A Travel Guide: The Best Time to Visit Zanzibar, Tanzania. 

Zanzibar, situated off Tanzania’s picturesque coastline in the Indian Ocean, boasts a tropical climate. The place is blessed with pleasant weather and sunshine for most of the year. There are two main seasons—the dry and wet seasons with the latter characterized by short and long rainfalls.

Image Source: Shutterstock

The dry season spanning June to October is widely regarded as the best time to visit Zanzibar, Tanzania. During this time the temperature ranges from 29℃ to 32℃ with minimal rainfall. Being a coastal destination, the best time for beaches is all year long except the wet months of April and May—however, you need to be prepared for the occasional rainfall.

That being said, the appropriate time to go there is a matter of personal preferences and interests. Whether you are a cultural aficionado, nature enthusiast, or adventurer, this guide will help determine the best time for you to travel.

Brief about Zanzibar

Zanzibar in Tanzania is constituted by two main islands Pemba and Unguja, along with over 50 smaller islands. It is popularly referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” and “Spice Islands”. These names reflect its stunning idyllic coastal landscapes and spice production based on historical significance respectively. 

The archipelago is home to abundant biodiversity and a rich cultural heritage with African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and European influences. Popular attractions include—Stone Town, Prison Island, Paje, Kendwa, Nungwi, Kendwa, and Ras Kizimkazi to name a few.

Zanzibar is certainly a worthwhile visit with experiences to offer all year long. The most notable of them are as follows, showcasing the ideal time to go:

  • Kitesurfing: mid-June to mid-October, end of December to mid-March
  • Diving and snorkeling: all year around, except April and May
  • Dolphin excursions: January to February, June to October
  • Turtle nesting: February to July
  • Whale shark swimming: October to February
  • Bird-watching: October to March
  • Walking and spice farm tours: June to October

Knowing the highlights of every month will help you make a better decision in planning your trip to Zanzibar.

The Best time to go to Zanzibar (month-by-month guide)

The following chart depicts the monthly weather forecast for sunshine and rainfall in Zanzibar:

Chumbe Private Island33°C65mm34°C66mm34°C133mm31°C303mm30°C231mm30°C52mm29°C38mm30°C33mm31°C40mm31°C72mm32°C151mm33°C134mm
Pemba Island31°C45mm32°C38mm32°C107mm30°C346mm29°C396mm29°C130mm28°C89mm28°C67mm29°C56mm30°C108mm30°C157mm31°C92mm
Zanzibar Island33°C66mm34°C69mm34°C172mm32°C385mm31°C293mm30°C82mm29°C61mm30°C42mm31°C42mm32°C72mm33°C136mm33°C128mm
Dry Season
Wet Season
Best Time to Go

Source: Audley Travel


January marks the beginning of the hot season with humid weather but is occasionally visited by north-eastern ‘kaskazi’ winds. On average, the temperature ranges from 78.8°F (26°C) to 86°F (30°C). The weather is optimal for exploring the azure waters of Zanzibar, particularly the coral gardens of Chole Bay because of clear visibility. This is the peak time for thrilling encounters with whale sharks off Mafia Island. It’s also the mango season and the end of Pemba’s clove harvest. Some popular attractions during this time include Chumbe, Paje, Prison Island, Kiwengwa, Kendwa, and Ras Kizimkazi.


Image Source: Freepik

In February, the ‘kaskazi’ winds slowly diminish with temperatures typically ranging from 78.8°F (26°C) to 86°F (30°C). It’s one of the hottest and driest months but popular for beach holidays. Kendwa boasts a broad, protected beach perfect for sunbathing and swimming. It is also an opportune time to swim with dolphins at Ras Kizimkazi. 

February is hatching season for the giant Aldabran Tortoise colony at Prison Island—here lies a 190-year-old tortoise, considered globally one of the oldest living animals. The ‘Sauti za Busara Music Festival’ is a four-day celebration of East-African music at Stone Town’s Old Fort that takes place around this time. 


March initiates the pineapple and main rainy season. It has the most unpredictable weather, making it the least popular time to visit Zanzibar, Tanzania. While the first half may be favorable, heavy downpours are anticipated by mid-March, discouraging wind sports. Despite the variability, a good day allows for snorkeling, diving, or enjoying sunsets of pink and purple hues. 

March also coincides with Ramadan, the holy month of fasting where respect for religious customs is essential. Zanzibar being predominantly Muslim, is met with shorter working hours with an emphasis on spiritual activities. While most beach resorts operate, elsewhere you may find eateries and shops shut early in the day, but by evening they resume once the fast is broken. As Ramadan etiquette, appropriate clothing should be worn. Public eating and drinking are discouraged during this time and Non-Muslims are expected to refrain from entering Mosques unless specifically invited.


