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Gay Zanzibar, Tanzania| The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!

Gay Zanzibar, Tanzania| The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!

Zanzibar is an ethnically diverse East African island off the coast of Tanzania. Islam is the dominant faith in Zanzibar, having been influenced by both the Arab world and Persia. And as such, it should be no surprise that Zanzibar is not exactly gay-friendly.

In recent years, the Zanzibari and Tanzanian LGBT populations have faced increasing oppression. The penalty for engaging in homosexual acts can be life in prison without the possibility of bail. Public displays of gay intimacy, such as kissing, are prohibited and punishable by law. Tanzanian law, similarly, does not recognize same-sex relationships.

Tanzania’s government became less welcoming to the LGBT community when President John Magufuli went into office in 2015, with Legislators emphasizing the need to protect heterosexual norms. In 2016, the Tanzanian government closed HIV clinics and AIDS programs due to the epidemic among gay men.

However, with Magufuli’s death in 2021 and the election of Samia Suluhu Hassan as Tanzania’s first female president, civil rights in the country have improved.

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Zanzibar may not be the first city that immediately comes to mind when thinking of a gay vacation destination. Still, the island is home to many LGBT people who have built a thriving homosexual subculture in regions of the island.

Some Zanzibari elites are gay; therefore, a double standard is employed to please religious factions and a lenient application of such laws to enable covert gay activities to exist comfortably within an underground culture.

Interestingly, Zanzibar is still a fascinating destination for Gay tourists since it offers various exciting activities. The lack of publicly operated public transportation does not make getting around any more difficult.

Walking about the city on foot is your best bet. If you need to get out of town, take a cab or a dalla-dalla (small minivan). Those with enough time should explore the boats that cruise between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.

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Attractions In Gay Zanzibar, Tanzania

As a new visitor to Gay Zanzibar, it’s important to be aware that being queer is illegal in this city and country, and any same-sex activity should be absolutely avoided to ensure your safety. However, there are still plenty of things to see and do that do not involve expressing your sexual orientation.

One of the best ways to experience the city is to visit its most iconic landmarks and attractions, including historical monuments, museums, and art galleries. You can also admire the city’s architecture, explore its parks and gardens, sample local cuisine, and visit local markets. Additionally, cultural events such as festivals, concerts, and shows can provide a glimpse into the local culture.

We feel it’s important to acknowledge the challenges and risks associated with visiting destinations where same-sex activity is illegal. However, we still believe in the power of cultural exchange and the value of experiencing diverse cultures, even if we may not agree with their laws and customs.

Visiting queerphobic destinations allows us to learn about the local culture, history, and traditions and to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ communities in those places. It also provides an opportunity to connect with local people, hear their stories, and show solidarity with the queer community.

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It’s important, however, to be mindful of the risks and to take steps to ensure our safety and the safety of local queer people. This may include avoiding public displays of affection, not discussing our sexual orientation with strangers, and being aware of local laws and customs. As we explore these destinations, it’s crucial to spare a thought for local queer people who may face discrimination, persecution, and even violence due to their sexual orientation.

We might also have the opportunity to use our platform to amplify their voices and to support local organizations working to protect and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights – however, this is best done once you have left (and if you reside in a gay-friendly country!).

While it may not always be easy or safe to visit queer-illegal destinations, we believe that cultural exchange and understanding can help bridge divides and promote acceptance and tolerance. Let’s continue to explore the world while keeping in mind the experiences, struggles, and restrictions on LGBTQ+ expression in this city and country.

Thankfully, it’s still possible to enjoy the city’s attractions and learn about its culture while being mindful of local laws and customs.

These are our recommended must-see attractions in Zanzibar.

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Stone Town

Stone Town is the most developed district on the island, located in western Zanzibar. Despite this, the town has fiercely maintained its old-world character. Stone Town is more correctly known as Zanzibar Town. Creek Road divides it into two equal parts: Stone Town to the west and the modern developments of Ng’ambo to the east.

Stone Town is best known as the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. Creek Road divides Zanzibar Town into two halves. Amaani, Mazzini, Magomeni, and Mwanakwerekwe are among the fast-rising suburbs in the surrounding area. These places are home to contrasting slums and middle-class neighborhoods.

Walking is the best way to get around Stone Town because there is very little public transportation like the rest of the island. Fortunately, walking to the city center is not difficult, allowing for long, twisting excursions through labyrinthine streets that retain vestiges of hundreds of years of history.

