Zanzibar
Sailing Trips & Tours

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Our most recommended Zanzibar Sailing Trips & Tours

Zanzibar: Prison Island Tour with Lunch on the Sandbank

1. Zanzibar: Prison Island Tour with Lunch on the Sandbank

Your Zanzibar adventure begins with a visit to Prison Island, purchased in 1893 by Lloyd Mathews, the British First Minister of Zanzibar at the time. Mathews constructed a prison complex on the island which is still visible today, however no prisoners were ever housed on the island and instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever sufferers. On the island, spend some time exploring the area and discover the collection of over 50 tortoises that live here, some of which are more than 100 years old. Learn about why the tortoises call the island their home, as well as taking photos and feeding them too. The island is also home to peacocks and small antelope too. Once you’ve explored the island, enjoy the opportunity to cool off from the hot weather with a refreshing dip in the surrounding crystal clear waters. Spend some time snorkeling in the water just off the island and search for colorful tropical fish and vibrant coral reef. After you’ve worked up an appetite from swimming, relax on the sandbank with a delicious lunch including a seafood BBQ, Swahili cuisine, cheese, tropical fruit, and more.

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Stone Town & Prison Island Private Tour (Transfers & Lunch)

2. Stone Town & Prison Island Private Tour (Transfers & Lunch)

See the National Museum of Zanzibar (rebuilt in 1883) and the Arab fort while passing along bazaar streets towards the famous Freddie Mercury house. See the old slave market, fruit market, and spice market — don’t miss the classic Zanzibar curved doors decorating the stone town.  After you have explored Stone Town, you’ll have an opportunity to take a short break and have lunch before heading to Prison Island. Prison Island is also known as Changuu Island, the nickname came from the island being used by some sultans of Zanzibar to detain enslaved people. While you are on this island, you can swim, snorkel and take pictures with giant tortoises.  See the colorful schools of black snappers, orange lined triggerfish, spotted garfish, barracudas, longfin bannerfish, emperor angelfish, rabbitfish, clown triggerfish, and many more.

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Prison Island: Private Half-Day Tour

3. Prison Island: Private Half-Day Tour

This private guided half day tour can begin any time from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Meet your well-trained guide and boatman as your board your steam-engine wooden boat. Head to the prestigious island and enjoy the 30-minute journey.  Listen to the history of the island and discover the past centuries through the historical buildings, which have served many purposes over the years including a prison, chapel, and hiding place for slaves after the abolition.  Enjoy a swim or snorkel around the colorful coral rocks and turquoise waters. Play with giant tortoises and you may take photographs with these old precious creatures. If you do not have much experience or confidence in the water, you will be provided with a life jacket. 

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From Stone Town: Private Tour to Prison Island

4. From Stone Town: Private Tour to Prison Island

Visit Prison Island on a private 3-hour tour, and discover the rich history and beautiful natural surroundings of this location. Meet your guide in Zanzibar, or select the option including hotel pickup, then enjoy the ride to the island on a traditional dhow. Learn how this small island gained its name and explore the place that is now home to more than 50 tortoises, some over 100 years old.   Feed the tortoises and take up-close pictures with them, as you keep a look out for the peacocks and antelope that also live there. After discovering the island and its history, take the opportunity to snorkel in the clear waters off the coast amongst tropical fish and colorful coral. At the end of your tour, return to Zanzibar, where you’ll be dropped off in the city center, or at your hotel.

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Zanzibar: Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour

5. Zanzibar: Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour

After pickup at your hotel on Unguja, Zanzibar, hop in your private boat toward Mnemba Island. Depending on conditions, reach the coral reef of the Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve in up to 20 minutes. Once there, explore a reef that is big enough for everyone so you won't feel crowded, even on busy days. Keep your eyes peeled for yellow snapper, barracuda, turtles, and much more. After snorkeling, enjoy a snack stop on a sandbank. Relax under the sun as you savor seasonal fresh fruit and other small bites. Later, head back to shore on Unguja. See local fishermen coming back from the sea and selling their day's catches before being transferred back to your accommodation.

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Zanzibar: Changuu Island and Stone Town Tour with Lunch

6. Zanzibar: Changuu Island and Stone Town Tour with Lunch

The tour begins with a private boat trip to Changuu Island, also known as Prison Island or Turtle Island. The island earned its name after it was purchased in 1893 by the British First Minister of Zanzibar who constructed a prison complex here. Although no prisoners were ever housed on the island, it was eventually used as a quarantine station for yellow fever sufferers, and later became home to more than 50 tortoises who still live there today. On the island, enjoy some free time to explore the beauty of this wild paradise, and get up close to the tortoises that roam freely. Some of the tortoises here are more than 100 years old, and you can even get close enough to feed them and take photos. You can also find peacocks and antelope on the island, then cool off in the crystal clear waters during a snorkel session in search of marine life, colorful fish, and coral reef. After your visit to Changuu Island, head towards one of the most historically prominent and artistic destinations in East Africa, Stone Town. Upon arrival, admire the fascinating architecture of the town, which dates back to the 19th century, and reflects the diverse influences of Swahili, Arab, Persian, Indian and European cultures. Learn about how the town earned its UNESCO World Heritage status, and then visit the Old Slave Market and the City Market. Here you can shop for almost anything whilst soaking up the authentic East African atmosphere and meeting the locals. Once you’ve wandered through the market it’s time to visit the Palace Museum, the local House of Wonder, and of course Freddie Mercury’s former home. There’s also time for a trip to the Peace Memorial and the Natural History Museum before ending the tour with a delicious local lunch at a traditional restaurant.

