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Zanzibar in November

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Zanzibar in November

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By Vihann Van Wyk

Safari Travel Planner

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November is the month of the ‘short rains’ in Zanzibar, a brief period of sporadic storms that may begin as early as mid-October and ease off during December.

Stone Town, Zanzibar.
Stone Town, Zanzibar.

These short rains are generally much lighter than the main wet season (from March to May), but consecutive days can be cloudy, and good beach tanning time is not guaranteed.

Boat sailing in sunset near Stone Town, Zanzibar.
Boat sailing in sunset near Stone Town, Zanzibar.

That said, November mornings are still quite often clear, there’s very little wind, and there can be some very fine days too.

Seascape of Zanzibar.
Seascape of Zanzibar.

Throughout the month, temperatures continue to rise, with nights around 22°C (72°F) and daily highs above 30°C (86°F) in Zanzibar. Although sudden storms can hit unpredictably, the light winds can produce wonderfully glassy seas.

Tropical beach on Pemba Island, Zanzibar.
Tropical beach on Pemba Island, Zanzibar.

By the end of November sea temperatures are up to 29°C (84°F) and there’s great diving and snorkeling to be had, at the risk of a few squalls.

Boat on Paje Beach.
Boat on Paje Beach.

Visiting Zanzibar in November is not usually recommended, but it can still be worth the trip if you find a good deal. You may find yourself caught indoors now and then, but the storms rarely last long and can be beautiful over the sea.

Aerial view of tropical island, Zanzibar.
Aerial view of tropical island, Zanzibar.

As the rains ease off, the north-eastern ‘kaskazi’ picks up but rarely exceeds a light breeze this early in the season. Even so, the flattest seas are generally to the south – Ras Kizimkazi’s dolphin-spotting boat tours are ideal at this time of year. 

Prison Island, Zanzibar
Prison Island, Zanzibar

There’s good diving to be had all over Zanzibar in November, but again the calmest water and best visibility are off the southern shores.

Aerial view of Prison Island, Zanzibar.
Aerial view of Prison Island, Zanzibar.

Mafia island, too, can receive some rain in November, but it’s still possible to swim with whale sharks and enjoy some of the best diving in the archipelago.

Travel Tips
  • November’s highlights include glassy southern seas, great diving conditions just about everywhere, and attractive deals at some hotels and resorts. November is one of Zanzibar’s least busy months – a pro or a con, depending on what you’re looking for.
  • The main risk in November is the unpredictable weather, and although it’s generally warm and still, there’ll be some rain and several cloudy days. It’s certainly not Zanzibar’s best month for tanning, though you don’t necessarily need sunshine to swim in a 29°C (84°F) sea.

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