Zanzibar is a romantic, exotic archipelago in the Indian Ocean, associated with Arabian nights and laziness. Just 15 minutes flight from the mainland, Zanzibar, surrounded by coral reefs with idyllic beaches with huge palm trees, is one of the best beach destinations in East Africa. Whether as a relaxing after safari or as an independent destination, the beaches of Zanzibar are worth a visit.
Zanzibar beaches are called paradise. Delicate white sand, clear turquoise waters, traditional Arabian dhows flowing at dawn against the sky with pastel colors. And the leaves of coconut palms gently waving in the wind …
In Zanzibar, you’ll find some of the most elegant luxury resorts in East Africa. Tourism overshadowed the spice trade as the main form of income, but the island has kept its rustic African style. Among this wide range of hotels, resorts and boarding houses, choosing where to stay is not easy. . Each region of the island offers something different.
It’s definitely worth staying a night or two in Stone Town, the island’s charismatic capital. But the real attraction for tourists are wonderful beaches with coral sand. And each of them has its own personality.
The stretch of beach from Kendwa to Nungwi falls much more rapidly into the sea, as a result of which this is the only area where you can not see the tides and where you can always swim. That is why the northern coast has undergone the largest tourism development, and the prices of hotels in the vicinity of the beach are much more expensive. In December and January (in season) the beaches are full of tourists and it is quite noisy. If you are looking for a quiet vacation, this is not the place for you.
Popular beaches are Nungwi on the northernmost tip, where you’ll find great diving spots, and Kendwa, which is famous for Full Moon Parties and evening events. Both beaches have their party and quiet parties, so everyone will find a place for themselves.
Nungwi combines tradition with modern life. Plaza Nungwi lies at the northernmost point of the island and is truly stunning. It is hailed as one of the best beaches of Zanzibar and one of the most beautiful in the world. Beautiful turquoise waters, white sand and local boats floating in the open sea. Nungwi Beach provides the most beautiful backdrop for holiday selfies. The flow at Nungwi Beach is almost imperceptible, making it one of the best swimming beaches.
Access to Nungwi beach
From Stone Town (Zanzibar’s main city), surface roads can take about 1.5 hours.
The beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa are really beautiful; they are on the only side of the island that offers crystal clear water sparkling with glistening white sands. Northern beaches are a good choice if you are looking for an idyllic beach in the Indian Ocean. Unlike other beaches on the island, the beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa have almost no drain, so they are the best beaches for swimming in Zanzibar. Remember, however, that these are places full of tourists, and hotels offer all inclusive packages and discos on the beach, which you will find in most other warm parts of the world.
Nearby Kendwa is a long stretch of sand stretching along the west coast, about a few miles south of the tip of the island of Zanzibar. No wonder this idyllic location has a number of resorts, hotels and guesthouses. Located only 3 km from the village of Nungwi, Kendwa has a beautiful beach ideal for swimming throughout the day. There are bands, restaurants and bars on the beach. You can also do other water sports, including diving. You can spend some time playing in the sand, play beach volleyball and enjoy the evenings on the beach.
Full Moon Party is an event organized on the Kendwa beach, a joyful event celebrated together by residents in an African rhythm. It is one of the best beaches in Zanzibar for swimming and watching stunning sunsets.
Access to the beach of Kendwa
Public transport or taxi is available from Stone Town.
Dalla dalla (minibus) number 116 from the dalla dalla station in Darajani. Ask the conductor to stop at the crossroads of Kendwa Rocks. Kendwa village and beach are a 15-minute walk from the intersection.
Tides are an integral part of life on the island. In the Zanzibar archipelago, the reefs protect the island, creating a rich and peaceful buffer zone around the land masses. And here you get turquoise waters, multicolored underwater creatures and tidal variance.
High tides and low tides can affect different beaches in different ways. The outflow does not affect some of the coasts of Zanzibar (north coast), while in other places the outflows change the shore into a long sandy beach for a few hours.
The entire east coast of Zanzibar is protected by coral reefs, virtually uninterrupted from north to south, creating a long shallow lagoon with wonderful colors. Thanks to the reefs, swimming is safe – without sharks and big waves. In this part of the island there are the most beautiful, the widest beaches with white sand surrounded by coconut palms slowly falling into the sea.
