19 Best Beaches in Zanzibar You Must Visit Today
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Just off the mainland of Tanzania, on the east coast of Africa, is an Indian Ocean nirvana called Zanzibar. The Zanzibar archipelago is also known as the 'Spice Islands' because of the abundance of produce, spice, and clove plantations found there. Zanzibar is also blessed with beautiful islands, alluring seas, colorful corals, and exotic sea creatures, making it the perfect destination for a holiday in the sun.
Unguja, frequently called "THE Zanzibar," is the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago and where most tourists start their vacation, and for good reason. It has one of the best beaches in Zanzibar, plus friendly locals, great dining options, and stunning surroundings. However, you can find amazing beaches all across the country.
Before exploring the unsullied islands and beaches of Zanzibar, get acquainted with the history and culture by visiting Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a top landmark in Africa. Then, spend the rest of your holiday sunbathing, snorkeling, and scuba diving at the best Tanzania beaches.
This list covers the best of the best when it comes to beaches in Zanzibar. Whether you want to sunbathe, snorkel, swim, or enjoy any other beach activity, keep reading to discover where to go in Zanzibar with sun, sea, and sand!
Heading to Zanzibar and planning last minute?
Before traveling to Zanzibar, book your accommodation and experiences ahead of time. We've pulled together top suggestions below.
Top Accommodation in Zanzibar
- Balcony House (under $50 USD a night)
- Shaba Boutique Hotel (under $100 USD a night)
- Emerson on Hurumzi (rated highly)
Top Tours and Experiences in Zanzibar
- 19 Zanzibar beaches
19 Best Zanzibar Beaches
- Zanzibar's Best Beaches
- Zanzibar Vacation Planning Questions
Zanzibar Beaches Map
A map of Zanzibar. Use the map to explore all the beaches.
Zanzibar's Best Beaches
The Zanzibar archipelago boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and Nakupenda Beach is by far one of the best. In Swahili, Nakupenda means "I love you," and this fantastic beach will surely make you feel warm inside and out.
This area is also called "the vanishing island" because during low tide, long stretches of sand are visible, and it is the perfect place to find sun and solitude. The sand then disappears as the tide comes in. Do note that the sun here is extra strong, so you will want to protect yourself from its intense rays with the usual sun protection gear: a hat and sunscreen.
When visiting Nakupenda Beach, most people pair it with a trip to Changuu Island. Changuu Island is nicknamed Prison Island as a defunct prison sits on it. Today, Nakupenda Beach and Changuu Island flourish, especially underwater. You can go snorkeling and swim with turtles and other fabulous sea life amongst the thriving coral reefs.
If you are traveling solo or looking for more of a social vibe, Nungwi Beach could be the right fit for you. With resorts and hostels lining the beach and bars and restaurants lining the streets, it is an easy place to meet new people and get travel tips on other epic places to see.
This beach town is known to have an energetic and lively nightlife where you can find good food, great drinks, and dancing. If you're not into nightlife but prefer natural adventures instead, mellow sunset cruises on traditional dhow sailboats are offered.
You can also go fishing, partake in laid-back horseback riding tours, kayak, or see the beach from above by going parasailing. Additionally, the crystal clear water of Nungwi is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving and features thriving coral reefs.
Resident marine animals to see here include dolphins, tropical fish, sea turtles, and sometimes even a curious shark or two. While you could snorkel alone, taking dolphin-watching and snorkeling tour around Nungwi is highly recommended.
Paje Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar. It is also one of the best beaches for water sports. Notably, the translucent waters make it an ideal underwater exploration area for divers and swimmers.
Surfers can find a fun break or two to catch some waves as well. If you are already certified to scuba or free dive, you can also opt to take your gear out to the dive sites. If you have never gone scuba diving before, or you are still working towards your certification, there are top-rated dive schools to take you to these great sites.
If diving isn't your thing, snorkeling offers a glimpse into this fascinating underwater world. Kite surfing is also hugely popular in Paje Beach due to its reputation for being the best spot to kiteboard in all of Tanzania. Like diving, if you are interested in taking a lesson, there are great schools to choose from.
After spending the day in the sun and surf, it is time for 'no shower happy hour' at any local bar or restaurant. You can fill up on the freshest seafood and cheap, refreshing drinks.