Image Source: Zanzibar Bird Watching Society

April is the wettest month and marks the peak of the main rainy season. The month poses a unique charm but the wavering weather conditions make it difficult to plan your activities. This time witnesses a mix of intense showers and warm temperatures that soar above 86°F  (30°C). The mornings are often tranquil with warm seas around 82.4°F (28°C) but may be accompanied by short and fierce afternoon storms. Based on which side of the coast you’re at, you can have a glimpse of spectacular sunrises and sunsets. 

This month is the quietest and landscapes appear to be lush and verdant, which may be appealing to nature lovers. It’s also the time to witness one of the biggest bird migrations in the country. 


The main monsoon downpours persist until May but generally subside towards the month’s end, summoning increased periods of sunshine. This marks the end of the rainy season with average daytime temperatures around 86°F (30°C). The ‘kusi’ wind is more prominent during this month providing a more pleasant atmosphere during the weather transition. Being a quieter month, crowds tend to be typically less, and culture enthusiasts can engage with local communities intimately. Even though there are heavy downpours throughout May, you can still encounter pleasant days for beach activities and exploration by the end of the month.


The onset of the long dry season is in June, making it the sunniest and driest month of the year. This period sees low humidity with comfortable temperatures at an average of 82°F (28°C) in the daytime. The southern ‘kusi’ wind is in full force during this time, providing optimal conditions for wind sports, especially kitesurfing in places like Paje. If you’re seeking relaxation away from strong winds, northern resorts are a more tranquil setting for beachside activities. A major highlight in June is the beginning of the turtle hatching season and being able to witness this phenomenon around Mafia Island. 


Source: Zanzibar International Film Festival

July is generally dry, warm, and low in humidity making it one of the best times to visit Zanzibar, Tanzania. The daytime temperature averages around 82.4°F (28°C) and nighttime lows seldom drop below 64.4°F (18°C). In July the southern ‘kusi’ winds peak and it is the windiest month posing ideal conditions for kitesurfing and wind-based water sports along the eastern coast, specifically in Paje. While the wind may impact diving conditions, the northern reefs are usually undisturbed and calm. The seas are coldest in July and August but still pleasant for swimming, with sea temperatures around 77°F (25°C) and shallow lagoons feeling even warmer.

In July, especially on Pemba Island, the clove harvest season commences, filling the air with the aroma of drying cloves. During this month cultural festivities take center stage such as—the Festival of the Dhow Countries organized by ZIFF at Old Fort district and the Mwaka Kogwa festival at Makunduchi Village. 


August brings the end of the cooler months in Zanzibar and daytime temperatures average around 82.4°F (28°C) but can exceed 86°F (30°C). The southern ‘kusi’ wind begins to fade by mid-August, still providing conditions for kitesurfing near places like Paje and Jambiani. During this time Nungwi and Kendwa present tranquil beach experiences. It is also the prime season for sports fishing with deep sea boat tours organized to catch Sailfish and Marlin. 

While there may be blissful beach days, when it comes to off-shore sites, divers need to carefully plan due to rough conditions. This time of year, you can also experience Pemba’s clove harvest in high gear and witness turtle hatchlings on Juani Island. 


September brings dry and sunny days, with daytime temperatures steadily climbing above 86°F (30°C). The ‘kusi’ winds ease and the seas of Zanzibar calm down by this time. It is a popular month given that the conditions are excellent for kitesurfing, deep-water dives, water sports, and wildlife experiences. September marks the start of whale shark season near Juani Island, where you can also sight turtle hatchlings.


Source: Pexels

During October the skies are generally clear and the seas are calm, but the heat gradually builds over the month. Daytime temperatures regularly exceed 86°F (30°C) and nights get humid and warmer with temperatures over 82.4°F (20°C). Each year the arrival of the monsoons in November is unpredictable, so you may experience heavy rainfall before October ends. Being one of the least windiest months with pleasant sunny days, the ocean has clear visibility making it great for diving across the archipelago. Zanzibar sees tourism peak in October with boutiques and smaller villas in areas like Pingwe and Matemwe offering exclusive experiences. 

Since the beaches around Paje, Kiwengwa, and Nungwi tend to be crowded this time of year, you can consider quieter alternatives like Pemba and Mafia which have some of their best snorkeling and diving in October. Ras Kizimkazi is a great place to stay at this time of year where you can witness the start of the dolphin spotting season in its tranquil waters. If you’d like to experience swimming with whale sharks you can do so off Mafia Island.


The rains of November mark the short rains of the rainy season with the north-eastern ‘kaskazi’ winds picking up around this time. It is warm and tranquil but may see sporadic storms that may affect beach tanning. Tourism activities aren’t significantly hindered as the showers are brief. The southern seas in Zanzibar are generally calmer and suitable for dolphin-spotting boat tours. November isn’t a highly recommended month to visit, however, tourists decrease during this time resulting in a quieter, relaxed ambiance. The rains of November need not deter you—this is a good time to get attractive deals on certain accommodations. Swimming with whale sharks and going diving off Mafia Island is still possible.


