Solo Female Travel in Zanzibar: Tips and Recommendations from a Woman Who’s Been There

As a solo female traveler, I’m always on the lookout for destinations that offer both adventure and safety. That’s why I was thrilled to discover Zanzibar, a stunning island off the coast of Tanzania known for its pristine beaches, vibrant culture, and welcoming locals. While some may be hesitant to travel alone as a woman, Zanzibar offers a unique and enriching experience that I’ll never forget.

From the moment I arrived, I was greeted with smiles and open arms, and locals went out of their way to make me feel welcome. Whether I was exploring the winding streets of Stone Town or lounging on the beach, I felt safe and at ease in this beautiful corner of the world.

Of course, Zanzibar isn’t without its challenges for solo female travelers. As with any destination, it’s important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

However, with a bit of common sense and preparation, I found that Zanzibar was a wonderful place to explore on my own. From snorkeling in the turquoise waters to sampling delicious local cuisine, there’s no shortage of adventures in Zanzibar.

And here I share my experiences as a solo female traveler in Zanzibar with you.

Arzo Travels in Zanzibar


As a solo female traveler, I have always been cautious about where I choose to go. While I wanted to go to Zanzibar for ages, it had not been the highest on my bucket list.

However, when I booked a safari in Tanzania mainland (including a trip to Serengeti National Park), I heard from many, that it would be great to visit Zanzibar afterwards and relax at the beaches after the busy safari tour.

I am so glad I finally made the trip. Here are a few reasons why I think Zanzibar is the perfect destination for solo female travelers:


Safety is always a top priority for me when traveling alone, and Zanzibar definitely did not disappoint. The locals are incredibly friendly and welcoming, and I always felt safe walking around on my own.

Of course, as with any destination, it’s important to take precautions and stay aware of your surroundings, but overall, I found Zanzibar to be a very safe place to travel. I have a few safety tips for women traveling to Zanzibar later in the post.


Zanzibar´s pristine beaches definitely live up to the hype. From the crystal clear waters to the soft white sand, the beaches in Zanzibar are truly breathtaking. Whether you want to relax in the sun or go for a swim, there’s no shortage of beautiful beaches to choose from.


Zanzibar has a rich and diverse culture, with influences from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. From the colorful markets to the historic Stone Town, there’s so much to see and experience in Zanzibar. I loved learning about the history and culture of the island and meeting locals who were eager to share their stories with me.

Sunbathing in Zanzibar

Planning Your Trip

Visa Requirements

Zanzibar is a region of Tanzania, so you need a Tanzanian visa.  

Before planning your trip to Zanzibar, it’s important to check the visa requirements for your country. Most visitors can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport, but it’s always best to check with your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information.

There is a $50 fee for the visa of Tanzania (which I obtained in Tanzania mainland when I landed in Arusha for my safari).

Best Time to Visit

Zanzibar has a tropical climate with two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The best time to visit as a solo female traveler (or anyone for this part) is during the dry season, which runs from June to October.

This is when the weather is cooler and drier, making it easier to explore the island without feeling too hot or uncomfortable. However, this is also peak tourist season, so expect higher prices and more crowds.

Budgeting Tips

As a solo female traveler, it’s important to budget wisely for your trip to Zanzibar. The cost of living on the island is relatively low, but prices can vary depending on where you stay and what activities you plan to do.

I recommend booking your accommodations in advance to get the best deals and avoid any last-minute price hikes. I stayed at two locations: in a beach bungalow in the East of Zanzibar, where I paid around $75 a night (including breakfast), and in a Boutique Hotel in Stone Town where I paid around $40 a night including breakfast. You can find much cheaper options (probably starting from $ 20 a night) but also luxury hotels that charge hundreds of dollars a night for a single person.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring cash with you as credit cards are not widely accepted on the island. However, credit cards are becoming more popular now, so also bring your favorite Visa or MasterCard with you (Amex is less popular in countries outside the US), 

Finally, bargaining is a common practice in Zanzibar, so don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with vendors and tour operators. 

Souvenirs in Zanizibar

Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

As a solo female traveler in Zanzibar, safety should be your top priority. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy your trip:

1. Dress modestly

Zanzibar is a conservative Muslim society, and it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly – bikinis are allowed at the beaches but you should have something to cover your shoulders and knees if you leave the beach area.

2. Avoid walking alone at night

While Zanzibar is generally safe, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Avoid walking alone at night, especially in secluded areas. Stick to well-lit and busy streets, and consider taking a taxi if you need to travel after dark.

3. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings

Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Keep your valuables close to you, and avoid flashing them in public.

Leave valuables in the hotel and just take the necessities. 

4. Use reputable tour operators and accommodation providers

When booking tours or accommodation, use reputable providers with good reviews. Do your research beforehand, and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from other travelers or locals. As a solo traveler to Zanzibar, you might have difficulties booking tours online as most asked for at “least 2 participants”.

So, I booked most of my tours (which I highly recommend since the islands and sandbanks close by are absolutely stunning) once I got there – based on recommendations from my hotel and other locals. 

5. Learn some basic Swahili

While many people in Zanzibar speak English, learning some basic Swahili phrases can help you communicate better with locals and make your trip more enjoyable. Plus, it shows that you respect and appreciate the local culture.

6. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is essential for staying healthy and feeling your best. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your travels. I always carry a refillable water bottle with me, so I can stay hydrated on the go. However, in Zanzibar it is not recommended to drink tap water, so you will have to buy bottled water.

7. Use Sunscreen

One of the biggest “safety” problems I faced was my struggle against the African Sun. In Zanzibar’s tropical climate, sunscreen is crucial to protect against intense UV rays.

It prevents sunburn, reduces skin cancer risk, and helps avoid premature aging – the sun here cannot be compared to the sun in Europe or other parts of the Western World, so to stay safe in Zanzibar, pack enough sunscreen, cover your body with light clothes as much as possible, and also try to spend some time in the shade.

8. Be Aware of Beach Boys

In Zanzibar, “beach boys” or “beach operators” refer to local men who work along the beaches, often offering various tourist services. These services can range from selling souvenirs, offering guided tours, arranging water sports activities, or sometimes just providing local information.

While many beach boys are genuine and provide valuable services to enhance tourists’ experiences, be aware that some may engage in persistent sales tactics or offer overpriced services.

For travelers, it’s important to approach interactions with beach boys with a blend of openness and caution. Agree on prices for goods or services beforehand and seek recommendations from trusted sources like your accommodation or other travelers.

Mnemba Island Sandbank

Cultural Etiquette

As a solo female traveler in Zanzibar, it’s important to be aware of the cultural etiquette to ensure that you are respectful of the local customs and traditions. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Dress modestly: Zanzibar is a predominantly Muslim island, so it’s important to dress modestly out of respect for the local culture. This means covering your shoulders and knees and avoiding tight or revealing clothing except for the beaches.
  • Remove your shoes: When entering someone’s home or a mosque, it’s customary to remove your shoes. Be sure to look for a pile of shoes outside the entrance as a cue.
  • Greet with Salaam: The traditional greeting in Zanzibar is “Salaam alaikum,” which means “peace be upon you.” It’s polite to respond with “Wa alaikum salaam,” which means “and upon you be peace.”
  • Use your right hand: In Zanzibar, the left hand is considered unclean, so it’s important to use your right hand for eating, shaking hands, and giving and receiving items.
  • Respect Ramadan: If you’re visiting Zanzibar during Ramadan (which I would try to avoid), be respectful of those who are fasting by not eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours.

By following these cultural etiquette tips, you’ll show respect for the local customs and traditions and have a more enjoyable and meaningful experience in Zanzibar.

Nakupenda Beach near Stone Town


If you’re planning a solo trip to Zanzibar, there are a few places that you simply can’t miss. Here are my top picks for must-visit places on the island:

Stone Town

As the cultural and historical heart of Zanzibar, the old town of Stone Town is a must-visit destination for any traveler. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, lined with colorful buildings and bustling markets. 

Be sure to check out the House of Wonders, the Old Fort, and the Forodhani Gardens.

Apart from the rain, nothing stopped me from exploring the small yet vibrant old town of Stone Town. Yes, you will be approached by every single business owner and asked to have a look (which can be very exhausting), but just say “thanks”, smile and move on.

Doors in Stone Town

Spice Farms

Zanzibar is known as the “Spice Island” for good reason. The island’s rich soil and tropical climate are perfect for growing a wide variety of spices, including cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. You’ll see, smell, and taste the spices as you learn about their history and uses.

Prison Island

Visiting Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, near Zanzibar, is a unique experience that you can also do by hiring a guide/boat. Originally used as a prison for rebellious slaves, it later became a quarantine station.

Today, it’s famous for its sanctuary of Aldabra giant tortoises, some over a century old, offering a rare wildlife encounter. The island’s rich history is palpable in its ruins and old structures.

Its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters also make it a perfect spot for snorkeling and relaxation. The short boat trip from Zanzibar City adds to the adventure, providing stunning views and a sense of escape.

