Taking the ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar is the ideal way to start the exploration of this exotic island off the Tanzanian coast, especially during the dry season (see: best time to visit Zanzibar), when the winds are softer.
During the journey that can last anything from 90 minutes to two hours, visitors will have uninterrupted views across the Indian Ocean.
Here are some top tips to make the trip by ferry between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar (and vice versa) a comfortable and memorable one.
Ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar FAQs
How to Book
Choose a reputable operator when deciding to travel from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar via ferry. Azam Marine is one of the more reliable companies.
It is absolutely essential to book and purchase one ticket a day or two ahead of time as the Zanzibar ferry is very popular, especially between June and October when the island’s weather is at its best. This can be done online, directly with the operator or at the ferry terminal in Dar es Salaam. You can also ask your hotel to assist you.
A note of caution – do not buy any ferry tickets from people in the street claiming to be representatives or agents from operators.
A valid passport is needed to book and secure a place on the ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar.
What Are Ticket Prices and Classes?
There are different rates for Tanzanian residents and foreign visitors when travelling from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar on ferry. Depending on the class you choose, ticket prices vary between $35 and $60 for adults.
When travelling with Azam, tourists have a choice between Economy, Business, VIP and Royal Class.
When Does It Depart?
Taking the ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar takes around two hours.
The four main departure times (Azam) in both directions are:
Is there a Departure Procedure?
To get through the chaos that is the port in Dar es Salaam, arrive at least half an hour before the ferry to Zanzibar departs. Don’t forget your passport, tickets and proof of yellow fever vaccination (see below) to present upon arrival in Zanzibar.
You will also have to go through security after the presentation of your tickets. Bags are stored either in cages or storage cupboards and labels are provided for identification. It is, however, wise to keep valuables and a daypack with you at all times.
What to Expect During the Ferry Ride?
Taking the ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar is an experience in itself.
There are more than enough opportunities to spot the local marine life in pleasant weather, especially when sitting outside. Remember to take precautions against the sun though. Dolphins are known to follow these boats, so it might be a lucky spectacle to enjoy.
The fresh air is a natural antidote for seasickness as the Indian Ocean waters in this part of the world can get very choppy at times. However, you can also take an over the counter anti motion sickness medication about 10 minutes before departure if you are worried.
Refreshments are available at kiosks, while those travelling in business class and above are served snacks and drinks. Please note that no alcohol is allowed on board.
Are There Arrival Procedures?
You will need to fill out a boarding card before your disembark that is to be presented to immigration officials together with your passport.
They may also be asked to present a yellow fever certificate, especially if you had travelled through an at-risk country like Kenya or Ethiopia recently.
The cages containing your bags will be brought onto the dock or the ferry terminal where you can collect your belongings.
If there isn’t too much baggage to be lugged about, one can walk to most hotels in Stone Town (see: hotels in Zanzibar) as it is not too far from the ferry terminal in Zanzibar.
Taking a taxi to your accommodation is the most preferred option and there are more than enough available drivers just outside the main building.
What to Do in Zanzibar
The ferry ride from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar is usually just the start of discovering the sights and sounds of this alluring island.
- Discover Stone Town: Take to the streets of this historical gem and wander the narrow streets while imagining years gone by. Shop local artefacts and enjoy local Zanzibar cuisine.
- Go on a Spice Tour: A tour to a farm in the Kdichi community will teach visitors not only about the uses of all kinds of spices, but also provide an opportunity to enjoy a traditional Swahili meal.
- Relax on the beach: Head to the north and east coast to enjoy the island’s famous white beaches. The more adventurous souls can go kayaking or snorkelling. See our guide on Zanzibar beaches and Zanzibar diving.
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