What aout North Valley Hospital in Nungwi, should I go to the bank first? or they accept visa card? how long it takes to collect the result? you mentioned within 72 hrs, but actually the government in Egypt need it made not more than 72 hrs so it’s very critical as the flight back with transit also takes long time!
    Thanks for your help


    • Hello Karim, you are most welcome. I have no information of the procedures at North Valley. The procedures I published are only for Lumumba Testing Centre which was just moved to Migombani in Stone Town, this facility is run by the Government. Global Hospital and North Valley are private clinics, at these places you can pay with a Visa card. The turnaround time for the tests is 72 hours, I believe that the tests are done in Dar es Salaam, although I am not sure about it. I suggest you talk to the staff at North Valley Clinic about the requirements of Egypt, maybe they can help.


  18. Hello Gaby,
    Your site is super helpful- thank you.
    We are going to Zanzibar next week and are collecting clothes to take with to give away there. What about donating teenage girl and ladies’ clothes- should they be to the “over the shoulder, below the knee rule” too, or to a stricter standard? I want to donate clothes , but don’t want to give them things they cannot use. Or will the ladies sell or maybe repurpose the clothes that cannot be used? (Obviously it’s nothing “sexy” but things like shorts, skirts, tshirts etc?)
    Thank you in advance!


    • Hello Bronwyn,
      Thank you for asking and for respecting the culture of Zanzibaris. Short-sleeved T-shirts are good, tank tops and shorts are not. Also bring skirts because they can be converted into girls’ dresses. The Zanzibar ladies are masters in needlework, it always amazed me how neatly and beautifully the little girls are dressed. Please also bring Bra’s if you have. Please do not just hand out the clothes. Rather bring them to NGOs, some are mentioned on this page.
      Cheers, Gaby


  19. Hey Gaby, we are just ending our 2 weeks stay in Tanzania, including 10 days in Zanzibar. For those who are reading you, I just want to share some things from my experience.
    Taxi can be negotiated quite a lot. We got 80000 tzs (for 2) from Jambiani to Nungwi and 40000 tzs from Nungwi to the airport.
    Small, local restaurants serve very good and cheap food. For example Al Manna in Nungwi. Lunch is 3000 tzs and a fresh juice, 1000.
    Thank you for your tips, we realized we cannot take seashells back home…


  20. Jambo!

    Thank you for this very useful blog! We are going to Jambiani in two weeks, and I already can´t wait. We booked hotel just with breakfast, as we wanted to try all the nicely reviewed local reaturants. There is quite a lot of them in walking distance (1 – 2 km) from Blue Oyster hotel. But after reading your article, I feel quite unsafe about ging outside of the hotel for a dinner. I would kindly ask you for your opinion, is it safe in Jambiani to go outside of hotel for a dinner when it´s dark?

    Thank you very much for your answer!



    • Sijambo, habari?
      You are most welcome, I am always happy to hear that my blog helps.
      I haven’t heard anything lately about any such incidents. I don’t live in Jambiani though. Rather ask the hotel management for advice. In case of doubt check with Clalence of Move Zanzibar, they are in a newly renovated building opposite Blue Oyster, if he can organise someone to accompany you or for longer distances drive you.
      Have a safe trip and the best holiday of your life on my beautiful island.
      Sunny greetings


  21. Drar Gaby, thank you for your interesting blog. Do you know, if the bracelets made with kauri shells will mak a problem at the customs.
    Thank you in advance for answering.
    Regards Peter


  22. Hi there! Woulɗ you mind if I shɑrе your blog with my facebоok
    group? Tһere’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoу your content.
    Pleɑse let me know. Cheers


    • Hi Katherine,
      You are welcome to share my blog on your facebook page. The more people arriving on this beautiful island well prepared and informed the better!
      Sunny greetings


  23. Hi Gaby,

    Thank you A LOT for this blog – very useful information!

    We are going to your lovely island for 9 days in July, but we have not booked any accommodation yet – we are still looking around for something nice.
    We wanted to go for a bungalow or similar on the beach, so we can enjoy those lovely white sand beaches, but now we read about the sea urchins. Are they a big problem when traveling with kids/youngsters who would like to play around on the beach, playing games and shooting balls etc in the shallow waters? I know we can use shoes in the water, but still…




    • Hi Ken,
      You are most welcome. The sea urchins are part of nature, they have a role to play. You will find them sporadically in shallow waters. If your kids wear protective shoes they will be fine. I live here for many years and never stepped on a sea urchin.
      Have a wonderful holiday on my beautiful island.
      Cheers, Gaby


  24. Hi Gaby,
    love the idea to bring clothes and sunglasses there to donate them. I am a huge animal lover, do you know if there is a animal shelter on the island that I can support or donate things to?


    • Hi Nadine,
      Thank you for asking. We have an animal shelter run by an amazing organisation, ZAASO. Please check their details on the page “Discover Zanzibar east of Stone Town”.
      Cheers, Gaby


  25. Hi Gaby,

    Thank you so much for your informative blog!

    We will be in Paje and are bringing some clothes to donate, both girls and boys.

    Will Move Zanzibar be able to use these or is there somewhere else we can donate these to?


  26. Hi gabby, many thanks for the great advice. What is the tipping custom? In resorts, taxis, restaurants, etc? Don’t want to seem rude. Thx! Thomas


    • Hi Thomas, you are most welcome. Rule of thumb at restaurants/cafes is 10% of the bill. Taxi drivers: no tip. Leave something for housekeeping staff at your place of accommodation, the amount is up to your discretion (salaries for housekeeping staff are very low here).


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