Zanzibar in October

Snorkelling is excellent in October

October is usually an idyllic time on Zanzibar, with light southerly breezes, clear skies and calm seas. As the month progresses, the heat gradually builds, and daytime highs regularly top 30°C (86°F). Nights are also warmer (over 20°C / 68°F) and get increasingly humid as the brief November monsoon draws near. The monsoon’s exact arrival varies unpredictably each year and some regions may see heavy rainfall before the end of the month. October is one of Zanzibar’s least windy periods and ocean visibility is often excellent – up to 25 metres or more. Sea temperatures also start to climb throughout October, reaching around 27°C (81°F) by the beginning of November.

Sunny days and calm seas are the norm in October and no single region has a monopoly on the great weather. The beaches around Nungwi can be particularly busy, and Kiwengwa and Paje are also very popular and often full. In fact, all the major resort areas can get busy in October so if you’re looking for more exclusivity then the smaller villas and boutiques around Matemwe and Pingwe are usually best. Ras Kizimkazi is also a quiet option throughout the year, but whereas it can be quite windy from June to August, by October the light breeze is now cool and refreshing. Pemba and Mafia are also always much quieter than Zanzibar Island and both boast some of their best diving and snorkelling in October.

Travel tips

  • Calmer seas off Ras Kizimkazi mark the start of the dolphin spotting season. Tours can be arranged from Zanzibar Town, but with the lighter southerly wind it’s also a great time of year to stay in Ras Kizimkazi itself. Further south, whale sharks are amassing off Mafia, with wonderful opportunities to swim with these giant beasts. October is an excellent month for diving across the archipelago. There’s generally superb visibility (25 metres or more) and most, if not all, dive sites are accessible.

  • If you’re planning to visit in October you’ll need to book well in advance, and may need to avoid the busier regions if you’re after some privacy. There’s also always the chance of an early monsoon downpour, though these are less likely at the beginning of the month.

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