Zanzibar’s 5 highlights

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
67 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 150
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
152nd/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 40% SUMMARY RATING: Superb


Zanzibar – just the name itself conjures up images of exotic lands, distant empires and tropical islands.  And the reality actually does a good job of living up the expectation.  The highlight is obviously Stone Town with its rich mix of influences from India, Arabia, Africa and Europe shinning through in winding alleyways with carved doors, lattice balconies, spices and museums showcasing this fascinating place’s history.  But there are also some other things to do that surprised us and are a must if planning a visit


#1 Wandering through the alleyways of Stone Town - the most famous highlight and one of the best places in the world to see the combination of Arabian, African, Indian and European cultures infusing together.  As with all such Old Towns, bets to just get lost in the alleyways and let the wonder of the place take you as you find hidden surprises around each corner

#2 Take a Spice Tour around the island -  Zanzibar is full of plantations that grew the most valuable commodity for much of the past centuries - spices.  It was super interesting to have one of the locals show you how they grow and the sheer variety growing on Zanzibar

#3 The white sand beaches of the east coast - we knew Zanzibar had beaches but we were pleasantly surprised that many of them would fit in the "world-class" category.  Many people visit those on the northern tip, which is also a spot for full moon parties, general lash / partying and is easy to access with a boat trip from Zanzibar Town.  But also consider taking a trip to the east of the island which has more beautiful beaches and is far quieter

#4 Go to see the Giant Tortoises - yes, you can see tortoises in other parts of the world, but if you haven't seen something like this before, it can be really fun tagging this onto your spice tour of the island

#5 Taking a Boat Trip - whether this is part of a busy tour (ideally not) or something a bit more private, its beautiful to take in the island from the water, be able to visit some of the hidden spots not as easily accessible by road and go snorkelling in some of the reefs.  Most trips will leave from Zanzibar Town but, as with the east coast beaches recommendation, see if you can grab one on the east coast.  We were fortunate enough to see dolphins twice on our trip, which we hear is quite common

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone