Coast to coast: your guide to Zanzibar’s beaches

11 January 2024
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As the largest and most famous of the islands that make up the Zanzibar Archipelago, Zanzibar’s coastline is diverse – in both landscape, culture and experiences on offer.  To make sure you enjoy the best beaches on your Zanzibar holiday package, check out our coast-to-coast guide: 

North coast: known for fewer crowds and diving hotspots

As you travel further north in Zanzibar, the more you’ll find unspoiled, less-crowded beaches. The north coast is also not as affected by the tidal range as the rest of the island, and features flatter waters.   

Off the north coast is Pemba Island, which has a less-established tourism industry and untouched beaches. This is an excellent island to visit for diving, with highly rewarding spots that cater to advanced divers. Not a diver? Visit the mangrove forests before embarking on a classic Zanzibar dhow cruise at sunset.  

Coast to coast: your guide to Zanzibar’s beaches - Pentravel Blog

North-east coast: known for pristine beaches, top-end accommodation and excellent diving

The north-east coast in Zanzibar is considered the island’s prime location. The region is renowned for its excellent diving and snorkelling, especially among the famous reefs of Mnemba Island, just 1km away. Good to know: Mnemba Island is also a nesting place for green turtles.  

East coast: known for being home to the best beaches in Zanzibar

Most travellers will tell you the east coast boasts Zanzibar’s best beaches, idyllic and beautiful. It’s also a top choice if you’re keen on kitesurfing. This is because Zanzibar’s east coast is much more tide dependent compared to the rest of the island (and is also windier). The tidal aspect also means that you may have to take a stroll to go swimming or snorkelling.  

Coast to coast: your guide to Zanzibar’s beaches - Pentravel Blog

South coast: known for colourful culture and shallow-water reefs

Head to the south of Zanzibar for cultural and spice tours. Here, you can also enjoy excellent snorkelling in the shallow-water reefs to spot turtles and hundreds of species of fish.  

South-east coast: known for palm trees and diving

Another diving hotspot, the palm-fringed south-east coast of Zanzibar has a greater tidal range than other regions and is famous for its breathtaking barrier reef.  

West coast: known for Stone Town

Zanzibar’s west coast is home to Stone Town, which is a must-visit if you want history, spices, and delicious food (especially seafood). And with its collection of shipwrecks on the ocean floor, snorkelling in Stone Town promises a one-of-a-kind experience. Expect to see green sea turtles, dolphins and jellyfish.  

Coast to coast: your guide to Zanzibar’s beaches - Pentravel Blog

Our top 5 beaches in Zanzibar:

1. Nungwi Beach

Boasting the classic white sand and turquoise seas of your island holiday imagination, Nungwe Beach is, without a doubt, one of the best beaches in Zanzibar. Laze in a hammock, soak in the sun and swim in the sea: Nungwe Beach is popular, yet somehow never too crowded to feel overrun by tourists.  

2. Jambiani Beach

A lively local favourite with quaint restaurants overlooking the turquoise waters and white sands, Jambiani Beach is the ideal location to get acquainted with Zanzibaris. Plus, the tide goes out quite far, leading you to some rewarding snorkelling spots.  

3. Kendwa Beach

Blue waters and full moon parties… besides being famous for its sunset to sunrise dance parties, Kendwa Beach is one of the best beaches in Zanzibar for swimming.  

Coast to coast: your guide to Zanzibar’s beaches - Pentravel Blog

4. Paje Beach

Adventurers flock to Paje Beach for sailing and kitesurfing during, especially during December and February, and then again from May to October. For those not seeking out the thrills, this is an excellent spot for lazing in the sun too. 

5. Matemwe Beach

While Matemwe Beach is not the best beach for swimming in Zanzibar, it’s a great choice if you want to relax in relative privacy. This unspoiled beach, with its soft white sands, is frequented by vibrant fishing communities but has markedly fewer tourist crowds. 

Zanzibar beach holiday anyone? We’re the Zanzibar travel experts. Trust us to make your dream Spice Island holiday a reality. Keep an eye out on our Zanzibar Specials page for unbeatable holiday deals.

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