This travel guide by Kyle Browning from Survival Footprint outlines all you need to know about the best beaches in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Zanzibar has more than 25 beautiful, white, palm fringed beaches, the sea is warm, and the atmosphere is easy.
Zanzibar lies approximately 25–50 kilometers (16–31 miles) off the coast of mainland Tanzania. The Zanzibar archipelago consists of many small islands including two big ones, Pemba Island & Unguja. The latter being referred to informally as Zanzibar.
11 Best Zanzibar Beaches
To date, this is the most comprehensive guide on the best beaches in Zanzibar – for swimming, snorkeling, kitesurfing and of course soaking up that African sun.
Paje Beach – Kitesurfers Dream
If you are into kitesurfing, then look no further because Paje Beach is the best beach of Zanzibar for you! Paje beach is located on the Southeast coast right in the middle Bwejuu and Jambiani village.
The lagoon is super popular for beginner kitesurfers as the reef protects the lagoon from waves. As if flat water wasn’t enough Paje has a consistent side-onshore wind blowing year-round.
In addition, clear, warm waters home to thousands of colorful starfish, turtles, trumpet fish and moray eels make Paje beach one of the best scuba diving destinations in Zanzibar. Right now, Paje beach is still charmingly peaceful and quiet. Many tourists prefer the busier (who knows why), more developed north beaches of Zanzibar.
Suggested Zanzibar Hotel on Paje Beach
- Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa is an eco-luxury resort. With high-end amenities and plus a high-end kitesurfing and water sports center.
- Cristal Resort – Is a more affordable resort located right on Paje Beach for less than $100 USD.
- See all Paje Beach Reviews on TripAdvisor
Nungwi Beach – Dhow Tours and Sunsets
Nungwi beach is an all-time favorite amongst adventurous backpackers and hippies. It even made TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Beaches in the World in 2018. Over the years the atmosphere has transformed from a peaceful delicate fishing village into an energetic shoreline lined with hotels, bars, hostels, and dive centers.
The beach remains a center point for Zanzibar shipbuilding, where talented shipwrights use age-old methods past down from generations to turn raggedy old timber into sea-worthy shows. Village tours can also be arranged for those interested in discovering the cultural side of Nungwi village and how the art of dhow building tradition has persisted over the years.
Where to Stay in Nungwi
- The Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort – Luxury property located on the beach with an infinity pool and swimming pools, fitness center, and spa.
- Rui Palace Zanzibar – We’ve stayed at Rui Palaces before and they are a great option for a Zanzibar all-inclusive vacation if you are looking to just relax on the beach.
- Ras Nungwi – We stayed at the Ras Nungwi which has been a popular Zanzibar Hotel for years. It is currently being renovated after a fire.
- See more Nungwi Hotels and Reviews: TripAdvisor
Jambiani Beach – Seaweed Solitude
One of the best beaches in Zanzibar for me, would be a less crowded one. Jambiani is a beach with miles and miles of fine white sand. It would take LOTS of tourists to crowd out this slice of paradise.
There are no swimming pools, no casinos, no disco, no bars and believe it or not, no electricity – except for the odd guesthouse here and there. Does this sound attractive to you? Then welcome to Jambiani beach.
Jambiani is home to quaint fishing villages. Fishing here is not for commercial gain, but rather to support the local community. With that being said, due to the nature of the reef, which lies about a mile out, wave turbulence causes lots of seaweed to wash up onto the beach at low tide.
Here you will notice locals harvesting seaweed which they then dry and sell to exporters (make sure to bring your best backpack to join in on the harvest). Most of the seaweed is exported to Japan where it is used as a nutritional product (hello sushi).
Suggested Jambiani Beach Hotel
- Red Monkey Lodge is a smallish beach lodge that combines chilled out backpacker vibes with 14 lovely rooms. The Monday jam sessions are Jambiani’s biggest party – If you prefer peace and quiet don’t arrive on Monday. $120/per night – Double Room.
- Check AirBnB for more accommodation on Jambiani Beach
- This is an affordable area to stay on Zanzibar, check out more hotels on TripAdvisor
Kiwengwa Beach – Little Italy
Kiwengwa beach is also referred to as Little Italy because many Italian hotels line the beachfront. The tide has a major influence on this beach. During low tide, Kiwengwa beach is the best for long walks. The soft white sand – feels like talcum powder. You can walk for miles and miles and be completely absorbed into your own world.
