Zanzibar: Costs and Budget

We spent one week in Zanzibar – we soaked in some sun…I did a couple of dives and Ankur slurped on many cocktails. We also did a lot of fun activities together like visiting running behind butterflies, photographing monkeys and swimming with dolphins. For those who are planning a fun filled vacation to this African gem, with plenty of sun and surf, here is what our expense sheet looked like….

Colours of Nature…Butterly Park

International Flights

There are no direct flights from India to Zanzibar. The most convenient and economical flight is run by Kenya Airways and has a layover in Nairobi. I am not a big fan of Kenya Airways though; I have flown with them twice – the first time the flight got cancelled and the second time it was delayed by 8 hours…but there weren’t too many options to choose from and we had to go ahead with Kenya Airways.

Up up and away…

Our return tickets (two tickets) to Zanzibar from Mumbai in economy class cost us about USD 1100.

Total international flight cost for two: ~ USD 1100

Internal Transport (Taxi Hire)

We spent six nights, two nights each in three different resorts. Maru Maru Hotel was Stone Town, Essque Zalu was in Nungwi and Michamvi Sunset Bay was in Michamvi. We commuted from one place to another using taxis that cost us between USD 40 – 60 per ride. The ride from the airport to Stone Town cost us ~ USD 15 each way. For all the other tours that we did (spice tour, dolphin tour and dinner at The Rock), the transport was included in the cost of the tour.

Love is in the air!

If you are on a really tight budget, you can choose to travel by the local transport – mini van kind of vehicles, locally called dala dala, which will cost you just a couple of dollars per ride. But remember, the roads in Zanzibar are not great…the ride is very bumpy and it is so dusty that your hair will soon look like straw after an hour in the dala dala. If you can afford to, I would highly recommend hiring a taxi to ferry you around.

Total internal transport cost: ~ USD 160 


Cost of activities vary depending on your starting point as the transportation varies. Also, cost varies on the number of people in the group, who share the vehicle. We did all private tours to ensure that romance is all around!

Colobus monkey at the Jozani Forest

Here is what the cost sheet will look like if the activities are done from Stone Town (all private tours for a couple):

Safari Blue (with a group on the boat): USD 180

Visit to Kizimkazi to swim with the dolphins and Jozani forest to see the colobus monkeys: USD 150

Spice plantation: USD 70

Stone Town walking tour: USD 60

Halfday tour to Prison Island: USD 80

Sunset Dhow Cruise: USD 70

Total activity cost: ~ USD 610


Zanzibar has a variety of accommodations …from back packer hostels to ultra luxury hotels. Considering that the vacation was a romantic getaway for us, we did not cut corners and stayed in some of the best places on the island. We spent two nights each in Maru Maru (Stone Town), Michamvi Sunset Bay (Michamvi) and the ultra luxurious Essque Zalu (Nungwi).

Silvery sands at the Michmavi Sunset Beach Resort

If you choose to spend nights in a four star property at Stone Town, you would be spending about USD 150 per night on a double room. Hence, for six nights, this would translate to USD 900 for a couple, for a double room, that includes breakfast only.

Total accommodation cost: ~USD 900


Zanzibar is famous for its spices and fragrant food that is a medley of Indian, African and Arabic cuisine. We usually tried local food at various restaurants in Stone Town. Every meal, with a soft drink and a beer cost us about USD 40. We had innumerable cups of spiced coffee and spiced ice cream at little places in Stone Town and loved experimenting. At Michamwi and Nungwi, we ate at the resorts just because we were too lazy to step out and explore the village. This turned out to be slightly more expensive, but was so comfortable that we didn’t mind spending a few dollars more.

Sampling local food in Forodhani Gardens

We also went for an elaborate dinner to one of the most photographed restaurants in the world, The Rock, which cost us quite a bit. I am not adding that to the total; lets be real, we were being extravagant as ‘dinner at The Rock’ was on my bucketlist.

Total food and drinks bill: ~USD 600

Miscellaneous cost

I would allocate USD 300 to miscellaneous costs, sometimes a bottle of water or a pack of Pringles, getting my hair braided or getting a tattoo done…at other times hiring the snorkel equipment.

I spotted a nudibranch while diving!

I did a couple of dives and that added to the cost as well. However, I am not adding that in the total not many people dive.

Total miscellaneous cost: ~ USD 300

Total Trip Cost for a couple for a week…

Add it all up….~ USD 3,670


Your costs will vary on the kind of accommodation you choose and on the activities that you do. You can stay in guesthouses and pay USD 30 per night to bring down the costs. However, I would urge you to be safe in Africa and stay in decent places that are popular with the tourists, even though that might mean paying a little extra… safety always comes first!


You may also like

Tokyo: 4 Day Itinerary
Naples: Weekend Itinerary
Beijing: Four Day Itinerary
Russia: One Week Itinerary

9 Responses

  1. Wow this is very informative. Zanzibar is not quite on the top places to visit list yet for us. However its a nice breakup of costs to give us an idea of how much to budget for if we do plan a trip there in the near future. However USD 4000 doesn’t sound too bad for a luxury couple trip for a week. Will definitely reach out to you for particulars when we’re planning something!

  2. Fabulous place to stay for a week or two. Beach is looking just perfect. I am planning to take a break and relax at some place like this. Thanks for the details on the budget and recommendations..

  3. Zanzibar looks like a fabulous place for a perfect break for couples. It is so peaceful and waters are clear. Silvery beach is also very clean. You have nicely stated all the expenses which will help me for financial planning the trip.

  4. Zanzibar looks like a nice place to visit. The beaches look nice and I would go for the ocean activities. For less than $4,000 for a couple, that’s not a bad price for that kind of accommodation and list of activities.

  5. This is so informative! Thank you for breaking down your costs into easy to manage sections. I always appreciate when I can see just how much a trip will cost, what we could splurge on and what we could go a little cheaper on, too. We’d have to cut that price down in order to visit Zanzibar, but the activities (diving!!! the spice plantation sounds fun, too), the food, and the lodgings all sound so fun. Definitely putting this on our list. Thanks!

  6. Your tips are on point – we can’t wait to go back again, we absolutely loved it. How amazing right that accommodation can vary that much! We stayed at Kilindi – it was amazing!

  7. Archana Singh

    I have covered almost all the continents except for Africa. You have written a good travel guide with all costs breakup. I would look to follow your footsteps maybe next year when I go to Africa.

Leave a Reply