Zanzibar is one of the top tourist locations in the world. Unfortunately, seeing it on TV is the closest some of us will ever get to this dreamy destination.
The good news is that some movies capture enough scenes to satisfy our curiosity. We know it’s not the complete package, but it’s all some of us may ever get.
With this list of 10 movies filmed in Zanzibar, you can catch glimpses of some of Zanzibar’s best and worst views.
1. Ghost Fleet: The Epic Voyage of Zheng He (2022)
- IMDb Rating: 9.6/10
Ghost Fleet: The Epic Voyage of Zheng He is an excellent way to catch up on ancient Chinese history while watching movies filmed in Zanzibar.
Zheng He was one of the most famous explorers from the late 1300s, and Ghost Fleet covers various aspects of the ups and downs he dealt with during his lifetime.
Although the filmmakers didn’t place particular emphasis on the filming locations in Zanzibar, with a close look, you’ll catch glimpses of Stone Town and Smelly Bay.
Although it’s a far cry from touring Stone Town’s Prison Island or discovering if Smelly Bay lives up to its name, it takes you one step closer to the real deal.
2. Tanzania: A Journey Within (2011)
- IMDb Rating: 9.0/10
Have you ever seen two friends that are so utterly different you wonder what glue holds them together? Kristen and Venance paint this picture to the T as they bond over the shared agony caused by watching the difficulties faced by kids with HIV/AIDs in a distant community beyond Mt. Kilimanjaro.
As far as movies filmed in Zanzibar go, A Journey Within may not leave you longing to visit, but it’ll give you a renewed appreciation for the life you got to live away from untold hardship.
3. Queen Sono (2020)
- IMDb Rating: 6.1/10
Ever wondered when the big screens would have another black queen on a revenge mission after Zoe Saldana from Colombiana came and did what needed to be done nearly a decade ago? Thankfully, Queen Sono came to the rescue for the African audience.
Queen Sono gave us 6 episodes of some good old ass-kicking and crime-fighting. At the same time, it highlights some of the best views out of Zanzibar and South Africa.
4. The Honeymoon (2023)
- IMDb Rating: 4.3/10
When your fiance dumps you just before your wedding, leaving you wondering what to do with the fully funded all-expense trip to Zanzibar.
Pack your bags, get your girlfriends, and have the time of your lives at your honeymoon location.
There’s so much that could have been done with this storyline that wouldn’t have left a bittersweet aftertaste once the ordeal was over.
Despite all the cringiness you’ll have to sit through before the joy that’s the end credits, you get an unrestricted view of some of Zanzibar’s bluest waters, wild scooter-driving, and new bikini inspo.
It’s probably one of the few movies filmed in Zanzibar that focused solely on showing the Island in its glory.
5. Wonders of the African World with Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1999)
- IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
At a time when Africa was still seen as a dark continent with huts and no electricity, Henry Gates Jr. decided he would see just how dark the continent was.
There was enough beauty in Africa to film a 5-hour documentary of Africa’s many wonders.
Wonders of the African World with Henry Louis Jr. is one of the movies shot in Zanzibar that gives you a peek into why the island is so special.
6. The Constant Gardener (2005)
- IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
While others view Zanzibar as the perfect location for a post-breakup getaway, some big pharma companies think it is the ideal spot for new drug trials. After all, what stays in Zanzibar stays in Zanzibar.
Until an aggrieved husband, Justin, starts to ask questions, hoping to solve the mystery behind his wife’s death.
However, Justin has difficulty dealing with what he learns when uncovering things meant to be left in the dark.
If you are hunting for movies filmed in Zanzibar featuring some of Hollywood’s finest, The Constant Gardener is one for the books.
7. Jonah (2013)
- IMDb Rating: 6.8/10
Sometimes, all it takes is one event to totally turn one’s life around. Mbwana and his friend Juma prayed for one of such events for a minute.
They had no idea it would take a giant fish and a small stolen camera to change their lives and that of their small town for some years.
In reality, though, sometimes the thing we desire the most could lead to ruin. The town’s newfound fame turns out to be both a blessing and a curse.
8. West of Zanzibar(1954)
- IMDb Rating: 5.6/10
In one of the movies filmed in Zanzibar, Bob Payton is burdened by the humiliation and exploitation the Galana tribe endures at the hands of ivory smugglers.
He embarks on a journey through some of Zanzibar’s most treacherous terrain with the skill of a seasoned tracker.
The crocodiles lurking in the murky waters and rhinos charging through the dense jungle are unwanted parts of his traveling crew. But Payton was relentless and driven by a desire to protect.
9. Families (2015)
- IMDb Rating: 5.7/10
Almost every family is burdened with a black sheep or two to cause sleepless nights and righteous fits of rage, and The Belles Family isn’t any different.
Jérôme Varenne must leave his work and life behind to stop his brother from selling their family home carelessly.
Jérôme soon learns there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
With his fiancee gone and an unhealthy amount of time spent going down memory lane, he soon loses focus of his initial goals.
10. As Old as My Tongue: The Myth and Life of Bi Kidude (2006)
- IMDb Rating: 8.4/10
Bi Kidude was born in Zanzibar and spent a more significant part of her life within its environs.
The rest of the time was spent traveling through other African countries.
The myth and life of Bi Kidude is one of the documentaries/movies filmed in Zanzibar that shines a spotlight on some of the fantastic things and people that have walked Tanzania soils.
Kidude addressed socio-economic issues through her music, and Andy Jones did a phenomenal job telling that story.