Mauritius or Zanzibar
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Mauritius or Zanzibar? An Honest Comparison for 2024

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Last Updated on: 12th April 2024, 03:45 pm

Are you dreaming of a tropical getaway to an East African island but can’t decide between Mauritius or Zanzibar?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! And this blog post will help you decide.

We travel to both Mauritius and Zanzibar regularly. So, we know exactly which island is best…

Hint: They’re BOTH worth a visit!

Both islands offer breathtaking beauty and unique experiences, making it a tough choice.

To help you make an informed decision, let’s compare the two and explore factors like flight time, cost, and what each destination has to offer.

Key Takeaways:

  • Both Mauritius and Zanzibar are incredible tourist destinations in the Indian Ocean.
  • Mauritius is known for its stunning beaches, luxury resorts, and diverse cultural experiences.
  • Zanzibar offers a unique blend of African, Arab, and European cultures, along with beautiful beaches and historical sites.
  • Both destinations are perfect for water sports enthusiasts and those seeking a tropical getaway.
  • Consider your preferences, budget, and desired experiences to choose between Mauritius and Zanzibar.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of them I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, which allows me to keep this blog up and running!


History & Culture

When it comes to history and culture, both Mauritius and Zanzibar have fascinating stories to tell.

Mauritius boasts a diverse multicultural society influenced by Dutch, French, and British colonization throughout its history. This rich blend of cultures has shaped the island’s art, cuisine, and social customs.

Zanzibar, on the other hand, is known for its fusion of African, Arab, Persian, and European cultures. With a history deeply rooted in the spice trade and slave routes, the island boasts a vibrant mix of traditions and influences.

Both islands have managed to preserve their cultural diversity while embracing modernity.

In Mauritius, you can explore colonial architecture, visit historical sites like the Aapravasi Ghat, a UNESCO World Heritage site that played a significant role in the indentured labor migration or immerse yourself in the vibrant Creole culture.

In Zanzibar, you can wander through the narrow streets of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and marvel at the intricately carved doors and blend of Swahili and Arab architecture. You can also visit spice farms to learn about the island’s history as a major spice trading hub.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the colonial heritage of Mauritius or delving into Zanzibar’s African, Arab, and Persian influences, both islands offer unique opportunities to immerse yourself in their captivating history and vibrant culture.

Rich multicultural societyFusion of African, Arab, Persian, and European cultures
Colonial architecture and historical sitesStone Town – UNESCO World Heritage site
Creole cultureIntricately carved doors and Swahili architecture
Tea & sugar plantationsSpice farms and tours

Cultural Diversity

Both Mauritius and Zanzibar embrace cultural diversity.

In Mauritius, you’ll find a harmonious blend of cultures, languages, and religions. The island’s population consists of people of Indian, African, Chinese, and European descent, creating a vibrant cultural tapestry.

Zanzibar, with its Swahili, Arab, and Persian influences, showcases a unique mix of traditions and customs.

  • Mauritius: Multicultural society with Indian, African, Chinese, and European influences
  • Zanzibar: Blend of Swahili, Arab, and Persian cultures
A group from our hotel Tui Blue Bahari Zanzibar taking a guided walking tour of Stone Town.
A group from our hotel Tui Blue Bahari Zanzibar taking a guided walking tour of Stone Town.

Attractions & Activities

When it comes to attractions and activities, both Mauritius and Zanzibar offer a plethora of options to suit every traveler’s interests.

Mauritius, known for its natural beauty, boasts stunning beaches, lush mountains, and vibrant coral reefs. The Black River Gorges National Park is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts, offering breathtaking hiking trails and picturesque waterfalls. For those seeking adventure, water sports like snorkeling, diving, and deep-sea fishing are readily available.

These are the 15 best Mauritius tours you should consider booking during your trip!

Zanzibar, on the other hand, offers a unique blend of historical sites and island activities. A visit to Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, allows you to explore the narrow streets and experience the rich history and cultural heritage of the island. The Jozani Forest Reserve is a haven for wildlife lovers, with its diverse ecosystems and the opportunity to spot the endangered red colobus monkeys.

Don’t miss out on the spice farm tours, where you can learn about Zanzibar’s long-standing association with the spice trade.

Top Attractions

Belle Mare BeachNungwi Beach
Le Morne MountainPaje Beach
Aapravasi Ghat (UNESCO World Heritage site)Stone Town (UNESCO World Heritage site)
Mauritius Botanical GardenJozani Forest Reserve

Both destinations also offer memorable wildlife experiences.