Prison Island near Stone Town
Prison Island

Mnemba Island

Mnemba Island is a private island off the northeast coast of Zanzibar. Just in front of it, you have a small sand bank  Known for its breathtaking coral reefs, it’s a paradise for snorkelers and divers, boasting vibrant marine life including turtles and tropical fish.

The island’s pristine beaches provide a tranquil setting for relaxation and sunbathing. The boat journey to Mnemba offers scenic views of the Indian Ocean’s turquoise waters, making the visit a truly memorable experience for those seeking luxury and seclusion.

Mnemba Island Sandbank

Jozani Forest

For nature lovers, a visit to Jozani Forest is a must. This protected area is home to the endangered red colobus monkey, as well as a variety of other wildlife and plant species. Take a guided tour through the forest to see the monkeys up close and learn about the ecology of the area. And be sure to keep an eye out for the impressive baobab trees that dot the landscape.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or nature, Zanzibar has something for everyone. These must-visit places are just the beginning of what the island has to offer.

Dolphin Watching

Dolphin watching in Zanzibar is a popular and enchanting activity, especially around the southern coast in areas like Kizimkazi, in the south of Zanzibar. Here, the warm Indian Ocean waters are home to several dolphin species, including the playful bottlenose and the rarer humpback dolphins.

Tours typically start early in the morning, when dolphins are most active. You can often join the dolphins in the water, snorkeling alongside them in their natural habitat, experiencing a remarkable closeness to these intelligent creatures.

This was the first time I saw dolphins (I saw them one more time near Mnemba Island) and I actually cried tears of joy!

Dolphins in front of Mnemba Island


What would a trip to the Indian Ocean be without underwater activities to discover the underwater world?

Thanks to the island’s crystal-clear waters and marine biodiversity snorkeling is an amazing activity that you can also do on your own. The coral reefs surrounding Zanzibar are home to a vast array of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and dolphins.

Popular snorkeling spots include Mnemba Atoll, a protected marine reserve renowned for its stunning coral gardens, and the reefs around Pemba Island, known for their pristine condition and diverse sea life.

I booked a tour with a guided snorkeling trip – as I am (was) scared of fish and with the help of the guide, I somehow managed to overcome my fear of fish.

Also, the tours normally have equipment rental (without any surcharge, but make sure to have that agreed on beforehand) and sometimes boat travel to more secluded spots.

Seastar in Zanzibar

Accommodation Options

When it comes to finding a place to stay in Zanzibar as a solo female traveler, there are a few options to consider. Here are some of the options that I found during my trip:

East Coast Zanzibar


Hostels are a great option for solo travelers on a budget. Zanzibar has a variety of hostels that offer affordable accommodation in popular areas such as Stone Town, Nungwi, and Kendwa. Most hostels offer shared dorm rooms, but some also have private rooms available. Some of the hostels also offer free breakfast and have common areas where you can meet other travelers.


Guesthouses are another option for solo female travelers in Zanzibar. They offer a more private and comfortable experience than hostels but are still affordable. Guesthouses are usually run by locals and offer a more authentic experience. Most guesthouses offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms and some also have communal areas where you can interact with other guests.

Boutique Hotels

For those who are looking for a more luxurious experience, boutique hotels are a great option. Zanzibar has a variety of boutique hotels that offer beautiful rooms, excellent service, and stunning views. These hotels are usually located in quieter areas away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist areas. They offer a more peaceful and relaxing experience, which is perfect for solo travelers who want to unwind and recharge.

Luxury Hotels

Zanzibar offers a range of luxurious accommodations, including TOA Hotel & Spa, TUI BLUE Bahari Zanzibar, and Hotel Riu Palace Zanzibar. Other notable luxury options include Safira Blu Luxury Resort & Villas, Kilindi Zanzibar, and The Palms Zanzibar.

These establishments boast stunning locations, world-class amenities, and exceptional service, ensuring a truly indulgent experience for visitors to this enchanting island.

Food and Drink Experiences

I found the food experiences in Zanzibar to be one highlight of my trip. The island is known for its spices, and the local cuisine is a fusion of African, Arabic, and Indian influences.

Ananas, watermelons, and many more fresh fruits were part of my daily diet and I could not have loved it more. Though I do not eat seafood and meat (a big part of their cuisine), I had plenty of options, when it came to vegetarian food – from local curries to pizza, and pasta, food did not disappoint in Zanzibar.

