The best hotels in Zanzibar book up very quickly for travel in July and August, as well as over Christmas and New Year. It’s essential to book well in advance if you’re intending to travel in these periods, to avoid disappointment over availability. If you can travel outside of peak season, you'll benefit from fewer tourists and better value for money.
Discover the best times to visit Zanzibar
The Zanzibar Archipelago is home to the beautiful islands of Zanzibar, Mafia and Pemba, which make for a superb tropical getaway all year round.
Temperatures always hover around 30°c, and from June to September, blue skies and gorgeous days of sunshine are almost guaranteed across the archipelago.
The islands experience two rainy seasons, with the long rains arriving from March to May, and a shorter rainy season occurring from November to December.
The long rainy season is not the best time to travel to Zanzibar as daily heavy rainfall can restrict activities and travel, but as the rain deters some visitors, you might have the beautiful beaches all to yourself.
The shorter rainy season brings showers that typically last a few hours and can be quite refreshing after the day's heat.
The sunny period of June to September coincides with the Great Migration across Tanzania and Kenya, making Zanzibar the perfect addition to an East African safari or gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
Zanzibar weather in September
September is another great month to visit the Zanzibar archipelago. Blue skies and pleasant temperatures ranging between 24-28°c, combined with great snorkelling and diving conditions, make September the perfect time for a Zanzibar beach holiday. This is also a good month to combine Zanzibar with a Tanzanian safari, as the animals of east Africa are easy to spot in these dry months. September sees fewer tourists and more deserted islands, particularly on Pemba and Mafia Island, and you'll avoid the school holiday crowds of July and August.
Zanzibar weather in October
The majority of October sees blue skies and sunny days, but there will be light showers towards the end of the month. The temperature is starting to rise as Zanzibar enters the short rainy season in November and December, however daytime temperatures are still pleasant, reaching highs of 28-30°c. The shorter rains alleviate the heat and do not affect underwater visibility - snorkelling and diving conditions are still excellent in October. There is also the chance to swim with dolphins and see humpback whales in Mafia Island's Chloe Bay.
Zanzibar weather in November
November is characterised by short rains throughout the month and otherwise great weather. The daily downpours tend to last an hour or two and are quite refreshing, bringing the 30-32°c temperatures down a little. Humidity is highest just before the rain, but the coastal winds bring a cool relief to the islands. Pemba and Mafia Island are beautiful in November, as the rains cause the island's flora to erupt in brilliant shades of green. Despite the rain, there are also still good snorkelling conditions.
Zanzibar weather in December
December is a popular month in Zanzibar, as many travellers brave the rains for a safari and beach holiday over the Christmas and New Year period. Most days in December will see short showers, and the daily downpours bring a pleasant relief from the hot temperatures averaging 30-32°c. Despite the rain, December sees a lot of sunshine, and it's still a good time for a beach holiday on any of the islands in the archipelago. Book accommodation well in advance, particularly on Mafia and Pemba Islands, as resorts fill up quickly during this busy season.