Zanzibar’s beaches are the main lure of this African island paradise, whether you're travelling from Tanzania to Zanzibar for some post-safari leisure, a calm beach holiday, or a romantic East Africa honeymoon.
However, with so many miles of white sand to pick from, how can you decide which beach is best for your Zanzibar vacation?
1. Paje Beach: Best Known for Kitesurfing & Diving
Paje Beach, on the southeast coast, features everything a beautiful Zanzibar beach should have: huge expanses of white sand, palm trees swinging in the breeze, blue waters, and spectacular sunsets.
Kitesurfing on Paje Beach | Photo credits: Surfertoday.com
Paje Beach in Zanzibar is well-known for its water activities, and the superb kitesurfing conditions attract amateur and professional kitesurfers from all over the world to this part of the island. In addition, the clear, warm seas are ideal for scuba diving, with turtles, starfish, trumpet fish, moray eels, and other colourful marine species inhabiting the offshore reefs.
2. Bwejuu Beach: Best Known for Relaxation
Bwejuu is undoubtedly one of Zanzibar's best beaches. This palm-lined white sand beach on the island's southeast shore is about an hour and a half away from Stone Town.
It's one of Zanzibar's quietest areas, and a favourite choice for individuals looking for complete relaxation, tranquillity, and seclusion.
A mangrove forest and dhow boat cruise, a visit to the local town of Bwejuu, a reef safari, snorkelling and diving, a visit to Stone Town, or a day trip to the Jozani Forest, which is home to the Red Colobus Monkey, are just a few of the activities and excursions available in the area.
3. Nungwi Beach: Best Known for being a Lively Beach
Nungwi Beach, on Zanzibar's northwest coast, is one of the island's most beautiful and popular beaches, recently making TripAdvisor's Traveller's Choice Awards 2018 list of the Top 25 Beaches in the World.
Nungwi Beach | Photo credits: Johny Africa
Nungwi is undoubtedly one of the island's liveliest districts, with a diverse range of nighttime entertainment provided by several beach resorts, hotels, restaurants, and pubs.
This beach, though, isn't only for partygoers. The coral reefs off the coast of Nungwi are wonderful for diving and snorkelling, and you might even spot dolphins, green turtles, and whale sharks during certain times of the year.
Nungwi Beach, which faces west, features some of Zanzibar's spectacular sunsets, and a sunset tour on a traditional dhow sailing boat is a must.
4. Kizimkazi Beach: Best Known for Dolphin Safaris
On Zanzibar's south coast, this little fishing community is made up of two settlements: Kizimkazi Dimbani to the north and Kizimkazi Mkunguni to the south.
The coastline here is significantly different from the east coast's typical palm-backed lagoon.
Kizimkazi Beach | Photo credits: SWTliving
Dolphin safaris are popular in the village of Kizimkazi. If you're visiting Kizimkazi, though, keep in mind that boat cruises that offer the chance to swim with dolphins are not recommended. Rather stick with guides that offer swimming with dolphins responsibly.
5. Michamvi Beach: Best Known for a Remote Coral Lagoon
Michamvi is a peninsula on the island's central east coast. Michamvi feels remote and offers extensive areas of uninhabited beaches to explore, despite the presence of two huge beach resorts in the region.
Michamwi Beach | Photo credits: Agoda
Michamvi-Pingwe and Michamvi-Kae are the two portions of the peninsula. Michamvi-Pingwe sits on the eastern side, with a vivid coral lagoon and magnificent palm-fringed beaches nestled between steep coral-rag cliffs. Michamvi-Kae, on the western side, faces west towards Chwaka Bay.
6. Kendwa Beach: Best Known for: Sunsets & Swimming
This best Zanzibar beach is ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and diving. This is one of the few beaches on Zanzibar where the tide does not significantly fluctuate.
This Zanzibar beach is also home to colourful starfish, which may be spotted just offshore (but be sure not to pick up these creatures or disturb them in their natural habitat).