Secluded and serene, Pongwe Beach is ideal for a romantic getaway. There are only a handful of places to eat and sleep here, giving it a different feel than some of the previously mentioned beaches, which are more geared to tourists. You will have to book far in advance to guarantee a spot on the remote beach.
You won't find bars and restaurants lining the streets, but what you will see is untouched, soft white sand lined with lush palm trees. Pongwe is a haven for the classic beach bum. While other beaches on Zanzibar are primed for water sports, this spot is perfect for working on your tan.
From sunrise to sunset, you can spend the day relaxing and reading a book, napping in a hammock, or taking a walk to admire the thriving flora and fauna.
If you are more into the authentic side of Zanzibar, Jambiani Beach is the place for you. This beach is significantly less touristy than some of the other beaches, making it somewhat of a hidden gem. Tourists who do venture here boast that it is one of the best places to visit in Zanzibar.
This small fishing village is home to friendly locals and fresh, flavorful food. The quintessential beach has emerald green waters gently colliding with powder-like sand. The beach is excellent for relaxing, but there is plenty to do if you are feeling a little bit more adventurous.
You can snorkel or dive with the "real" locals, like octopus, several varieties of tropical fish, sea horses, and stingrays. If you want to pick up a new sport, kitesurfing and windsurfing are also popular.
Kendwa Beach is the ideal beach for those that like to swim. Unlike some other beaches, the tides here make swimming possible at all times. Sailing, parasailing, and of course, diving and snorkeling are also popular.
If you are interested in getting to know the local culture more, eco-tours of the village are available. You can also shop at boutiques specializing in handmade goods, such as bags, jewelry, and mats. You can find delicious locally grown and homemade food as well.
You can also hop on a dolphin or whale-watching tour or charter a fishing trip. Kendwa Beach is also legendary for its full-moon beach parties, so if you find yourself visiting during the full moon, don't forget to let loose.
Kiwengwa Beach is another pristine white beach with soft, fine sand that meets the turquoise-blue sea. Tourists do frequent this beach; however, it is more laid-back than some of Zanzibar's other tourist spots. It is often referred to as "Little Italy" for its small Italian restaurants and resorts that sit along the shore.
This beach is ideal for long walks and collecting seashells. You can also stop at one of the bars or restaurants that line the shore. There are some locals selling goods along Kiwengwa Beach, too. At low tide, you can walk out and see starfish and sea urchins. You can also go sailing and book several other cultural, historical, or adventurous excursions.
Kizimkazi Beach is magical and mystical. It experiences drastic tide changes, and at low tide, reefs, tide pools, and rocks are exposed for you to explore. You can also find exotic shells, crawling crabs, underwater urchins, and stunning starfish here, along with rocky beaches and cliffs that add a bit of drama to the landscape.
Though this beach sees fewer tourists than previous beaches on this list, it is acclaimed for swimming with wild dolphins. Bottlenose and indo-pacific dolphins both feed in the local bay.
Most mornings at sunrise, you can find the dolphins having a breakfast buffet before heading back out to the ocean. Book a trip with Safari Blue for snorkeling or dolphin and whale-watching. Since this island isn't so built up, it is an excellent place to take some quiet time and stare at the star-filled night skies without light pollution.
Charming and alluring, Bwejuu Beach is considered one of Zanzibar's best beaches due to its serene, laid-back village vibe and proximity to the highly trafficked tourist spots. This beach stretch is spacious, so if solitude is what you are seeking, Bwejuu Beach is by far your best bet.
You can spend the day soaking up the sun and salt air, snorkeling, and swimming. There are also a few welcoming bars along the beach if you need a refreshing drink or something to snack on. Once you feel revitalized and want to reintegrate back into the tourist scene, it is just a short walk down Bwejuu Beach to more populated beaches.
Endless sand and ocean are what make this Zanzibar beach so appealing. This quiet and secluded beach sits next to a village known for fishing and seaweed farming. If you want to experience Zanzibar's real vibe and culture, Matemwe Beach is calling your name.
There are small beach bungalows you can stay in as well as local bars and restaurants to enjoy. Matemwe Beach runs on "island time," where nothing is rushed, and you live by the ocean's tide. At low tide, you will see locals collecting sea urchins and crabs for fresh food and people fishing and growing produce.