Tides here in the tropics can be particularly pronounced, reaching up to 4 meters in height difference between high and low tide during the equinox. The water can go back a distance of up to 1.5 km. Every 24 hours there are two maxima and two minimum minima, and the maximum peak each day and a minimum peak advance of about 30 minutes forward. If you think the waves bother you, but you still want to visit Zanzibar and you can flexibly plan your vacation, you should be on the island during the tides in the first or third quarter of the moon, when the difference between altitude and altitude is the lowest.
Those who want to enjoy the beach and swim avoid the east coast. For active tourists this is not an obstacle, you can do water sports, boat trips, snorkeling, wandering towards the coral reef, spotting sea stars and corals along the way.
In any case, most hotels and resorts on this side of Zanzibar have a swimming pool.
Note: you cannot swim in the Indian Ocean on the east, south and west coasts at low tide. The beaches on these coastlines are very flat, which is why the ocean drains at low tide to the coral reef, which is 1 to 1.5 km from the shore. During low tide you can go out towards the coral reef. Watch out for black sea urchins and other thorny things. They are clearly visible, so watch your step and wear special shoes. Don’t collect cone shells either.
You can check the ebb and flow schedule for Zanzibar.
The northeast is a great location for pristine beaches, diving and top-quality accommodation. With some of the best reefs on the island of Mnemba, just 1 km from the shore, you can find excellent diving and snorkeling spots.
is located slightly east of Nungwi and Kendwa. The village of Matemwe on the northeast coast of Zanzibar overlooks the small and exclusive island of Mnemba. It has a cooler atmosphere and tempts with dusty sands and fragments of country life. Matemwe is visited by lively fishing communities and has some of the best conditions for relaxation. This unspoiled Zanzibar beach offers very fine sand that caresses the soles of the feet. Matemwe Beach is not the best for swimming (although you can swim here), but it means that there are fewer crowds, which is a good option if you count on privacy. The tide range is very large, so the beach really gets wide at low tide … but when the tide comes, it’s really a paradise. Unlike many other beaches on the island, this area was relatively untouched by tourism and offers a paradise in the Indian Ocean at an unbelievable price.
Access to the beach of Matemwe:
The distance from Stone Town to Matemwe is about 50 km.
Public transport: Dalla number 118, from Creek Road in Stone Town.
is called “Little Italy” of Zanzibar because its long coast is occupied by Italian holiday hotels. It provides peace. If you like the idea of lazing under the palm trees sipping cocktails or snorkeling in the clear blue waters, this may be the perfect place for a vacation. Full of exclusive resorts with spa, swimming pools and private beaches. This beach on the east coast is strongly influenced by the low tide, so vacationers can wade in shallow, crystal clear waters and enjoy a refreshing cold tropical drink. It has a pristine beach perfect for swimming at high tide. However, it is recommended not to swim at low tide.
Access to Kiwengwa beach:
Kiwengwa is located 46 km from Stone Town.
Hotel transport, car rental, taxi
Public transport: number 17 in Dalla.
The east coast is much more dependent on the tides compared to the rest of the island, and also more windy. This makes it great for those who want to practice kitesurfing.
Although walking may be necessary to go swimming or diving, the beaches here are equally beautiful. During low tide, the water creates a wide band of white, then flows to the seaweed farms, and finally to the deep water channel and the barrier reef. At high tide, the waves reach the edge of the palm-covered earth.
has one of the few beaches on the east coast that has no tides because it lies in a concave break on the coast. You won’t take a beautiful photo of the beach there, but you have the luxury of maintaining privacy, which is difficult on the island. Pongwe Beach is located in a quiet bay in a quiet area – at the back of the coral lagoon. The beach is white, loose sand and turquoise water, and the surroundings are shaded by tall palm trees with deckchairs and hammocks. The beach is ideal for any swimmer, because you can swim almost all the time. It is protected by coastal reefs, thanks to which the internal water is calm and safe for swimming. There is a luxury eco-hotel in the area in case you want to spend more time relaxing and relaxing in the area. You can do various water sports, including snorkeling.
It is quiet, calm, and the inhabitants of the south-east coast are extremely friendly (truly friendly, they smile with their eyes). Here you will find approx. 20 km of white beaches with coconut palm trees, stretching from Jambiani through Paje and Bwejuu to Michamwi. The tidal range is greater here than in other regions. There is a stunning coral reef and lots of palm trees. Close to quiet villages, this is a great place if you want to do what the locals do. For example, we recommend a visit to the city of Jambiani.
