There are quite some options to get around zanzibar, especially from Stone Town to other coastal villages. Taxi is the most comfortable and hassle free - and is reflected in the price. Another alternative would be to get one of the many tourist-mini buses leaving from stone town to the other villages. Ask your hotel or else the tourist office in Stone town to arrange such transport. Should cost you $5 tops. There are also buses, but are mainly used by the locals, and I heard it can take ages to get from one place to another - even though it looks like real fun.
Always take into consideration 2 factors :
1) You have to go to stone town to get from one village to another unless they are in the same direct path
2) Even though the island seems small, certain roads are in bad condition, thus slowing down expected arrival times. 'Just' 30km may take 1-2 hours.
It is not very easy to get around the island. Although there are no long distances but the roads are narrow, often bumpy and the traffic is pretty high. You have a choice of the local bus (dala-dala) which is not really comfortable (very cheap though), taxi (expensive) or you can easily rent a car or a bike (the latter one is quite dangerous). If you rent a car (we got a small jeep for 50 USD a day), be careful:
1.) Drive the British style (on the left) and look out for the people, animals and all kinds of vehicles.
2.) Park in a secure place
(During parking one of our rear-view mirrors was just taken away. Luckily our renters did not asked for a compensation - you know: "Hakuna matata", i.e. no problem, the most common Swahili phrase :-))
If you want to go by boat from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar Town or back you have much choices. There are ferries, catamarans, hydrofoils or you can even go by dhow or governmental boat. There are different prices depending on which boat you take (10 -35 dollar). The boattrip will take 90 minutes at the fast boats and 6 hours at the slowest ones.
From Zanzibar Island back to Dar es Salaam we took the fast catamaran called MV ''Seabus'' of Azam Marine, two departures a day.
But there are also other good companies. Check the fares and times at the company-offices before you make your choice.
There are several flights everyday to Zanzibar Island from Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and Arusha and maybe more towns.
We came from Arusha with Precisionair. We decided to fly, to have more time at Zanzibar at the end of our overland trip. We booked the flight two days ahead and had a lot of choice in airlines and flighttimes.
From the office of Precisionair in the centre of Arusha we had a free shuttlebus to the airport 8 KM outside of town, departing exactly in the right minute. Also the pleasant flight -with a marvellous view at the Klimanjaro- was exactly in time. The flight time was one hour.
Zanzibar is only 10 minutes flying from Dar Es Salaam. With the time it takes with security and check-in and all that it may be easier and just as fast to take the ferry.
There is a fast catamaran that leaves from the downtown harbour area that only takes about an hour or a little more. There are ticket counters ( a bit confusing place because of all the touts and peddlers) right at the entrance of the ship terminal. The ticket price is a bit steep compared to what the locals will pay for the same ride (dual pricing in Tanzania - foreigners pay more), but still better than flying.
Me and my sister hired a couple of bicycles here and it was a great way to get around and see some things from the ground level. it was very memorable and just thought id share that.Its easy to find people hiring them out and for a small deposit there cheap transport and alot of fun .
There are shuttle services from stone town to the north for around $10 return. The most fun way to get around is by motorbike, 250cc. They are cheaper in stone town by $5. in nungwi they are $20 if you have an international permit, if not an extra $10 for a permit whether youve ever ridden a bike before or not! they are great fun, we took ours all over the whole island and found the best beach ive ever seen - Kiwengwia in the east!
These are the local transport used by the locals. They are packed with people and others hang off the back.
There is a 'bus station' of sorts on a dirt parking area on the edge of Stone Town where you can pick one up to the other parts of the island. Someone will advise, various people speak a bit of English.
The 'a/c' is open sides and you will be rammed in. They are often stopped at security checks by the military/police, particularly if they see tourists on board. Generally the police are relatively friendly if rather serious! You may have to produce your documents. I have personally not heard of any difficulties with 'tips' or 'baksheesh' being required on Zanzibar.
You could try hiring your own dala-dala I suppose!
the most probable way to get to Zanzibar is the plane. The airport is very small and rudimentary, but it receives an increasing number of charter flights from Europe. It is also possible to come by express ferry from Dar es Salaam.
The locals use these small boats for fishing. They may be not very fast and comfortable, but they look nice.
Ferry to Stone Town from Dar. Foot passengers taken or vehicles.
Or fly - lots of airlines fly from other continents now direct into Zanzibar, or from Mombasa, Nairobi or Dar.
On the island, taxis or communal buses - open sided trucks (called dala-dalas) with far too many people crammed in - you have to be friendly but the open sided nature means it's not too smelly! They are dirt cheap. Taxis are fairly reasonable. You can also hire a truck to yourself for a mid-price and that might turn out to be the best bet. Seats are hard and the air-conditioning is the wind, but fine as journeys are not long.
Dhows (wooden sailing boats) or motorised fishing boats can be hired at any village for a few dollars.
Mountain biking would be ideal as the roads are not busy and it is a flat island.
The ferry to and from Pemba is also cheaper at night ferry. The website below has the timetables. Prices vary be who you talk to and your bargaining abilities!