Mini Guide to Beaches in Zanzibar
We’ve all seen the pictures of the white sands and the palm trees against the backdrop of the turquoise blue sea of the Indian Ocean. Like the picture above, many of these are taken on the Island of Zanzibar and given that a friend of ours, Eleni from Greece, asked “Which are the best beaches in Zanzibar”, we thought that we would put together a short guide to the beaches for you.
The question is, which are the best beaches, what are their pros and cons and what resorts are on the beaches. Accommodation does vary greatly around the island and you have a huge range of options from 5 Star resorts to lodges to hostels. So we are going to try to give you some insight into this with a clockwise trip around Zanzibar starting in the far north and also give you a few suggestions on different resorts.
Photo Credit: hobbs_luton
The northern part of the island is Nungwi and the beaches here are awesome, azure waters meet white sands. The only downside is that many of the hotels lose their beaches at high tide because the waters are so shallow. Hey, you want “azure” then you need shallow sandy bottom waters.
However, you also have the village community at Nungwi to explore and this is a great place to go if you like to get out of the hotel for a drink or two.
Photo Credit: Olivier Lejade
Matemwe village, on the north eastern coast of Zanzibar, looks out to the small and exclusive island of Mnemba. Unlike many of the other beaches on the island it has stayed relatively untouched by tourism until recently.
As with many of the beaches on the east coast of Zanzibar the tidal range is very large and so the beach really becomes very large at low tide. However while the tide is in it truly is like paradise.
Photo Credit: David Clay
South of Matemwe we find Pongwe beach. Again, at low tide it forms a wide band of white that runs out to the seaweed farms and, finally, to the deep water channel and the barrier reef. At high tide, the waves come right up to the edge of the palm covered land that spreads back to the main road.
There are a good selection of hotels and lodges along this strip of beach but it’s not too overcrowded as with some of the other areas. With probably the best beach on the island at Pongwe this is one of our favourite areas on the island.
A nice beach hotel in Pongwe is: Pongwe Beach Hotel (10 out of 10 for originality on the name)
Paje to Jambiani
Photo Credit: Konstantin Zamkov
Moving further south on the East Coast there is the small town of Paje which is one of the most popular beaches on the island.
Between Paje and further south, Jambiani, the range of hotels and lodges is probably the most extensive in Zanzibar. They enjoy a great beach pretty much throughout the day so you really are spoilt for choice.
If you are into kitesurfing then this is probably the place for you with a couple of kitesurfing schools and some good nightlife options
Here the beach is only compromised at low, low tide, the rest of the time it is possible to snorkel and swim as you like.
Photo Credit: Javier Torre
The southern part of Zanzibar is not as developed as the North and East and is not renowned for its beach coastline. One upside, if you are into diving and snorkelling then this could be the spot for you.
There are, however, quite a few benefits to coming down here. The first is that the beaches, when they are accessible, are totally your own. The second is that, with fewer people heading down here, you can have utter seclusion. The last is that, of all the beaches, this is the easiest and quickest to get to (excluding Fumba!).
Central West Coast
The beaches on the Western side of the Island are not that plentiful which is why you find fewer resorts on this side. However, there is usually a Yin to every Yang so GOLFERS, we strongly recommend that you check out the Sea Cliff Resort (pictured above) which has excellent facilities and hosts an 18 hole golf course and driving range, I’m sure they have a 19th hole somewhere as well.
It’s about 20km north of Stone Town so also gives you the option for day excursions into the main town on Zanzibar.
Kendwa Beach – North West
Photo Credit: TravelingOtter
Completing our circuit of the island we arrive back up in the north west at Kendwa which is pretty much right next door to Nungwi. As mentioned before, there are relatively few beaches that are worth locating on the west side but Kendwa is the one exception. Looking out towards the island of Tumbatu, the beach here is one of white sand dropping off into the blue ocean. The beach here is good at all times of the day and is not affected by the tides like the east side of the island.
Suggested beach hotel in Kendwa: Kilindi