Maldives, Mauritius, Bahamas… there are many islands that offer paradisiac beaches of white sand and blue oceans. When planning a trip to such places we assume we need a high budget. We bring you a low cost paradise holiday in Zanzibar, the most visited island of Tanzania. Here’s how you can do a roadtrip in Zanzibar for a week under 700€!
Arriving in Zanzibar
Zanzibar’s airport is very small and simple. One building contains arrivals and departures in a few square meters. For most passport holders the visa on arrival costs 50$ and it’s very simple. Just fill up a paper at the airport and pay. There are always taxis available but that’s not the best way to move in the island. That’s why we recommend renting a car.
Buying a SIM card
At the airport there’s a small shop that sells SIM cards. The cost of 10Gb is approximately 10€ for 10 days. It’s not very cheap but it is very useful in the island. Many hotels have slow wifi or are limited to certain mb per day. Mapsme works fine, but in some cases we had to check Google maps and having data saved us!
Renting a car on a budget
Having a car is very useful in an island like Zanzibar. The only public transport is the dalla dalla, a mini van that can carry more people/animals than you could imagine. It doesn’t have a fixed route or schedule, it just goes….
Renting a car allows you to discover the whole island and see the sunset from a different beach every day. It’s worth it!
We booked the car a few days before arriving. The rental company we used was Ola ola. The experience of renting a car in Zanzibar is very different from what you may be used to. The owner, Said, is well known in Stone town. He will arrange that someone brings the car to the airport for you and you can pay directly to that person (cash). When you give back the car you simply hand in the keys. There’s no deposit, insourance options, controls… but it works! All the cars are 4×4 so you can get into all roads and paths. We paid 23€ per day and it was worth every cent. So much, that we rent the car for 5 days at first, then stayed in Stone Town. And after a few days, we decided to rent a car again! We spent in total undeto 50€ of petrol.
Route and low cost accomodation around the island
A week in Zanzibar is enough to discover the whole island. We suggest spending 3 nights in North, 2 nights in the South and one night in Stone Town. From each hotel you can drive around to a different area every day.
In the north we stayed in Surfescape village, in Pwani Mchangani. Approx. price: 25€/night for two
In the South we stayed in Beach palm villa, in Bwejuu. Approx. price: 15€/night for two
In Stone Town we stayed in an Airbnb that unfortunately we can’t recommend because our experience was not good. There are many places to stay for under 25€ per night on booking.com
From Pwani Mchangani we visited:
Muyuni, the best place for a boat trip with snorkling. There are dozens of boats that take you on a trip to the island of Mneba with a stop to explore the sealife.
Nungwi, the best area for night life and one of our favourite sunsets of the island.
Mokotwoni, a village without tourists. We say the fish market and enjoyed the low tide seeing the boats laying on the sand. Good to visit if you want to see how life really looks like for the average person in Zanzibar
Pongwe, where there’s a remote beach and a special resort. The rock resort is a rock island that you can acces by foot on low tide, or by boat during high tide. A lovely but pricey restaurant as well.
From Bwejuu we visited:
Kae beach, the best sunset of this side of the island. This small peninsula has a remote very long beach, not so touristic. It’s the only place where you can see the sunset going down the ocean on the east side.
Pingwe, mostly known because of The rock restaurant. More knwon than the rock resort, this tiny restaurant stands on a rock a few meters from the sore line. A boat takes you in a few minutes any time you want.
Paje, the most lively area of the south of the island. A good place to go to the beach, go out for dinner and even party. There are many hotels and restaurants.
Jambiani, similar to Paje but a bit more relaxing. A long beach and plenty of choices for restaurants and accomodation.
Mzambarauni, we discovered the most remote beach. Taking the path that goes to the southernmost point of Zanzibar we arrived to an abandoned resort. The experience was amazing.
Cheap restaurants for demanding stomachs
When travelling low cost, we love cooking ourselves. However, in Zanzibar there aren’t any supermarkets as we know them in Europe. Besides that, we didn’t find many accomodations with access to a kitchen. Luckily, food was quite nice specially if you like fish. We tried everything and didn’t get sick, awesome! Here’s a list of the restaurants we enjoyed:
Cholo’s bar, in Nungwi. Beach bar and restaurant with all kinds of food for a very good price. Average price for two: 15€
Blue fish restaurant, in Pwani Mchangani. A good offer, very fresh. The owner even offers to bring you back to your hotel if you don’t have a car. We went there 3 times. Average price for two: 15€
The rock, in Pingwe. A famous restaurant that you can only access by boat. Average price for two: 60€
Pandu Ngozi, in front of The rock. A simple beach restaurant much more affordable than the Rock, with a beautiful view. We went there twice. Average price for two: 15€
Africana’s BBQ, in Paje. A local restaurant for food and drinks, where you can even see the local masai. We went there twice. Average price for two: 15€
Zafarani, in Stone Town. A fancy restaurant of local food with a modern touch. Very good quality for a very reasonable price. Both fish and meat were amazing. Average price for two: 30
The total budget for a week for two people.
Visa for two: 90€
Car rental: (23€x7) 161€
Accomodation: (average 25€x6) 150€
Restaurants: (average 25€x7) 175€
SIM card: 10€
Activities & trips: approx 50€
Total budget: 686€
Who said you can’t have a paradise holiday on a budget? Start planning your trip and leave us a comment to tell us everything about it!