Do bear in mind that sea urchins tend to wash up here, so keep an eye out when walking with no shoes. If you are into snorkeling, take a boat out to the reef, you will find beautiful sea stars there.
Suggested Kiwengwa Beach Hotels
- Melia Zanzibar – gorgeous high end resort with five star ammenities.
- Kiwengwa Bungalow Boutique Resort – Quiet boutique bungalows with private beach. An upscale affordable option.
- See more Zanzibar Hotel Reviews on TripAdvisor
Matemwe Beach – Relaxation & Local Culture
If you are looking to kick back and relax, then I’d have to say that Matemwe is one of the best beaches in Zanzibar. If you are looking for lots of entertainment and activities, then perhaps another beach would be better for you because Matemwe is the best beach to relax with a book in one hand and a drink in the other.
A quick heads up to all the water enthusiasts: depending on the season, it can be a bit difficult to swim at this beach. Low tide affects this beach a bit more than the rest of the island.
When the tide is so far out, a barrage of seaweed and sea urchins stand between you and the ocean, this can be quite a mission to walk through. I’d recommend popping on some shoes and powering through, but make sure not to destroy the ecosystem whilst you are at it. Who knows what keystone species rely on those sea urchins.
If you are looking for activities, I’d recommend going to Mnemba island on a snorkeling trip, or to Prison Island to see the Giant tortoises. Those looking to stay on mainland can learn all about spices and where they came from on a spice tour.
Recommended Beach Hotel in Matemwe
- Matemwe Lodge – is an upscale lodge, overlooking coral lagoon and Mnemba island. It’s a good option for those looking to scuba dive.
- Hodi Hodi Zanzibar Beach Houses – comprises three boutique beach villas under incredibly long and tall palms, with original Zanzibari doors and architecture. Make sure you try out the three-course dinner. $220/per night – Double Room
- See more Matemwe Hotels TripAdvisor
Pingwe Beach – One of a kind restaurant
Pingwe beach is an incredibly beautiful little piece of paradise situated far from the main tourist hotspots. The lack of amenities means most holidaymakers prefer other beaches. So again, if you prefer quiet calm beaches then Pingwe beach is best for you.
If you are keen on a bit more action, Pingwe beach is also perfect for kitesurfing and snorkeling. One place worth a special mention is The Rock restaurant, for its unique setting if nothing else.
Where to Stay in Pingwe Beach
- Built atop a small coral outcrop about 30m offshore, they serve fresh seafood at lunchtime every day. Depending on the tide, you may have to catch a boat back or swim?
- Baladin Zanzibar Beach Hotel – An upscale boutique hotel with infinity pool, yoga classes and spa.
- Check out TripAdvisor and Booking for reviews.
Bwejuu Beach – Mangrove Forest Safari
If you are looking for one of the best beaches in Zanzibar, Bwejuu is your beach. Bwejuu beach is located on Southeast side of Zanzibar. The beach is lined with dreamlike palm trees (a staple here in Zanzibar) and is only 30 minutes away from Stone Town.
One of the quietest parts of Zanzibar, those seeking peace and relaxation will find this beach perfect. There are also loads of activities to do around the beach. For one you could visit the mangrove forest via a dhow boat trip, or you could check out the local village of Bwejuu. If you are looking to get wet, then perhaps a reef safari interests you.
We recommend a day trip to the Jozani Forest here you could spot Zanzibar Sykes’ monkeys, bush babies or duikers. The Jozani forest reserve is the only place in Africa to spot the red colobus monkeys, and it’s a must-visit during your holiday on the island.
Suggested Beach Resorts on Bwejuu Beach
- Baraza Resort and Spa – Upscale all-inclusive resort with full amenities and VIP room facilities.
- Mustapha’s Place – is a hippie oasis of bougainvillea and frangipani in Bwejuu. All the rooms are unique and made from local materials. $55/ per night – Double Room – View Place
Kizimkazi Mtendeni – Dolphin Sightings
The beaches on this part of Zanzibar take a different form from the classic palm-backed coastline of the east coast. Here, the beaches take the form of small coves rather than vast expanses of snow-white sand. You are more likely to experience authentic Zanzibar here with much less accommodation options in the area.