Kendwa Beach | Photo credits: Booking.com
The sunsets at Kendwa Beach are legendary, so be on the beach as soon as the sun begins to drop. The beach comes alive in a new way once the sun sets below the horizon, with nightlife and calm beach parties.
7. Matemwe Beach: Best known for Local Culture & Scuba Diving
The long, picturesque Zanzibar beach at Matemwe (Zanzibar's longest beach) has some of the best sand on the island, and traditional fishing cottages can be found among the palm trees at the back of the beach, providing a fascinating glimpse into the local culture.
Matemwe Beach: Tripadvisor
The world-famous island of Mnemba Atoll is located two kilometres offshore, just beyond the main reef, and is surrounded by pristine and easily accessible coral reefs.
Matemwe Beach features some of the best diving and snorkelling on the island, as well as great kitesurfing and sailing.
Best Beach Resorts on the Zanzibar islands
Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort
The Luxury Hotel Awards selected this magnificent beach resort in Pongwe on the island's east coast the Best Luxury Romantic Beach Resort 2020. Walkthrough your beautiful suite to your private patio overlooking tropical plants or a powdery-white private beach.
Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort | Photo credits: World luxury hotel awards
Indulge in a cold beer from the minibar or a cup of Nespresso coffee before a yoga class or an hour-long full-body massage – both are included in the room fare.
The Residence Zanzibar
The Residence Zanzibar's 66 brown-tiled brick bungalows may not scream luxury, but the attention to detail in each one will. Natural coconut body items line the bathroom shelves, while fresh truffles line the bedside table.
Each cottage has a large wooden deck with a plunge pool. The Dining Room offers a wonderful selection of African, Omani, and Indian food, while the Pavilion delivers a variety of Middle Eastern cuisine by the pool. The resort overlooks a mile-long creamy-coloured beach that is daily combed clean.
The Sands Beach Resort Zanzibar
Sands Beach Resort Zanzibar has adopted this problem-free concept as its credo to ensure you have a worry-free stay. This little resort on Zanzibar's east coast features just 20 rooms and villas set in 12 acres of tropical gardens.
The Sands Beach Resort Zanzibar | Photo credits: Trivago
The Seaview Villas are distinctive, featuring an extra outdoor shower and a private patio overlooking Dongwe's long white sandy beach. Take off your sandals and wander down to the surrounding coral reef to snorkel among the colourful fish.
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Zanzibar
Nungwi, in the north of the island, combines old and new, especially if you stay at a world-renowned hotel chain's Zanzibar branch.
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Zanzibar | Photo credits: Booking.com
The service and amenities are top-notch at this Zanzibar beach resort, including an outdoor freshwater pool, a fitness centre, live entertainment, and a luxurious spa. On the gorgeous beach, just five minutes from the hotel's palm-leaf roofs, local fishermen and dhow builders work their old craft.
Next Paradise Boutique Resort
Many people enjoy lying on a sunlounger by the pool all day, but not everyone. You can do that and more at this beach resort in Zanzibar, which is right next to Zanzibar Extreme Water Sports, the spot to go wild with Indian Ocean thrills.
Next Paradise Boutique Resort | Photo credits: next paradise
Try jet-ski safaris, scuba diving, wakeboarding, or waterskiing around Mnemba Island and the protected coral reefs. The hotel has four pools and 25 sea-facing suites and villas where you may relax with a cocktail.
Baraza Resort & Spa Zanzibar
The owners of this beach resort in Zanzibar had all the timber furniture, Omani trunks, and brass lights handcrafted especially for their luxurious hotel.
Baraza Resort & Spa Zanzibar | Photo credits: Tripadvisor
Each of the 30 one or two-bedroom villas features a plunge pool overlooking the beautiful gardens or the secluded 240m Bwejuu beach. The spa has golden mosaic floors and offers services including facials and Thai massages. There's also a kids club and tennis courts for burning off those big breakfasts and supper.