Stone Town is home to several once-royal palaces, Persian bathhouses, and stone mansions with artistically carved motifs, in addition to several historic ruins that nearby buildings have held up.

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Forodhani Market

Participate actively in the bustling crowd to have a taste of the regional vegetables as well as the fresh-off-the-grill meat and seafood. As an island market, the main attraction is seafood, which is served alongside fried potatoes, naan bread, and samosas.

Other Swahili and Zanzibari dishes include biryani, Zanzibar “pizza,” mishkaki, and mandazi, which are served alongside seafood. The Forodhani Market, located in the center of Foradhani Gardens, immediately adjacent to the main sea promenade, opens in the late afternoon and runs until late at night.

Nungwi Beach

A trip to the beach is, without question, one of the best options available for filling an afternoon in Zanzibar. Although there are many beaches in Zanzibar, Nungwi Beach, located on the island’s northwest tip, is a favorite among travelers due to its beautiful sunset views. For a long time, the beach on the edges of Nungwi Village has functioned as a launch platform for local fishing boats entering or exiting the harbor.

The only thing that has altered in recent years is the building of a stretch of hotels overlooking the beach. However, rather than being disadvantaged, these facilities’ existence contributes to preserving the beach’s beautiful white sand and blue sea.

Kendwa Beach, while a little is more isolated than Nungwi Beach, is also a fantastic site to see the sunset in the north. It is just a 10-minute drive (or water taxi) from Nungwi, and despite its remoteness, it has a good selection of restaurants and activities.

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Spice Tour

Spice tour in Zanzibar can help you become more familiar with the peculiar flavor profile of the local cuisine, in addition to tasting traditional foods. The spice trade, Zanzibar’s most valuable sector, has always brought wealth to the island.

On a guided tour of the city’s historic center, learn about the varied spices produced and traded in the region and the culinary and medicinal benefits of these spices. Tourists can buy pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla as souvenirs from shops in the town center. Still, they can also tour an operational spice plantation in a more rural section of the country.

Jozani Forest

Zanzibar’s natural scenery has far more to offer regarding diversity inland from the coast. Because it is the last surviving haven for the endangered Zanzibar red colobus monkey, the Jozani Forest on the island’s eastern side is a famous tourist destination.

To witness tree-dwellers at their most active, follow any nature trails through the indigenous forest until you reach the mangrove forest on the other side of the island. The optimum time to do this is either early in the morning or late in the day.

There’s a fair possibility you’ll encounter monkeys here, but you’ll also see butterflies, birds, and flora that aren’t found anyplace else, and all of this is available for just $8 (the entry fee). Although visitors can spend a full day in the Jozani Chwaka National Park reserve, they are advised to combine their visit with a trip to Paje Beach, which can be reached by chartered taxi, public bus, or as part of an organized tour.

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Dhow Cruise

The dual-sails of the Dhow cruise ships that navigate the waterways surrounding Zanzibar best depict the Arabic influence that the island of Zanzibar boasts. When you board one of these wealthy boats, you will be treated to an adventure you will never forget. As you cruise the broad sea, you’ll see orange sunsets reflected in the sails.

A Dhow Cruise provides passengers with picture-perfect views of the setting sun and allows them to experience a moment of tranquility when the boat’s engines are turned off, and it sails under its power for a time. On the other hand, a Dhow cruise is an excellent alternative at any other time of day because it allows for snorkeling stops before disembarking at Kwale Island for a seafood buffet lunch.

Staying a little longer on Kwale will allow you to truly explore the local beaches and stores hidden in the shadow of massive baobab trees. This is a fantastic option because snorkeling on the island isn’t the best.

Kitesurfing In Paje Beach 

Paje Beach, commonly considered the nicest beach on the southeast coast, may be visited as a quick add-on to your journey to Jozani Forest. Paje Beach is an adventurer’s dream. Because of the steady winds and severe surf on Paje, windsurfing is the most popular sport, yet, beginners are equally well cared for.

Take advantage of the many kitesurfing teachers who operate along the beach and learn the ropes among other travelers and relaxed residents.

After you’ve had your fill of riding the waves, refuel at one of the bohemian cafés or burger bars that dot the beach, and then stay at a hostel to hone your kitesurfing skills over a few days. The months of January and February, as well as June and September, are perfect for kiteboarding, but the location is delightful and accessible throughout the year.

