The best time to visit Zanzibar for an enjoyable and stress-free experience is between June and October, which is the dry season in the country. The period between July and September is a great time to travel due to the dry weather.
During November and December, short rains can be expected but are followed by blue skies, while heavy rains occur during the peak of the long rains in April and May.
Our team of tourist experts has prepared a comprehensive month-by-month guide to provide you with detailed information on the best time to go to Zanzibar and how to plan your visit to Zanzibar.
In Zanzibar, January is characterized by high temperatures and sunny weather, making it ideal for water activities such as diving and snorkelling due to the clear sea.
Zanzibar has beautiful seas which is why the blue on the Zanzibar flag signify the sea, so you can visit the Zanzibar beach. The temperature in January is about 33°C which makes the weather bright and warm. Zanzibar is one of the best places to go in January for sun. Though, sometimes in the afternoon, there are thunderstorms.
Travelling to Zanzibar in January during a Zanzibar holiday is an excellent opportunity for you to swim on the beach near Mafia Island. January is also the period of mango planting; therefore, you will enjoy sweet and juicy mangoes when you visit during this time. You will also enjoy kitesurfing during this time because of the Kaskazi wind.
The Zanzibar weather in February is very hot making February one of the hottest months of the year, with high temperatures and humidity. It is dry but helps ease the Kaskazi wind, which wreaks havoc in January. There is minimal afternoon rainfall, and the February temperature can be 30°C and above.
Visiting Zanzibar in February is an excellent time to visit Ras Kizimkazi for dolphin excursions. February is also great for kitesurfing in Paje, snorkelling in Chumbe, and visiting Prison Island for the enormous tortoises.
Swimming with the whale shark is also an interesting activity in February. Also, be sure to witness the Sauti za Busara Music Festival, which takes place annually around Stone Town’s Old Fort.
If you plan to visit in Zanzibar in March, be prepared for the cold due to rainfall because the weather in Zanzibar is usually cold. March is the beginning of rainfall in the country, through the heavy fall pours towards the middle of March. March weather is mostly unpredictable, some days, it might rain, while others might be sunny. March has less wind anywhere on the Zanzibar island.
Although most people avoid visiting Zanzibar in March, the good sunny days are suitable for snorkelling and diving if you can make it. Interestingly, March is a time in Zanzibar for pineapple; therefore, be sure to have enough of them when you visit around this time.
The weather in Zanzibar in April is very cold and wet which is why April is the coldest and wettest month, with heavy rainfall. In this month, the prolonged rain commences in roper. This long rain starts from mid-March to the end of May. This month marks the transition between the southern ‘kusi’ win and the north-eastern ‘kaskasi’.
Though it is not advisable to visit the country during this period because of the cold and wet ground, it is the quietest month of the year in Zanzibar, and it is the month best for visiting the near-empty beaches.
The peak of the long rain in Zanzibar is between April to May. Beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline are hot and very wet during this season; travelling to Zanzibar during this time is not advisable. The weather condition is usually within 30°C
The weather is clear and free from rain during June, though some light showers are sometimes possible. During this period of the year, you can decide to view, visit, and explore the beautiful Stone Town.
In June, the weather is not too hot, not too humid. It has a cool soothing breeze in preparation for the summer periods, the ocean’s temperature rises, and the evenings gradually become warmer.
The sea during this period is calm, the skies are clear, and there is an opportunity for turtle diving. The temperature within this time is around 30°C to 33° C
Zanzibar is a beautiful place to visit in September because of the unique things the Mafia Archipelago has to offer. Visitors can witness the hatching of turtles and enjoy exceptional diving conditions in deeper channels. However, scuba divers must carefully plan their dives as other offshore areas may become rough this month.
Zanzibar has dry and sunny weather and a lack of strong winds in September. The temperature is typically around 86°F (30°C). You can watch the turtles of Juani Island hatch, and the seas are calmer, making for fantastic diving opportunities in the deeper channels.
September is an ideal time to visit the beach and swim with whale sharks, one of Earth’s most remarkable wildlife experiences. These enormous and peaceful creatures arrive off Mafia Island this month.
For those considering a trip to Zanzibar, October is an excellent time to go. The days are characterized by gentle breezes, tranquil seas, and clear skies.
Additionally, ocean temperatures rise during this month, and the evenings gradually become warmer. However, it is worth noting that the rainy season typically starts in November.
Visitors should expect only a few passing showers, which are typically followed by sunny spells. These showers are unlikely to disturb your stay.
By November, expect the short rains which come in between the day. The morning is usually cloudy, which could result in rain or sunshine in the afternoon.
This is the period for short rains. It is always hot weather with small drops of rain in between. The early rain begins towards mid-October to December. These shirt rains are lighter than March to May.
Mornings in November are clear and bright with not much wind. The temperature is about 22°C to 30°C. This period is also good for snorkelling and diving. During the day in November, storms can strike, while other days can be free but note that the storms do not last long. South– Ras Kizimkazi’s dolphin-spotting boat tours are busy during this time of the year.
There are also excellent diving conditions throughout the year; although some short rain can affect the swimming activities, you can still swim with whale sharks.
December marks the end of the short rains in Zanzibar. The weather condition in December during this month is very similar to the weather condition in November. The humidity is relatively high, and daily temperatures reach low-mid 30°c. You will enjoy fresh mangoes and dried cloves during this season.
Visiting the Mafia Archipelago in Zanzibar during the period leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve is a great idea, as there is a greater chance of sunshine. The main attraction of this region during December is the opportunity to dive with whale sharks, which is a unique and exciting experience for visitors.
Monthly Weather Conditions in Zanzibar
|Month||Temperature (°C)||Rainfall (mm)|
Please note that these values are approximate averages and can vary from year to year.
Understanding Zanzibar’s public holidays is important, as certain activities may be closed during commemorative or religious celebrations. Local festivals also infuse trips with authentic cultural experiences. Here is a list of Zanzibar holidays to consider when scheduling your visit:
– New Year’s Day (1st January) – Public holiday to mark the start of the new year.
– Zanzibar Revolution Day (12th January) – Commemorates the 1964 revolution overthrowing the Sultan.
– Good Friday (March/April) – Public holiday during the Holy Week preceding Easter.
– Easter Monday (March/April) – Public holiday the day after Easter Sunday.
– Karume Day – Observed on April 7th, this holiday pays tribute to the life and contributions of Abeid Amani Karume, the first President of Zanzibar, who played a significant role in the nation’s history.
– May Day (1st May) – International Workers’ Day holiday.
– Saba Saba Day (7th July) – Public holiday celebrating Zanzibar’s independence from colonial rule.
– – Mwaka Kogwa – This traditional festival, celebrated in July, marks the Shirazi New Year. It involves vibrant celebrations, including mock fights and bonfires, symbolizing the purification of the community.
– Eid al-Fitr (TBC) – Marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Dates change yearly.
– Eid al-Adha (TBC) – Islamic festival honouring Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son.
– Independence Day (10th December) – Commemorates Zanzibar gaining independence from British rule in 1963.