Unwind and Relax: A Guide to the best beaches in Zanzibar
Zanzibar Island, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With crystal-clear waters, pristine sand, and stunning coral reefs, Zanzibar has become a favorite holiday destination for travelers seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway, kite surfing holiday or a family vacation, Zanzibar has something for everyone.
In this guide, we'll take a closer look at the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar, hand-picked by ourselves. To give you the best travel advice, we visited all these listed beaches ourselves and the images are captured by Kim Paffen, the founder of ourplanetinmylens.com. Some of the links in this article may contain affiliate links. If you book a hotel or trip, we earn a small commission but at absolutely no extra cost to you.
Here are the 7 best beaches in Zanzibar (Tanzania), along with tips on the best places to stay, things to do, and how to make the most of your time during your tropical beach holiday:
1. Nungwi Beach Zanzibar
Nungwi Beach is located on the northern tip of Zanzibar and is known for its peaceful and secluded atmosphere. The water is calm and clear, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the beach, serving fresh seafood and cocktails.
The beach is surrounded by fishing villages and is a great place to watch the traditional dhow boats sail by. You can observe skilled craftsmen constructing these traditional wooden sailing vessels, something Nungwi village is famous for. You can admire the fresh catches of fish and trades right on the beach at the bustling fish market.
If you're eager to delve deeper into Nungwi's charm, embarking on a village tour is a fascinating way to do so. While wandering through the village, you'll have chances to engage with the locals and learn about their traditions. A standout moment of the tour was the visit to a skilled women's group, experts in crafting exquisite pieces using traditional weaving methods. This activity is not yet very commercialized, but an authentic experience to learn more about the villagers in Nungwi. Read the best things to do in Nungwi to learn more about other activities in Nungwi and the nearby Kendwa.
Where to stay at Nungwi Beach?
When staying in Nungwi, you'll find a range of accommodation options that cater to different preferences and budgets. From luxurious Zanzibar beach resorts to cozy guesthouses, there are a variety of places to stay in Nungwi that provide stunning ocean views and easy access to the beach. Find out the best accommodations in Nungwi.
Here a some of our top picks at Nungwi Beach:
- Essque Zalu (luxury Zanzibar beach resort)
- Pasha Hotel Zanzibar (Mid-range hotel)
- Happy House Nungwi (budget accommodation by a private host)
2. Kendwa Beach Zanzibar
Kendwa Beach is one of the liveliest beaches in Zanzibar, just south of Nungwi. It’s here where we did the skydive with a 35-second free-fall from a plane at 3050 meters above the sparkling Indian Ocean. Kendwa Beach is renowned for its unspoiled beauty, tranquil atmosphere, and breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. Unlike other beaches in Zanzibar, the tide at Kendwa remains stable, allowing you to enjoy the clear waters throughout the day.
Kendwa Beach in Zanzibar has been ranked as the 4th best beach in the world, and its also listed as the top beach in Africa according to a report by The Citizen Tanzania. As the only place to go skydiving in Zanzibar, this laid-back and beautiful place near Kendwa Rocks Hotel attracts island lovers, and thrill-seekers for transformative travel experiences. There are also plenty of water sports activities available, including jet skiing and parasailing.
Kendwa Beach in Zanzibar has been ranked as the 4th best beach in the world, and it's also listed as the top beach in Africa according to a report by The Citizen Tanzania
Apart from the adrenaline activities, this beach is famous for its full moon parties, where locals and tourists gather to dance and enjoy the music. Visit for example Kendwa Rocks Beach Bar to enjoy a drink with first-class views of the ocean! They also offer plenty of sun loungers.
Where to stay at Kendwa Beach?
If you're looking for places to stay at Kendwa Beach, you'll find a few accommodations that offer a relaxing stay close to the beautiful shoreline. Find out the best accommodations near Kendwa Beach.
Here are our top picks for accommodations at Kendwa Beach:
- Zuri Zanzibar (luxury accommodation)
- La Fontana Restaurant & Bungalows (mid-range accommodation)
- Zanzibar Rabbit Houses by Swahili Smile Luxury Guesthouse (budget accommodation by private host)
3. Paje Beach Zanzibar
Paje Beach is located on the southeast coast of Zanzibar. It’s always lively, meaning there's a lot of energy and excitement. You can find beach bars and restaurants with stunning beach views. It's a great spot to relax and have a good time with friends or family. It is known for its wonderful coral reefs, it’s perfect for snorkeling and diving, and you can see a wide variety of marine life, including colorful fish and sea turtles. Paje Beach is also great for kite surfing, with the constant trade winds providing the perfect conditions for this sport.
I really liked ‘Bento’, the Paje food court next to the beach with several food trucks offering a wide variety of food styles from for example Italian to Vegan food. In the evening, Paje village takes on a special vibe, and live music often becomes a part of the scene.
Staying near Paje Beach is perfect for travelers seeking a vibrant blend of relaxation and excitement.
Where to stay at Paje Beach?
For budget travelers or backpackers, there are excellent options that offer affordable stays while still providing comfort and convenience. On the other hand, if you're seeking a touch of indulgence, there are also several mid-range and luxury hotels in Paje. We will help you on the way to find the best accommodations near Paje Beach.
These are our top-picks for Paje Beach accommodations:
- Mahali Zanzibar (luxury hotel)
- Villa Kiota (Mid-range hotel)
- Mambo Leo Hostel (budget option by a private host)
4. Jambiani Beach Zanzibar
Jambiani Beach is known for its long stretch of white sand and turquoise waters. It’s located on the south coast of Zanzibar. The beach is surrounded by palm trees and fishing villages, giving it a traditional and authentic feel. This beach is less busy than other popular beaches in Zanzibar. During high tides, you can walk up the beach, very impressive.
