Zanzibar Archipelago
Sailing Trips & Tours

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Our most recommended Zanzibar Archipelago Sailing Trips & Tours

Zanzibar: Prison Island Tour with Lunch on the Sandbank

1. Zanzibar: Prison Island Tour with Lunch on the Sandbank

Your Zanzibar adventure begins with a visit to Prison Island, purchased in 1893 by Lloyd Mathews, the British First Minister of Zanzibar at the time. Mathews constructed a prison complex on the island which is still visible today, however no prisoners were ever housed on the island and instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever sufferers. On the island, spend some time exploring the area and discover the collection of over 50 tortoises that live here, some of which are more than 100 years old. Learn about why the tortoises call the island their home, as well as taking photos and feeding them too. The island is also home to peacocks and small antelope too. Once you’ve explored the island, enjoy the opportunity to cool off from the hot weather with a refreshing dip in the surrounding crystal clear waters. Spend some time snorkeling in the water just off the island and search for colorful tropical fish and vibrant coral reef. After you’ve worked up an appetite from swimming, relax on the sandbank with a delicious lunch including a seafood BBQ, Swahili cuisine, cheese, tropical fruit, and more.

Zanzibar: Swimming with Dolphins and Snorkeling Private Tour

2. Zanzibar: Swimming with Dolphins and Snorkeling Private Tour

Get picked up from your hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle and head to the Kizimkazi village, where you will be met by the captain. Here, start your journey to meet and have a chance to swim with dolphins. The captain will take the boat to locations well-known for dolphin spotting, while maintaining a respectful distance. The well-equipped boat will travel to several spots to ensure time for dolphin watching and scenic snorkeling. Enjoy the beauty of the coral and the brightly colored fish. Along the way, savor some delicious snacks and fruits. After the tour, you will be brought safely to shore before being dropped off at your hotel.

From Stone Town: Private Tour to Prison Island

3. From Stone Town: Private Tour to Prison Island

Visit Prison Island on a private 3-hour tour, and discover the rich history and beautiful natural surroundings of this location. Meet your guide in Zanzibar, or select the option including hotel pickup, then enjoy the ride to the island on a traditional dhow. Learn how this small island gained its name and explore the place that is now home to more than 50 tortoises, some over 100 years old.   Feed the tortoises and take up-close pictures with them, as you keep a look out for the peacocks and antelope that also live there. After discovering the island and its history, take the opportunity to snorkel in the clear waters off the coast amongst tropical fish and colorful coral. At the end of your tour, return to Zanzibar, where you’ll be dropped off in the city center, or at your hotel.

Stone Town: Stone Town and Prison Island Private Day Trip

4. Stone Town: Stone Town and Prison Island Private Day Trip

See the National Museum of Zanzibar (rebuilt in 1883) and the Arab fort while passing along bazaar streets towards the famous Freddie Mercury house. See the old slave market, fruit market, and spice market — don’t miss the classic Zanzibar curved doors decorating the stone town.  After you have explored Stone Town, you’ll have an opportunity to take a short break before heading to Prison Island. Prison Island is also known as Changuu Island, the nickname came from the island being used by some sultans of Zanzibar to detain enslaved people. While you are on this island, you can swim and take pictures with giant tortoises. 

Zanzibar: Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour

5. Zanzibar: Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour

After pickup at your hotel on Unguja, Zanzibar, hop in your private boat toward Mnemba Island. Depending on conditions, reach the coral reef of the Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve in up to 20 minutes. Once there, explore a reef that is big enough for everyone so you won't feel crowded, even on busy days. Keep your eyes peeled for yellow snapper, barracuda, turtles, and much more. After snorkeling, enjoy a snack stop on a sandbank. Relax under the sun as you savor seasonal fresh fruit and other small bites. Later, head back to shore on Unguja. See local fishermen coming back from the sea and selling their day's catches before being transferred back to your accommodation.

Stone Town: Traditional Dhow Sunset Cruise

6. Stone Town: Traditional Dhow Sunset Cruise

Watch the sunset from the sea in Zanzibar and embark on this amazing experience.  Depart from Stone Town and take advantage of the steady winds that blow along the Swahili Coast.  Relax on a journey around the calm waters from Stone Town with refreshments as the sun dips below the horizon, and return to the beach in time for dinner. This sailing experience is great to see Zanzibar from a unique perspective and it is suitable for the whole family.

