Zanzibar in November

Zanzibar's lure lies in its rich cultural tapestry

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. These short rains 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. That said, November mornings are still quite often clear, there’s very little wind and there can be some very fine days too. Throughout the month temperatures continue to rise, with nights around 22°C (72°F) and daily highs above 30°C (86°F). Although sudden storms can hit unpredictably, the otherwise light winds can produce some wonderfully glassy seas. By the end of November sea temperatures are up to 29°C (84°F) and there’s great diving and snorkelling to be had, at the risk of a few squalls.

Visiting Zanzibar in November is not usually recommended, but if you find a good deal it can still be well worth the trip. You may find yourself caught indoors now and then, but the storms rarely last long and can be beautiful over the sea. As the rains ease off, the north-eastern ‘kaskasi’ 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. There’s good diving to be had all over Zanzibar in November, but again the calmest water and best visibility is off the southern shores. Mafia 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 a number of 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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