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Private Paradise

Even though the homosexual society in Zanzibar is not as open as we would want, there is a decent choice accessible in the shape of traveling off the main path to seek a hideaway that is reserved only for you and your lover. Matemwe and Pingwe beaches are two examples of this sort of beach. These beaches are surrounded by five-star resorts catering to honeymoons and other romantic retreats. 

Both are located on the east coast, but Matemwe is the most tranquil since it allows visitors to engage in fishing, snorkeling, and diving without disturbing others. Meanwhile, Pingwe sits a little further south and is a fantastic site to see the sunset. It also boasts its collection of laid-back pubs and restaurants, including the exclusive Rock Restaurant, which is set on a small rock off the coast.

While in the area, spend some time relaxing at Jambiani fishing town, the center of the island’s seaweed farming industry. Michamvi Kae is a beautiful site to paddle through mangrove trees, and Jambiani is a fishing village.

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Gay-Friendly And Gay Hotels In Zanzibar, Tanzania

As a traveler in a homophobic country where being gay is illegal, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take necessary precautions to ensure your safety. This includes choosing accommodations that are less likely to have issues with same-sex travelers.

We recommend booking two twin beds and traveling as friends only, avoiding any same-sex activities that could attract unwanted attention. While it’s unfortunate that there are no gay-friendly accommodations in Zanzibar, we suggest staying at international or high-end properties that are less likely to have issues with LGBTQ+ guests.

It’s important to note that these accommodations are not gay-friendly at all and may not have policies or practices in place to create a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ guests. However, they are the most fabulous hotels in Zanzibar, according to other gay travelers and us, and where we recommend staying.

Whatever your needs are, Zanzibar has a wide range of accommodations to choose from. While it may be challenging to find gay-friendly options, taking these precautions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable stay in the city.

Zanzibar Serena Hotel Gay Hotel in Zanzibar

Zanzibar Serena Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆

The Zanzibar Serena Hotel is tucked away on the Zanzibar coastline, among Stone Town’s unique sultan’s palaces, Portuguese forts, historic dhow harbor, and colorful bazaars. This luxurious retreat comprises two historic buildings built in the traditional Swahili manner.

It embodies the grace and grandeur of a bygone era flawlessly. Each of the 51 rooms and suites is created with casual elegance in mind, with wood-framed louver doors opening onto private patios with unrestricted views of the Indian Ocean.

High ceilings, white walls, and royal blue and white color palettes offer a sense of tranquillity and appeal associated with the coast. After a long day of exploring Spice Town, the rooftop restaurant, which serves freshly caught seafood and boasts beautiful views of the bay, is the finest place to unwind and relax. Visitors can enjoy authentic Swahili dinners while sitting by the pool every month.

Masahani Bar, on the other hand, is well-known for its unique cocktails and live performances by traditional Taarab musicians. This magnificent hotel is 50 kilometers from Zanzibar International Airport and views Paje’s unspoiled coastline. In addition to a restaurant and three beach bars, it offers a rooftop champagne bar and lounge, a seasonally open kite surfing center, and a spa.

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Jafferji House & Spa ☆☆☆☆☆

The Jafferji House is a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town. It expertly blends modern luxury with the enticing legacy that has molded Zanzibar’s past, recapturing the romance of travel in the process.

The property was renamed Jafferji House after its previous owner, Jafferji, had lived there for a period and used it as a home for his family. The property has been completely refurbished and designed to reflect its past splendor.

The hotel boldly pays homage to modern comfort, elegance, and hospitality while embracing the charm of the ancient world. Personal attention to detail is obvious throughout the hotel, and guests will notice this throughout their stay. The Jafferji House and Spa are widely recognized as one of the best hotels on the island of Zanzibar.

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Matemwe Retreat ☆☆☆☆☆

The Matemwe Retreat is a collection of magnificent villas in a remote area of Zanzibar. The interior design of the retreat, which emphasizes items made in the area, gives the impression of being on a tropical holiday. This tranquil area, which leads out to private plunge pools with panoramic views of the seductive beaches of the Indian Ocean, is intended to encourage a calm and effortless state of relaxation.

Mnemba Island and the Mnemba Atoll, Zanzibar’s most important natural preserve, are only a half-hour boat trip away from the Matemwe Retreat. The retreat is dedicated to luxury as well as isolation.

The waters surrounding the Mnemba Atoll are home to over 400 different species of fish, making it a perfect place for beginning divers and anyone interested in marine life. After a day of activity, you’ll return to seafood buffets, rooftop bar cocktails, or lunch outings to the neighboring sandbank and Muyuni Beach.

