Zanzibar is a popular destination known for its fantastic beaches, and it is not easy to say which beaches are the best.
All of them are really breathtaking, and you have a feeling that you are lost in some kind of paradise.
Be prepared for long, white sandy beaches, crystal green-blue water, and coconut palms trees …
Well, that’s Zanzibar, a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean.
There is also something very interesting about Zanzibar beaches: low tide and high tide.
One moment, you walk along the bottom of the ocean, and in a few hours, the bottom is 3 to 4 meters under the water surface!
It is an unbelievable natural phenomenon 🙂
So, let’s take a walk around Zanzibar Island and its amazing beaches!
The most famous beach on the north is Nungwi beach. It is about 56 km (35 miles) north of Zanzibar town (about an hour drive), on the Nungwi Peninsula. If your accommodation is not on Nungwi, you can reach it by public bus dala-dala or you can hire a vehicle.
Nungwi beach is located in a large Nungwi village, mostly known as a fishing village and the place where dhows (local wooden boats) are built.
In recent years it has become the most visited tourist destination on Zanzibar. Numerous resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops are situated on Nungwi beach. Usually, it is swarming with people during the tourist season, especially West Nungwi. East Nungwi is a little bit quieter and more relaxed.
You can swim here at any time of the day because there is a small difference between high and low tide. It is perfect for diving, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet ski, paragliding.
In the Nungwi village, there is Mnarani, a non-governmental organization established in an effort to conserve the population of sea turtles native to Zanzibar Island. The volunteers rescue the turtles and keep them safe in a small lagoon until they recover when the turtles are released into the sea. In a little natural aquarium with salt water, you can feed green turtles with seaweed, and swim with them.
On Nungwi beach you can find a wide range of accommodation: from low budget hostels to the most luxurious beach resorts.
Some of the most 5* luxury resorts are Diamond Star of the East, Essque Zalu Zanzibar, Diamonds La Gemma dell’ Est, Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort, Hideaway of Nungwi Resort & Spa, RIU Palace Zanzibar.
About 300 meters from Nungwi beach, there is Kendwa beach, in the northwest of the island.
It is very popular among the younger low budget travelers. Here you can find small hotels, bungalows, bars, restaurants, and a souvenir shop.
Kendwa is a long sandy beach, perfect for walking, volleyball, snorkeling, diving. Take a fresh mango juice or some exotic cocktail, and just relax on the beach!
This beach is also famous for parties, especially Full Moon parties that last all night long.
The most luxurious resort on Kendwa beach is Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa.
Kendwa Rocks hotel as well as the Kendwa Rocks restaurant, which serves international and Swahili cuisine, are very popular.
Inside the Rocks restaurant looks like this:
Tuna Steak Teriyaki, Calamari, Kingfish in coconut milk… Mmm, the food is delicious!
Michamvi Kae beach
Michamvi beach is located on the east coast, in a very calm and nice bay, perfect for long walks, swimming, and relaxing.
During high tide, you have to go through the water to access the beach and Kae bar. Well, it is a bit unusual way to get to the beach 🙂
During low tide, you can enjoy refreshments on the sandbanks with turquoise water in Kae beach bar.
Made in Bob Marley style, it is known as the coolest bar in Zanzibar.
Just relax in hammocks, sunbathe, listen to the lounge music and enjoy the cocktails with the unusual names.
Taste fresh seafood or fish while sitting around the wooden bar or on the wooden benches, with your feet in the sand.
If you like, you can exercise in the open gym close to the beach. You can come here during the day or stay in Kae beach bungalows.
Wait for the sunset on this beach, it is really amazing!
Near Michamvi Kae beach, you can see fantastic mangrove trees.
Mangrove is one of the few trees that can live in salty sea water. It’s really interesting to see the huge roots intertwining.
Mangrove poles are used for the construction of new buildings, which results in the reduction of their number as well as in acceleration of coastal erosion.
Pingwe beach and “The Rock” restaurant
Pingwe beach is located in the Michanwi peninsula, on the east coast of the island. The beach is generally unfrequented, there are no tourist crowds and it is perfect for long walks.
It is most popular because of the restaurant “The Rock”. It becomes a world-famous restaurant, guess why… Because of the unique location: on a rock in the ocean!
During low tide, you can reach it on foot, while during high tide the access is possible only by boat. It was a real adventure for us to return to the beach after lunch. Hide tide, rough sea, and big waves, unforgettable!
