Information & Facts
Zanzibar is warm throughout the year with 7-8 hours of sunshine
a day. The coastal resorts on the north and east coast are tempered
by sea breezes. Stonetown and the centre of Zanzibar Island have
showers throughout the year. There are heavy showers throughout the
island in April and May when most tourists avoid the island and
Swahili and English are the official languages. Several
indigenous languages are also spoken.
The official unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS),
divided into 100 cents. The tourism industry prices everything in
US Dollars and they are the preferred unit of currency. Major
currencies can be exchanged in the larger towns. Foreign exchange
bureaux in the main towns usually offer a better rate on travellers
cheques than do the banks. ATMs are available in major cities only.
Major lodges, some hotels and travel agents in urban areas accept
credit cards, but these should not be relied on and can incur a 10%
Zanzibar is strongly influenced by Muslim culture and therefore
has a fairly subdued nightlife. There are however a couple of
places, especially in Stone Town, where visitors can go to enjoy a
holiday sundowner, and even a bit of dancing! Blues, at the
Forodhani waterfront, and Pichy's Pizzeria and Bar are good for
drinks with an ocean view, while the roof-top bar at Africa House
and the Serena Inn's Msasani Bar are also quite popular. Serena Inn
puts on a great 'Swahili Night', with Taarab music and an African
buffet, and the Old Fort is also good for local music performances.
Trendy late-night venues include the Starehe and Garage clubs on
Shangani Street, and the Bwawani Hotel's Komba Disco.
Shopping in Zanzibar is a varied, cheap and cultural experience.
The best shopping is available in Stone Town, where local goods and
items imported from other African nations, as well as India, Arabia
and the Far East, are good value provided you bargain.
There are a number of shops on Gizenga Street and Kenyatta road
that sell quality local artefacts, clothing, jewellery, massage
oils and spices - everything Zanzibar! Here visitors can find
kikoys(sarongs), a great souvenir. Wooden chests
and tinga tinga paintings are also sought after Zanzibar souvenirs.
Look out for street-side stalls with Masaai women sell curios,
jewellery and batik fabrics.
The silver shops on Gizenga, as well as in Sokomohogo Square,
trade in antique or handcrafted silverware and jewellery, while
gold is offered in stores on Tharia Street. One Way on Kenyatta
Road sells a vast selection of 100% cotton leisure wear, and on
Darajani Street visitors can buy almost anything, including fresh
produce from the Central Market.
Most Zanzibar shops are open Monday to Saturday from 9am to
12pm, and then from 2pm to 6pm. Few shops will accept credit cards,
so be sure to bring enough cash. US dollars are accepted at resorts
and on the beaches, but the exchange rate will not be in your
favour and you'll get a better deal by using local Tanzanian