While Mauritius is known for its unique wildlife encounters like swimming with dolphins, Zanzibar offers the opportunity to embark on a safari to the neighboring mainland of Tanzania, where you can witness the iconic Serengeti and the annual migration of wildebeest.

Whether you’re looking for relaxation on beautiful beaches, cultural exploration, or thrilling adventures, both Mauritius and Zanzibar have something to offer for everyone.

Boats and dolphins in the ocean near Mauritius.
While staying at LUX* Le Morne in Mauritius we went on a swimming with dolphins tour.


Which island has the best beaches – Mauritius or Zanzibar?

When it comes to breathtaking beaches, both Mauritius and Zanzibar have their own unique charm and beauty.

Mauritius boasts pristine stretches of white sand and turquoise waters that are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and indulging in water activities. Some of the top beaches in Mauritius include Belle Mare Beach, Flic en Flac Beach, and Le Morne Beach. These beaches offer a tranquil and family-friendly atmosphere, making them ideal for relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty of the island.

Zanzibar, on the other hand, offers a different beach experience with its vibrant and lively coastal areas. Nungwi Beach, located on the northern tip of Zanzibar, is known for its sandy shorelines and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling. Paje Beach, located on the east coast of the island, is famous for its picturesque sunsets and strong winds, making it a haven for water sports enthusiasts, particularly kite surfers.

Both destinations provide various beach attractions and activities to suit different preferences.

Whether you prefer a serene and laid-back beach retreat or an energetic and adventurous beach experience, Mauritius and Zanzibar have something for everyone.

Beach Attractions and Activities

Top BeachesBelle Mare Beach, Flic en Flac Beach, Le Morne BeachNungwi Beach, Paje Beach, Kendwa Beach
Water Sports
Beach Parties

Whether you’re looking to unwind on a quiet beach or explore the vibrant beach scene, both Mauritius and Zanzibar offer wonderful opportunities to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea.

A woman standing by a table admiring the pristine beach at a luxury hotel in Mauritius.
LUX* Grand Gaube in Mauritius had some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen – perfect for swimming!

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

When it comes to experiencing the local cuisines and vibrant nightlife, both Mauritius and Zanzibar have plenty to offer.

In Mauritius, you can indulge in a diverse range of flavors influenced by Indian, Chinese, European, and Creole cultures. From delicious curries to fresh seafood, the dining experiences in Mauritius are a true delight. Be sure to try the famous “dholl puri,” a Mauritian street food staple filled with lentils and served with various chutneys.

In Zanzibar, the food scene is equally enticing. Known for its exotic spices and fresh seafood, Zanzibar offers a unique culinary experience. Don’t miss the chance to try Zanzibar pizza, a delicious local street food made with a thin crust filled with a variety of savory fillings. Another must-try is “urojo,” a traditional Zanzibar soup made with a flavorful mix of spices, lentils, and vegetables.

When it comes to nightlife, Mauritius offers a more diverse scene. The bustling town of Grand Baie is known for its vibrant bars, clubs, and live music venues. Here, you can dance the night away or enjoy a relaxing drink with friends.

In Zanzibar, the nightlife is more laid-back, with beach bonfires and live music creating a relaxed and enchanting atmosphere. Whether you prefer a lively night out or a more tranquil evening, both destinations have something for everyone.

Local Cuisines: Mauritius: Indian, Chinese, European, and Creole flavors Zanzibar: Fresh seafood, exotic spices, and local dishes

Dining Experiences: Mauritius: Try “dholl puri” and indulge in a variety of flavors.
Zanzibar: Experience Zanzibar pizza and traditional “urojo” soup

Nightlife: Mauritius: Vibrant bars, clubs, and live music in Grand Baie Zanzibar: Laid-back beach bonfires and live music

Local CuisinesIndian, Chinese, European, and Creole flavorsFresh seafood, exotic spices, and local dishes
Dining ExperiencesTry “dholl puri” and indulge in a variety of flavorsExperience Zanzibar pizza and traditional “urojo” soup
NightlifeVibrant bars, clubs, and live music in Grand BaieLaid-back beach bonfires and live music
The inside of a giant prawn that was served for lunch at a hotel.
Just look at the size of the prawns we enjoyed while staying at Anantara Iko Resort Mauritius.

Exploring Shopping Experiences and Local Markets

When it comes to shopping, both Mauritius and Zanzibar offer unique and vibrant experiences that allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture. From bustling street markets to modern shopping malls, these East African islands have something for everyone.

