Where to Stay in Zanzibar
A general rule of thumb is that the further north you go the less crowded it gets. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule especially when it comes to the more lively/party areas. Zanzibar’s north coast has a small tidal range and flatter waters. Popular beaches include Nungwi in the northernmost tip which hosts great diving spots, and Kendwa, which is known for its full moon and evening parties. Both beaches have their party sides and quiet sides and so can be suitable for anyone.
Off the north coast is Pemba Island. Pemba is home to small fishing villages, colonial ruins, and untouched beaches. This island has a less established tourism industry but does have some beautiful sights especially if you’re a fan (like us) of wild, untamed beaches. There are some great diving spots here catering for the advanced diver. Watersports, excursions to mangrove forests, and sunset dhow cruises are also available.
If you want a more thorough view of this spectacular area, the popular Safari Blue itinerary is a good way to see Nungwi regardless of where you’re staying.
Luxury: Mnemba Island, Hideaway of Nungwi, Star of the East, Kilindi, Essque Zalu
Medium: Myblue Hotel, Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort, Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa, Double Tree by Hilton, Diamonds La Gemma Dell’est
Budget: Sunset Kendwa, Langi Langi Beach Bungalows, Amaan Bungalow, Mnarani Beach Cottages, The Z Hotel
The northeast is the prime location for pristine beaches, diving, and top-end accommodation. With some of the best reefs off Mnemba Island, just 1km from the shore, you can find some excellent diving and snorkeling spots. Mnemba Island is also a nesting place for green turtles.
Luxury: Dream of Zanzibar, Melia, Matemwe Retreat, Tulia
Medium: Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa, Neptune Pwani Beach, Ocean Paradise Beach Resort, Sunshine Marine Lodge, Azanzi Beach Hotel
Budget: Green and Blue Ocean Lodge, Matemwe Beach Village
The east coast is much more tide dependent compared to the rest of the island and is also more windy. This makes it great for those wanting to kite surf.
Although you might need to walk a bit to swim or snorkel, the beaches here are still just as beautiful.
Medium: Pongwe Beach Hotel, Pongwe Bay Resort, Uroa Bay Beach Resort, Paradise Beach Resort
Budget: Palumbo Reef Beach Resort, Samaki Lodge, Seasons Lodge
The tidal range is bigger here than other regions. There is a stunning barrier reef and lots of palms. Close to relaxed villages, it is a great place if you want to do as the locals do. For instance, we’d recommend a visit to the friendly town of Jambiani.
Luxury: Zanzibar White Sand Luxury, The Palms, Baraza Resort & Spa, Konokono Beach Resort
Medium: Karafuu Beach Resort & Spa, Anna of Zanzibar, Breezes Beach & Club, Hakuna Majiwe Beach Lodge, Kisiwa on the Beach
Budget: Zanzibar Ocean Blue, Michaimvi Sunset Bay, Arabian Nights Hotel, Dougwe Ocean View, Kichanga Lodge
For the south, the general rule is that the further south you go the busier it gets, as more residents live in the southern region. Come here to dive into culture and spice tours. You’ll also find the Fumba Peninsula here which has two laid back lodges, and an eco-resort on Chumbe Island just offshore. Go snorkeling in the shallow-water reefs and you can spot turtles and hundreds of species of fish. In the south-west, you can visit Kizimkazi for a dolphin safari.
Luxury: The Residence
Medium: Fruit & Spice Wellness Resort, Unguja Lodge, Swahili Beach Resort
Budget: Karamba Resort
The west coast is home to the historic Stone Town district which is a not to miss in our books. If you want history, spices, and delicious food (especially seafood) you’re in the right place. There are also great snorkeling and swimming spots if you go a bit further out from the coast.
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