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What to Pack for Zanzibar - zanzibar packing list

Are you wondering what to pack for a trip to Zanzibar? Look no further!

Zanzibar is a tropical paradise nestled in the Indian Ocean. This island is known for its pristine beaches, vibrant culture, and rich history. If you’re planning a trip here, make sure you don’t forget anything as you may not be able to find the same products you use at home.

It’s important to note that Zanzibar is predominantly a Muslim society, and dressing semi-modestly is a sign of respect for the local way of life.

In this Zanzibar packing guide, I’ll take you through all of the essential items to pack for a perfect getaway. Rest assured, you’ll be well-prepared for every aspect of your journey!

For Entry into Zanzibar

Passport

Make sure your passport has at least 1 blank page and doesn’t expire within 6 months of the start of your trip.

Visa

Most countries need a visa to enter Tanzania. You can check if you’re eligible and apply for an e-visa here. The cost for an ordinary visa is $50 USD.

Travel Insurance

While this isn’t a requirement for entry into Zanzibar, I highly recommend travel insurance. It is the best thing you can buy for your trip to ensure peace of mind. If you’re planning on scuba diving or doing any adventurous activities while in Zanzibar, double check that your travel insurance policy covers them!

What to pack for zanzibar
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Everyday Essentials to Pack for Zanzibar

Medicine

If you’re coming from a safari in Tanzania, you will probably already be taking Malaria pills. If Zanzibar is your only stop, check with your doctor to see if you need any vaccines or anti-malarials.

Don’t forget any other medications you may need. I made sure to pack sea sickness tablets, anti diarrhea medicine, ibuprofen or paracetamol, and oral rehydration salts.

Cash + Credit cards

Most hotels and bigger restaurants take credit/debit cards. For tours, taxis, and buying souvenirs from vendors you will need cash. ATMs are found quite easily throughout the island.

Mosquito repellent

Using and reapplying mosquito repellent is essential in preventing diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Chikungunya. The tropical climate and lush vegetation in Zanzibar make it a prime environment for mosquitoes, so keeping yourself safe is a top priority. We took Malaria pills and used Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion. This is my absolute favorite mosquito repellent in the world, as it seems to work for me in every country I visit.

Reef safe sunscreen

Reef safe sunscreen is essential to protect both your skin and the delicate marine environment. Opt for a high SPF in Zanzibar, as the sun is very strong. I even got sunburned on an super overcast day trip to Mnemba Island.

Sunglasses

Wearing sunglasses in Zanzibar is a must! The sand is so white and the water is so clear, it can almost be blinding without them. If you have polarized sunglasses, you should bring them because the blue hues of the water will look even more beautiful!

Wide brim hat

In addition to wearing sunglasses, wearing a wide brim hat will help to protect your face and skin from sunburn. Bonus – it looks super cute in photos too!

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Make up
  • After sun lotion or aloe
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Soap and razor
  • Contact lenses/solution

If you’re also planning on taking a safari in Tanzania, check out my complete Tanzania safari packing list!

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What to Wear in Zanzibar

Pack lightweight and breathable clothing to stay comfortable in the warm weather. Semi-modest swimwear and long flowy dresses are ideal for respecting local customs while staying cool.

Linen pants, shorts, and shirts

Any type of linen clothing is perfect for Zanzibar! It will protect you from the sun, but keep you cool and dry.

Long, flowy dresses

Flowy dresses are the perfect outfit to stay cool and comfortable, while being respectful of the local customs.

A light jacket

Even during hotter months, the nights can be a bit breezy.

Sandals

You’ll probably spend a lot of your time in Zanzibar wearing sandals. Make sure they are your most comfortable pair!

Sneakers

If you plan on doing a spice tour, sneakers are a must!

Swimsuits with decent coverage

Due to the fact that Zanzibar is a predominently Muslim country, this trip is not the time to wear your Brazilian bikini (haha). Stick to bikinis with medium coverage or one pieces.

Scarves

The most multi-purpose item for any trip – bringing a scarf is a must!

Rain jacket

Even in dry season, you may still see some rain. Bring a light rain jacket just in case.

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Beach Essentials to Pack for Zanzibar

Waterproof/Dry bag

Make sure you have a waterproof bag if you’re taking a boat trip to Mnemba Island, Nakupenda Island, or any of the other surrounding islands. It can also be great to have if you plan on kayaking.

Snorkeling gear

Most of the tours do offer snorkeling gear included with your ticket, but I always bring my own mask and snorkel because I don’t like to share. You can also borrow fins from the boat though – no need to bring those.

Travel quick-dry towel

Some hotels don’t have beach towels you can take, so I highly recommend packing a quick-dry microfiber towel (it’s similar to a yoga towel).

Cover up

Pack a cover up for easy changing after the beach.

Water shoes

I didn’t bring water shoes on my trip to Zanzibar, but I totally wish I did. If you plan to take a dhow boat tour or walk out on the sandbanks at low tide, you will be so grateful to have some water shoes.

Waterproof phone case

Protect your phone from water damage or use a waterproof case to take some underwater photos!

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Electronics

Camera and memory cards

Zanzibar is one of the most beautiful islands in the world! Don’t forget to pack a camera, camera charger, and memory cards.

Phone charger

Make sure you don’t forget your phone charger!

Universal adaptor

This is one of the most important things to pack for your trip to Zanzibar! It’s crucial to ensure that you can charge all of your devices. The plugs in Zanzibar are different than many other countries around the world. You can buy a universal adaptor online or in travel stores.

GoPro + Dome

If you want to shoot a lot of underwater photography, I recommend a GoPro + a dome to take epic 50/50 shots.

Tripod

A compact yet sturdy tripod is important for steady shots, especially during sunset or low-light conditions.

Power bank

You may be out adventuring all day and won’t find a place to charge your phone.

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Packing Tips and Tricks

  • Rolling clothing items instead of folding them not only saves space but also minimizes creases
  • Use packing cubes to keep everything neatly organized and easily accessible upon arrival
  • Packing versatile items like a sarong or scarf not only adds a fashionable touch to outfits but can also double as a beach towel
  • Opting for travel-sized containers for shampoo, conditioner, and sunscreen not only saves space but also ensures compliance with airline regulations and allows for hassle-free airport security checks
  • Pack outfits that can be mixed and matched to create various looks without overloading your luggage

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Hi! I'm Carrie Salter, a travel blogger originally from the USA, but now traveling and living abroad full time. I share travel guides, travel tips, and inspiration from around the world!

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