When it comes to drinks, you can’t leave Zanzibar without trying the local favorite, sugarcane juice. You’ll find vendors selling it on almost every street corner. Coconut water, served straight from the coconut, is also very popular though I am not a fan of the coconut :).

Alcohol is sold in some restaurants and stores, though it is prohibited to be drunk in public. 

Lunch on islands

Getting Around Zanzibar

As a solo female traveler in Zanzibar, I found it quite easy to get around the island. Here are some of the ways to travel around:


Dala-dalas are the most common mode of transportation in Zanzibar. These are minivans that are usually overcrowded but are very cheap. They are a great way to get around if you’re on a tight budget. However, they can be quite uncomfortable, especially during peak hours and you cannot rely on the schedule. 

It is fun to experience once, but especially if you travel solo, I recommend using taxis instead.


Taxis are another option for getting around Zanzibar. They are more expensive than dala-dalas but are more comfortable and convenient. Negotiate the fare before getting into the taxi to avoid being overcharged.


Renting a bicycle is a great way to explore Zanzibar at your own pace. It’s affordable and allows you to take in the beautiful scenery at a leisurely pace. Be cautious when cycling on the roads as there are no designated cycling lanes.


Zanzibar is a small island, and walking is a great way to explore the narrow streets and alleys of Stone Town. It’s also a great way to get some exercise and take in the local culture.

Overall, getting around Zanzibar is relatively easy and affordable. Whether you choose to take a dala-dala, taxi, bicycle, or walk, there are plenty of options to suit your budget and travel style.

Boat cruises on Zanzibar

Packing Tips

As a solo female traveler, packing for Zanzibar can be a bit of a challenge. While you can buy some wonderful things in Zanzibar, you might not be able to find everything you might be used to in your own country.

Here’s a list of items you shouldn’t forget to bring along:

Sunscreen – Zanzibar is hot and sunny most of the year, so it’s essential to pack sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from UV rays. Make sure to apply it regularly, especially if you’re planning a day at the beach. Do not underestimate the African sun!

Swimsuit – A swimsuit is a must-have item for your Zanzibar vacation. Whether you prefer one-piece or two-piece, make sure to pack a comfortable, breathable swimsuit to allow you to move freely and enjoy the water.

Light clothing – Pack light and airy clothing, such as cotton and linen, as the climate in Zanzibar is hot and humid. Loose-fitting outfits will provide breathability to help keep you comfortable throughout the day.

Insect repellent – Mosquitoes are common in Zanzibar, so it’s essential to pack some insect repellent to avoid getting bitten. This will also help to prevent mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever.

Water shoes or sandals – As you’ll be spending time by the sea, it’s a great idea to pack some water shoes or sandals. These will protect your feet from sharp rocks, broken shells, and other hazards on the beach. Yes, they are normally ugly as heck but I never regret wearing them.

Watershoes to protect your feet

Snorkeling gear – The coral reefs of Zanzibar are some of the most beautiful in the world, so consider bringing along some snorkeling gear to explore this extraordinary underwater world.

Waterproof Camera – Don’t forget to pack a camera to capture all of the fantastic moments of your trip. With so much natural beauty to behold, you’ll want to snap pictures of everything to share with friends and family back home.

Hat and sunglasses – Protect yourself from the intense heat with a hat and sunglasses. The sun can be quite strong in Zanzibar, and having these items will help to ensure you remain comfortable and safe while enjoying all the island has to offer.

By packing these items, you’ll be well-prepared for a fantastic time in Zanzibar. Remember to pack light, practice sun safety, and take plenty of pictures to commemorate your journey!

Remember, less is more when it comes to packing for Zanzibar. Stick to the essentials and you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable trip.

Many sandbanks in Zanzibar


As a solo female traveler in Zanzibar, I had an enriching and deeply rewarding experience.

The island’s rich cultural tapestry, breathtaking landscapes, and the warmth of its people made it an irresistible destination for my quest for adventure, relaxation, and cultural depth.

Safety, a concern for any solo traveler, is manageable with sensible choices like dressing in tune with local customs, choosing well-regarded accommodations, and using trusted transport.

Wandering through the historic Stone Town, with its maze-like alleys and bustling markets, was like stepping back in time. The tranquil beaches offered a perfect retreat for soul-searching and rejuvenation. 

Most importantly, my solo trip to Zanzibar pushed me out of my comfort zone. It allowed me to meet diverse individuals and forge lasting memories. The island’s blend of natural splendor, cultural wealth, and welcoming spirit makes it an unparalleled haven for women like me, embarking on solo journeys.




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