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    What’s the best way to get to Zanzibar: Ferry or flight?

    10 minutes read
    10 minutes read
    the best way to get to Zanzibar easy travel tanzania

    Zanzibar is a literal paradise on Earth. It has clear white beaches and turquoise water. But what’s the best way to get to Zanzibar: Ferry or flight?

    Scenario 1: The humid air sticks to your shirt, but the wind and salt spray rush keep you cool. Everywhere you look, the Indian Ocean churns blue-green glass.

    As the high-speed ferry takes you from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar, you begin to see your destination revealed: Stone Town. It’s a journey reminiscent of the early explorers, who, too, witnessed the mesmerizing beauty of this archipelago from the water. The captivating scenes of sandy beaches and historic structures gradually paint the picture of an idyllic week ahead, setting the stage for a truly immersive experience in the heart of Zanzibar’s cultural and natural wonders.

    Scenario 2: Your small plane departs Arusha late in the morning. After ascending, you can see Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro from the air, which takes your breath away. The plane heads east, passing over Dar es Salaam and above the Indian Ocean. Before you can finish your ginger ale, Zanzibar’s turquoise-fringed beaches and spice plantations come into view. You’ve transitioned from your weeklong safari to an island paradise in ninety minutes—time to relax.

    Transportation Options to Zanzibar

    When contemplating the journey to Zanzibar, the choice of transportation mode plays a pivotal role in shaping your overall travel experience. The primary options for reaching this enchanting island are by ferry or flight. Each mode presents unique advantages and considerations, catering to different preferences and travel priorities.

    To make an informed decision, it’s essential to weigh factors such as convenience, travel time, and the overall experience offered by each mode. Whether opting for the swift efficiency of air travel or the scenic voyage by ferry, understanding the nuances of these transportation modes is critical to embarking on a seamless and enjoyable journey to Zanzibar.

    1. Convenience Factors: Ferry Terminals vs. Airports

    When evaluating the convenience factors between ferry terminals and airports in Zanzibar, it’s essential to consider your journey’s specific needs and preferences. While providing a maritime charm, Ferry terminals may vary in amenities and services. On the other hand, airports typically offer modern facilities, efficient services, and a more structured environment.

    In Zanzibar, key airports include Abeid Amani Karume International Airport and ferry terminals are predominantly located in Dar es Salaam. The convenience of accessing these points plays a crucial role in your travel experience. While ferry terminals may offer a more direct connection to the mainland, airports provide faster and more streamlined processes for check-in and boarding.

    The choice between ferry and flight ultimately depends on your priorities, with convenience being a significant factor to consider in making the best decision for your journey to Zanzibar.

    To ferry or to fly? That is the question.


    We all know how cool the word Zanzibar feels as it rolls off the tongue, but does the place deliver? Absolutely. The Spice Islands are only 28 miles off the coast of Tanzania, yet the archipelago lives up to its hype in every way possible. Powdered sugar beaches, blood-orange sunsets, world-class diving, and culinary arts rivaling most anywhere. It’s a bucket list destination, to be sure.

    Zanzibar’s food scene also adds charm, offering a delicious journey that rivals the best worldwide. The island becomes a haven for relaxation and adventure as the sun sets. It’s not just a destination but a must-visit for every traveler, promising diverse experiences that capture the essence of exploration.

    Close to Tanzania, Zanzibar’s uniqueness isn’t diminished but highlighted, offering a rich blend of nature, culture, and the joy of experiencing the island’s distinct allure. Every moment spent here is a true delight, making Zanzibar a unique and captivating destination.

    So, how best do you get to this paradise? The two scenarios above helped me to imagine the available options: ferry or flight. Both offer exceptional experiences, and both have their benefits. To remove any confusion, we’ve made a quick and precise comparison for you to decide. At the end of this post, we disclose our personal recommendation. So buckle up—let’s go for a ride.

    Why take a ferry to Zanzibar

    Tanzania - zanzibar ferry - what’s the best way to get to zanzibar: ferry or flight?

    Staying close to the ground—or water—often adds more adventure to any experience. Ferry travel can be exhilarating, and, in Tanzania, it will put you in direct contact with seafaring locals. Most high-speed ferries depart from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar multiple times a day. Here are some numbers:

    Duration: two hours

    Cost: $35/$40/$50/$60 (USD as of November 2018)

    Comfort: Economy / Business / VIP / Royal

    Book in Advance? Recommended.

    The scenic journey places you in direct contact with the elements that define this island world. It’s a unique experience to gain this vantage point when arriving at a well-earned crossing. Overall, the ferry system in Tanzania is safe and secure, though we only advise travelers to take the high-speed, well-maintained ferry operators.

    We recommend a ferry to clients whose travels home route them through Dar es Salaam. The port is easily accessible from downtown hotels, and this option avoids the 1.5-hour drive to the airport. Here’s what the ferry looks like: Here.

