Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

1. Spices

Zanzibar’s history is intertwined with the spice trade, so buying spices here is a must. Look for locally grown cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. You can find them in colorful bags or containers in markets like Stone Town’s Darajani Market.

2. Handicrafts

Zanzibari artisans are skilled in woodworking, creating beautifully carved items like masks, figurines, and chests. These pieces often feature intricate designs and motifs inspired by Swahili culture and can be found in local markets and artisan shops.

3. Kangas and Kitenges

Kangas are rectangular pieces of fabric with colorful designs and Swahili proverbs printed on them. Kitenges are similar but larger and often worn as wraps or dresses. These fabrics are not only fashionable but also have cultural significance, making them meaningful souvenirs.

4. Tanzanite Jewelry

Tanzanite is a rare gemstone found only in Tanzania, making it a unique souvenir from Zanzibar. Jewelry stores in Stone Town and other tourist areas offer a variety of Tanzanite pieces, including rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, each showcasing the gem’s deep blue-purple hue.

Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

5. Mkokoteni (Handwoven Baskets)

Mkokoteni refers to traditional handwoven baskets that are a staple in Zanzibari markets. These baskets are crafted from natural materials such as palm leaves, sisal, and raffia. They come in various shapes and sizes and are often decorated with colorful patterns and intricate designs. The craftsmanship reflects the island’s rich cultural heritage and the skills passed down through generations. Mkokoteni baskets are not only beautiful but also practical, used for carrying goods, shopping, and as decorative items in homes.

6. Tinga Tinga Paintings

Tinga Tinga paintings are a great and distinctive form of art originating from Tanzania, but widely popular in Zanzibar. Named after the artist Edward Said Tingatinga, these paintings are characterized by their bold colors, whimsical themes, and use of enamel paint on canvas or masonite. Common subjects include animals, folklore scenes, and everyday life, depicted in a playful, almost cartoon-like style. These artworks are beloved for their cheerful and imaginative qualities, making them a unique and memorable souvenir.

7. Sisal Products

Sisal is a versatile plant grown in Zanzibar, and artisans use it to create a range of products such as hats, bags, mats, and coasters. These eco-friendly items highlight the island’s sustainable practices and provide unique souvenirs with a touch of Zanzibari flair.

8. Local Artwork

Zanzibar’s vibrant culture inspires local artists to create beautiful paintings, batiks, and other forms of artwork. Look for pieces depicting scenes from Zanzibari life, traditional dances, or Swahili architecture. You can find these artworks in galleries, street markets, and souvenir shops across the island.

Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

9. Coconut Products

Zanzibar’s abundance of coconut palms means you’ll find a range of coconut-based products, including coconut oil, soaps, lotions, and candles. Additionally, artisans craft intricate items like bowls, spoons, and jewelry from coconut shells, showcasing the island’s natural resources and creativity.

Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

10. Swahili Doors

Miniature replicas or artwork featuring the intricate designs of Zanzibar’s famous Swahili doors. These doors are known for their detailed carvings and brass studs and are a symbol of the island’s rich architectural heritage.

11. Maasai Crafts

While not exclusive to Zanzibar, Maasai crafts such as beaded jewelry, traditional spears, and decorative shields can often be found in local markets and shops. These items showcase the craftsmanship and traditions of the Maasai people, who have a significant cultural presence in East Africa.

Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

12. Zanzibar Coffee Table Books

Capture the beauty and culture of Zanzibar with coffee table books featuring stunning photography and insightful narratives about the island’s history, landscapes, and people. These visually captivating books serve as keepsakes and reminders of your Zanzibar experience.

Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

13. Seaweed Products

Zanzibar’s coastal communities have a thriving seaweed farming industry, and the island produces a variety of seaweed-based products. These include soaps, lotions, scrubs, and even edible seaweed snacks. Seaweed is prized for its health benefits, being rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Seaweed products from Zanzibar are often handcrafted and organic, reflecting the island’s commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly practices. They make excellent gifts and personal care items, offering a piece of Zanzibar’s natural beauty and wellness traditions.

