Zanzibar’s beaches all come with the idyllic trimmings you would expect from a tropical destination. Powder white sand, azure waters and swaying palm trees. While they’re all perfect for catching some rays and appreciating the undeniable beauty of the island, some are more useful for particular activities then others. We take a look at the best beaches of Zanzibar.
Best for active adventures – Paje
The eastern beach of Paje attracts adrenaline seekers from all over the world. With flat lagoon water, steady, occasionally blustery, winds and a quiet beach to practice on before heading out, it has the optimal conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Paje beach has both challenging waves for experts and two more sheltered lagoons ideal for beginners. There are three schools to choose from, all with certified teachers and the latest equipment. With its selection of coffee bars, budget hostels and restaurants serving cheap yet delicious food, it’s also a favourite with backpackers.
Another interesting quality of the beach is its low tide. When the sea retreats, it leaves behind a shore of silver sand dotted with shellfish and fishing boats. It’s a striking sight, however means it’s not the best choice for swimming.
Best for scuba diving – Matemwe
Along the east of Zanzibar is Matemwe beach, fringed with coconut palm trees and overlooking a shallow coral-fringed lagoon. Just off the coast of Matemwe is the world-famous Mnemba Atoll which offers some of Africa’s best scuba diving.
Exploring this conservation area feels as if you’re swimming through a giant aquarium. The coral reef is a kaleidoscope of colour. It attracts a wealth of marine life including many types of reef fish, turtles and dolphins. There are a selection of dive schools and centres, whether you need to become a PADI diver, renew your qualification or simply hire some equipment.
If the scuba experience isn’t your style, don’t let that hold you back. Grab a snorkel to spot the marine life that stays close to the coast. Or hire a guide and paddle to the top of the exposed coral reef.
Best for a party – Kendwa
Kendwa beach is found on the north tip of Zanzibar, just an hour drive from Stone Town. It’s home to the Full Moon party held at Kendwa Rocks, a friendly guesthouse with stone bungalows and wooden beach huts. It normally falls on the Saturday closest to the full moon but parties take place most weeks.
However, don’t bring any glow sticks, buckets of cheap booze or neon face paint which are ubiquitous with Thailand’s Full Moon parties. Instead put your dancing to the test and learn a thing or two from the locals, with fire eaters and acrobats also making an appearance.
The barefoot, low-key party atmosphere is just as chilled and fun as the rest of the island. A night spent here, dancing to the afro-beats till the early hours, will definitely be one to remember.
Best to escape the crowds – Pongwe
Pongwe beach is found within a secluded bay on the northeast of Zanzibar. It’s a slice of paradise, a stress-free environment that is the perfect place to relax, switch off and try out a digital detox.
The beach is sheltered by a reef, creating an ideal place to swim and snorkel. To add to its secluded atmosphere, at high tide the water cuts off the stretch of beach from the rest of the island.
This is one of Zanzibar’s best destinations to enjoy a honeymoon. Whether you visit this beach for the romantic trip of a lifetime or to escape the crowds, any trip here is guaranteed to be peaceful.
Best to watch the sunset – Nungwi
Nungwi has transformed from a simple fishing village that built dhows to one of Africa’s most idyllic stretches of coast whilst keeping its genuine charm. It’s a fairly quiet beach with many things to do during the day from a game of volleyball to taking out jet skis.
During twilight the beauty of Nungwi really shows itself. As the northern beach faces a westerly direction, the sunsets here are spectacular. Make yourself comfortable in a hammock with a cocktail as the sun falls behind the horizon, painting the sky in a variety of deep warm colours.
Or you could even head out on a dhow sailing cruise to watch the sunset from the water and enjoy uninterpreted views, looking out over the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless, however you watch it you’ll be able to get the perfect Instagram shot to make all your friends and family back home jealous.
The beaches of Zanzibar are a great place to relax after an East African safari. Check out our overland safari tours that visit this beautiful island.