Zanzibar: The Spice Island with Kids

Claire BirtwhistleLuxury Safari, Safari Tips, Safari trips

While Zanzibar seems like an idyllic destination for an island holiday, is it safe for children?

Situated in the warm blue waters of the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is the type of island paradise many people dream of travelling to. However, when planning a family vacation, Zanzibar is usually not the first place that jumps to mind. Far-flung and exotic, a family holiday to Zanzibar may seem impractical, but the truth is, it’s neither. Rather, it is one of the most amazing destinations for an affordable family vacation at the beach.

family vacation at the beach

Family Safari and Beach Holiday – the best of both worlds:

Zanzibar is an island of extreme beauty, diverse cultures and a rich, yet turbulent, history. Simply put, it is fascinating. From the white sandy beaches, to lush forests and highlands, to Stone Town, the cultural hub of Zanzibar, this island may be small but don’t underestimate just how much it has to offer travellers. Children are also a beloved part of Swahili culture and are welcomed to Zanzibar with open arms.

Family-Friendly Activities in Zanzibar:

Zanzibar is the perfect place for adults to enjoy some rest and relaxation while the kids play. The family-friendly resorts offer a safe and happy place for children to explore, as well as nice and quiet spots for adults to get some downtime. Many resorts even have a ‘Kids Club’ with specialised activities designed to keep the little ones entertained.

family vacation at the beach

Outside of the resorts, Zanzibar has a plethora of wonderful experiences on offer. Here are a few of our favourite kid-friendly activities in Zanzibar:

Tortoises on Changuu Island:

Changuu Island, also known as Prison Island, is a tiny island about 3 miles from Stone Town. Accessible to visitors by boat, the island is home to approximately 100 Aldabra tortoises. These giant tortoises can weigh up to 550 pounds and the oldest tortoise on the island is estimated to be 192 years old! The Aldabra tortoises on Changuu Island never fail to amaze both children and adults alike.

Spice Tour:

Zanzibar didn’t earn the name ‘Spice Island’ for no reason! Back in the day, the sale of spice dominated the Zanzibar economy and today Zanzibar is still home to many active spice plantations. Some of the many locally grown spices include nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, ginger and vanilla. In a Spice Tour, a friendly guide escorts guests on a walking tour through the plantations, where you will have the opportunity to pick the leaves and fruits, and smell the different spices, while your knowledgeable guide explains the various uses from them. While a spice tour might not be the best option for very young children, most children over the age of 6 thoroughly enjoy these tours as they are interactive and stimulating.

Water Sports:

Perhaps the most obvious activity to partake in when in Zanzibar, would be the various water sports available. Zanzibar’s beaches offer warm and calm waters, perfect for paddling and snorkelling. For the more adventurous and slightly older children, swimming with wild dolphins (with an ethical and experienced operator) can be a magical and memorable family experience.

Family Vacation Resorts in Zanzibar:

Convinced yet? Now it’s time to find the perfect place for you and your family to stay. A good thing to remember is that the actual room you chose is just a place to rest your head at night, what’s more important is that the resort itself is geared towards families. Resorts that offer inclusive meals, a pool, easy beach access and a ‘kids club’ are the best for families. Some places even offer a babysitting service at an additional charge. Also, make sure to read the reviews from previous parents who have travelled there with kids and see what they have to say about it.

Zanzibar with Kids

Here are a few of our personal favourites:

Bazara Resort & Spa:

Bazara Resort & Spa is a stunning resort dedicated to ensuring that guests of all ages make the most of the beautiful natural surroundings, activities and cultural experiences that they have to offer. Offering a fully equipped Kids Club, with a variety of toys, games and activities, there is plenty to keep the kids busy.

Zanzibar Serena Hotel:

Zanzibar Serena Hotel appreciates the importance of family time and offers a wide range of family-friendly hotel options, including children’s dining, baby-sitting, and plenty of adventure, sports and educational entertainment for children of all ages.

Sea Cliff Resort & Spa:

Sea Cliff is great for families as they offer a discount for 1 child under the age of 12, travelling with 2 adults. They also offer a Kids Club, a have a secure playground with trained staff. Kids at Sea Cliff can enjoy organised activities including arts and crafts, play-stations and games.

Vaccination Requirements for Kids travelling to Zanzibar:

As with any African destination, there are certain considerations travellers with kids need to take into account when planning a safari in Zanzibar. The main one being health precautions. There are several travel websites which provide a comprehensive list of vaccinations that are required/suggested, e.g. Fit For Travel. The list of jabs may seem quite long and intimating however most people have already had them. The biggest factors of concern relating to children would be yellow-fever and malaria which are both transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. That being said, for the past decade or so, Zanzibar’s government has undertaken major anti-malaria campaigns that have reduced the risk of contracting malaria drastically. On top of this, all the resorts in Zanzibar offer either mosquito nets or air-conditioner, or even both, to help protect travellers from mosquitos.

Zanzibar may be exotic, but that’s no reason to rule it out for a family beach vacation. If this sounds like your kind of family getaway, then get in touch with us. We’ll help you plan your perfect kid-friendly safari to Zanzibar.

About the Author
Avatar for Claire Birtwhistle

Claire Birtwhistle

Born and raised in the bush in South Africa, Claire has grown up with a deep love for wildlife and enjoys nothing more than immersing herself in nature. When she's not barefoot outside, she can be found at her computer blogging about adventures and editing her photographs.