ZANZIBAR BEACH HOLIDAYS - The best beaches in Zanzibar
Are you dreaming about perfect white sands, clear turquoise waters and sipping coconut juice under a palm tree? Then Zanzibar is the place for you! But before you can start packing your favorite bikini and picking out summer dresses, you have one difficult task to fulfill – making a choice between all those picture perfect beaches. The list is long, but the good news is, you can’t really go wrong no matter which one you pick. Get ready to start planning your Zanzibar beach holiday!
THE BEST BEACHES IN ZANZIBAR
Whether you want to just lay down and relax, dive, snorkel or swim with dolphins, Zanzibar has something for everyone. Either as a stand-alone destination, or an extension to a trip on the mainland, because let’s be honest, the best Tanzania beaches are without a doubt in Zanzibar. Keep reading to find out which beach on Zanzibar is best FOR YOU!
Zanzibar beaches – map. Click on each marker to see the name of the beach.
NORTH AND NORTH-WEST COAST
The main advantage of the beaches on the north and north-west side of the island is their small tidal range. It’s perfectly possible to swim at low tide and algae deposits – a result of tidal changes – are limited, which makes these beaches the top beaches in Zanzibar for swimming. Diving and snorkeling trips are available everywhere, and usually take you to the island of Mnemba, on the north-east side of the island, where you can find the most beautiful reefs.
PERFECT FOR: swimming, relaxing, nights out and parties, diving, snorkeling.
Nungwi beach Zanzibar
Located at the most northern point of the island, about 1 hour from Stone Town, Nungwi is one of the main tourist areas. Its beaches aren’t completely picture perfect, but they come close, and the vibe they’ve managed to keep in spite of their popularity largely makes up for it. The laid-back atmosphere of the whole area only adds to the charm and makes this the perfect place for those who want to leave their hotel from time to time for some dinner, a few drinks or a party.
At high tide, most of the beach disappears, but as long as you move your chair in time, this isn’t really an issue.
Kendwa beach Zanzibar
Probably the only beach on the west coast worth mentioning, Kendwa is nothing less than stunning. The tide has almost no influence here, and it looks incredibly clean. This possibly makes Kendwa the best swimming beach in Zanzibar, and perfect for relaxing and sunbathing all day long. Kendwa is also the place to be if you want a good party, like the full moon parties at Kendwa Rocks.
The only downside is that not that many hotels are located in this area, and most come with a price tag. But Kendwa is located only a few miles from Nungwi, so it’s perfect for a day trip – or a night out. Take a taxi or a tuk tuk, or just walk along the beach, it’s a lovely stroll.
The beaches on the east side are all subject to big tide variations, generally causing the water to draw back quite a lot every 6 hours. In the warmest months, from around November to March, algae deposits linked to these tides can become quite important. However, at high tide the beaches are breathtaking, and the water turns into the bluest blue.
This is the place to be for lovers of wind sports, as these beaches are more windy than the ones on the other side of the island. With the exception of the upper north part, they’re less ideal for diving, but there’s some really nice snorkeling in the southern part, around Bwejuu and Paje.
PERFECT FOR: swimming (at high tide), relaxing, wind sports, snorkeling (in the south), laid-back vibes and nights out (in the south).
Matemwe beach Zanzibar
Matemwe is the most northern of the beaches on the east coast, and tourism here has only started increasing recently. Tidal differences are less important than in the southern part of the east coast. The beach looks out to Mnemba island, and is the perfect starting point for a Mnemba island day trip. You’ll be less likely to be disturbed a lot by sellers and beach boys, although there will always be a few, no matter where you go.
Pongwe beach Zanzibar
Located south of Matwemwe, Pongwe’s as easy to get to as the other beaches, but with a much more remote feel to it. The lack of any town nearby might be an advantage or a turnoff, according to your wishes. If you want to go snorkeling, you’ll have to drive at least an hour to get to the nearest place where you can do so.
Nevertheless the views are jaw dropping, and Pongwe might just be the best beach area in Zanzibar.
Michamwi peninsula Zanzibar
If you want to get away from humanity for a little while, Michamwi might just be the place for you. Either stay in one of the few hotels or make it a day trip from a nearby village like Bjewuu or Paje.
Dongwe beach and Bwejuu beach Zanzibar
The part south of Dongwe is home to some of the most popular beaches on the island, with accommodation options for all tastes and budgets. This area is slightly less impacted by low tide than the others on the east coast and good snorkeling is possible at the nearby ‘Blue Lagoon’. If you’re looking for a slightly quieter option, head to Dongwe or Bwejuu, otherwise pick Paje or Jambiani a little bit more south.
Jambiani and Paje beach Zanzibar
With lots of restaurants and bars on the beach, Paje and Jambiani are a little bit like the Nungwi of south-eastern Zanzibar. Although not good for swimming at low-tide, it’s perfect for kitesurfing and other wind sports, and walking along the beach for miles in the evening is also an option. Jambiani is slightly more lively than Paje, and perfect for watching local kids play on the beach, or seeing seaweed farmers at work. Snorkeling trips to the ‘Blue Lagoon’ are also possible from here, as well as trips that go further south to Kizimkazi.
For many visitors Makunduchi and Kizimkazi beach are the destination of a diving trip or a day tour rather than a place to actually stay for a few days. The area is not very touristy and has the worst tides of the island. During high tide, the beach completely disappears, and during low tide, the ocean seems miles away.
But there’s dolphins, and great snorkeling and diving! And if you do decide to stay here, you can be pretty sure you’ll get some perfect me-time.
PERFECT FOR: spotting dolphins, me-time, diving, snorkeling.