Where to find the best beaches in Zanzibar

A stunning sunset in Zanzibar. Photo by Rod Waddington, flickr

A stunning sunset in Zanzibar. Photo by Rod Waddington, flickr

Zanzibar is located just off the east coast of Tanzania in Africa and is fast becoming one of the most popular exotic holiday destinations, particularly renowned for its beaches. The main industry and trade for Zanzibar used to be its spices – and spices still are an important element, but nowadays tourism is becoming just as important. The best beaches in Zanzibar attract many tourists from around the globe.

What’s great about Zanzibar is the simplicity of the place, that really accentuates the natural beauty of the beaches, without the fancy price tags. Ideally, there are two main beach areas in Zanzibar, broken up by the stunning capital, Stone Town. Both areas boast beaches as beautiful as one another, and it’s rare to see beaches to full capacity – there’s not ever really a good or bad time to visit and so therefore peak travelling is less noticeable.

Five of the best beaches in Zanzibar: Jambiani

A young boy fixes his wooden sailboat on Jambiani Beach. Photo by Revaz Ardesher, flickr

A young boy fixes his wooden sailboat on Jambiani Beach. Photo by Revaz Ardesher, flickr

Located on the east coast of Zanzibar is the small fishing village of Jambiani, where the beaches are full of white sand and stunning turquoise water. Unlike many of the beaches along the east coast, Jambiani is small in size and is more inclined to offer lodges and Inns for accommodation rather than luxury resorts; but its all part of the charm and you will still have touches of luxury.

When at the beaches of Jambiani, it’s best to remember that like many other beaches in Zanzibar, the tide goes out a long way and so the beach is washed up with a lot of beautiful shells. These shells are beautiful to look at, but can be sharp so take care when walking – and don’t take shells from the beach as they are more often than not, homes to marine life that find themselves on the shoreline.

Jambiani is a great place for small scale snorkelling as it has a variety of coloured coral, starfish and tropical fish. It’s also a good idea to go kayaking or take a trip on a wooden sailboat (dhow) to snorkel or swim further out in the crystal waters.
How to get there: Most tourists catch a taxi from Stone Town directly to their hotel or guesthouse. Otherwise, many places run their own shuttles back and forward from the city centre but make sure to book this in advance.

MORE: 20 OF THE BEST ISLAND GETAWAYS

Chwaka Bay

The Red Colobus Monkey at the Jozani-Chwaka Bay national park. Photo by kbblandi, flickr

The Red Colobus Monkey at the Jozani-Chwaka Bay national park. Photo by kbblandi, flickr

The Chwaka Bay consists on several smaller islands, and offers beaches, resorts and the closeness of the Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park. This region is not as popular as the beach of Nungwi but still offers great places to stay, dive, swim and relax – without the exclusive price tag that comes with staying in a more frequented location.

The Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park is the only national park in all of Zanzibar, and is home to a number of rare and interesting species. Keep an eye out for Kirk’s Red Colobus Monkey, as well as over 40 species of birds, butterflies and the Sykes Monkey. The national park is rich with amazing flora and fauna, and you won’t be short of interesting things to see.

Stay at the Chwaka Bay resort for a quiet and peaceful stay that’s close to the beaches and the national park. The prices are reasonable as it is located in the Village of Chwaka; the workers and owners are local, and the produce at the restaurant is fresh and locally sourced.

How to get there: Airport transfer from Stone Town directly to Chwaka Village. From there you can organise trips to the Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park.

Kendwa

A jetty over the water at Kendwa Beach. Photo by Yoni Lemer, flickr

A jetty over the water at Kendwa Beach. Photo by Yoni Lemer, flickr

Located just 3km from the bustling beaches of Nungwi is Kendwa, located on the west coast. It’s a small scale version of the tourist hub that is Nungwi, and it offers fantastic white-sand beaches and great clear water which is perfect for both swimming and snorkelling.

You can go on snorkelling trips for about $10 and there are a few bars and restaurants along the beach that you can visit, which are particularly popular during Full Moon seasons. This is a great little spot for relaxing and hanging out – and there’s even free WiFi on the beach.

The further south you head in Kendwa, the fewer people there are on the beach and the more chance you have of being alone to relax. There are also fewer buildings, so sunsets are more romantic! Why not take a stroll along the beach?

How to get there: Catch a taxi from Nungwi. It isn’t a long trip, so it’s not expensive and you can go directly to the hotel you’re staying at.

Chumbe Island

A lone crab finds solice at Chumbe Island. Photo via chumbeisland

A lone crab finds solice at Chumbe Island. Photo via chumbeisland

The Coral Park of Chumbe Island is one of the best places to go snorkelling, and for all the right reasons. It’s a protected area that is very carefully managed in terms of numbers; it’s fairly exclusive and it’s competitive so you have to book your day trip in advance if you do want to visit the spectacular water in this part of Zanzibar.

Going on a day trip is one option of seeing Chumbe Island. Another is that you can choose to stay at the Chumbe Island Coral Park Resort Lodge, which gives you full access to the beach and the reef park, which is the highlight. As with the day trips the accommodation at the resort is limited so it’s best to book in advance. Chumbe Island is perfect for couples away on honeymoon, or those who are wanting to rekindle some romance because it’s so special and isolated from most other parts of Zanzibar.

How to get there: Organise a direct transfer through the resort from Stone Town. Cabs are also available but may be more expensive.

Bwejuu

Coconut trees and white sand at Bwejuu. Photo via pbase.com

Coconut trees and white sand at Bwejuu. Photo via pbase.com

Bwejuu is a small fishing village located just north of Jambiani on the east coast of Zanzibar. Similar to Jambiani, Bwejuu is known for long stretches of white-sand coral beaches and stunning clear water. There are a few more resorts scattered around the beaches of Bwejuu, however, despite being smaller than its neighbouring village.

The great part about Bwejuu is that its location boasts several options when it comes to accommodation and things to do. The beach is littered with large coconut trees and it has a large coral reef lagoon at the water’s edge, so it’s great for swimming and snorkelling. It’s also not uncommon to see people out on wooden boats fishing or diving.

As for accommodation, the options really are dependent on your budget. If you want something authentic and cheaper, you can opt for the Palm Beach Inn. If you want more luxury you can go for Baraza Resort or The Palms Zanzibar. There’s heaps to choose from, and if you get stumped for things to do or things to see in Bwejuu, the Michamvi peninsular isn’t a long walk (or cab ride) away.

How to get there: Most of the resorts offer airport/capital city transfers that can be organised before your departure. However, there are also many taxis that operate in the area travelling to and from Stone Town.