Mnemba Island, sometimes referred to as the Mnemba Atoll (which isn't actually correct), is an island just off the coast of Zanzibar's main island. This spot is globally known as a world-class scuba diving spot; however, the actual island is privately owned.
If you want to splurge and stay on the island, you must book in advance and be prepared to pay a hefty price. You can book either a private or family banda, and the resort comes with a butler and a childcare program.
You. can also discover many excursions to book around Mnemba Island, from snorkeling trips to dolphin-watching cruises. If you book a trip to go diving or snorkeling, you are in for a real treat!
This island is protected by a coral reef where you can see turtles, dolphins, whale sharks, humpback whales, and other wild marine life. The area is now a protected marine reserve where you can see that the wildlife is thriving.
Michamvi Peninsula is one of the top beaches of Zanzibar to retreat to for a lovely holiday. The fine, powder-like sand is ideal for sunbathing and walking. The village locals depend on the sea, and similar to other beaches, fishing and seaweed farming is a massive part of village life.
While there are plenty of places to stay and bars and restaurants, it is a relatively quiet and tourist-free area. As a result, this is an excellent location for diving and snorkeling. Because it is not as busy as some other beaches, you will be diving with only a handful of people. You can also dive in a lagoon called Oba-Oba.
If you surf or kitesurf, Michamvi may also be a great option. Experienced surfers will love the waves that form outside the reef, or if you want to learn, you can take classes and lessons from any of the schools around.
Another beautiful white sand beach lined with gorgeous palm trees awaits you at this tropical paradise. There are small beach huts where you can relax and hide from the sun after spending the day bronzing.
The emerald ocean gently laps the shores and is excellent for swimming at high tide. When the tide is low, you can go exploring for shells and small marine animals. You can also go paddleboarding or kayaking in the mangroves, book a snorkeling trip in the blue lagoon, or take a bike ride along the beach.
To the north of Zanzibar Island lies Pemba Island. Literally meaning The Green Island, this island is rich in history, fishing, and agriculture.
Way more rural than the main island of Zanzibar, Pemba is ideal for growing cloves, and it is quickly gaining popularity amongst tourists because of its natural beauty. Pemba is characterized by its rolling green hills, lush mangroves, and stunning beaches.
People who make their way to Pemba Island are rewarded with stunning dive sites full of bright coral reefs thriving with marine life. You can also see nesting turtles, migrating birds, and other rare animals.
Chumbe Island is a hidden gem among the islands of Zanzibar. This uninhabited island is a haven for rare and endangered animals as the entire island and its reef is protected by the Chumbe Island Coral Park.
This park features a Coral Reef Sanctuary, a Forest Reserve, historical monuments, and an ecolodge for visitors. The island is considered private, so you have to book in advance to come here, but it is well worth it.
You can go diving and snorkeling in the vibrant and active Coral Reef Sanctuary, where there are over 200 hard coral species and nearly 450 different types of fish. Because the sanctuary is private, only a few people are diving at any given time. This creates an unforgettable experience as typically shy creatures like lobsters and stingrays continue about their day instead of getting scared off.
You can also take several unique walking tours, like taking intertidal walks or walking through the forest, where you can see fossilized giant clams and other fun wildlife like lizards and birds. Chumbe Island truly has some of the best beaches of the Zanzibar Archipelago.
Mafia Island is also part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, located south of the main island. Mafia, also known by its Swahili name of Chole Shamba, is actually an archipelago itself with its own smaller islands.
Most tourists don't find themselves on this beautiful remote island, so you will have an authentic island experience if you choose to visit. The locals here like to keep things simple and slow, living off the land and sea, so you won't notice any big resorts or crowds here.
Mafia Island is made up of powder-soft, white sand beaches, and thick, protective mangroves. The island is home to various uncommon land animals, such as hippos, wild boars, and bush babies.
There is also the Mafia Island Marine Park that provides you with the unique experience of swimming with whale sharks, the world's largest fish. You can additionally book cultural island tours to learn about the island's history and see the ancient ruins that are still standing today.
Similar to other beaches, this lovely spot is still a secret to the majority of tourists. While you can participate in similar activities like diving and snorkeling, you can do them with fewer people around!
Kitesurfing and surfing are also popular here as well as deep-sea fishing trips for large game fish. You can even rent quads to cruise around on the beach. If you are looking to party, look no further than the Cannibal Party at one of the beaches' liveliest bars.
