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The Best Time to Visit Zanzibar

Zanzibar, located approximately 23 miles off the coast of Tanzania, is the picture-perfect island you imagine when you hear the words ‘tropical paradise.’ Zanzibar is well known for its beautiful spice bazaar, over 25 exquisite beaches, and the historic Stone Town.

Weather-wise, the two dry seasons—June to October and mid-December to February—are undoubtedly the ideal times to visit Zanzibar. These are the times when the archipelago gets little to no rain, the currents are good for watersports, and the days are perfect for sunbathing. Zanzibar receives the most tourists during the dry season, which lasts from June to October. If you want to travel to Zanzibar in the least crowded conditions and aren’t worried by short spells of rain, late November to early December is a wonderful time to visit. Aside from being a must-see tourist site on a Tanzania trip, Zanzibar offers year-round entertainment through cultural festivals, sightseeing tours, and other activities.


Welcome to the definitive travel guide for discovering the ideal time to visit Zanzibar! We look at the various seasons, weather conditions, and events that can impact your Zanzibar experience, so you can make the most of your visit. Whether you’re a beach lover, history buff, or adventurer, read this article to learn when the best time to visit Zanzibar is and start organizing your wonderful vacation right away.


Zanzibar is a tropical resort, so temperatures are rather stable throughout the year. Tanzania, like Zanzibar, does not follow the typical seasonal system. Zanzibar has four seasons: the long dry season, the short rainy season, the short dry season, and the long wet season.

The long, dry season in Zanzibar—June to October

June to October is widely regarded as the ideal time to visit Zanzibar due to the appropriate seasons. During these months, the weather is nice but not unbearably high. There is little to no rain during this season, so if you want to relax by the beach, this is the best time to go. Furthermore, these months are the perfect time to visit Tanzania for safari, the country’s main attraction, allowing you to organize a good multiday itinerary for your trip beyond Zanzibar. If you are traveling during this period, especially to more popular destinations like Stone Town, Nungwi Beach, and Kendwa Beach, you should book your accommodations and tickets ahead of time to receive the best deals.

  • Given that there is little to no rainfall during the lengthy dry season, you may go island-hopping to the nicest beaches in Zanzibar without worrying about the weather.
  • During the first few days of the dry season, the residue of the previous monsoon makes Jozani Forest, the archipelago’s only national park, particularly charming, especially as the lush green environment becomes more comfortable. As the days get drier, the vegetation thins out, making it easier to detect the thriving population of Red Colobus monkeys and birds.
  • In July, attend the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), East Africa’s largest film festival.
  • July and August provide good underwater visibility, making them perfect for diving and snorkeling at beaches such as Nungwi and Paje.
  • Visit Mnemba Island, the largest island in the Zanzibar archipelago, during the months of September and October to witness the green turtle hatching season.

Short rainy season in Zanzibar—November to Early December

Zanzibar’s short, rainy season lasts from November until early December. November has more rainfall than December, making it less appropriate for beach enjoyment. However, in both months, the majority of the rain falls in the mornings, with only minor showers in the afternoons. As a result, you may quickly arrange your daily activities while limiting your morning travel time. For travelers with flexibility, these transitional months provide tranquil exploration, fewer people, abundant vegetation, and low-cost hotels and airfare. Though outdoor activities may be hampered, the rains nurture Zanzibar’s beauty while delivering a really authentic experience of the islands throughout the rainy season. Adventurers who don’t mind being caught in a rare storm might explore Zanzibar’s off-season splendor.

  • Visit iconic locations such as the Old Fort, Freddie Mercury Museum, Forodhani Market, and Darajani Market in Stone Town at your leisure, avoiding the peak tourist season crowds.
  • Swim with whale sharks on Mafia Island and look for humpback whales during this peak spotting season. Swim with dolphins at the secluded Ras-Kizimkazi.
  • Lounge at luxury beachside resorts at deeply discounted prices.

Travel tips:

If there are early showers, bring water shoes and a rain jacket to stay dry. Waterproof layers are fine during the afternoons. Although it is still possible to detect whale sharks in November and December, visibility may be affected by rain and waves. Look for trips leaving from Mafia Island on days with light or no rain expected to have the best whale shark swimming conditions.

Short dry season in Zanzibar—Mid-December to February

The brief dry season in Zanzibar runs from mid-December to mid-February, making this a fantastic time to visit the archipelago. The daytime highs during this time of year are slightly higher than during the extended dry season, with February being the hottest month of the year, which further encourages travelers to remain near the coast. The best months to go diving are January and February. There are also some of the cleanest, steadiest waves throughout this season, which makes for perfect kitesurfing and surfing conditions.

  • Visit Paje Beach on the eastern shoreline for diving and kitesurfing.
  • Kiwengwa Beach, dubbed “little Italy,” is a great place to sunbathe and enjoy fresh seafood and beverages from the many coastal eateries and bars.
  • When you visit Stone Town, Zanzibar, and Sauti za Basura in February, make sure to check out their yearly music festival.
  • Savor the juicy Boribo mangoes that are on sale at the Darajani Market in January, when Zanzibar is experiencing its mongo season.

Travel tips:

Watch alert for the kaskazi wind in January, which periodically delivers seaweed to eastern beaches and erodes sand along the northeast coast. Before visiting the eastern beaches, always verify with your trip advisor or hotel about their state.

To prevent becoming too hot and humid while exploring, schedule your walking excursions of Stone Town and Mafia Island for early morning or afternoon. If you go during the warmest parts of the day, consider renting dala dallas (local vehicles) to get you between spots.

The long rainy season in Zanzibar—March to May

Zanzibar has a long rainy season that lasts from March to May, with the biggest downpours in April. The main attractions of Zanzibar are its beaches and watersports; therefore, excessive rains interrupt these activities. While outdoor visitation is limited during this wet season, interior cultural and historical opportunities exist. If you’re planning a trip to Zanzibar during the low season, you should keep your itinerary flexible at all times.

  • On rainy days, visit Zanzibar’s indoor museums and historic monuments, such as the Palace Museum and the Old Fort, which provide insight into Swahili culture and the island’s history as a trading hub.
  • Visit surrounding villages with a native guide to learn about the Hadimu and Tumbatu tribes’ culture and way of life firsthand.
  • Eid el-Fitr, Zanzibar’s major festival, commemorates the conclusion of Ramadan with feasts, prayers, and celebrations around the island.

Travel tips:

Some lodges or camps may close or have a reduced staff during the off-season. Confirm your reservations and amenities ahead of time.

Check the forecast and schedule outside activities for the normally drier afternoons. Rain falls most heavily in the mornings. Whether you want to visit Zanzibar for its beaches, historic landmarks, culture, or festivals, it should be on your bucket list, regardless of the month you go.

 Do you want to organize your Zanzibar trip from scratch? Fill out our bespoke Tanzania trip form from our official website, and our travel professionals will ensure that your idea is realized to perfection. You can also visit Pounce African Safari’s social media platforms, and you will find our professional tour consultations eagerly waiting to serve you.

Pounce Africa Safaris is always there to deliver nothing but the best for you.