Discover the best beaches in Zanzibar
Zanzibar lies approximately 25–50 kilometres (16–31 miles) off the coast of mainland Tanzania. Zanzibar consists of many small islands including two big ones, Pemba Island & Unguja. The latter being referred to informally as Zanzibar.
Zanzibar has more than 25 beautiful, white, palm fringed beaches, the sea is warm and the atmosphere is easy.
To date, this is the most comprehensive guide on the best beaches in Zanzibar – for swimming, snorkelling, kitesurfing and of course soaking up that African sun.
11 Best Beaches in Zanzibar
Paje Beach – Kitesurfers Dream
If you are into kitesurfing, then look no further this 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 a on 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.
Nungwi Beach – Dhow Tours and Sunsets
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 ship building, where talented shipwrights use age old methods past down from generations to turn raggedy old timber into sea-worthy dhows.
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.
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 disco, no bars and believe it or not, no electricity – except by the odd here and there guesthouse. 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 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 the seaweed which they then dry and sell to exporters. Most of the seaweed is exported to Japan where it is used as a nutritional product (hellooo sushi).
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 bare 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.
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. 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 abit 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 know 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.
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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 abit 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. Built atop a small coral outcrop about 30m offshore, they serve fresh seafood at lunchtime everyday. Depending on the tide, you may have to catch a boat back or swim 😉
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.
Kizimkazi Mtendeni – Dolphin Spottings
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).
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.
Pongwe Beach – Swimming & Snorkelling
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.
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.
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. 😉
Best Time to Visit Zanzibar & Its Beaches
Best Eco-Friendly Places to Stay in Zanzibar
Mustapha’s Place is a hippie oasis of bougainvillea and frangipani in Bwejuu. All the rooms are unique and made from local materials.
/ per night
- Double Room
Hodi Hodi 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.
- Double Room
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.
- Double Room
Chumbe Island offers beautifully designed eco-bungalows equipped with a 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.
- Double Room
Local Language in Zanzibar
There are 3 official languages spoken in Zanzibar.
Weather Data for Zanzibar City
|Average high °C (°F)||33.4|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||28.5|
|Average low °C (°F)||23.6|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||69|
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Kyle was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. In his spare time he kitesurfs with whales, gets attacked by jellyfish, SUP’s with great white sharks and rescues seals. He is not a best selling author like every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there but loves to write nevertheless. Especially about climate science and animals.