14. Local Handmade Soap

Zanzibar is known for its natural beauty products, including handmade soaps crafted from locally sourced ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and aromatic spices. These soaps often come in a variety of scents and are perfect for pampering yourself or as gifts for friends and family.

15. Traditional Clothing

Embrace Zanzibar’s culture by purchasing traditional clothing items such as kanzus (long tunics worn by men) or khangas (colorful rectangular cloths worn by women). These garments are not only stylish but also reflect the island’s cultural heritage.

16. Hand-carved Stone Sculptures

Talented artisans in Zanzibar carve intricate sculptures out of local stones such as soapstone or coral stone. These sculptures depict various themes, including wildlife, abstract shapes, and cultural symbols, making them unique and meaningful souvenirs.

17. Local Honey

Zanzibar is home to lush vegetation and diverse flora, resulting in high-quality honey produced by local beekeepers. Look for jars of raw honey infused with flavors like clove, ginger, or cinnamon, providing a delicious taste of Zanzibar’s natural bounty.

18. Traditional Dhow Models

Symbolizing Zanzibar’s maritime heritage, miniature models of dhows—traditional sailing vessels—are popular souvenirs. These intricately crafted models come in various sizes and materials, ranging from wood to metal, and make elegant nautical decorations for your home or office.

Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

19. Traditional Musical Instruments

Explore Zanzibar’s musical heritage by purchasing traditional musical instruments such as drums, rattles, or wooden xylophones. These instruments are not only decorative but also offer a way to connect with the island’s vibrant rhythms and melodies.

Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

20. Authentic Zanzibari Coffee

While Tanzania is renowned for its coffee, Zanzibar also produces its own unique blends. Look for bags of locally grown and roasted coffee beans, offering a rich and aromatic taste of Zanzibar to enjoy at home or share with coffee-loving friends.

21. Seashell Crafts

Zanzibar’s pristine beaches are home to a variety of seashells, which local artisans use to create beautiful crafts such as jewelry, ornaments, and decorative items. These unique souvenirs capture the island’s coastal beauty and make lovely keepsakes.

Best Souvenirs from Zanzibar

22. Handwoven Straw Hats

Protect yourself from the sun in style with a handwoven straw hat made by local artisans. These hats come in various styles and designs, featuring colorful bands or beadwork, and are perfect for adding a touch of Zanzibari flair to your wardrobe.

23. Local Artisanal Chocolate

Indulge your sweet tooth with delicious chocolate made from locally grown cocoa beans. Zanzibar’s chocolate makers produce a range of flavors, from classic milk chocolate to exotic blends infused with spices or tropical fruits, offering a taste of the island’s culinary delights.

24. Recycled Flip-Flop Art

Support environmental conservation efforts in Zanzibar by purchasing unique artwork made from recycled flip-flops collected from the island’s beaches. Local artisans transform these discarded flip-flops into colorful sculptures, toys, and accessories, promoting sustainability and creativity.

25. Sauces and Condiments

Bring home the flavors of Zanzibar with jars of authentic sauces and condiments, such as mango chutney, tamarind sauce, or hot pepper relish. Made from locally sourced ingredients and traditional recipes, these culinary delights add a taste of Zanzibar to your kitchen.

26. Handmade Beaded Jewelry

Adorn yourself with intricately crafted beaded jewelry handmade by local artisans. From necklaces and bracelets to earrings and anklets, these pieces often feature vibrant colors and unique designs inspired by Zanzibar’s culture and natural beauty.

27. Hand-carved Wooden Utensils

Explore Zanzibar’s artisanal craftsmanship with hand-carved wooden utensils such as serving spoons, salad tongs, and cutting boards. Made from locally sourced wood like mahogany or ebony, these functional and decorative items add a touch of rustic elegance to any kitchen.

28. Handmade Paper Products

Support local artisans and sustainable practices with handmade paper products crafted from recycled materials such as banana leaves or elephant dung. Look for journals, stationery sets, and greeting cards featuring unique textures and designs inspired by Zanzibar’s natural beauty.

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