One activity Kizimkazi Beach is popular for is its dolphin safaris. However, we ask you to be mindful of joining one of these tours. Dolphin safaris are a great way for local people to earn an income and it also prevents dolphin hunting (which used to occur here).
Check out this Ethical Dolphin Tour offered by African Impact Dolphin & Marine Conversation Project. However, there are no regulations that control dolphin tourism in Zanzibar. This attracts unexperienced boat drivers who literally chase the animals at high speed, often cornering them and threatening them with the boat’s propellers (unintentionally).
If you want to enjoy the dolphins at Kizimkazi beach, we recommend that you bring a pair of binoculars and watch them from a distance. Do not promote unethical tourism.
- The Residence Zanzibar – a five-star luxury forested escape. See reviews and availability at TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Pongwe Beach – Swimming & Snorkeling
Arguably one of the best beaches in Zanzibar for swimming! Pongwe’s quiet beach has the classic palm tree decoration which is backed by dense vegetation. Make sure to bring your hammock!
An offshore reef protects the whole of Pongwe beach, the effect is calm crystal clear water, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
- The Island Pongwe Lodge – Built on a natural coral rock, this luxury retreat is a one of a kind destination.
- Seasons Lodge Zanzibar – An affordable option with pool, massage and breakfast included.
Dongwe Beach – Dhow Anchorage
A tidal beach that has a much longer period of low tide coming in and high tide going out than most beaches in Zanzibar. One thing to bear in mind is there are quite a lot of fisherman that have their dhows anchored on this beach. So; if you plan on swimming for the day, we would rather recommend Pongwe beach.
If you are interested in the life of a fisherman and their traditional boats, then I’d say this is the best beach for you.
Where to Stay
- Xanadu Luxury Villas – Ultra-luxury all-inclusive experience in one of only 7 villas complete with a private butler and private plunge pools.
- Sands Beach Resort – More affordable yet chic hotel with pool and spa, 10 minutes from the beach.
Kendwa Beach – Full Moon Parties
Kendwa beach is often referred to as the little sister of Nungwi beach, a much quieter get away than its sibling in the north. This is one beach in Zanzibar where the tide doesn’t really change, this means you can enjoy the crystal clear waters pretty much the entire day!
If you walk slightly out to shore, you will find beautiful starfish relaxing in the turquoise waters. Make sure not to disturb these creatures, that means no touching, and please for the love of animals do not pick them up. One thing you definitely can pick up is a beer whilst you watch the sunset, on Kendwa beach the sunsets are legendary.
Kendwa beach tends to pump up the volume each full moon with a lively beach party that attracts tourists from all around the island. If you are looking for a peaceful sunset, don’t arrive on full moon.
Zanzibar Beach Hotels on Kendwa
Rui Palace Zanzibar – We’ve stayed at Rui Palaces before and they are a great option for a Zanzibar all-inclusive vacation if you are looking to just relax on the beach.
Best Time to Visit Zanzibar & Its Beaches
Zanzibar is hot year-round being located near the equator. While differences in temperatures remain quite constant, the average rainfall varies depending on the season.
June to October is the dry season and is a great time to visit Zanzibar and expect consistent weather. But this is also the high season so expect higher prices at hotels and accommodation.
Late November and December is considered a season with light rains but is a good time to visit. It is the hotter months of the year. So you’ll want to ge tin the water. Expect prices to rise over Christmas and New Years.
January to Early March – is a good window of weather. We visited in March and had hot, dry days our entire stay. But it can start to turn into the rainy season by mid-march.
Late March to May is the rainy season. Since this isn’t the high season, you will probably be able to find some good deals for this time of year.
Best Eco-Friendly Places to Stay in Zanzibar
Chumbe Island offers beautifully designed eco-bungalows equipped with rainwater filtration systems and eco-friendly compost toilets.
The profits gained from these seven bungalows fund two of its projects (including 40 educational trips a year for young school kids). Price per night includes all meals, boat transfers, and all activities. $588/per night – Double Room. View Reviews and availability on TripAdvisor
For more information on Responsible Tourism in Zanzibar, visit RTTZ.org
Local Language in Zanzibar
- There are 3 official languages spoken in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is an island paradise and to visit its beautiful beaches is a vacation you’ll never forget. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to book a trip to Africa now!
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