You’re seeking turquoise waters, white beaches and a vibrant island life? As the forerunner in African travel, we know all about the best time to travel to Zanzibar. An archipelago of tropical islands off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is about 600km south of the equator. With a fascinating multi-cultural history, Stone Town is a delight to explore at any time of year. On the other hand, if it’s a classic, barefoot beach holiday you want, then there are better times than others. Our guide for the best time to visit Zanzibar in takes you through the seasons to help you decide – for your specific preferences.
Best Time to Visit Zanzibar: Different Seasons
Let’s plan your luxury island escape! We break down the different seasons and what you can expect while travelling.
January to March: Sneaky Peak Season
You’ll hear a lot about the short and long rains in East Africa. These monsoon seasons dump barrel-loads of rain in the wet season. However, these showers are usually short-lived and occur twice a year for two to three months at a time.
In January, however, it’s the beginning of a short hiatus between rainy seasons, therefore making February the driest month of the year. This is also the hottest time of year in Zanzibar until the long rains arrive to cool things down towards mid-March.
- Watersports and the best diving and snorkelling conditions
- Exploring Stone Town’s markets, street food, museums, galleries and architecture
- Dhow sailing cruises and Jozani Forest walks
Travellers who want to explore Zanzibar’s coral reefs and underwater wildlife on a diving or snorkelling tour.
Mid-March to May: Rain Stops Play (for Most)
The long summer rains arrive on Zanzibar’s shores around mid-March and continue into April and May. Therefore, heavy downpours might spoil your beach plans during this time. However, there’s always plenty to see and do in Stone Town.
And a significant bonus is the almost complete absence of other visitors. Therefore, it’s the best time to visit Zanzibar to experience authentic Zanzibari life and explore the wonders of this ancient, thriving archipelago.
- Experiencing Stone Town’s historical and cultural highlights
- Spice island tours and beach days in between downpours
- Wellness and spa retreats
Visitors interested in the history and inner workings of fascinating places. Also, food-lovers who enjoy exotic, authentic food production and preparation.
June to September: The Golden Months
June sees a dramatic drop in rainfall and the start of Zanzibar’s glorious winter – two words you don’t often see juxtaposed. The days are still hot by anybody’s standards. However, the water is warm, nights are cool, humidity is lower, and rain showers are few and brief.
This dry winter season is widely considered the best time to visit Zanzibar, with a full range of activities on fine display. Conveniently, winter is also the best time for a safari in East Africa, giving you the best of both. Bush and beach holiday, anyone?
- Relaxing beach days in the sun
- Watersports, ocean cruises and island hopping
- Spice tours and Jozani Forest walks
Pretty much anyone and everyone! Romantic occasions, family holidays, safari and beach combinations, and cultural excursions.
October: The Little Month That Could
October sees the first hints of the short rains returning. As a result, this is generally a quieter time to visit Zanzibar. It is, however, hotter, more humid and with more chance of rain than in the preceding four months. But the weather is still perfect for some days by or in the sea. And on rainy days, there’s always Stone Town to explore or long, lazy siestas to enjoy.
- Hot, sunny beach days mixed with cooler rainy days in between
- Still decent weather but a little bit quieter than the peak season
- Watersports and outdoor activities on land
All those who prefer fewer crowds and don’t mind a little gamble with the weather.
November and December: Short Rains for Slow Activities
November arrives with a splash of immense downpours that taper off in December, giving this rainy season its diminutive title. Just like the long rainy season, Zanzibar all but closes down to tourists giving you that exciting pioneering feeling.
Between the usually short, powerful downpours, the weather and water is warm, and you’ll pretty much have the island to yourself.
- Stone Town has many all-weather attractions to enjoy
- Quieter, slower pace to enjoy the authentic Zanzibari lifestyle
- Spice island tours and spa treatments
Visitors who enjoy whole-destination experiences and authentic cultures. It’s also the best time to visit Zanzibar for romantic celebrations where beach days are not essential every day, and for those who enjoy fresh produce.
So, When is the Best Time to Visit Zanzibar in 2022?
You’re keen for long, lazy days by the beach? Then the best time to visit Zanzibar is from June to September. Luckily, these are also the best months to combine a classic safari on the mainland with a beach escape. This way, you’ll have the absolute best of both worlds.
October can be hit-and-miss, as can January and February. And those shoulder months favour the more opportunistic holiday style. The rainy seasons are by no means a washout. In fact, it’s almost preferable if you like the prospect of exploring Stone Town to idling on a tropical beach all day, every day.