    Why take a flight to Zanzibar

    Tanzania - zanzibar from air 1 - what’s the best way to get to zanzibar: ferry or flight?

    A popular option is to book your safari for Northern Tanzania and a Kilimanjaro trek. After that, fly directly to Zanzibar from Arusha, Kilimanjaro International Airport, or the Serengeti bush. Flights from Arusha are 1.5 hours; they are frequent and reasonably priced.

    If you fly from the Serengeti, be aware that this might require a few stops. This combination offers a convenient beach getaway after days in the bush. Your Easy Travel team can organize all the transfers to and from the airport to the hotel, paradise, and back. Hassle-free. Here are some flight specifics:

    Arusha to Zanzibar: $230 to $250 per person / one-way.

    Northern Serengeti Kogatende Airstrip to Zanzibar: $470 to $500 per person / one way.

    Grumeti to Zanzibar: $470 to $500 per person / one way.

    Seronera (Central Serengeti to Zanzibar): $400 to $430 per person / one way.

    These flight options cater to diverse travel preferences, whether you seek the efficiency of Arusha or the scenic route from the Serengeti. With Easy Travel at your service, the only thing left for you to do is immerse yourself in the wonders of Tanzania, seamlessly transitioning from the bush to the beach, all orchestrated with care and precision.

    Our recommendation? Fly

    While we appreciate the excitement of high-speed ferry travel, flying to Zanzibar is the most time-efficient choice when exploring Tanzania. We can book a direct flight for you, avoiding seasickness, crowded boats, and potential long overland journeys to and from ferry ports.

    It’s important to note that all ferries depart from Dar es Salaam. If you plan to take a ferry after a safari, we can help arrange your journey to Dar.

    Moreover, choosing a direct flight saves time and offers the added advantage of a more comfortable and relaxed travel experience. Flying allows you to enjoy the convenience of well-equipped airports, efficient boarding procedures, and the swift transition from one spectacular Tanzanian destination to another.

    In contrast to the potential challenges associated with ferry travel, such as waiting in lines or dealing with seasickness, air travel provides a smoother and more predictable journey.

    The ease of airport access and straightforward security checks contribute to a stress-free travel experience, ensuring that your time in Tanzania is spent making memories rather than navigating logistical complexities.

    Alternatively, you can do a one-way ferry to Zanzibar and a return flight for a balanced adventure. This ensures you experience sea and air travel, maximizing your enjoyment and minimizing travel time. Our goal is to make your journey seamless, comfortable, and filled with memorable moments.

    Bottom line?

    In Tanzania, every moment is a valuable opportunity for unforgettable experiences. Creating an itinerary that suits your schedule and budget is recommended to make the most of your visit. Craft a journey that seamlessly weaves together adventure, culture, and relaxation.

    At the end of your Easy Travel adventure, indulge in a few carefree days lounging on the shores of a picturesque beach by the Indian Ocean. Picture yourself enjoying the gentle waves, soft sands, and the tranquility of the perfect beach setting.

    It’s the ideal way to conclude your Tanzanian exploration, letting you savor the memories of vibrant cultures, majestic wildlife, and stunning landscapes. Let your itinerary be your guide, tailored to your desires, and allow Zanzibar’s pristine beaches to be the serene finale of your unique journey.

    Getting you there?

    Easy Travel representatives thrive in their ability to take your needs, wishes, budget, and interests and customize the perfect, unforgettable itinerary. We offer 5 -7 day Zanzibar packages and can set up Spice Tours, bicycle rentals, scuba dives, and Stone Town tours. Contact us today.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Is it more convenient to reach Zanzibar by ferry or flight?

    The decision to reach Zanzibar depends on individual priorities, but flights generally offer a more convenient option. With speed, directness, and consistent schedules, flights save valuable time and provide higher comfort with amenities like in-flight entertainment and meals.

    The reliability of air travel is often superior to ferry services, which can be susceptible to weather-related disruptions. Zanzibar International Airport’s accessibility further enhances the convenience of flying, ensuring a smooth transition to the island’s popular destinations.

    While ferries offer a scenic maritime experience and are budget-friendly, flights hold the upper hand regarding time efficiency, comfort, and reliability, making them the more convenient choice for many travelers.

    2. Are there direct flights to Zanzibar, or do they require layovers?

    Zanzibar is accessible through direct flights and routes with layovers, offering travelers flexibility in their choices. Some international airports provide direct flights to Zanzibar, offering a more time-efficient and straightforward travel experience. However, it’s important to note that not all airports may have direct connections, and layovers may be necessary for specific routes.

    Checking flight schedules becomes crucial when planning a trip to Zanzibar. Airlines frequently update their routes and schedules, so it’s advisable to verify the current offerings and choose an option that aligns with your preferences, time constraints, and overall travel itinerary. Direct flights are often preferred for convenience and time-saving benefits, especially for those seeking to minimize travel time.

