The best destination comparison site!
The best destination comparison site!
With the whole world to explore, and so many paradise holiday destinations to visit, choosing the ideal one can be surprisingly challenging. Zanzibar and Boracay are both exceptional in their own ways, but definitely cater for different tourist types.
This article will provide a comparison of Boracay with Zanzibar and help you to identify which is the better destination for your paradise holiday.
A honeymoon - Zanzibar
A backpack or inexpensive trip - Boracay
The 5-star treatment - Boracay
Boracay (area 10km2)
Boracay is a small paradise island found within the Philippines archipelago. There is just a single resort town which spans the length of the beach, and this is where all of the tourism development is found. The 4km beach is divided into three sections (named “stations” as boats historically moor here); Station 2 is the lively central area, Station 3 is calm and peaceful, while Station 1 is where the luxurious hotels tend to be situated.
Zanzibar (2,450 km2)
Zanzibar is an Archipelago of islands, 35km from Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. The majority of tourists visit the largest island, Unguja but this is often simply referred to as Zanzibar (or Zanzibar Island).
The finest beaches are on the eastern side of Zanzibar Island, but this is also the side of the island most exposed to sea breezes and the huge tidal variation (at low tide it can be a long walk to the seas edge). The quieter areas are to the north of the island and a personal favourite is the town of Nungwi.
Stone Town is the historic capital, and has a surprising amount to see, but is better for a day trip, not for an entire holiday.
Zanzibar is one of the most accessible places to experience Africa, from the welcoming people and colourful cultures, through to the modern challenges that the continent experiences. Zanzibar is a great destination if you are wanting something very different for your holiday.
Unlike many other paradise islands there is actually a lot to do once you tire of spending time on the beaches. There are day trips to Stone Town, Prison Island, the Jozani Forest nature reserve, plus multiple snorkelling or diving trips. Zanzibar is popular with foreign visitors, but somehow the island never feels overrun with tourists.
Boracay is a heady mixture of so many great things; tropical paradise, vibrant nightlife and social atmosphere. It is easy to understand why it is the most popular beach resort of the Philippines.
By day Boracay is relaxed and laidback, but once the sun sets the bars fill and the energy of the island grows. Boracay knows how to party!
Boracay attracts an eclectic mixture of visitors, from tight budget backpackers through to 5-star aficionados, along with a multitude of different nations. There is the vibe of a backpacker hangout but the caterings for the modern tourist.
There are snorkelling and diving excursions and trips other smaller islands but you mainly come to Boracay spend time on the beach. Boracay is the destination for you if you what a chaotic mixture beaches, nightlife and unpredictable excitement…..
Insight: Most visitors to Boracay combine the island with a secondary destination in the Philippines, and the lack of an international airport often forces this.
Zanzibar has two wet seasons and are best avoided, a brief wet spell around November (the Short Rains) and a more persistent rainy season in April and May (The Long Rains). Outside of these periods are the dry seasons (June to October and December to March) and is the recommended time to visit.
Zanzibar has a tropical climate so there is always the chance of intense afternoon rains, but these are always short-lived.
The Christmas holidays are the height of the peak season, but July and August provide great weather and is not so busy. Zanzibar has a large Muslim population and during the fasting period of Ramadan many of the islands restaurants and shops shut down.
Boracay has two distinct seasons Habagat (wet - June to October) and Amihan (dry November and April) – and the dry season is the much better time to visit! Both seasons are tied to the wind direction with Habagat experiencing moisture ladened northeast winds, while Amihan has drier northeast winds. Typhoons are difficult to predict but can form any time from July to October. The peak season is around Christmas when hotels will be fully sold out.
The beautiful beach of Boracay was the sole reason that the island was transformed into a major tourist destination. This is a paradise beach.
Surrounding Zanzibar are some of the finest beaches in the world, with pristine white sands and turquoise seas. The best beaches are to the far north (Nungwi), to the east (Kiwengwa) or the south-east (Kizimkazi). The sea waters are always clean, (as there are strong oceanic currents), and pleasantly warm year round only varying between 25C in August to 29C in January.
The unique aspect to Zanzibar’s beaches are the extreme tidal variation, where at low tide the sea almost vanishes and it is a long walk to the sea edge. This effect is most notable on the shallow incline beaches on the eastern side.
You will not be disappointed with Zanzibar’s beaches.
Zanzibar is both ecologically and culturally diverse, and the extensive selection of tours and activities reflect this.
Some of the best snorkelling is around Mnemba island, while there are dolphin watching tours deep sea fishing trips when heading further out into the India Ocean. Zanzibar was once completely covered in dense forests and Jozani Forest is a great region to view the natural environment along with the inquisitive red colobus monkeys. On the more fertile lands are farms growing exotic species and there are informative tours of these plantations.
For more relaxing excursions there are Dhow boats which gently ply the coastal waters or offer sunset tour.
Insight: The only consideration with any day trips around Zanzibar is the potted and dusty road network which can make the best of traveller feel car sick….
Boracay - Boracay’s small size means that day trips and alternative activities are slightly limited. There are boat tours (often sold as island hopping tours), but the highlights are Magic Island and Crystal Cove, where there is good snorkelling at both. A popular evening activity are the sunset cruises on the Paraw Sailing boats.
Boracay - The lack of an international airport is a major consideration for any trip to Boracay. Most visitors have to fly into Manila, then take a domestic flight to Malay, and from here it’s a short ferry to Boracay. There is horrendous traffic around Manila airport and making domestic connections can be nerve-wracking. Unfortunate this often means that a night is needed in Manila, which is a polluted and chaotic city with very little to see and few positives.
Zanzibar international airport is an embarrassment of an airport, which is old, disorganised and poor (we are taking about Portaloo for toilets). Luckily it is close to Stone Town.
The roads in central Zanzibar are rough and little more than a mud track, expect a bumpy and long transfer.
Boracay - The island is safe, but there is always the very slight threat from terrorism or extremist. To compensate there is a high level of security to reach Boracay, with metal detectors and a high (but subtle) police presence. There is almost no crime, and most issues are from visitors doing silly things.
Zanzibar is safe but must use common sense when outside of hotel or resorts. There is a huge wealth disparity between tourists and locals.
Boracay may be small, but it punches well above its size. The beach front, known as the Path is lined with multiple bars serving inexpensive drinks, and then later in the night, social night clubs partying late into the night.