Zanzibar: Changuu Island and Stone Town Tour with Lunch

7. Zanzibar: Changuu Island and Stone Town Tour with Lunch

The tour begins with a private boat trip to Changuu Island, also known as Prison Island or Turtle Island. The island earned its name after it was purchased in 1893 by the British First Minister of Zanzibar who constructed a prison complex here. Although no prisoners were ever housed on the island, it was eventually used as a quarantine station for yellow fever sufferers, and later became home to more than 50 tortoises who still live there today. On the island, enjoy some free time to explore the beauty of this wild paradise, and get up close to the tortoises that roam freely. Some of the tortoises here are more than 100 years old, and you can even get close enough to feed them and take photos. You can also find peacocks and antelope on the island, then cool off in the crystal clear waters during a snorkel session in search of marine life, colorful fish, and coral reef. After your visit to Changuu Island, head towards one of the most historically prominent and artistic destinations in East Africa, Stone Town. Upon arrival, admire the fascinating architecture of the town, which dates back to the 19th century, and reflects the diverse influences of Swahili, Arab, Persian, Indian and European cultures. Learn about how the town earned its UNESCO World Heritage status, and then visit the Old Slave Market and the City Market. Here you can shop for almost anything whilst soaking up the authentic East African atmosphere and meeting the locals. Once you’ve wandered through the market it’s time to visit the Palace Museum, the local House of Wonder, and of course Freddie Mercury’s former home. There’s also time for a trip to the Peace Memorial and the Natural History Museum before ending the tour with a delicious local lunch at a traditional restaurant.

From Stone Town: Dhow Sailing Island Tour with BBQ Lunch

8. From Stone Town: Dhow Sailing Island Tour with BBQ Lunch

The trip begins at the fishing village, Fumba, in the southwest of the island, following hotel pickup and a 35-minute drive from Stone Town. Set sail on a custom, wooden sailing dhow directly to the some of the most fascinating natural sites in the tropical Indian Ocean.  The first stop is for snorkeling at the Kwale coral reef, which promises an overwhelming abundance of corals and colorful fish. Afterwards, relax on a paradisiacal sandbank with a snack of tropical fruits.  The next stop will be on Quail Island, where a beach barbecue seafood buffet awaits, consisting of octopus, lobster, grilled fish, calamari, one soft drink, and more tropical fruit. All the seafood you can imagine will be available to taste. Additional activities on the island include a short jungle walk to see and climb a 500 year-old Baobab tree, and a swim in a mangrove lagoon before sailing back to Fumba Village. Get dropped off at your hotel in Stone Town to conclude the tour.

Zanzibar City: Prison Island and Stone Town Walking Tour

9. Zanzibar City: Prison Island and Stone Town Walking Tour

Ride by boat to Prison Island, famous for its population of Aldabra giant tortoises. Experience the turtles up close and spot the local peacocks. Move along to a walking tour of Stone Town and learn the Swahili culture and its important historical role in the slave trade. Begin with a beautiful boat ride to Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island. View the local wildlife and learn of the slave rebellion that occurred in the 1860s. Start the walking tour of Stone Town at Forodhani Park. Explore the area and visit important sites such as the House of Wonder, Old Fort, the house of Freddy Mercury, and end at the Darajani market before returning to the city.

Zanzibar Full-Day Cruise on the Sandbank and Island

10. Zanzibar Full-Day Cruise on the Sandbank and Island

Arrive by car at Fumba village and continue with a wooden boat cruise to Sandbank. The crew will set up your tent while you chill on the sandbank paradise. Enjoy a glass of Tanzania cold white wine, soft drinks, and exotic fruits. Head to Kwale island, where you will get to your seafood barbeque table under the shade for a delicious lunch. Go swimming, snorkeling, or relax on the shore. Take a short walk on the other side of the island to enjoy the lagoon and the 500 years old baobab tree before taking a traditional Dhow sailing vessel to return to the main island.

Frequently asked questions about Zanzibar Archipelago Sailing Trips & Tours

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Other Sightseeing Options in Zanzibar Archipelago

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What people are saying about Zanzibar Archipelago

Smoooth transport & fascinating scenery in Mnemba. We visited 3 different sites & got to swim in the most perfect shade of turquoise waters, no doubt the most clear bed of water I have ever witnessed. The cherry on top was the fresh fruitplatter that our captain put together for us, delicious! We had a private tour which was great because it meant that we got the boat for ourselves. There were quite a few other boats around (understandable because its such a spectacular site) - however, our guide kindly parked the boat slightly away from the crowds so we could enjoy our privacy as well :) 10/10 would recommend this excursion if you are in Zanzi!

Prison Island ist leider aufgrund des vielen Mülls und der schlechten Haltung der jungen Schildkröten sehr enttäuschend. Mehr ist auch fast nicht zu erkunden. Stone Town ist auf jeden Fall eine Erkundung wert, fast schon zwangsweise mit Guide, da man sich sonst nicht zurecht findet. Wenn man dann noch so ein netten Guide hat wie Muhammed, macht es darauf eine Tour die sich gelohnt hat.

A highly recommendable tour. The bay near Stone Town is incredibly beautiful, the sand bank is amazing, Prison Island also fascinating. We got to see lots of animals (starfish en masse of varying colors!, dikdiks, innumerable giant turtles, peacocks...), the tent thingy they put up at the sandbank was really perfect, the boat transfer top. The guide kind and helpful.

Very good guide and a very nice experience. Unfortunately, there was nothing to see when diving.

Wonderful tour to explore the city! Great for a solo traveler wanting to see the city safely