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Zanzibar: Swimming with Dolphins and Snorkeling Private Tour

7. Zanzibar: Swimming with Dolphins and Snorkeling Private Tour

Get picked up from your hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle and head to the Kizimkazi village, where you will be met by the captain. Here, start your journey to meet and have a chance to swim with dolphins. The captain will take the boat to locations well-known for dolphin spotting, while maintaining a respectful distance. The well-equipped boat will travel to several spots to ensure time for dolphin watching and scenic snorkeling. Enjoy the beauty of the coral and the brightly colored fish. Along the way, savor some delicious snacks and fruits. After the tour, you will be brought safely to shore before being dropped off at your hotel.

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Stone Town: Traditional Dhow Sunset Cruise

8. Stone Town: Traditional Dhow Sunset Cruise

Watch the sunset from the sea in Zanzibar and embark on this amazing experience.  Depart from Stone Town and take advantage of the steady winds that blow along the Swahili Coast.  Relax on a journey around the calm waters from Stone Town with refreshments as the sun dips below the horizon, and return to the beach in time for dinner. This sailing experience is great to see Zanzibar from a unique perspective and it is suitable for the whole family.

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From Stone Town: Dhow Sailing Island Tour with BBQ Lunch

9. From Stone Town: Dhow Sailing Island Tour with BBQ Lunch

The trip begins at the fishing village, Fumba, in the southwest of the island, following hotel pickup and a 35-minute drive from Stone Town. Set sail on a custom, wooden sailing dhow directly to the some of the most fascinating natural sites in the tropical Indian Ocean.  The first stop is for snorkeling at the Kwale coral reef, which promises an overwhelming abundance of corals and colorful fish. Afterwards, relax on a paradisiacal sandbank with a snack of tropical fruits.  The next stop will be on Quail Island, where a beach barbecue seafood buffet awaits, consisting of octopus, lobster, grilled fish, calamari, one soft drink, and more tropical fruit. All the seafood you can imagine will be available to taste. Additional activities on the island include a short jungle walk to see and climb a 500 year-old Baobab tree, and a swim in a mangrove lagoon before sailing back to Fumba Village. Get dropped off at your hotel in Stone Town to conclude the tour.

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Zanzibar: Full-Day Protected Chumbe Island Tour w. Lunch

10. Zanzibar: Full-Day Protected Chumbe Island Tour w. Lunch

Snorkel in the most colorful underwater world with a huge variety of fish, corals, turtles and other fascinating sea creatures. Learn about the marine life, forest, and nature reserve from professional guides. Enjoy a tour of one of the eco-bungalows available for overnight guests, and taste the delicious Swahili cuisine for lunch. The Chumbe Island Coral Park is an award-winning private nature reserve and one of the last pristine coral islands around. It is the home of many rare and endangered animals that are protected here. The park includes a fully protected coral reef sanctuary and forest reserve, a visitor and education center, nature trails, historical ruins, and eco-bungalows for overnight guests. Snorkeling gear and wetsuits are available to borrow before your experienced guide and a professional marine biologist take you on the most beautiful snorkeling tour you may have ever experienced. The almost untouched reef includes over 400 species of fish, more than 200 species of corals, turtles, friendly sharks, and many more. After you return, a delicious buffet with dessert is served. The rest of the day you can relax at the beach, enjoy the many sitting areas at the education center and around the island, or you can go on a guided nature trail walk. As a Marine Protected Area, the number of guests on the island is limited to 14 persons. Day trip bookings can only be made if there is availability in the lodge. This means that we can only take advance bookings for overnight stays and not for day trips (which can be booked a couple of days beforehand).

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Other Sightseeing Options in Zanzibar

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What people are saying about Zanzibar

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 13 reviews

Our guide (Hadji) was on time, he was very helpful and insightful ... He gave us an unforgettable experience... The 4 miles crossing from Stone town to Prison island was Breath taking... At Prison island, we fed and massaged old (100years) and very young tortoise ... They enjoyed it... Then we sailed back to Stone town and visited the historic city center... (Slavery museum, slaves room, Freddy Mercury's house, spice && Fish && meat market) etc... I recommend this activity to anyone who want to learn more about the history of Zanzibar...

I went here with my partner, our guide was Mohammad. He knew a lot about the islands and Zanzibar. The tortoises did not disappoint, there are many different ages and sizes. We fed the oldest tortoise who is 196 years old!

Hamdu our guide was excellent. great tour and lovelly lunch. Then went to prison island and saw the turtles which was brilliant. Hamdu even showed me a good spot to swin and see the coral.

Very clever guide, helpful vise man, which like explein not only history of Zanzibar but actual local lifeto and answer all questions for us.

It was a great tour with a wonderful sunset and two super friendly companions.