THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ZANZIBAR - Zanzibar weather and events

Telling you when is the best time to visit Zanzibar isn’t an easy task. Mainly because, apart from April and May, there is no BAD time. Good news? That’s what I thought! Zanzibar temperature is always high and the water’s always warm enough to swim in. But the seasons do have a few little influences, that might make one month better for you than the other, depending on your personal preferences. And maybe it’s not only about the weather either! Zanzibar happens to have some amazing events, that might just be worth changing your plans for. Let me try and make it a little bit easier for you to decide when to go to Zanzibar!

THE BEST TIME TO GO TO ZANZIBAR

Zanzibar weather

For current weather information about Zanzibar, you can click here.

 

January and february

 

These two months are the warmest and sunniest of the year, with maximum temperatures easily going up to 33°C/91°F and 9 to 10 hours of sun per day. They’re called the short dry season. Rainfall is slightly more important in January than in February, but in general it’s really nothing to worry about.

 

January and February are ideal for diving and snorkeling, especially on the south coast, as the water’s at its clearest.

 

March, April and May

 

Also known as the long rainy season, March, April and May are wet. Really really wet. With up to 400 mm of rainfall in April, this is probably not the best time of year to visit Zanzibar if you want to spend your days on the beach. It’s still warm, with maximum temperatures around 30°C/86°F, but often cloudy and less sunny.

The first two weeks of March are generally still fine, April is the worst, and it gets dryer from mid-May, but the sky is still cloudy, so not ideal for a beach holiday.

June, July, August and September

 

The driest time of the year, and also the coolest, which might be a good thing in this part of the world. Maximum temperatures are still only right below 30°C/86°F, and many consider this to be the best time to travel to Zanzibar. Pack something light to cover up in the evening, especially on the south coast where it gets windy, and you’ll be perfectly fine.

July and August are high season. They’re some of the busiest months due to summer holidays in many parts of the world.

These months are also particularly good for diving and snorkeling along the north coast.

October, November and December

 

The short rainy season usually starts in November, but the weather can start to change in October. Unlike the long rain season however, these rains are so short most of the time the sky is blue again before you even have the time to complain about it. They’re very unlikely to impact your stay. Temperatures start going up and the air can get humid.

Christmas time tends to be very busy, so probably not the best time for Zanzibar if you like things to be quiet.

Zanzibar events

Sauti za Busara

 

Showcasing some of the best African talent, Sauti za Busara takes place every year in February offering four days of pure African vibes, against the background of the Old Fort in Stone Town.

Zanzibar International Film Festival

 

One of the biggest cultural events in East Africa, Zanzibar International film festival is held every year in July, at the Old Fort in Stone Town. On top of the actual competition, there’s work shops, gala evenings, exhibitions, programs for children, and much more.

Mwaka Kogwa

 

Usually held in July, Mwaka Kogwa celebrates the Shirazi New Year. Although celebrated in most parts of Zanzibar, the best place to celebrate is Makunduchi in the south. Click here if you want to know a bit more about this beautiful tradition.

The North Zanzibar Sportive

 

Pick a route, jump on your bike and cycle through Zanzibar. The North Zanzibar Sportive is a unique way to discover Zanzibar’s beauty and culture!

Jahazi Literary and Jazz Festival

 

During the last weekend of August or the first weekend of September, Stone Town becomes the decor for open-air jazz concerts and poetry readings. At Jahazi festival, it’s not only about listening, you’re also strongly encouraged to participate in discussions after the shows, and of course not to forget, the unique and amazing after parties.

Zanzibar Beach and Water Sports Festival

 

Three days of beach and water fun, every year in September in Jambiani. Check out the website for all necessary information and the full program.

 

Zanzibar during Ramadan

With around 90% of the population being Muslim, Ramadan has a big influence on everyday life in Zanzibar. This might be positive or negative, depending on what you’re looking for. If you go there to party every day, then it’s definitely not the best time for you, as most parties are suspended and many restaurants even close during the day – except in the really touristy areas. Make sure to be respectful though, and try to avoid eating in public during the day, no matter where you go. If however you’re looking for peace and quiet, don’t hesitate to go during this period. I once went during Ramadan, and had the feeling to be the only tourist in all of Stone Town – a feeling I definitely didn’t get the other times I went!

Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, is an amazing time to be in Stone Town, as lanterns light the streets, and more or less everybody comes out to celebrate.

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Great post, really helpful and well written. I love how you’ve structured it by weather and events. I haven’t visited Zanzibar yet but it’s on my list!

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