Local Markets

In Mauritius, a must-visit is the Central Market in Port Louis. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of products ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to local handicrafts and souvenirs. Take your time to stroll through the colorful alleys, interact with friendly vendors, and haggle for the best prices.

In Zanzibar, the Stone Town market is a treasure trove of spices, textiles, and traditional arts and crafts. Lose yourself in the maze-like streets, indulge in the aromatic scents of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and pick up unique souvenirs to remember your trip.

Both islands also offer smaller local markets where you can find handmade jewelry, clothing, and artwork created by local artisans. These markets provide an opportunity to support the local economy and take home one-of-a-kind treasures that embody the spirit of the island.

Modern Shopping

If you prefer a more modern shopping experience, Mauritius boasts several shopping malls that cater to both international brands and local designers. Bagatelle Mall, located in Moka, offers a range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Zanzibar has a growing number of boutique stores and international outlets in areas such as Stone Town and Nungwi.

Whether you’re looking to buy stylish clothing, unique jewelry, or intricate artwork, both Mauritius and Zanzibar provide you with ample opportunities to find that perfect souvenir or gift.

BudgetReasonably priced options availableGenerally affordable
SelectionA mix of international brands and local craftsUnique arts, crafts, and spices
AtmosphereBustling markets and modern mallsLively markets in historic surroundings
AuthenticityOpportunity to support local artisansTraditional crafts and handmade goods
An intricately carved Zanzibari door that leads into a small local shop selling bags and other goods.
The streets of Stone Town in Zanzibar are full of quirky little shops like these.


When it comes to accommodation options, both Mauritius and Zanzibar offer a range of choices to suit different preferences and budgets.

If you’re looking for luxury and indulgence, Mauritius has a plethora of high-end resorts and boutique spa hotels that provide a Westernized experience with world-class amenities. From private villas to beachfront retreats, you’ll find a wide variety of options to choose from.

Looking for accommodation in Mauritius? These are the best luxury family-friendly resorts and these are the top overall luxury resorts.

On the other hand, Zanzibar offers a more diverse range of accommodations that reflect the island’s cultural heritage and rustic charm. You can indulge in old-world Arabic decadence in restored heritage buildings or opt for luxury beach lodges that provide a more authentic experience.

Looking for accommodation in Zanzibar? These are the top-rated luxury boutique hotels!

Budget travelers will also find plenty of affordable chalets and guesthouses that offer comfortable yet affordable stays.

Whether you’re seeking luxury or a more immersive experience, both islands have suitable accommodation choices that cater to different budgets and preferences.

It’s recommended to research and compare various options to find the perfect place to stay during your East African island getaway.

Accommodation Options

DestinationLuxury ResortsBoutique HotelsSelf-catering VillasBeach LodgesBudget Options

Safety & Practical Considerations

When planning your trip to Mauritius or Zanzibar, it’s important to consider safety and practical tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable vacation. Both destinations are generally safe for tourists, but it’s always wise to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

For Mauritius, it is advisable to exercise caution in urban areas, especially at night. Keep an eye on your belongings and avoid flaunting expensive jewelry or accessories. Additionally, be cautious of your surroundings when using public transportation and avoid isolated areas.

In Zanzibar, it’s important to respect the local culture and customs. Dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites or areas with a predominantly Muslim population. Be cautious of your belongings in crowded areas and use reputable tour operators for activities and excursions.

Wondering if Zanzibar is safe for travelers? Find out here!

Regardless of the destination you choose, it’s always a good idea to check the latest travel advisories and follow any recommendations or guidelines provided. Familiarize yourself with the local emergency contact numbers and have travel insurance that covers medical expenses and trip cancellations.

Practical Tips:

  • Keep a copy of your passport and other important documents in a safe place separate from the originals.
  • Stay hydrated and use sunscreen, particularly in the tropical climates of both Mauritius and Zanzibar.
  • Respect the local laws and customs of the country you are visiting.
  • Be cautious of street vendors and negotiate prices before making a purchase.
  • Use reliable transportation services, such as registered taxis or reputable car rental companies.
  • Stay informed about any local events or festivals that may impact your travel plans.

By following these safety and practical tips, you can have a memorable and worry-free vacation in either Mauritius or Zanzibar. Remember to always prioritize your safety and well-being while exploring these beautiful East African destinations.