Apart from the tranquil atmosphere, Jambiani Beach is known for its seaweed farming, a practice deeply rooted in the local culture. You can observe women in the water, gracefully harvesting the seaweed—a fascinating insight into the traditional ways of life on the island. During high season, it’s also possible to do a community tour - focused on seaweed farming.
Where to stay at Jambiani Beach?
Near Jambiani Beach, there are plenty of accommodations to stay near Jambiani Beach, especially plenty of beach resorts. Find out the best accommodations near Jambiani Beach.
Here are our top-picks for places to stay at Jambiani Beach:
- Belvedere Resort (Luxury resort)
- Blue Oyster Hotel (Mid-range hotel)
- Jambiani Backpackers Hostel (Budget accommodation)
5. Matemwe Beach Zanzibar
Matemwe Beach is a peaceful choice among the beautiful beaches. It has a calm village feel. The secluded beach on the northeastern coast of the island has a really long and pretty beach (the longest in Zanzibar). The sand is super nice, and there are traditional fishing villages behind the beach with palm trees. These villages show you how the local people live.
Not far from the beach, about two kilometers in the water, you can find the famous Mnemba Atoll island. Mnemba Atoll is the most famous Conservation area in Zanzibar. People love to scuba dive there because of the beautiful coral reefs. The Matemwe Beach area is also great for diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, and sailing. It is extremely well-preserved as it is one of the most important nature reserves in East Africa.
Where to stay at Matemwe Beach?
Around Matemwe Beach you will find a lot of All Inclusive resorts. Find the best accommodations near Matemwe Beach on Booking.
Here are our top picks for places to stay at Matemwe Beach:
- Matemwe Retreat (Luxury)
- Emerald Zanzibar Resort & Spa (Deluxe All Inclusive)
- Zanziblue (Mid-range accommodation)
6. Pwani Beach Zanzibar
In the northeastern part of Zanzibar, you'll discover a lovely spot called Pwani Beach, also known as Pwani Mchangani. It's considered one of the top beaches on this side of Zanzibar Island. The coastline is really nice and cozy, especially near the good resorts. Even though it's one of the best beaches in the country, it's not as crowded as the more famous ones on the island. When the tide is low, there's a great sandbank to explore.
To visit the cafés and restaurants, you need to walk to Kiwengwa, because there are almost no stores. There are some small souvenir shops available.
I really loved staying at Pwani Beach to unwind and come to rest.
Where to stay at Pwani Beach?
Pwani Mchangani offers many accommodation options for every taste and budget. There are expensive hotels, guesthouses, bungalows, and more.
Here are our top picks for accommodations near Pwani Mchangani Beach:
- Neptune Pwani Beach Resort & Spa Zanzibar (all-inclusive resort)
- TUI Blue Bahari Zanzibar (luxury resort)
- Paradise Beach Resort & Spa (mid-range)
- Sipano Beach Lodge Kiwengwa (budget)
7. Michamvi-Pingwe Beach Zanzibar
Michamvi Pingwe Beach in Zanzibar is a stunning and quiet beach located in the eastern part of Zanzibar, offering a lovely show of tides and endless colors. The tides change every six hours, revealing various colors and depths in the sea. Even when the tides change, you can swim in the ocean anytime (including at low tide).
While it's peaceful at Zanzibar's Pingwe Beach, there are many things to do in nearby towns, like shopping in Paje or kitesurfing at Paje Beach. You can also explore natural caves like Maalum Cave and the Swahili Cave, which are like natural swimming pools.
Don't miss the Rock Restaurant and the nearby Boho Social Bar & Restaurant, offering the best view of The Rock. The rock is famous for its unique setting on a big rock in the sea. It's become a popular place, loved by both locals and tourists for its special atmosphere and amazing views.
The Rock offers more than just food; it's an adventure. You can walk through the water to the restaurant during low tide, or take a short boat ride during high tide for an exclusive experience.
Where to stay at Michamvi Pingwe Beach?
If you're searching for a peaceful retreat, consider exploring accommodations near Michamvi Pingwe Beach.
Here are our top picks for accommodations near Michamvi Pingwe Beach:
- Upendo Beach Boutique Hotel Zanzibar (luxury)
- Hekaya Zanzibar (mid-range)
- Bibi Mrembo Guesthouse (budget)
Zanzibar Beach Holiday
The best beaches in Zanzibar are waiting for you! Whether you're snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, or simply soaking up the sun, you're sure to have a memorable time at Zanzibar's paradise beaches.
Looking for the best places to stay in Zanzibar? Find an overview of the best Zanzibar hotels on Booking.
Zanzibar Beach Holiday Packages
Top 7 Zanzibar Beaches, a summary
To summarize, here are the 7 best beaches in Zanzibar:
- Nungwi Beach
- Kendwa Beach
- Paje Beach
- Jambiani Beach
- Matemwe Beach
- Pwani Beach
- Michamvi Pingwe Beach
Zanzibar's beautiful beaches have lots of fun things to do. If you like excitement, you can try kite surfing and windsurfing at Paje Beach or go skydiving at Kendwa Beach. You can also take relaxing walks on the clean sandy shores of Nungwi Beach while learning about local life by talking to fishermen.
Zanzibar is more than just a beach destination
Aside from these best beaches in Zanzibar, its culture and history are also a major draw for tourists. Zanzibar was once a hub for the spice trade, and the influence of the Arab and Indian traders can still be seen in the architecture and cuisine. Unesco's Stone Town, is a perfect example of the fusion of different cultures. Zanzibar is also known for its warm and friendly people. The locals spreading 'Hakuna Matata' (swahili for 'no worries') are always eager to welcome tourists and make them feel at home.
Curious to explore more of the tropical Zanzibar Island? I also wrote the following articles about Zanzibar: