Zanzibar Resources

Frequently asked Zanzibar questions

• Where is Zanzibar? 
• When is the best time of year to visit Zanzibar?
• What is the main religion on Zanzibar? 
• What are the tipping customs on Zanzibar?

Find below other important information for our Zanzibar trip. Click on a box to toggle open the content. 

SENE on Zanzibar
SENE does not have an office nor personnel on Zanzibar.  We work closely with a long-term partner, Madeira Tours, who shares our dedication to quality service and high standards, to handle all island transfers and private tours for our clients.
Flights to/from Zanzibar
For those who visit Zanzibar, it is often the last stop in their Tanzania adventure itinerary, as it can be nice to relax on the beach after an arduous climb or intense safari.

There are daily direct 1-hour flights from Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar, as well as light aircraft flights from the Serengeti that connect you to Zanzibar.   Please note that the latter have luggage limitations of 15kg (33 lbs) per person (soft-sided bags only).

Departing Zanzibar on an international flight is possible on Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines.  To connect with the evening KLM flight to Amsterdam, take the short hop (20-minute) flight to Dar es Salaam, which we can include in any Zanzibar package.  Departures from Zanzibar to Nairobi (1hr 15min flight) is another option.

Passport and Tanzania visa are required for entry to Zanzibar. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay. Visas can be obtained in advance online or at any Tanzanian embassy, or may be purchased upon arrival at all international airports, ports, and border crossings.  Visas are $100 for U.S. citizens, $50 for all others.

Note:  Zanzibar is part of Tanzania.  Your Tanzania visa is valid for Zanzibar; you will not be asked to show it again if arriving on Zanzibar from elsewhere in Tanzania.

Drinking water
Do not drink water directly from taps in Zanzibar (and do not use tap water for brushing teeth).  Drink only bottled water, water that has been brought to a full rolling boil (for tea and coffee), or water filtered through a purifier.
Water served in pitchers at all tourist lodges has been purified and is safe to drink.  All beverages served in bottles (soda, beer, etc.) are safe to drink.
Bottled mineral water is widely available across the island.
There is a risk of malaria on Zanzibar at all times of the year.  Anti-malarial pills are recommended.  Sleep under a mosquito net.  Wear long sleeves and trousers in the evening and use mosquito repellent for additional protection.
Stone Town
Stone Town is the old historic part of Zanzibar’s capital city – rich with architecture and culture from the diverse peoples that have called the island home.  It is worth spending a night or two in Stone Town and taking a half day walking tour through the maze of streets and back alleys to its famous and infamous historical spots, including the location of the slave market, Sultans’ palaces, Beit el Ajaib (House of Wonders), the old Arab Fort, and artists’ studios.  Its main market is alive with the chatter of locals bargaining in Swahili and the vibrant palate of colors from fabrics, tropical fruits and vegetables, spices, and intricately carved wood.

Relax in the evening in a rooftop restaurant as the sweet smell of cloves wafts in on the cool Indian Ocean breeze and the quiet murmur of men playing bao, the centuries old African board game, rises from the street below.

The east coast of Zanzibar is highly tidal.  When the tide is out (twice in a 24-hour cycle) expect to walk 200 – 300 meters to reach the sea.  The tidal disparity is smaller the farther north on the island, and on the west coast, which experiences very little tidal variation.
Coral-Safe Sunscreen
Certain sunscreen chemicals are harmful to coral reefs by contributing to their bleaching.  Please do not use sunscreens with these chemicals when swimming in the ocean on Zanzibar: oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), butylparaben, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC).

Sunscreens using titanium oxide or zinc oxide are harmless to coral.  Please look for these when purchasing sunscreen.

Appropriate Dress
With its warm climate the inclination for tourists is to wear less while on the island, and Zanzibaris are accustomed to this. However, we do suggest discretion. Short pants and skirts are fine, as long as they extend below the knee. Bare shoulders are not recommended for women. Men should wear shirts at all times.

Regardless of what you wear, you will not be accosted, but you may get disdainful looks and undesired attention, and you will certainly be insulting local cultural customs. Unfortunately, you will still see many tourists insensitive to these customs as they prance about Stone Town.

Swimsuits and lots of exposed skin are acceptable on the beach, and inside the private grounds of tourist hotels western beachwear is normal.