    3. Is there a risk of delays or cancellations with the ferry or flight to Zanzibar?

    Travel to Zanzibar, whether by ferry or flight, carries inherent risks of delays or cancellations, primarily influenced by factors such as adverse weather conditions, technical issues, or unforeseen events. Flights can be affected by weather-related disruptions, technical problems, and air traffic or airport congestion, while ferry services are particularly vulnerable to weather-dependent operations and operational constraints.

    Travelers should stay informed about travel advisories from airline and ferry service providers, choose reputable and reliable operators, and build flexibility into their itineraries. In the event of disruptions, prompt communication with service providers is crucial for obtaining information on alternative arrangements, refunds, or rescheduling options.

    By acknowledging these potential challenges and planning accordingly, travelers can navigate their journey to Zanzibar with greater resilience and preparedness.

    4. What transportation options are available from the Zanzibar airport or ferry terminal to the main tourist areas?

    Upon arrival at the Zanzibar airport or ferry terminal, travelers can choose from a range of transportation options to reach the main tourist areas on the island. Taxis are readily available, providing a quick and flexible mode of transport directly to specific destinations.

    Shuttles, operating between the terminal points and popular tourist areas, offer a shared and cost-effective alternative. Private transfer services can be pre-booked for those seeking a personalized experience, ensuring a dedicated and timely journey to the desired destination without additional stops.

    Planning and booking transportation in advance, particularly during peak travel seasons, is recommended to facilitate a smoother transition upon arrival. Communicating with accommodation providers, utilizing online booking platforms, and seeking advice from locals further enhance the convenience and efficiency of the journey, allowing travelers to enjoy the beauty of Zanzibar with ease.

    You can also request Easy Travel for transportation for a hassle-free experience.

    5. What are the must-visit attractions and activities in Zanzibar?

    Zanzibar offers diverse must-visit attractions and activities that promise a captivating experience. Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, invites exploration through its historic streets and landmarks like the House of Wonders. Engage your senses on the Spice Tour, discovering the island’s rich agricultural history through its lush spice farms.

    Relax on the idyllic beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa, or delve into nature at the Jozani Forest Reserve, home to the rare red colobus monkey. For cultural immersion, witness traditional Swahili music and dance at the Old Fort or delve into the island’s complex history at the Zanzibar Slave Market.

    Zanzibar’s underwater wonders are equally compelling, with Mnemba Atoll offering exceptional snorkeling and diving opportunities. Here, vibrant coral formations and diverse marine life create a mesmerizing underwater world. Whether exploring historical sites, immersing in cultural experiences, or indulging in the island’s natural beauty, Zanzibar promises an unforgettable journey blending history, culture, and stunning landscapes.

    6. Are there any cultural norms or etiquette I should know when interacting with locals in Zanzibar?

    Interacting with locals in Zanzibar requires an awareness and appreciation of the cultural norms and etiquette prevalent on the island. One crucial aspect is the traditional Swahili greeting “Jambo” or “Habari,” which is widely used as a sign of respect.

    When visiting homes or mosques, it’s customary to dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees, especially for women. Removing shoes before entering someone’s home is also common, demonstrating politeness and adherence to local customs.

    During the holy month of Ramadan, travelers should be mindful of fasting locals. Refrain from eating or drinking in public during daylight hours as a gesture of respect for the religious observance. Additionally, engaging in conversations with a friendly and open demeanor is highly appreciated, contributing to positive interactions.

    Understanding the importance of family and community in Zanzibari culture is essential. Locals often prioritize communal values, and a respectful attitude toward elders is customary. If invited into a home, expressing gratitude and accepting hospitality offers, such as tea or snacks, is considered polite.

    7. Is renting a car in Zanzibar advisable, or are there alternative transportation options for exploring the island?

    While renting a car is an option in Zanzibar, travelers may find alternative transportation options more convenient for exploring the island’s diverse attractions. Consider guided tours or private transfers, offering a hassle-free and culturally enriching experience. Reputable operators like Easy Travel provide inclusive tour packages encompassing transportation, guided excursions, and tailored itineraries.

    With knowledgeable local guides, these tours allow you to immerse yourself in Zanzibar’s attractions without the concerns of driving. Opting for Easy Travel ensures a stress-free exploration, benefitting from the expertise of experienced guides and the convenience of transportation arrangements. In summary, exploring Zanzibar through inclusive tours can be a comprehensive and enjoyable alternative to renting a car.

    8. Are there different types of ferries available for the journey to Zanzibar?

    Different ferry operators provide a range of options for travelers, from economy class to VIP, catering to various comfort levels and budgets. Passengers can select the type of ferry and class of service that best suits their needs and preferences for the journey to Zanzibar. Whether you prioritize affordability or luxury amenities, there’s a ferry option available to accommodate your travel preferences.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

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