Want to know what the best beaches in Zanzibar are? We spent three weeks beach hopping, drinking coconuts, sunbathing, and searching for the perfect Zanzibar beaches. Surrounded by soft white sand, a compelling atmosphere, and crystal clear water, there is no shortage of ideal beaches on this Tanzanian island.
Some of the great Zanzibar beaches include Paje, Kendwa, Nungwi, Kizimkaze, Pongwe, and Stone Town, each unique and mesmerizing in their own way.
So before you go looking for the best beach in Zanzibar, remember that there really is no bad beach on Zanzibar.
The Best Zanzibar Beaches
Kendwa Beach, Zanzibar
About 3km away from Nungwi is Kendwa Beach, one of the best beaches in Zanzibar. Kendwa beach is best known for its full moon parties at Kendwa Rocks, making it one of the best Zanzibar beaches for young people.
The full moon party is a drunken occasion, usually closest to the full moon on a Saturday. If you’re not into partying, don’t worry! The beach still boasts bright blue and turquoise colors with white sand beaches making it a solid contender for the best beach on Zanzibar.
While you may not be able to catch the sunrises here, you will certainly be able to capture beautiful sunsets. There is also a village nearby where you can see a glimpse into Zanzibari life.
The Best Zanzibar Beach Resort near Kendwa?
Elewana’s Kilindi Resort. We stayed two wonderful nights at Kilindi, and I have to say it is one of the nicest, most luxurious, and most expensive places to stay in all of Tanzania. The whole Zanzibar resort is influenced by Swedish and Zanzibari architecture.
There are only 13 pavilions meaning the resort is secluded and romantic. Each pavilion comes with its private butler, so all are waited on hand and foot. If you are on a dream vacation or honeymoon and can afford Kilindi, staying here is necessary. In my opinion, this is the best area to stay in Zanzibar. You can read our full review here.
Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar
One of the best beaches in northern Zanzibar is Nungwi Beach. Nungwi is absolutely beautiful, but beauty brings annoyance. Teens and touts scour these Zanzibar beaches with hopes of annoying tourists enough to buy their trinkets and tours.
It took us 1.5 hours to get to Nungwi from Stone Town, which in a cab may cost as much as $60. Popular things to do in Nungwi are to visit the aquarium or take a sunset dhow ride.
The Best Zanzibar Beach Resort to Stay in Nungwi?
Essque Zalu Zanzibar Resort. This is a grand mega-resort on Zanzibar where bigger means better. All is grand here from the pool to the reception to even the jetty. Essque Zalu is a great value and an affordable option to stay at on the island. It has a great fitness center, which you want to use after indulging in all the seafood!
Paje Beach, Zanzibar
Paje is the backpacker spot on Zanzibar. Paje is the most laid back with a “younger” crowd out of all the Zanzibar beaches on this list. A relaxed coffee shop, bars, cheap hostels, and tasty food can all be found in Paje, making it one of the best areas to stay in Zanzibar. However, Paje is best known for its kitesurfing. Kiteboarders and beginners flock here to catch the wind on this beautiful Zanzibar beach!
Beginners can choose any number of kitesurfing schools in Paje. Besides kitesurfing, Paje is an excellent spot for laid-back vacationers who want to experience soft sand and bright blue water.
The women’s seaweed center, Jozani Forest, and the famous Rock restaurant are close to Paje. My recommendation to get around here is to rent a scooter for $25 a day and take to the Zanzibari streets.
The Best Place to Stay in Paje Beach?
Hakuna Majiwe Beach Resort. This quaint beach resort is one of the more affordable options on this list. Hakuna Majiwe is located right on the beach and only steps away from the ocean.
It’s not lavish and much more basic than others, but with that, it has charm and a feeling that you are genuinely stranded away on an African beach. It’s was one of my favorite Zanzibar beach resorts!
Stone Town Beach, Zanzibar
If you’re looking to be close to shops and restaurants, then Stone Town is the best area to stay in Zanzibar. The beach surrounding Stone Town may not be the best in Zanzibar; however, Stone Town is a must if you have a few days on the island.
The beach in Stone Town is the liveliest for locals on the island, and some may argue it’s one of the best swimming beaches in Zanzibar. On weekends expect the crowds to swell and the Zanzibari people to participate in swimming, football games, and gymnastic showdowns. This beach is also a great spot to watch the dhows sail off into the setting sun.
Stone Town also has a lot to offer, with restaurants, shops, and historical sites. Even though the beach isn’t the most relaxing or prettiest of the bunch, it is a great place to get a local feeling on Zanzibar rather than being hidden away in a resort. To make things better, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar, located right on the beach is one of the best hotels on the island.
The Best Place to Stay in Stone Town?
The Park Hyatt Zanzibar. The Park Hyatt Zanzibar falls in line with the signature Park Hyatt brand. Luxury and elegant with all the amenities you need on vacation.
This Zanzibar beach resort had a pool overlooking the ocean, a delicious breakfast, and an incredibly comfortable room complete with the fastest internet we found on the island. If you require getting work done or doing business travel, you won’t be disappointed by the Park Hyatt Zanzibar.
Pongwe Beach, Zanzibar
Pongwe beach is perhaps my favorite of all the Zanzibar beaches. The water is the perfect temperature. It is also a delightful array of blues, greens, and turquoise, and the area is relatively quiet on the eastern side of the island. We spent a few days here away from the crowds and soaking in the sun in complete relaxation and tranquility.
There aren’t many people to bother you here as it is one of the lesser known beaches on the island. With that tranquility also comes the problem of food and locals towns around the area – there aren’t many. So you’ll likely be reliant on your Zanzibar hotel for food and entertainment once you arrive. Unless you rent a moped to get around the island!