Safety Comparison

Overall SafetyConsidered safe for touristsConsidered safe for tourists
Urban SafetyExercise caution, particularly at nightRespect local customs and dress modestly in urban areas
Tourist AreasRelatively safe with standard precautionsBe cautious of pickpocketing and crowded areas
TransportationUse registered taxis or reputable car rental companiesUse registered taxis or reputable car rental companies
Emergency Contact Numbers911 for emergencies112 for emergencies
The narrow alleyways of Stone Town Zanzibar.
The streets of Stone Town in Zanzibar can be confusing to navigate and it’s best to have a tour guide for safety.

Cost & Value for Money

When planning your East African island getaway, considering the cost and value for money is essential. Comparing the expenses between Mauritius and Zanzibar can help you make a well-informed decision that suits your budget and travel preferences.

Regarding overall cost, Zanzibar tends to be slightly cheaper than Mauritius. Accommodation, dining, and transportation options in Zanzibar generally offer more budget-friendly choices. However, prices can vary depending on the type of accommodation and activities you choose.

Both destinations provide value for money but in different ways. Mauritius offers a more developed and luxurious experience with a wide range of activities and amenities, making it a great option for those seeking a more refined vacation.

On the other hand, Zanzibar provides a more rustic and authentic atmosphere, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy a unique island experience.

Ultimately, the decision between Mauritius and Zanzibar depends on your budget and what you value most in a vacation. Consider the overall cost, the type of experience you’re looking for, and the activities that interest you the most.

By doing so, you can choose the destination that offers the best value for your money and ensures a memorable and enjoyable trip.

AccommodationLuxury resorts, boutique hotels, and self-catering villasBeach lodges, budget-friendly chalets, wellness retreats
DiningDiverse range of cuisines with Indian, Chinese, European, and Creole flavorsFresh seafood, exotic spices, local dishes like Zanzibar pizza and urojo
ActivitiesWide range of water sports, beach activities, safaris, and cultural experiencesWater sports, beach activities, spice farm tours, and historical sightseeing
Overall AtmosphereDeveloped, luxurious, and refinedRustic, authentic, and laid-back
Cost ComparisonModerate to expensiveModerate to affordable
A view of Nungwi Dreams by Mantis resort from the beach.
We think Zanzibar is the ultimate destination for affordable luxury and it’s possible to stay at gems like Nungwi Dreams by MANTIS!

Mauritius or Zanzibar FAQs

Which is better, Mauritius or Zanzibar?

Choosing between Mauritius and Zanzibar depends on your preferences. Mauritius is known for its diverse landscapes, luxury resorts, and water activities, while Zanzibar offers a rich cultural experience with historic Stone Town and pristine beaches. Consider your interests for the perfect fit.

Which is more beautiful, Zanzibar or Mauritius?

Beauty is subjective, and both Zanzibar and Mauritius boast stunning landscapes. Mauritius captivates with its lush mountains and coral reefs, while Zanzibar’s white-sand beaches and historic charm are equally enchanting. It ultimately depends on the type of beauty that resonates with you.

Is Zanzibar or Mauritius more expensive?

The cost comparison between Zanzibar and Mauritius can vary based on your travel choices. Generally, Mauritius tends to be more expensive due to its luxury resorts, while Zanzibar offers a range of accommodations to fit different budgets. Consider your preferred level of luxury and activities when evaluating costs.

Why is Mauritius so special?

Mauritius is special for its unique blend of cultures, stunning beaches, and diverse landscapes. The island offers luxurious resorts, a rich history, and a melting pot of influences, creating a destination that caters to both relaxation and adventure seekers.

Why is Zanzibar so special?

Zanzibar’s charm lies in its cultural richness, historical significance, and pristine beaches. The UNESCO-listed Stone Town, vibrant markets, and spice plantations showcase its unique heritage. The archipelago’s untouched beauty and warm hospitality make it special for those seeking a blend of history, culture, and relaxation.

A woman and a baby on a beach chair enjoying a tropical island sunset.
However, we think Mauritius is the ultimate family-friendly luxury destination where you can stay at gems like Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita!

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So, Are You Heading to Mauritius or Zanzibar?

After comparing Mauritius and Zanzibar, you may still be wondering which East African island is better for your vacation. Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal preferences and what you seek in a tropical getaway.

Both islands are firm favorites for our family. There’s a reason we return to both Mauritius and Zanzibar year after year.

When making your decision, consider the cultural experiences, attractions, cost, and overall ambiance of each destination. Both Mauritius and Zanzibar offer unique and memorable experiences in the Indian Ocean, so you can’t go wrong with either choice. It all depends on what you’re searching for in your dream vacation.


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