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Family Holiday in Zanzibar – is it Worth It?

Zanzibar is fast becoming a hot-spot for beach lovers. It has a warm climate, clear azure water, soft white sand and authentic tropical flora and fauna. There are no vaccinations required to visit this island.

The locals are very fond of children and treat them with respect and a desire to help. This applies even to small settlements and villages, so you can safely visit local markets with your children and not be afraid of being deceived or mugged.

Despite all the advantages, Zanzibar is not as popular for family holidays as Turkey or Greece. The hot African sun is not for everyone and there are strong tides on the coast. The infrastructure here is noticeably inferior to developed countries, and there are only a few hotels on the island where with entertainment plans for children.

Tanzanian schoolchildren on Kiwengwa beach.

When is the best time to go

You can visit Zanzibar most of the year. Air temperature stays between +23 and+31°C, and water temperature between+26 and+29°C. However, Tanzania and Zanzibar have high and low seasons that depend on the monsoons.

From December to March, the weather is drier and warmer. May to October is colder, rainier and more windy. November and April are transitional months.

You can visit the island of Zanzibar all year round

The best beaches for children in Zanzibar

The Indian Ocean in Zanzibar is famous for its strong tides. At low tide, beautiful shells, pieces of coral, nimble crabs and amazing mudskippers show up at exposed the bottom of the ocean. The water recedes the least in the north and north-west of the island. Even at the strongest low tide, the water leaves only 10 m, and this happens quite rarely.

Most of the comfortable hotels are located here, which are suitable for a relaxing family holiday. So the beaches of Kendwa, Nungwi and Kiwengwa in this area are considered the best in Zanzibar and also the most suitable for families with children.

Sea stars and urchins live in the coastal waters of Zanzibar

The wide shore is covered with fine light sand, which heats up only slightly in the sun. The entrance to the water is gentle, which makes the beach a whole lot of fun for the kids.

Sometimes seaweed comes ashore, but there are not much of it. Beach workers rake them into heaps and take them away on carts pulled by cows. Sun loungers and parasols are available only on private beaches.

Due to the tides, other beaches on the island are less popular. If you are looking for a quieter place, you will like the beaches of Kigomani, Matemwe, Uroa, Paje and Jambiani. Luxury hotels are present near many of them.

Sea urchins live in the coastal waters of Zanzibar, so it is better to enter the waters in special shoes!

The best hotels for Children

Almost all problems in Zanzibar can be avoided if you choose a hotel that is focused on families with children. Here is a list of the best family hotels.

Spice Island Hotel & Resort 4* in Jambiani is liked by everyone who needs complete relaxation and has excellent entertainment for children.

TUI Blue Bahari Zanzibar 5* in Kiwengwa has sports and entertainment programs throughout the day. Therefore, the your kids can stay busy playing with others. For toddlers, there is a playroom with a nanny, where the baby remains under supervision and has fun. The hotel also has two swimming pools with a separate children’s area. In general, this hotel is considered not only suitable for young families, but also profitable, as there is a discount for children under 14 years old. 

Neptune Pwani Beach Resort & Spa 5* is a comfortable hotel in the resort of Kiwengwa, 200 meters from its own private sandy beach. It is great for families, including those with toddlers – it is quiet and calm with a cozy atmosphere. The hotel has its own vast green area and direct access to the sea. There is a children’s club with a play area, sports facilities and children’s playgrounds, as well as a babysitting service for an additional fee. If you wish, you can ask the staff to put separate children’s cot in the room. Every evening, shows and animations which involve the kids are held by the pool. 

Melia Zanzibar 5* is a great option for a relaxing holiday in Kiwengwa. This cozy hotel stands just 50 meters from the ocean.

Baraza Resort & Spa 5* is a wonderful hotel in Bwejuu, next to the sandy Breezes Kit Beach.

Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort 5* is a luxurious hotel with a beautiful tropical garden near Pongwe.

RIU Palace 5* is most similar to the Turkish or Egyptian “all inclusive” system. There are the largest number of entertainment programs for children and adults. This hotel is characterized by a long and gentle entry into the water. Therefore, it is ideal for children who do not yet know how to swim. There are also services for swimming with dolphins, but this requires the presence of a parent nearby.

Food options in Zanzibar for kids

In all inclusive hotels food is served five times a day. Zanzibar is majorly Muslim and there is no pork on the island. Children’s menu is not offered everywhere. There is a lot of fresh fruit n offer in hotels. In budget hotels, only scrambled eggs, pancakes with jam and coffee are served for breakfast.

Eating on the island is not a problem. Zanzibar cafes and restaurants serve many seafood and fish dishes with side dishes of rice, french-fries, couscous, pasta and plantains. In general, the cuisine has a European touch. You will always find something to feed your child, and you will not go hungry yourself.

Almost everything, including fruits, is brought here from the mainland, so cost of food items is more expensive than in the rest of Tanzania. Tourist establishments look decent, but prices there are noticeably higher than where the locals eat.

There are no supermarkets on the island. Products are sold in small shops and markets. Infant formula and baby food are only found in major hotels. Many tourists carry everything they need for their babies with them. When packing your belongings, please note that as of 2019, plastic bags cannot be brought into the island. Everyone is checked at the airport!

Things to do with Children in Zanzibar

In general, there is little infrastructure for children’s recreation on the island. However, the trip to Africa is beautiful in itself. A younger child will be delighted with the beautiful sandy beaches, the marine life and the delicious fresh fruit that is available in Zanzibar.

red colobus monkey jozani
Red colobus monkeys in Jozani forest

Older preschoolers and school-age children will enjoy swimming or snorkeling in the ocean of visiting the Jozani Chwaka National Park to see colobus monkeys, miniature duik antelopes and beautiful tropical forest. Families can also head to the Butterfly Park and Zala Park to see giant tortoises and other reptiles.

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