Duration: at least two weeks
We loved mainland Tanzania, and the experiences surpassed our imagination. After our eventful time on the mainland, we were yearning for some lazy days in the sun. Zanzibar not only affords its visitors some of the best beaches in the Indian Ocean, but it’s also within comfortable and cheap reach of Tanzania’s mainland.
Discover Zanzibar’s best beaches
The beaches in Zanzibar are stunning. White palm trees seam white sandy beaches with perfectly turquoise water. Even though Zanzibar has been a popular tourist destination for quite some time, you’ll still find authentic, quiet villages and empty beaches.
- Windsurfing 70% 70%
- Relaxation 100% 100%
- Activities 80% 80%
- Pristine waters 100% 100%
The tides on Zanzibar can be strong and affect both swimming and sunbathing. The best time to swim is during high tide when the water is more shallow. The best time to sunbathe is during low tide when the water is further out and there is more space on the beach. Be sure to check the tide times before heading to the beach. Zanzibar’s beaches are beautiful, and with a bit of planning, you can make sure you have the perfect day.
Nungwi, a small village in the Northwest, is about 1 hour from Stone Town by car. We decided to go to Nungwi first because we felt like dry tomatoes after our time in the African savannah, and Nungwi is “swimmable” almost all day. Nungwi has quickly become a tourist hub and one of the most famous beaches on Zanzibar. Fortunately, we found a quiet, small, deserted bay right by our homestay. The local village center is super charming, unlike some rather touristy souvenir stands by the beach. Check out Highland Bar in Nungwi, a popular place in the village with relaxed vibes (and WIFI).
Community tourism in Nungwi
Our homestay experience in Nungwi, Zanzibar After our super pleasant homestay experiences in mainland Tanzania, we were eager to meet our Zanzibarian hosts. In Nungwi, we stayed with Jimmy, his lovely wife Fatima, their baby, and their nephew Abdula. Not only did we share meals, but the family welcomingly invited us to join their daily life. Jimmy took us to the village center, showed us where to buy the best groceries, and Fatima taught us about cooking. Bent over an open fire, we learned quite a lot about Zanzibar’s history, family life, and the famous spices. Staying with a local family also put us away from the main tourist attractions. Often we would have the beach almost to ourselves.
Best places to stay in Nungwi
Michamvi Kae won our hearts. This part of the island is very chill, with relatively many Rastafarians. Michamvi Kae is a super picturesque village seemed by beautiful beach stretches.
Some bars and restaurants at the beach have a relaxed Hakuna Matata vibe. Our favorite beach on Zanzibar We couldn’t swim during low tide because the sea withdraws quite a lot. But we used the low tide to walk for miles. Despite some fishermen, nobody crossed our path. There are some lush green mangroves right by the water. Michamvi is the place to unwind and let go. Our peaceful bungalow and Yousuf’s gentle spirit made our stay in Michamvi special. Of course, we spent our days following our inner desires, but we mainly used the time there to reflect and calm down.
Best places to stay in Michamvi
Sagando Bungalows Zanzibar
Paje Beach, Zanzibar
Paje beach is one of Zanzibar’s best beaches. It’s located on the East coast. It is a beautiful beach that has become much more popular recently. The water is crystal clear, and plenty of palm trees provide shade. The breeze makes it a mecca for kitesurfers and water sports enthusiasts. Paje is also a great place to try out Zanzibar’s famous seafood dishes. So if you’re looking for a good vibe and a stunning beach, Paje beach is the perfect spot.
Best places to stay in Paje
- The Nest
- Liquid Life by Buccaneer
Jambiani Beach, Zanzibar
Jambiani Beach is located on the Southeast coast of Zanzibar. It’s a beautiful sandy beach with turquoise water and plenty of coral reefs to explore. Jambiani is a great place to snorkel, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy. If you’re looking for a beach with a little more activity, Jambiani is the perfect spot.
Best places to stay in Jambiani
- Pakachi Beach Resort & Hotel
- Eco-farm B&B
Kendwa Beach, Zanzibar
Kendwa beach is located on the Northwest coast of Zanzibar. It’s a beautiful sandy beach with turquoise water and plenty of coral reefs to explore. Kendwa is a great place to snorkel, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy. We visited Kendwa village and loved it here! Despite the more prominent hotels, you’ll find some charming smaller Boutique Hotels there too. Some of them take part in responsible waste management efforts.
Best places to stay in Kendwa
- Varadero Boutique hotel
- La Fontana Restaurant & Bungalows
Get ready to travel Zanzibar
Public Transport on Zanzibar
It’s effortless to travel the island by daladla. You should give it a try! Daladalas are the cheapest way to cross the island. Since Zanzibar is not too big, it doesn’t take too long to get around.
Best time to travel Zanzibar's beaches:
We visited Zanzibar in October and November, which is the shoulder season. It’s the perfect time to visit Zanzibar’s beaches as you most likely will have them to yourself. The rainy season on Zanzibar lasts from March to May. Expect some rain in November and December, too
Tides on Zanzibar
Most of Zanzibar is profoundly affected by the tides. Some beaches become unswimmable. Make sure you check the tide calendar. Swimming is only possible at high tide. Kendwa and Nungwi, the most touristic spots, form the exception. Check out the tide calendar beforehand.
Load up on cash before heading to Zanzibar’s beaches. Unfortunately, ATMs are hard to find.
Safety on Zanzibar
The security instructions of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office could make you shudder. While we could feel some tension, mainly at night in Stone Town, we felt comfortably safe elsewhere on the island. Locals are super friendly and helpful. They will let you know when it’s time to be more careful. In touristic centers, additional caution is required, meaning you shouldn’t be walking alone.
Places to stay on Zanzibar
You will find everything from simple hostels to expensive luxury accommodations on Zanzibar. However, we can only recommend one of the many homestay experiences in Zanzibar.
You can not drink tap water in Zanzibar without risking becoming sick. Bring your Lifestraw Pro and enjoy cool drinks while avoiding plastic pollution.
Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler
Trash: Often, you’ll find food vendors selling typical Nicaraguan dishes on the go. It’s not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your Lifestraw Pro to avoid having to buy bottled
Sunscreen: Protect marine life and use reef-friendly sunscreen.
Packing List Tanzania
Tanzania is one of the most diverse and beautiful countries in the world. You can explore bustling cities, go on safari to see some of the most incredible wildlife on earth or relax on some of the best beaches in Africa.
Check out our packing list to prepare for all Tanzania has to offer. You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries.
Places to visit in Tanzania
With its diverse cultures, beautiful nature and rich history Tanzania is a country not to be forgotten.
Safari | A once in a lifetime wildlife experience
Are you planning a safari in Tanzania? Tanzania’s Northern Circuit is a great place to start. This region offers several stunning national parks, including Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the famous Serengeti. Tour operators provide many possibilities, ranging from budget camping safaris to luxury lodging safaris.
Arusha | City life & safari adventures
Arusha, Tanzania, is a city in the middle of two worlds. This creates an exciting mix of people and cultures that make Arusha is unique. Arusha itself is a dusty, charming mid-sized African city.
Dar es Salaam | Karibu to a vibrant Tanzanian city
Tanzania’s former capital, often referred to as “Dar,” is not only Tanzania’s second largest city but one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Located along the coast of the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam is brimming with activities for anyone.