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Why Is Zanzibar So Expensive? Find Out

Avatar of Abraham Odhiambo
Written by Abraham Odhiambo

Zanzibar is a beautiful archipelago off the coast of Tanzania that is known for its stunning sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and rich culture. For so many years, it has been a leading tourist destination in Africa. However, visiting this paradise on earth is not cheap. So, why is Zanzibar so expensive?

For starters, the best way to Zanzibar from outside of East Africa is by air. But if you are in Tanzania, there are some fast and modern boats you can use to travel to the archipelago. As a tourist, it is important to budget your trip before, which is why you are here.

Why is Zanzibar So Expensive?

If you take the boat from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar, you will notice prices tend to vary a lot on the island. In fact, you will easily see some items sold double the amount they cost in Dar es Salaam or other Tanzanian towns. Here, we will explain why.


A family enjoying beach vacation in Zanzibar. Photo/ Tanzania On Foot.

Compared to the Tanzania mainland, Zanzibar is expensive because it is an island. The amount that is paid on imports from the mainland and the high taxes make prices of commodities a bit higher in the archipelago. Zanzibar is also one of the leading tourist destinations in East Africa and Africa at large, which means prices of things will be obviously higher here.

Doing my research, I came across several reports of tourists who have been to Zanzibar before. According to most of them, it costs around $100 per day for a tourist spending holidays in the archipelago. The amount caters for your accommodation, meals, transport and tours.

Cost of Living in Zanzibar

Let’s now change our point of view from why is Zanzibar so expensive for tourists and think a bit like locals. According to the website, the cost of living in Zanzibar is $878, which is in the top 34% of the least expensive cities in the world.

Food is generally inexpensive in Zanzibar, with the cost of local meals being between $5 and $10. However, Western-style meals are a bit expensive, costing around $10 to $20. If you want to save money, you can eat at local restaurants or street food stalls.

Things to Do in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is one of the places where you can have fun without partying and drinking. There are a lot of activities to enjoy here, from water sports like kiteboarding, diving and snorkeling to visiting historical sites and spice plantations.


Surfing in Zanzibar. Photo/ Kite Centre Zanzibar.

Paje, which is one of the most popular areas to stay in Zanzibar, is the kitesurf hotshot of the island where you can rent a kite for cheap. If you find using a kite and a board to move across the water interesting, you will also have fun diving. In fact, there are so many good dive sites all over the archipelago that would take you days to complete. Click here to find the best surfing spots in Zanzibar.

Is It Expensive to Stay in Zanzibar? 

You should plan to spend around TZS132,825 ($53) per day on your vacation in Zanzibar. This is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, TZS42,860 ($17) on meals for one day and TZS29,202 ($12) on local transportation.

What Makes Zanzibar So Special?

Zanzibar Island is well known as the Spice Island due to the farming and processing of aromatic spices like cloves, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper and lemongrass. Visit these spice plantations to learn more about the process and history of these crops and their uses.

Is It Worth It to Go to Zanzibar?

Overall, Zanzibar is a wonderful place to visit with plenty to offer tourists, and with a bit of common sense, you’ll have a great time. The best way to enjoy your trip to Zanzibar is to relax and go with the flow.

How Much Money Do You Need For 10 Days in Zanzibar?

For you to enjoy ten days in Zanzibar, you need to have approximately $1100. If you divide this equally, it means you’ll need $110 per day for your trip in Zanzibar. You’ll need this amount to pay for accommodation, transport, tours and food & drinks.

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About the author

Avatar of Abraham Odhiambo

Abraham Odhiambo

Abraham Odhiambo is a writer with interests in nature, travel, African safari and sports. I'm pursuing a bachelor's degree in Media and Communication at Egerton University.

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