Culture Etiquette in Zanzibar

Culture Etiquette in Zanzibar : Is there any local protocol in Zanzibar that I should be aware of? Yes, Zanzibar is a devout Muslim destination; therefore, visitors must wear loose-fitting clothing below the knees, covered shoulders, and, if possible, covered elbows when entering the Zanzibar’s town or villages. In the villages, men shouldn’t wear shorts. A Sunni Muslim society, a conservative nation, may be found in Zanzibar.

The Zanzibar archipelago offers beautiful scenery, a distinctive culture, fun things to do, and amazing flora and animals. Visitors can take pleasure in taking in the spectacular scenery and getting to know the kind inhabitants. The delectable indigenous cuisine lets visitors enjoy the distinctive flavors of Zanzibar’s spices and herbs. There are a few things that travelers to Zanzibar should keep in mind.

The Arabs, Persians, Indians, Portuguese, British, and the continent of Africa all had an impact on its history. Stone Town is home to twisting streets, elongated towers, ornate wooden doors, elevated terraces, and stunning mosques. The Livingstone House, the Guliani Bridge, and the House of Wonders are significant architectural landmarks. The Persian baths in Kidichi were constructed by immigrants from Shiraz, Iran, under the reign of Barghash bin Said.



Zanzibar is a highly conservative tourist destination. Men and women should both cover their shoulders and knees in public. Ladies typically exclusively wear skirts, but foreign women are welcome to don jeans or other types of clothing. You might be tempted to stroll lazily around Zanzibar in shorts and swimwear, but keep in mind that the majority of the population is Muslim.

You can get away with wearing little clothing on the beach, but as soon as you enter a village, you must cover your body. A kanga, a brightly printed wrap that local women use as skirts, headbands, and baby carriers, can entice you to make a purchase. Keep modesty in mind when wearing one, and try not to tie it too tightly around your waist; it’s best if your contours aren’t easily visible.


Expect to be greeted with an astounding level of respect if you happen to be an older guest. When you stop to display at a seller’s stand, the tour guide will be really pleased, and the merchant may not even increase the price for you. Due to the association of age with wisdom, elderly people will always be treated with a great deal of respect.


Expect locals to try to sell you jewelry, carvings, and other goods when visiting communities in Tanzania because tourists are a significant source of income for many people. Negotiating is acceptable because foreigners are usually given a higher price by the vendors.

Simply flash a nice grin and begin negotiating. Tanzanians value charm and don’t like confrontational tourists too much. Don’t provide candy or other modest presents to youngsters you encounter; doing so may encourage them to quit school and begin begging full-time.

Culture Etiquette in Zanzibar
Culture Etiquette in Zanzibar


Greetings are crucial wherever you go. In this culture, where individuals and connections are valued, it is considered impolite to jump right into a discussion without first questioning about the other person’s day, job, kids, etc. People will occasionally shake your hand and then hold it in place for a while. It’s only a friendly gesture, so don’t freak out.

Respectfully, the elderly are honored and greeted. To show respect for someone older than you, always say “shikamoo,” which means “I hold your feet,” and receive the response “Marahaba,” which means “I accept your respect.” As you shake hands with an elderly person, you can also bow slightly and cup your left hand around your right elbow to show more profound respect.


When you see members of a tribe dressed in their traditional garb, it can be enticing to grab your camera, but doing so is disrespectful. Additionally, you should be aware that Maasai people frequently request a little tip in exchange for photographs.

Other Cultural Factors to Consider When Visiting Zanzibar Island

  • Don’t feed the children sweets. It’s unhealthy and instills undesirable behaviors in kids.
  • Don’t photograph unknowing children without their parents’ consent; you wouldn’t do it at home, so don’t do it here.
  • Never take pictures of individual people without their permission.
  • Like in many other African nations, photographing government structures, citizens, and border guards is frequently prohibited. If anyone witnesses you, you run the danger of getting in trouble and possibly losing your camera.
  • Especially in Stone Town and the villages, Zanzibar men and women avoid making public shows of affection, so you shouldn’t either. Only holding hands is OK, unless you are in a very intimate setting. It’s much more laid back in the beach bars, nightclubs, and on the beaches.
  • In Zanzibar, homosexuality is still prohibited. Even the smallest public demonstrations of homosexuality, such as holding hands or kissing, are not permitted and can result in arrest and imprisonment, including for foreigners.
  • During Ramadan, you shouldn’t consume food, smoke, or drink on the streets. Despite not being against the law, it is quite rude because most people are fasting.
  • Obey the regulations, particularly during the holy and spiritual month of Ramadan.


 Wear revealing or revealing clothing.

Always remember that Zanzibar has a clothing code based on its fundamental principle of modesty when traveling there. Male and female tourists must never be seen in public wearing clothing that reveals their private parts. They must always wear modest clothing with grace, making sure to at least cover their shoulders and knees.

It could be considered disrespectful to the local culture to reveal one’s clothing. Visitors must always dress appropriately when entering mosques, and women must cover their heads with a scarf. Beaches allow bathing suits but nothing more; nudity is not permitted. By doing that, travelers and the tour guides who accompany them risk fines.

Endanger the Environment

Zanzibar’s stunning flora and fauna and amazing natural surroundings make the island a paradise on earth. Never should anyone cause damage to the area’s ecosystem or disturb its lush vegetation. Zanzibar’s surroundings must be conserved and preserved, so visitors must take care not to impair the area’s natural beauty. They shouldn’t contaminate forests or beaches. The purchase of any natural resources, including seashells, is prohibited. The environment is being preserved for the present and for use by future generations, Culture Etiquette in Zanzibar.

Missing Out on Opportunities

It’s interesting and strange to travel to Zanzibar. Visitors should thoroughly explore the area instead of just taking a quick excursion. Tourists should not be afraid to step outside of their comfort zone when visiting the island. They should try local cuisine like Nyama Choma, Mshikaki, Urojo, Pilao, Mandazi, and Biryani; travel to places like the Rock, Pemba Island, Prison Island, Stone Town, and Nungwi Beach; and interact with people from all over the world. Travelers should take full advantage of every opportunity and make the most of their trip to Zanzibar in order to ensure that it is exciting and enriching, Culture Etiquette in Zanzibar

Disrespect the locals

Any safari, no matter where you go, must include respect for the local population. Visitors must not humiliate anyone, take pictures of people or residents without their consent, or disparage any local practices or traditions. Tourists should treat the natives with respect, as they are exceedingly hospitable and helpful. Visitors are also asked to respect local customs and culture.