In the south-eastern corner of Zanzibar is Michamwi beach, calm and sparsely populated, which makes it one of Zanzibar’s beaches ideal for swimming at high tide. It is an ideal place for a quiet holiday, where you can rest and relax, experiencing the lifestyle of the inhabitants. However, it should be remembered that swimming at low tide is not ideal in Michamwi, because there is seaweed in the water.
Paje is famous for kitesurfing. Paje Beach is one of the best beaches of Zanzibar, where you can experience exciting adventures, including sailing and kitesurfing. Many of these exciting activities take place in December and February, and then from May to October. Remember that during the season the beaches are crowded with kites and swimming in the ocean is almost impossible, if not dangerous. Kitesurfing seasons last from mid December to the end of February and from mid / end of May to October
Paje has many more interesting hotels than in the northern part. Located on the central-east coast of the island, the beaches of Paje and Dongwe are long and wide, which gives a classic atmosphere of the Indian Ocean, but they are tidal. However, here you will find super luxury and cozy hotels,
Located in the southeast corner of Zanzibar, Bwejju has a secluded beach that provides the best conditions for relaxation. Here the beach is at risk only at low tide, and for the rest of the time you can dive and swim.
Here you can observe local fishermen returning from the sailboat with a catch of the day on wooden dhow boats. Here you will meet local children playing football and women collecting seaweed. The water is great for swimming, and when the tide is low, you can do a reef safari: move to the reef without soaking your feet. This quiet and exceptionally long stretch of beach is a place where you can also practice snorkeling.
Access to Bwejju:
Bwejju Beach is 53 km from Stone Town.
Arrival by taxi or dalla dalla
Lazy Jambiani fishing village is located on the southeast coast of Zanzibar. It has a beautiful beach with kilometers of amazing white sand. The beach is ideal for snorkeling and swimming when the tide is high. The best time to swim is in the morning and evening, because the water is cooler at this time. A great way to start and end the day!
Jambiani, with its incredibly turquoise waters and white coral houses, is the perfect place to learn about local life. Here, a piece of the island-paradise mixes with the rhythm of life in the countryside. It’s a fairly lively beach. Jiambani is a great place to do the best kite surfing on the island, because there is always a good wind. However, Paje and Dongwe offer a better hotel base. As you approach south, the beaches disappear. You will find many small restaurants here. There are diving spots nearby. An interesting option is to rent a bike and travel along the coast.
Access to Jambiani Beach:
Jambiani Beach is located about 56 km from Stone Town.
Public transport: Dalla Dalla number 309 from Stone Town.
Many hotels in Jambiani provide transport to and from Stone Town.
The general rule is that the further south, the more inhabitants. Come here to immerse yourself in culture and spices. If you want to swim with a dolphin, Kizimkazi beach is a great place. Here you will find bottlenose dolphins and other amazing creatures. If you want to discover the underwater world, you can dive and snorkel. At high tides you may not see the beach, and at low tide the ocean is usually far away.
Directions to Kizimkazi is 60 km from Stone Town.
Arrival by taxi or dalla dalla number 326.
it has always been known for swimming with dolphins, which are easier to find here than anywhere else on the island. Here you can admire the pristine sections of the coral reef and meet large pelagic species such as whales, especially in August and September, and visit the sandy beach along with the beautiful , protected by white sand, the islands of Pungume and Komonda … The coast actually consists mainly of coral cliffs protruding from the sea and coral lagoon, however, the coral cliff is sometimes intermittent and where it occurs, you can find virtually private beautiful, small sandy coves, e.g. Unguja, Kizimkazi Mtendeni and Kizimkazi Dimbani. An interesting place for snorkeling along the pristine coral reef or near shoals.
The Fumba peninsula itself offers slightly more conventional beaches, but due to the proximity of the mangrove forest, the sand looks rather golden than white and is not dusty, and the bottom of the lagoon consists mainly of coral outcrops.
The west coast does not offer interesting places. Especially at the southern tip it is very rocky and there are only small patches of sand. The sand on most of the west coast is coarse green, this is not the amazing white sand Zanzibar is famous for.
ALL Zanzibar beaches are PUBLIC, according to the law they belong to the inhabitants of Zanzibar. This means that the hotel ends a few meters from the beach. You can constantly walk on endless beaches.
You can not sleep on the beach at night. Tents on the beaches or anywhere else are not allowed on the island.