What to pack for Zanzibar

When we decided on Zanzibar for New Year’s Eve and added a safari on the mainland, so many questions popped into my head. And, of course, one of them was, “What to pack for Zanzibar?” 

I must admit that before visiting this stunningly beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, I had no idea about the place or its people. 

That’s why I did a lot of research. And because I don’t want you to go through all of it again, I’ll help you out with some of the most important things to know. 

Make sure to check out my post about everything you need to know before traveling to Zanzibar. 

Here is where I’ll help you out with a checklist of all the things you will want to pack for Zanzibar. Because different things would go on your packing list for climbing Kilimanjaro

First of all, you will want to think you are on an island.

Secondly, it is an exotic place, very different from many others you might have traveled to. Thus, it always helps to be well organized and have everything prepared while not carrying too much useless stuff around.

If you are still unsure about visiting the island, perhaps our one-week experience in Zanzibar will help.

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Table of Contents

  1. What to pack for Zanzibar
    1. What to wear in Zanzibar
    2. Bring a sun hat or a scarf
    3. Beach essentials
  2. Other things to put on your Zanzibar packing list
    1. Medicine and a first-aid kit
    2. Mosquito repellent
    3. Waterproof bag
    4. Your camera to capture great memories
    5. Some other important things

What to pack for Zanzibar

What to wear in Zanzibar

That was my main question as I started looking for things I would need to pack for the trip. 

I found out that Zanzibar’s population is mainly Muslim. Thus, it is important to respect the local customs and traditions. That means that you will want to forget about the normal tourist clothing you might take to Thailand or Vietnam and be more conscious about what you bring along. 

You should think “modestly,” but not “dull.” Not at all, you will see that people wear a lot of bright, colorful clothes. 

However, especially as a woman, you will want to have pants, skirts, or dresses that will cover your hands and legs just below the knees. 

Colorful maxi dresses are perfect, airy shirts as well, and having a scarf with you would be great. 

However, on the beach and in resorts, things change, and you can always go in your bathing suit. I also suggest always having a colorful sarong or a bigger scarf that could be used as a cover-up. 

From what I’ve seen in the small shops in Stone Town and at the hotel, prices for local clothing were quite high. So don’t expect them to be as cheap as in Asia, for example. 

what to pack for Zanzibar

Don’t bring along high heels, and try to have some comfortable espadrilles and some flip-flops for the beach. 

Bring a sun hat or a scarf

It is a good idea to cover your hair when you wander around Stone Town, but not only.

I always recommend having a nice straw sun hat with you, especially on the islands, where you must protect yourself from the sun. Who wants to risk having insolation on vacation?

Before going to Zanzibar, I also watched YouTube videos about using scarves for covering my head. Because I wanted to do it, while still being stylish and have them match my outfits.

Also, don’t forget to bring your sunglasses.

Zanzibar packing list

Beach essentials

Zanzibar is an island; thus, you will spend lots of time by the sea and on the beach. 

That’s why you’ll want to have a few beach essentials with you on top of the things I’ve already mentioned. 

You will want to have a high-factor protection sunscreen because the sun is really strong, and you don’t want to risk going out without it. I got a tan with my shirt on while we were exploring the safari in Tanzania

Also, bring along an Aloe Vera gel to use after the beach. You never know how your skin will react, and it’s better to have one with you. 

Another thing you’ll find handy is bringing along a snorkeling mask. We’ve been on a snorkeling tour and I wouldn’t say the one we got was properly disinfected. 

On top of that, you’ll see that the water is incredible and you’ll want to go snorkeling pretty much everywhere. Thus, it would be great to have your own mask.

Swimming shoes would also come in handy because there is plenty of sea urchins on the ocean’s bottom. 

Other things to put on your Zanzibar packing list

Medicine and a first-aid kit

That’s something that you shouldn’t miss in your luggage, especially when you travel to a new, unknown country. 

A first aid kit is useful because you never know how your shoes will act or what other problems might come up during your expeditions. Thus, it is something you must put on your Zanzibar packing list. 

Also, I always pack a bag with some important medicine I might need and don’t want to look for on location, especially on an island:

  • Pain reliever – I never leave the house without this in my purse. I think it’s important to have it with you during flights. Especially for long-haul flights, because I hate the cold and might get a headache.
  • Constipation – that’s a common problem whenever you travel and change your normal habitat. There are plenty of constipation relief tablets out there, but I always have with me some Microlax. It is useful and noninvasive. 
  • Diarrhea and nausea – on the other hand, when you travel somewhere new and try different local food, you might get in trouble, and your stomach won’t feel very good. Have with you some Smecta or something similar. 
  • Malaria – they recommend taking malaria pills even before you leave for your trip. We did not take any, firstly because we couldn’t find any in Romania. Secondly, we didn’t want to experience any side effects during our trip. But you must do your research, consult a doctor, and make your decision. 
  • Antibacterial wipes

Mosquito repellent

We brought along both tropical mosquito repellent and bracelets to wear when night comes. 

They are useful to have especially in Africa, where’s the risk of malaria or other diseases carried by mosquitos.  

Waterproof bag

You will be spending a lot of time on the beach, on the water, or close to it. Protect your belongings as well as you can, especially when you carry along with you the documents and other valuable things, in a waterproof bag

Your camera to capture great memories

I almost never leave the house without my camera. Not everyone is as crazy as I am, but Zanzibar is the place you’ll want to capture in many amazing pictures. 

From the narrow streets in Stone Town filled with a strong mix of cultures to the pristine beaches with white sand and turquoise water. The island is a photography paradise, thus you’ll want to bring all your best tools.

I was sad I didn’t have a waterproof camera to capture all the colors I saw when we went snorkeling. So try not to make the same mistake.

Zanzibar travel tips

Some other important things

Don’t forget your universal adapter and a good travel guide.

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