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zLife Hostel

The zLife Hostel in Zanzibar is a fantastic hostel with both spacious and clean rooms. You can also unwind in the accessible indoor and outdoor locations. In the morning, visitors have a variety of alternatives from which to choose. Because the hostel is in a highly desired part of town, the bulk of Stone Town’s attractions is easily accessible on foot.

The walk to the ferry takes around ten minutes, and the airport is only seven kilometers distant. Major eating and drinking establishments are just outside the front door and may be accessed in minutes. If you want to take a ride on the boat, stroll down this alley, and you’ll find yourself on the shore.

The air conditioning in this hostel’s double rooms and dormitory can be turned on or off. Every bed is outfitted with linens. The inviting lounge area is a great spot to unwind and meet new people. If you want to save money or enjoy preparing your meals, you are welcome to use the modern common kitchen or join one of the Swahili cooking classes.

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Gay Nightlife In Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar has a bustling nightlife, and being a Muslim country; it is best to go where the straight guys go to avoid raising unnecessary suspicion. Here are some of the best places to enjoy the Zanzibar nightlife as a gay traveler. 

While exploring the nightlife of a new city can be exciting, it’s important to remember that Gay Zanzibar is a city in a country where same-sex activity is illegal, and being queer is not accepted in public. As such, it’s crucial to avoid any displays of queerness or same-sex activity in public.

However, you can still enjoy the ‘straight’ nightlife in Gay Zanzibar as you would in any other city. You can meet new people, try new things, and get a taste of the local culture without attracting unwanted attention.

Whether you’re dancing at a club or mingling at a bar, remember to be respectful of the local culture and avoid any behavior that may be seen as queer or same-sex activity. By doing so, you can have a fun and memorable experience while still being mindful of the local laws and customs.

So, step out of your comfort zone and explore the nightlife in Gay Zanzibar, but remember to do so as a non-queer traveler. Enjoy the city’s nightlife while being respectful of the local culture and avoiding any displays of queerness or same-sex activity in public.

Gay Zanzibar, Tanzania| The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!
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Jambo Beach Party From Paje Village

Break out your finest moves and mingle with the people of Paje Fishing Village during this five-hour beach party. Raise a glass to your new friends and drink a beverage that will make your mouth wet as you begin your evening in Paje Village.

Local Nightclub Tour In Waikiki Zanzibar

You will have the opportunity to visit some of the trendiest nightclubs in the Waikiki region during a tour of the local nightlife. Spend the night in a Waikiki nightclub, where the beverages flow freely and the music blasts from the speakers, and thoroughly immerse yourself in the club’s joyful atmosphere.

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Local Full Moon Party In Kendwa Rocks

At Kendwa Beach, Zanzibar’s most popular night beach club, you may let loose and party till the early morning hours. Party your way to Kendwa Rocks in northern Zanzibar for this 6-hour evening that includes activities in the surrounding area.

Nightclub Tour At 06 Degree South Zanzibar

Prepare to have a wonderful time and make new friends with people from all over the world, no matter where you are. When the sun goes dark, check out of your hotel or other lodging and board one of the private luxury minivan shuttles that will take you into town.

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Local Nightclub Tour In Demani Lodge

You’ll feel like a local at the Demani Lodge’s nightclub! Use a colorful local guide to immerse yourself in the vibrant and lively atmosphere fully. Guests can listen to famous DJs from Zanzibar while sipping cocktails at specially reserved tables.

Coco Blue Zanzibar

During your stay on the Zanzibar Local Jambiani nightlife tour, you will get the opportunity to learn about the local people’s nighttime rituals. Dress to impress because you will visit some of the city’s most renowned restaurants.

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Cool Coffee Spots In Zanzibar

Zanzibar, the beautiful and historically significant island, has far more to offer. Arabic and Persian cuisines have affected the food. Nothing, however, compares to the energizing effect that a cup of coffee or tea can have on your thoughts first thing in the morning before embarking on an excursion. Let’s look at some amazing spots you should look for while traveling to Zanzibar.


Lazuli is not to be missed if you find yourself in Zanzibar for any reason. The café scene in Zanzibar has just welcomed Lazuli. It offers a cool, modern interior design with a fantastic assortment of smoothies and juices. At night, we are happy to serve our visitors a high-quality meal while offering them the best view of the city.

