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 on the island 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 with each being unique and mesmerizing in their own way. So before you go looking for the best beach on Zanzibar just remember that there really is no bad beach on Zanzibar.
The Best Beaches in Zanzibar
Kendwa Beach, Zanzibar
About 3km away from Nungwi is Kendwa Beach. 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 on the Saturday closest to the full moon. 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 catch beautiful sunsets. There is also a village nearby that you can catch a glimpse into Zanzibari life.
My favorite 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 nices places, 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 own private butler so all are waited on hand and foot. If you are on a dream vacation or honeymoon and can afford Kilindi then a stay here is a must. 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 with beauty brings annoyance. Teens and touts scour these Zanzibar beaches with hopes to annoy 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 is to visit the aquarium or take a sunset dhow ride.
My favorite Zanzibar beach resort place to stay in Nungwi? Essque Zalu Zanzibar Resort. This is a grand mega resort on Zanzibar where bigger means better. From the pool to the reception, to even the jetty all is grand here. Essque Zalu is a great value and an affordable option to stay at on the island. It has has a fantastic fitness center, which you want to use after indulging in all the seafood!
Paje Beach, Zanzibar
Paje is the backpacker spot on Zanzibar. A cool 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 get catch some wind on this beautiful Zanzibar beach! Beginners can choose any number kitesurfing schools in Paje. Besides the kitesurfing, Paje is a great 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 all close to Paje. My recommendation to get around here is to rent a scooter for $25 a day and take to the Zanzibari streets.
My favorite place to stay in Paje? Hakuna Majiwe Beach Resort. This is a quaint beach resort that 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 truly 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 for you. The beach surrounding Stone Town may not be the best beach in Zanzibar; however, if you have a few days on the island then Stone Town is a must. 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 take part in swimming, football games, and gymnastic show downs. 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 more of a local feeling on Zanzibar rather than being hidden away in a tourist point. To make things better the Park Hyatt Zanzibar, located right on the beach is one of the best hotels on the island.
My favorite 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 extremely comfortable room complete with the fastest internet we found on the island. If you are in need of 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 on all of Zanzibar. 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!
My favorite 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 paddle boards, 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 we spent 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. The highest tides in Zanzibar can also be found here making it one of the best areas for swimming on the island.
My favorite Zanzibar beach resort in Kizimkaze? The Residence Zanzibar. 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.
Good things to know when traveling around Zanzibar and enjoying the 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.
- The only ATM’s are 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.
What to Pack for Zanzibar
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Tanzania so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere. Bottles like the Grayl are great for purifying unsafe water!
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Zanzibar. Our favorite pocket-sized point and shoot camera for quick trips are the Sony RX100V. It takes fantastic photos and video and is the size of your palm.
For more professional photographs we use our Fuji XT-3, and LOVE IT.
A cover-up is one of those beach vacation clothes you should always travel within your luggage. When packing for a day at the beach, make sure you don’t forget one. Not only do they look cute, but they will also protect you from the suns harsh rays.
Many establishments don’t allow beachgoers to wear just a swimsuit, so this is where the cover-up is essential. Most of my cover-ups come from Pitusa.
We both have rain jackets made by Arc’teryx. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof. Any rain jacket will do, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather. If you’re looking for a more affordable jacket we’re big fans of Columbia’s outdoor wear for a good value.
If you’re wondering what travel necessities to bring to Tanzania then good walking shoes should be your top concern.
No matter what you will need a beach bag when heading to the beach. This is to throw in anything like towels, a book, a speaker, sunglasses, snacks, and sunscreen. As full-time travelers, we often use our daypacks for trips to the beach since a tote is unnecessary.
However, a classic tote that everyone has in their closet is a great option for those on short trips or live close to the beach. They also travel well as they can fold flat and lie in your luggage. For family beach goers I recommend a large yet durable beach tote like this one.
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Zanzibar. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.
We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.
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