The Best Zanzibar Beach Hotel in Pongwe?
Tulia Unique Zanzibar Beach Resort. This is a great beach resort for couples and families alike. There is a swim-up bar with all-inclusive delicious cocktails and food service. While you’re munging away on french fries and mojitos the kiddies can go play on the waterslides.
The whole resort overlooks the beautiful Pongwe beach. They have kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and snorkeling gear for you when you decide to brave the ocean.
Kizimkaze Beach, Zanzibar
Kizimkaze is a small fishing village on the southern part of the island. The big thing to do around here is a dolphin tour. However, they are controversial and unethical due to the mass tourism inflicted on the dolphins, and I wouldn’t recommend them.
Instead of doing an unethical dolphin tour here, spend a few days chilling out on the quiet beaches. There are a few small places to eat in the town, but out of all the Zanzibar beaches on this list Kizimkaze is probably the least frequented, mainly because there isn’t much around, and most people that venture to this area are staying at one of the nearby resorts.
The highest tides in Zanzibar can also be found here, making it one of the best areas for swimming on the island.
The Best Zanzibar Beach Resort in Kizimkaze?
The Residence Zanzibar is a grand resort with the most beautiful and clean pool I have ever seen. And that’s just the main pool! Every single villa here has a private pool along with a living quarter, bedroom, and outdoor shower.
Jambiani Beach is located near Paje beach on the Southeast part of Zanzibar. If you visit during high tide, you’ll be able o take a swim in the clear blue water. Emerge and lay on the soft white sand with coconut trees surrounding you.
During low tide, take a walkout and enjoy the horizon. Jambiani is far away from the tourist crowds, but still has many conveniences like restaurants to eat at and a few places to stay! Don’t miss Fadhil Restaurant, which serves up excellent seafood on the village’s southern end.
The Best Zanzibar Beach Resort in Jambiani?
Mamamapambo Boutique Hotel is built directly on the beach and is surrounded by lush vegetation. They have excellent reviews and provide outstanding service to guests.
Matemwe Beach is located on the northeast of Zanzibar and is technically the longest beach in Zanzibar. It is lined with idyllic palm trees and has some of the finest softest sand on the island. Heading here isn’t just about the beach though. You’ll see traditional fishing villages, which will give you an insight into local Zanzibari life.
One of the best things to do here is book a tour to Mnemba Island for some snorkeling or scuba diving. This area is pristine and provides some of the best access to the surrounding reefs.
The Best Zanzibar Beach Resort near Matemwe Beach?
andBeyond Mnemba Island is the most exclusive resort in the area and is located on Mnemba Island. It hosts world-famous celebrities and is certainly a dream worthy place to stay. If you are looking to splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, consider booking a stay here.
This is another beautiful white sand Zanzibar beach on the southeast part of the island. It’s a relatively secluded and quiet beach, so if you want to dip away from the crowds, this is probably the place for you.
Just because it’s private doesn’t mean it lacks fun activities. You can take a dhow trip from the beach, or visit the local Bwejuu forest.
It’s 1.5 hours away from Stone Town, so perhaps not the best beach for a day trip but rather to stay at one of the unique beach resorts in the area. Our favorite is The Palms.
The Best Zanzibar Beach Resort near Bwejuu Beach?
The Palms is a member of The Zanzibar Collection, a unique collection of upscale resorts on the island. The Palms itself has been rated as one of the world’s most romantic all-inclusive resorts, by Travel + Leisure.
The Best Zanzibar Beaches Map
Things to know when traveling around Zanzibar beaches
- The main way to get around is a taxi. Although this is also the most expensive option as most taxi drivers will be stationed in Stone Town and have to make way to and from there. It is not custom to tip your taxi driver in Tanzania, but is a always a nice gesture.
- The other option is to take local buses, or “dalla dallas.” Although they will be difficult to coordinate as tourist and you may waste a lot of your precious time trying to navigate them.
- Most ATMs are located in Stone Town. Make sure you have enough cash to get you through your trip or you may be making a trip back to the capital.
- The ferry to Zanzibar can book up very quickly. We got stuck in Dar Es Salaam an extra night because we didn’t book our ferry tickets well enough in advance.
- Zanzibar is a predominately Muslim island, so take note of that when choosing your wardrobe. Bikinis and coverups are okay at your resort or hotel, but cover up your skin when walking around towns and villages.
When is the Best Season to Travel Zanzibar?
High season on the Zanzibar beaches (June to October)
As mentioned, June is officially the dry season meaning your chance of a sunny day is exceptionally high. In general, this is the busiest time to visit Zanzibar, and accommodation prices will be at their highest. However, you are almost guaranteed sunny days. Most would say this is the best time to travel to Zanzibar.
Shoulder Season on the Zanzibar beaches (November to March)
Tourism is lower during this time, but sunny days are likely, and temperatures are still good. It’s technically the shoulder season, meaning you can likely score a deal before high season starts. (Just watch out for holiday pricing around Christmas and New Years).
Low Season on the Zanzibar beaches (April to May)
This is when the rains hit Unguja island. Tropical downpours and flooding are typical during these months and because of this many hotels will shut their door. You’ll likely still have sunny weather, but I would expect to get wet during these months. In general, it’s not the best time to visit Zanzibar.
Book A Safari in Tanzania
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They made suggestions for camps and lodges then presented you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way you can select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. With experts on staff, they can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details much like a travel agent.
Another great option is Safari Bookings. Safari Bookings offer safaris all around Africa in every price range!
Zanzibar Travel Resources
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Bathing Suit: You’ll need a bathing suit for all these beaches. My favorite suits are made by Andies Swim.
- Sandals: Rainbow Sandals last forever and are great for the beach.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-3 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.