This small island is a little slice of magic away from civilization. Bawe Island is a privately-owned island that can be booked entirely for your group. Alternatively, you can book one of the private villas located on the shores of this haven.
Secluded from the rest of the world and hidden amongst shady palm trees, you are sure to feel rested and refreshed after staying several nights off the grid with no Wi-Fi and annoyances from the outside world. What happens on this lush, sultry island stays on the island!
Overlooking Menai Bay, Fumba Beach is a secret to most travelers, for now at least. While more hotels, resorts, and restaurants are being built daily, it is still one of Zanzibar's most secluded beaches. In some places, Fumba Beach shows a more modern side of Zanzibar, featuring trendy, luxurious buildings and hotels, and restaurants right on the beach.
You could also reach this beach by going on a day sea trip. You'll sail to Fumba village and then be taken out to the best snorkel spots, among other activities.
Zanzibar Vacation Planning Questions
What Part of Zanzibar Has the Best Beaches?
The best beaches in Zanzibar are generally found on the south coast. Kizimkazi is one of the can't-miss beaches in this part of Zanzibar. However, with over 25 breathtaking beaches across the island, you're almost guaranteed to find fantastic beaches no matter what part of Zanzibar You visit.
Which Beach Should I Stay at in Zanzibar?
Deciding which beach to stay at in Zanzibar Depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a more built-up beach resort, Nungwi Beach, Paje Beach, or Kendwa Beach are all great choices. On the other hand, those looking to stay somewhere more secluded will be interested in Zanzibar's private island beaches, like Bawe Island or Mnemba Island.
Which is the Best Side of Zanzibar to Visit?
The south coast is often thought of as having the best beaches, while the best side of Zanzibar is often thought of as the North-east Coast due to its pristine beaches, unique attractions, and excellent accommodation.
However, no matter where you head in Zanzibar, you're sure to be impressed! Across the island, you can discover breathtaking towns and beaches that are geared to all types of activities, from snorkeling and scuba diving to kitesurfing or relaxing at beachside bars.
Which Beach is Better, Nungwi or Kendwa?
Both Nungwi and Kendwa are fantastic beaches to visit in Zanzibar. Nungwi Beach features turquoise waters and stunning white sand. Visitors can enjoy an array of activities, from snorkeling to kayaking and horseback riding. This Zanzibar beach is also perfect for those looking for bustling beachside bars and top resorts.
While Kendwa Beach has resorts and bars, it's much more laid-back than Nungwi Beach, making it ideal for those planning a relaxing vacation or day at the beach. Visitors can swim here at almost any time due to consistent tides, and snorkeling and diving are also popular. After enjoying the beach, you can explore local shops and dine at eateries serving delicious fresh dishes.
What are the Best Beaches in Zanzibar for Snorkeling?
If you're looking for the best beaches in Zanzibar for snorkeling, you'll have no shortage of options! The majority of beaches feature crystal-clear water and a rich underwater habitat. Snorkelers will get to see colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and many other marine species.
Some of the best beaches in Zanzibar to snorkel at include Mnemba Island, which is also a world-renowned diving spot, and Nakupenda Beach, where you can snorkel with turtles. Nungwi Beach, Jambiani Beach, and Kizimkazi Beach are just a few other beaches offering perfect snorkel conditions.
This list of the top beaches in Zanzibar is just a small glimpse into what this heaven on Earth is really all about! If you are an ocean lover, enjoy diving or snorkeling, or are thinking about getting SCUBA certified, you should book a trip to the Zanzibar Archipelago.
This is an up-and-coming eco-tourism destination aimed at keeping the fragile and unique ecosystem alive and thriving. Zanzibar is a jaw-droppingly beautiful place, both above and under the water, with fascinating marine life and rare, exotic mammals to see and learn about.
Zanzibar also has a wonderful culture and history, with friendly locals willing to share their beautiful home with you. Just make sure to pay attention to your surroundings and be respectful as a form of responsible travel.
A trip to the Spice Islands will be an unforgettable trip for anyone who seeks out this mystical and magical archipelago. Don't forget to bring coral and reef-safe sunscreen and keep the beaches just as you've found them, if not better. Even something as simple as picking up a piece of trash is all part of being a good tourist.
This article was edited by Alli Sewell.
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