Budget friendly Zanzibar holidays

Zanzibar can certainly be done on a budget, but you’ll need to pick your regions with care. Starting in Stone Town you’ll find a range of affordable guesthouses, offering basic double rooms and B&B. Further afield there are two main budget areas – around the northern village of Nungwi and along the south-eastern coast between Paje and Jambiani. Matemwe, northern Kiwengwa, Bewjuu and Kizimkazi Mkunguni all have one or two good budget guesthouses, but the choices are more limited and you may have to settle for something a bit back from the beach.

paje beach zanzibar holiday

Pemba and Mafia are not great budget destinations, although you will find some more affordable guesthouses in Chake Chake, Kilindoni and Utende. That said, to make the most of these and the other smaller islands in the archipelago you’ll most likely need to spend a bit more.

Highlights

Happily, lying on the beach is always free and snorkelling gear can be hired for a few dollars almost anywhere. Local dive trips start at $40 a person and dhow excursions can be from $30 to $80 a trip depending on where you go and how many are in the boat. If you’ve never dived before, then Zanzibar is a superb place to start. Full PADI certification starts at around $500 a person, but for $100 you can try an introductory ‘Discover Scuba’ course which includes a pool dive, some theory and a shallow sea dive to around 12 metres. Whatever you do, don’t leave Zanzibar without doing a spice tour. These can be arranged in Stone Town, with prices starting at around $30 a person.

Travel Tips

  • If you’re planning to stay in Stone Town for a while, then book accommodation in advance for a few nights. This will give you somewhere to aim for when you arrive, but won’t tie you down if it turns out to be less desirable. Once there you can explore the old town on foot and move to a nicer spot if you need to. Don’t try this if you’re visiting in July, however, when Stone Town is packed for the Festival of the Dhow Countries.

  • You can employ this same strategy in Nungwi, Paje and Jambiani where there are plenty of good budget options within walking distance along the beach. You’ll find huts and bungalows that don’t even take advance bookings and survive exclusively on walk in guests. As with Stone Town in July, there’s always some risk, and along the northern and eastern coasts it’s busiest from July to October. Jambiani is currently one of the quieter stretches of beach and a good place to start if you’re worried about availability.

  • Be aware that the smaller, cheaper guesthouses almost always require cash and there’s nowhere to draw money outside of Stone Town, Kiwengwa and Chake Chake. Officially all accommodation must be paid for in US dollars, though euros are increasingly accepted and some budget hostels may take Tanzania shillings. The best option is to arrive with all your dollars in cash as you’ll get better rates than if you exchange on the islands. If you do need to change money (a few shillings can be useful for smaller purchases such as street food), then use a private bureau de change in Stone Town. The larger hotels often provide a FOREX service, but usually at much poorer rates.

  • Expect to pay $10 to $15 for a dorm bed in Stone Town and $40 to $60 for a clean double room anywhere. Single rooms are rare in Zanzibar and you’ll often be charged the full rate for a double. Local food and basic drinks will set you back about $25 a day, so all-in-all you’re looking at around $50 a person a day sharing, for a decent guesthouse on a fairly tight budget.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

day 1

Dar es Salaam, arrival
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

day 2

Mafia Island, your flight there
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

day 3

Start exploring

day 4

Diving, snorkelling relaxing

day 5

Pemba Island, your flight there
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

day 6

Pemba Island, to yourself

day 7

Gaps, walls and tranquility

day 8

Zanzibar Island, finally
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)
  • Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

day 9

Explore the east coast

day 10

Stone Town and its narrow streets

day 11

Fly Home

View Full Itinerary

Popular Zanzibar Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

Sea view | Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

This island getaway to Mafia, Pemba and Zanzibar is ideal for honeymoon couples or anyone looking for white beaches and lots of diving, snorkeling and other ocean activities...

 | Tanzania couples safari

Tanzania couples safari

Enjoy the wildlife of Tanzania as well as the paradise of Zanzibar...

 | Tropical Zanzibar Island Escape (8 days)

Tropical Zanzibar Island Escape (8 days)

Your dream beach holiday awaits. Explore the coastline of Zanzibar's famed Kendwa beach paradise on this ultra-luxe tour...

 | Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar Journey (12 days)

Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar Journey (12 days)

This blockbuster Tanzania safari will show you the best of the country's outstanding wildlife and the beach paradise of Zanzibar...



You might also like

Stone Town

Stone Town is Zanzibar’s historic heart, a bewildering maze of streets and alleyways that form the westernmost tip of Zanzibar Town. These days the island’s bustling capital is home to some quarter of a million people, but lost in the tangle of Stone Town’s narrow streets it’s easy to imagine yourself floating back in time. Twisting passages unfurl beneath delicate balconies as…

Romantic holiday in Zanzibar

If you’re looking for romance, then look no further – Zanzibar is a thrilling destination for couples. With a fascinating history and stunning natural beauty, its exotic blend of experiences makes Zanzibar unique. Here you’ll find not only secluded beaches and elegant modern villas, but also sundowner dhow cruises and Arabian-styled boutique hotels. And whereas in the past many…

Budget friendly Zanzibar holidays

Zanzibar can certainly be done on a budget, but you’ll need to pick your regions with care. Starting in Stone Town you’ll find a range of affordable guesthouses, offering basic double rooms and B&B. Further afield there are two main budget areas – around the northern village of Nungwi and along the south-eastern coast between Paje and Jambiani. Matemwe, northern Kiwengwa, Bewjuu and…

Luxury Zanzibar Holiday

Zanzibar does luxury supremely well. From treetop suites to private islands, and all manner of barefoot bliss in between. There are world-class hotels and resorts across the archipelago including some welcome new additions in Stone Town. But although a few days in Stone Town are essential to any holiday in Zanzibar, it’s the stunning beach-side boutiques and intimate island escapes…

Zanzibar in March

Credit: Matemwe Lodge Zanzibar’s main rainy season begins in March, but the first heavy downpours may only arrive mid-month. Until they do, the archipelago remains at its hottest and most humid as the summer winds subside and the beaches bake in the sun. Daily highs reach over 35°C (95°F) before the monsoon hits and brings some relief. Early March is prime beach time across the…

Pingwe, Dongwe & The Michamvi Peninsula

The Michamvi Peninsula just north from Chwaka Bay, a narrow, thumb-like headland that boasts some of Zanzibar Island’s most exclusive hotels and resorts. The north-western tip has the added advantage of being the only true sundowner spot along the east coast, with a kilometre and a half of pristine west-facing beachfront and magnificent views across Chwaka Bay. Most of the…

Mafia Island

150 km south of Zanzibar Island lies the third largest isle in the archipelago, Mafia. In fact, Mafia Island is so far removed and has so many smaller satellites of its own, that it’s really a miniature archipelago in its own right. Rarely visited, and much quieter even than Pemba, Mafia and its surrounding islands are a diver’s paradise. Huge groupers, rays, turtles and whale…

Zanzibar in December

Early December can see showers across Zanzibar, becoming more sporadic as the month goes by. Temperatures throughout the islands gradually climb and hot days can peak around 35°C (95°F). December’s prevailing wind is the north-eastern ‘kaskasi,’ which gets increasingly fresh along the islands’ east coasts. As the northern wind builds it whips up the sea and the exposed northern…

Ready to start your adventure?

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2