December has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 80.6°F (27°C) to 86°F (30°C) and peaking to 95°F (35°C) occasionally. The north-eastern ‘kaskazi’ winds increase around this month. The former half of the month sees significant rainfall while it gets sporadic towards the end of the month. Zanzibar’s natural beauty flourishes during December which is a great time to explore wildlife, local culture, and beach activities. The ‘kaskazi’ winds result in rough seas along the northern coastline, while the southern and western seas are calmer. Activities such as kitesurfing, diving, and swimming with whale sharks can still be explored. 

December is a vibrant month with festivities and sees an influx of tourists around Christmas and New Year. The New Year is celebrated in full gusto with parties and fireworks, with visitors having the opportunity to choose from various experiences—right from luxurious dinner cruises to rooftop views.

Other key elements  

  1. Hottest month

Zanzibar is mostly sunny all year round with summer months from January to March with the average temperature between 77°F (25°C) to 86°F (30°C). February is the hottest and driest month to visit. During these months, the water is clear and great for underwater dives to explore lagoons and coral reefs. 

  1. Rainy season 

The main rainy season and long rains last from March to May in Zanzibar. April is the wettest month with the average rainfall being around 6.7 inches. November and December mark the beginning of the short rainy season with the arrival of the Kaskazi winds. The other months see little to no rain at all. 

  1. Budget-friendly season 

If you’re looking to go easy on your pockets, the best time to visit Zanzibar is from March to May. Although many hotels and accommodations may be shut around this time, you can catch some good deals and discounts with the ones that are operating.

Why should Zanzibar be on your list?

Given its relaxing and peaceful allure, Zanzibar is a widely sought-after holiday destination for couples, families, and those seeking solitude. The island paradise is gifted with spectacular natural beauty, wildlife, marine life, spice farms, and opportunities for historical and cultural immersion. Apart from this, what makes the place a desirable holiday destination is the hospitality, safety, and security. 

Zanzibar is a great addition to your overall Tanzanian tour experience. It complements the best places for safari in Tanzania as an extension, offering an ideal start or finish to exciting wildlife encounters. It can be added as a part of your exotic experience with packages that suit your needs and budget

Planning Tips for a Zanzibar Tour

There are certain things to keep in mind when planning a Zanzibar tour. The following tips will help you brace yourself:

  • The best time to visit: When selecting the best time to go, see that you’re comfortable with the weather patterns and pack clothing accordingly. Ensure you can carry out activities of interest and partake in festivities or events.
  • Flights, visa, and insurance: To ensure a smooth travel experience, ensure you have a valid passport, process your visa formalities, and seek insurance promptly. Booking flights in advance can help you get a cheaper deal.
  • Booking accommodations: Zanzibar experiences high demand in July to October and December, it’s advisable to book accommodations well in advance. Most accommodations are shut in March to May and November, this is a good time to get great discounts and deals on establishments that operate.
  • Transport Arrangements: Zanzibar is accessible by air and sea. Internal transport includes taxis if you’re looking for comfort, private boats to access hidden spots, Dala Dalas (public buses), and Tuk Tuks as cheaper alternatives. To travel independently you can consider renting a car or scooter.

Key Takeaways

We’ve established that June to October is the best time to visit Zanzibar. The place has a lot to offer in terms of biodiversity, adventure, culture, and heritage. Even though peak seasons may offer optimal conditions, you can indulge in popular activities all year long. Exploring the highlights of every month helps determine a preferential time to visit Zanzibar. To pack a punch in your experience, definitely consider pairing your Zanzibar vacation with Safaris in Tanzania.

If you’re excited to book your next vacation to Zanzibar, our team at Xpat International offers customizable packages to suit your every need. Tanzania has so much to explore and you can read more about it in our travel blogs

Have questions regarding tours in Zanzibar? Reach out to us, so we can help resolve your queries.


Mid-April to June being one of the low seasons is the cheapest time to visit Zanzibar.

Based on your preferences the number of days enough to explore Zanzibar will differ, but four to seven days generally provides a fulfilling experience.

You can have a holiday in Zanzibar based on your budget. There are both—luxury and budget-friendly options in terms of activities, accommodation, and dining.

Your visa eligibility depends on your nationality. Most visitors to Zanzibar do need a visa unless they are from visa-exempt countries. It is important to check the current visa regulations before planning a trip.

Zanzibar offers a more affordable experience in comparison to the Maldives.

These airlines fly to Zanzibar from the US—Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, American Airlines and United Airlines.

Your average cost will be around $52 for a day, $366 for a week, and $1570 for a month, so carry money accordingly.

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