Furthermore, this is a wonderful site to purchase delectable pancakes with an attractive sprinkling of passion fruit syrup. Not to mention some of the best flavorful coffee and tea on the island, which can be found nowhere else.

Zanzibar Coffee House

The hotel has free WiFi, a rooftop patio, a coffee shop, and a superb location in the middle of Zanzibar City. If you’re looking for great coffee, go to the Zanzibar Coffee House because it’s one of the most inviting sites, has a view of the city, and is easy to find. 

The baristas at Zanzibar Coffee House have received comprehensive training at a professional level. You may look forward to some wonderful sandwiches, yogurt, milk, and great muesli on the menu. You can also anticipate receiving these things. On the bottom floor of the Coffee House, a love of good, simple food and a passion for travel have combined to create a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Zanzibar Coffee House - Cool Coffee Spots in Zanzibar

Stone Town Café

Stone’s Town Zanzibar is the main city on the island of Zanzibar and a major Indian Ocean tourist destination. Stone Town Café is one of the most well-known cafés in Town Zanzibar, and it is the ideal venue to taste a Zanzibari light lunch.

You may enjoy a wonderful breakfast and coffee at the Stone Town Café. Breakfast will include coconut bread, salad, eggs, and muesli. As you soak in the morning sun and are ready to embark on an adventure, the coffee served here is among the best in Zanzibar. The experience that people have here is simply incredible.

Book Café

(Temporarily or permanently closed. If you know something, please suggest an edit.)

The Book Café got its name since it is located within a bookstore on Kenyatta Road. You may have some great iced coffee here, and if you like, you can even have a bruschetta topped with avocado, tomato, and onion. It’s a lovely spot to stop for a coffee before heading off, and you shouldn’t pass it up. The Café is particularly well-known for its high level of service to its customers.

LGBT Rights In Zanzibar, Tanzania

In Tanzania, those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) have legal challenges that people who do not identify as LGBT do not face. Homosexuality is a socially taboo topic in Tanzania, and participating in same-sex sexual practices is a crime punishable by life in prison for the perpetrator. Oral sex and anal intercourse are prohibited in the United States, and heterosexuals who engage in both face legal consequences.

Tanzania has recently been hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. It evicted several HIV/AIDS organizations in October 2017 because they were “promoting homosexuality.” Furthermore, the government has increased its use of homophobic rhetoric, believing that homosexuality is “un-African.”

In 2018, a “witch hunt” against LGBT people was declared in Dar es Salaam. LGBT people were forced to undergo anal inspections and torture during this period. Tanzania has a dismal record in terms of human rights. The administration demonstrates less respect for citizens’ free expression and assembly rights.

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Cruising & Gay Saunas In Zanzibar, Tanzania

A gay sauna is a business that allows heterosexual, gay, and bisexual men and other males to have sex with other guys. Hammam, which is popular in Muslim culture, should not be confused with this because they are not the same thing. Because it is so new, the concept of a gay sauna is held in high regard within the LGBT community. However, there are presently no gay-friendly saunas in Zanzibar.

Anyone who identifies as gay and likes to practice cruising in an anonymous and courteous manner can find and discuss the finest gay cruising sites in Zanzibar. Locate nearby locales, such as beaches, urban parks, wastelands, and forests, as well as public places, such as bathrooms and highway rest areas, where you can have sex and casual encounters with boys you’ve never met before. 

As a queer traveler visiting Gay Zanzibar, it’s important to keep in mind that being gay is illegal in this country. While visiting some of the known gay cruise spots may be an exciting prospect, it’s important to remember that any same-sex activity is strictly prohibited. As such, we are choosing not to mention any here and do not recommend you try them unless you are with a trusted local (and even then, it isn’t our recommendation).

We do not advise engaging in any illegal activity, including hooking up with locals or engaging in public cruising. If you do choose to use hook-up apps, it’s important to use a VPN and avoid giving away any identifiable information until you’re certain it’s safe. We also advise against visiting bathhouses or engaging in any sexual activity in public places.

It goes without saying, though, that if you are out for fun, always practice safe sex and use protection to reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections. Queer public health campaigns are not a thing here – as you might imagine. It’s crucial to respect local laws and customs regarding LGBTQ+ activities and to keep a low profile when it comes to queer activities.

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Gay Map Of Zanzibar

Finding it hard to envisage where everything is in Zanzibar? Hopefully, this queer-centric map helps where we have marked all the bars, clubs, parties, hotels, saunas, massages, and more will help you stay in the spot best suited to you!