The equatorial Zanzibar Archipelago has truly amazing weather all year round, but when should you go?
In this article, I'll outline the best time to visit Zanzibar along with what to expect where weather and things to do are concerned.
Day tours in Zanzibar? Here are my top picks...
- Quad bike tour to a local village (4 hours)
- Stonetown food market and street food walking tour (3 hours)
- Zanzibar spice tour with traditional cooking lesson (3 hours)
- Rock restaurant and cave tour (6 hours)
- Private tour to Prison Island (3 hours)
Best Time To Visit Zanzibar
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 lots of sunshine. Water conditions are also perfect at this time of year, with lots of wildlife and marine life to see around the archipelago.
November and some of December bring a short rain season, which means there will be some powerful but also refreshing rain during the day, which shouldn’t spoil your Zanzibar holiday at all.
Weather Tip: It's better to avoid Zanzibar in April and May, because of super high temperatures, lots of rain 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.
Don't forget to check out our super-helpful map of Zanzibar to familiarise yourself with the most popular tourist hotspots on the island.
Now, let's look more in-depth at which months and seasons are the best time to visit Zanzibar.
Seasonal Breakdown of Zanzibar Weather
Late December, January and February
Late December, January and February are known as the dry season – the best time to visit Zanzibar for those keen on hotter weather. The days are sunny and wonderfully hot, with 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 visit Zanzibar.
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.
Best time of year for Diving in Zanzibar
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 or the best time to visit Zanzibar.
As for diving in Zanzibar, July and August, as well as January and February 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 best time to visit Zanzibar 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 the 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; the good news is that the rain evaporates rather quickly, giving a chance to breathe with more ease.
Zanzibar Beach and Safari Holiday Combo
Given the remote location of Tanzania as a whole, it’s best to combine a Tanzanian safari, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar into a 3-4 week escape.
The Wildebeest Migration will be the highlight of any combined beach and safari holiday, but you need to time your visit accordingly.
Safari Tip: Depending on the time of the year, the wildebeest 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 the 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.
Where to stay? Here are 9 of my favourite accommodation options for a combined safari and beach holiday:
- Melia Zanzibar (see prices)
- Z Hotel (see prices)
- Park Hyatt Zanzibar (see prices)
- Zuri Zanzibar (see prices)
- Ngorongoro Crater Serena Safari Lodge (see prices)
- Lake Manyara Kilimamoja Lodge (see prices)
- Serengeti Ole Serai Luxury Camp
- Selous Africa Safari Camp (near Mtemere main gate and airstrip)
- Sunset Vista Hotel (in Kigoma and close to Gombe)
See more Zanzibar accommodation options.
And that's a wrap on my Best Time To Visit Zanzibar article! Whenever you decide to visit this exotic island, you'll still be able to do lots of sightseeing and create thrilling memories to cherish for years to come.