Zanzibar; the romantic, exotic archipelago, reminiscent of Arabian nights and Indian Ocean indolence. Only 15 minutes flight from the mainland, the wonderfully sleepy island of Zanzibar is one of East Africa’s finest beach destinations, surrounded by coral reefs with idyllic beaches lined by huge sweeping palm trees. Zanzibar beaches are the obvious addition to a safari on mainland Tanzania, or should we say that a short safari is the ovious addition to your Zanzibar holiday, with the beautiful Selous less than an hour away.
Though many visitors spend a night or two in Stone Town, the charismatic island capital, the real attraction of is its glorious coral sand beaches, and the fantastic snorkelling and diving. Tourism has eclipsed spice trading as the main form of income, but islands retain their rustic African charm despite the developments of the last decade. Zanzibar is a land apart, entirely charismatic and well worth a visit.
Zanzibar Beaches – The best beaches in Zanzibar
Nungwi & Kendwa, North Zanzibar
Nungwi and Kendwa beaches are truly beautiful; they are the only on the island which are consistently turquoise waters lapping brilliant white sands. The rest of Zanzibar’s beaches (east coast, as the west coast really doesn’t give you anything!) are tidal which means whilst you may be able to sink your toes in to the powdery sand, the sea may be a bit of a trek away, depending on the time of day. Nungwi & Kendwa are home to some big hotels and a backpacker culture, but the beaches are exceptional here, and there are fantastic hotel options if you know where to look.
Nungwi & Kendwa Beaches – Where to stay
Our favourite hotels include the new exciting addition Zuri Zanzibar, Hideaway of Nungwi, Diamonds La Gemma & Essque Zalu. These are all absolutely fantastic value for money and suit those who like to be around a bustling environment and on a stunning beach – staying in these hotels means you get your own slice of privacy in a really fun part of the island.
Matemwe, North East Zanzibar
Matemwe beach can be found slightly to the east of Nungwi and Kendwa. As such, contrary to the more northern beaches, it can be tidal here. The area has been relatively untouched by tourism until recent years, and it can now get a bit busy. However, when the tide is in some hotels here offer a pocket of Indian Ocean paradise for an unbelievable price.
Matemwe Beach – Where to stay
There are a few really well established boutique hotels here far from the madding crowd such as Sunshine Hotel, Matemwe Lodge and Kasha. Sunshine is our favourite to recommend and is a slightly more intimate version of Pongwe Beach Hotel (below), with some fantastic rooms and villas to choose from for a great price. However, when choosing between Sunshine and Pongwe, you must consider the plus of Pongwe’s consistently pristine beach…
Pongwe, East Zanzibar
Pongwe has one of the only east coast beaches which isn’t tidal as it sits neatly in a concave break in the coastline. As such, if you like long beach walks, it is maybe not for you as you don’t get a sweeping beach picture, but it does give you a certain little slice of luxury in as much privacy as you can get on the island.
Pongwe Beach – Where to stay
Pongwe Beach Hotel for the beach and incredible value for money rooms is the only place to consider in this area. It is quirky and not uber-luxury, but does have added bonuses like private pools in the sea view rooms at an absolutely incredible price.
Paje & Dongwe, South East Zanzibar
Paje has more hotels which we like to recommend than in the Northern parts. Situated on the mid-east coast of the island, Paje and Dongwe’s beaches are long and sweeping giving that classic Indian Ocean feel, but again, it can be tidal. You get some super luxury and intimate hoetls though, and as such, some of our absolute favourites are in this area for a very spoiling Indian Ocean paradise.
Paje and Dongwe Beaches – Where to stay
White Sands Villas in Paje is a real glossy luxury find. It’s name pretty much says it all – Its sumptuously vast villas provide clean, simple and yet brilliantly appointed respite, privately swathed in fab sandy gardens. Dongwe is home to Breezes – and contrastingly to White Sands, it is a bigger hotel and mid-range but ideal for families with all the mod cons you could need from a relaxed Indian Ocean family holiday.