The equatorial Zanzibar Archipelago has truly amazing weather all year round with warm, but much more comfortable temperatures are around 28-34C (83-93F), but the best time to visit Zanzibar is late June, July, August, September and early October. This is the time of the so-called dry season with sunshine and perfect water conditions with lots of wildlife and marine life to see around the archipelago.
However, the peak of the long rains’ season falls onto April and May, whilst November and some of December bring less rowdy short rains’ season, which means there will be some powerful but also refreshing rain during the day, which shouldn’t spoil your Zanzibar holiday at all.
Avoid Zanzibar in April and May, because of super high temperatures and almost unbearable humidity.
You might be taking a gamble with your holiday if you plan a beach trip here in November, March (fewer tourists but the weather can be cool and pleasant too) and December, as the weather isn’t as stable as during the dry season, and you might end up with showers during the day. However, these subside quickly if you don’t mind tropical humidity.
Unfortunately, due to climate change, weather patterns across Africa, as well as around the rest of the world, are becoming more and more confusing. So, although, rain seasonality used to be rather predictable in East Africa, especially in southern Tanzania and Kenya, it is now harder and harder to predict when the long rains begin and end. Please take this as a guide, and not a prescription for planning your perfect beach holiday in Zanzibar.
As for diving, July and August, as well as February and March are more likely to offer the best water conditions and very little wind.
June through to October offer great diving opportunities around the northern coast of Zanzibar Archipelago, while November and March are better-spent diving around the southern part of the island and other atolls.
From September till December is the time when Whale sharks visit the coast.
Although not too humid, Zanzibar has a bit more tropical rain than the rest of Tanzania, given its location in the western Indian Ocean. Remember, that occasionally, there will be rains during dry seasons too.
March, April and May are the months of the main rainy season, known as long rains. Expect proper downpours every afternoon. But because the temperature is about 35°C, the humidity is quite high, but the good news is that the rain evaporates rather quickly, giving a chance to breathe with more ease.
Zanzibar Weather Calendar
Late December, January and February
Dry season – a superb time to visit for those keen on hotter weather. The days are sunny and wonderfully hot, with the ocean underwater visibility at its best. This is why a lot of divers descend on the islands during this time of year. Of course, perfectly clear water is also perfect for coral snorkelling.
Mid-March, April, May and Early June
Around mid-March, the weather starts to turn as Zanzibar enters the period known as the ‘long rains’ and showers become more frequent. It can be very wet from the middle of March onward.
The long rains of April and May make the beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline hot and very wet, so this isn’t the best time to travel.
Late June, July, August and September
The rain subsides in July or late June, although some downpours can still happen at the beginning of this season. This is the best time to visit Zanzibar beaches and Stone Town, for the cooler temperatures (30C), little wind, lots of sunshine and lower humidity.
With rising temperatures, Zanzibar starts to get a few more showers, but these shouldn’t affect your holiday that much as the rain is quickly followed by beautiful sunshine.
Late October, November and early December
As the temperatures are rising again, along with humidity levels, the short rain season kicks off. The rain usually pours every afternoon, but the ground and beaches dry out very quickly afterwards.
Zanzibar Beach and Safari Holiday Combo
Wildebeest Migration will be the highlight of any trip, but you need to time your visit accordingly. It’s important to remember that depending on the time of the year, the migration will be at different points of the Serengeti and will be going through various cycles including the beginning of the move with newly born calves (May), dangerous and dramatic river crossings (June and August-October) or calving season when the savannah is blooming with millions of baby animals (February).
As Serengeti and Zanzibar are well-connected via daily morning flights, it is probably better to start with a Kilimanjaro climb, head for a safari and finish the holiday off with a wonderful beach holiday down the coast.