Guide: The 4 best beaches on Zanzibar

With its pearly white coast, slim coconut palms, and turquoise blue sea, Zanzibar is known to be a true bounty paradise. But which beaches on the island are the best? We asked the locals who recommended us four of their favorit beaches.

Written by Mette / Photo by Martin
The Travel Guide has been published in Vagabond Travel Magazine, 2016
Translated from Danish

Zanzibar’s most popular beaches among tourists are found on the northern part of the island. There is also a wide range of hotels as well as restaurants and some small beach bars, which complete the idea of relaxing days on the beach.

Moving down the east coast, the beaches are far more peaceful and the distance between the hotels is bigger. Our hotel was located on Kiwengwa Beach (see hammock photo above) and we enjoyed walking up and down the beach, often without meeting other tourists. However, if you like swimming in the ocean, then go to the north as the east coast is affected by the tide, which makes bathing difficult at certain times of the day due to fossilized corals.

If you prefer smaller and more remote beaches, you should hire a local boat (a dhow) to sail to one of the surrounding islands. Here it is possible to feel like Robinson Crusoe for a day and relax in your own little paradise.


#1 – Kendwa Beach

A few kilometers south of the fishing village Nungwi the tourist paradise Kendwa Beach is located. A wide and dazzling white beach with rustic sunbeds under straggled parasols, hammocks between swaying palms and small beach bars with lounge music and cold drinks. Along the coast are luxurious resorts, small hotels, charming bungalows and various restaurants. Although Kendwa is no longer an unknown beach, it is still peaceful and for good reasons a popular place to enjoy Zanzibar’s exotic settings.

#2 – Pongwe Beach

The crescent shaped Pongwe Beach is often mentioned as the closest, you can come to a tropical paradise. With its palm-clad coast, the dense green foliage and few tourists, the beach is ideal for a romantic getaway. In addition, the bay makes Pongwe the beach with least seaweed compared to other beaches on the east coast, thus enriched with Zanzibar’s most crystal clear waters.

Kendwa Beach

#3 – Matemwe Beach

Matemwe is far from as visited as the neighboring beach Kiwengwa and is therefore the obvious choice for peaceful strolling down the breathtaking coast. The beach is known to be the longest on the island and also to have the finest, softest sand. In the little nearby village you can meet the local fishermen and seaweed farmers.

#4 – Chumbe Island

A few kilometers from Zanzibar’s southwest coast you will find the protected reserve of Chumbe Island Coral Park, easily reached on a day trip by boat from Stone Town. The small island is surrounded by one of East Africa’s most diverse coral reefs with over 200 corals and 350 different species of fish that attract flocks of dolphins and turtles. 

Inland you will find unspoiled sandy beaches and when the tide is low you can wander all around the island, home to 60 different bird species and the protected Coconut Crab: the world’s largest land-living crab, weighing up to 4 kilos. If you want to stay on the island, you can book one of the unique and artistic eco bungalows.

Matemwe Beach

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