Luxury holidays in Zanzibar

Perhaps most famous for its idyllic white beaches, the island of Zanzibar is also steeped in rich and complex culture – the legacy of its historic trade links and melting pot of a capital, Stone Town. Along the east coast, long strips of sugary sand lead to the turquoise Indian Ocean, on which you’ll see fisherman plying their trade from wooden catamarans. In recent years, they’ve been joined by an acrobatic companion – kitesurfers, who’ve discovered that the island’s long shallows and diminutive waves are perfect for their airborne sport. On the island’s west coast is the Unesco-protected capital, Stone Town, a beautifully preserved trading outpost with towering mosques, winding alleyways and buildings in Indian, Arabic, European and East African styles. Among its diverse sights, the city has two particularly famous hallmarks: the ornate wooden doors that mark historically important buildings, and its spice markets, which are perfumed with vibrant mounds of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and more, much of it grown in farms just outside the city.

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When to go

The best time to visit is during the dry season, which lasts roughly from June to October. The rain tends to be at its heaviest from March to May, returning to give the island another soaking in November.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Zanzibar International Airport is the one to aim for. Flights from the UK involve a stopover – the fastest routes often go via Istanbul or Muscat.
  • Automobiles

    Most people choose to leave the driving to the locals, who’ve grown up with the oft-chaotic conditions on the roads. Driving along the coast and rural areas tends to be calmer, but Stone Town should be avoided unless you’re a veteran driver with experience negotiating Zanzibari roads. (If you do decide to hire, the Smith24 team can arrange it.)