Food is very tasty. Try the grilled catch of the day-fish, homemade pasta, local vegetables, all these prepared with spices from Zanzibar plantations. You can choose between different dishes, such as crab spaghetti, tagliatelle or ravioli, grilled fish fillets, grilled lobster, green curry veggie stew with basmati rice, etc. Or you can taste the Rock special – a big portion of lobster, king prawns, calamari, cigal, fish, all on the grill.
Try some South-African wines. Our choice was Dry Rosé Rock Signature, nice and smooth wine.
On the open-air terrace, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the ocean and the beach while drinking cocktails.
The prices are higher than in other restaurants on the island. Because of the limited space, it is better to make a reservation.
About 5 minutes from the Rock restaurant on the beach, there are two award-winning resorts: Dongwe Ocean View Hotel and Kichanga Lodge.
Kiwengwa beach is located on the northeast coast of Zanzibar.
Some people call it Maldives beach, because of nature and luxurious resorts and hotels.
It’s such a wonderful feeling to be alone on the beach!
Just imagine white sand, breeze, green-blue water, waves… everything looks unreal.
The pictures speak louder than words 🙂
The best resorts on Kiwengwa beach are Kiwengwa Beach Resort, Melia Zanzibar, Bluebay resort & spa, Neptune Pwani beach resorts & spa. Some people also call it ”Little Italy”, because the majority of hotels and resorts are owned by Italian proprietors.
Paje beach is located on the southeast of Zanzibar, in the village of the same name, approximately 50 km from Zanzibar Town. The beach is perfect for those who are looking for relaxation, long walks, swimming, and snorkeling. Paje, as well as Jambiani beach, are known as the best place for kite surfing and windsurfing.
On Paje and Jambiani you can see the biggest high and low tide changing. During the low-tide hours, it is impossible to swim near the beach. But during high tide, Paje beach offers a fantastic scene: you can see all shades of green and blue color in front of your eyes. The water is warm and crystal clear, perfect for swimming, but waves may be big.
On Paje beach you can find bungalows, small restaurants, and beach bars. In Paje village there are a few souvenirs shops, the ambulance, and primary and secondary school.
One of the very interesting accommodation facilities is Ndame Beach lodge, consisting of bungalows, a bar, and a restaurant.
It is a fantastic feeling to sit in a restaurant on the beach.
Eat “the catch of the day” fish with Zanzibar’s spices and sauces, while your feet are in the sand. Priceless!
Khulala Ocean Blue bungalows are located along the Paje private beach. Guests can stay in bungalows, use the outdoor pool, enjoy water sports facilities and a good restaurant within the resort.
One of the most luxurious hotels in Paje is Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa, the part of Relais& Chateaux French chain hotels.
Close to the Paje beach is Jambiani beach. It is situated in the oldest and the most traditional fishing village in Zanzibar. Jambiani is about three kilometers long and a little bit quieter than Paje. But it is crowded in the evening. The locals are walking, playing football or swimming in the ocean.
In Jambiani village you can find a lot of small guesthouses, hotels and a few restaurants.
We stayed in Uhuru beach, in African style bungalows.
Just a few steps out from the room and you are on the beach, surrounded by the coconut palm trees, amazing!
Close to our bungalows, there is the Zanzi-barbar’s café & restaurant, decorated in beach style, where we ate and watched the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Next, there is the restaurant Pizza & Cocktail.
Here you can taste very delicious pizza baked in a wood-fired oven, just like in Italy.
The high and low tide on Jambiani beach
As I have mentioned before, on Jambiani beach you can see the biggest difference between high and low tide.
The sea withdraws twice a day for several hours, up to one kilometer and it is not possible to swim.
The difference between low and high tide could be from 0.5 to 4.5 meters.
The natural phenomenon of high and low tides is suitable for agriculture and seaweed farms. During low tides, Zanzibar women are involved in seaweed farming. Together with the children, all in colorful dresses, they gather seafood, algae, and shells, while men go fishing in narrow wooden boats called dhows.
But the view of low tide in the ocean is awesome!
When the water fully withdraws, it reaches the depth of only a few centimeters and the surface is glittering white!
We were like kids, running on the sand dune along the bottom of the ocean and through the water around it.
Such a fantastic experience!
One day, a group of young Zanzibar’s acrobats made a great performance for us and made our blue-sea adventure complete in Jambiani.
Walking along the bottom of the ocean
During our blue safari, one more time we had an opportunity to walk along the bottom of the ocean.
About 600 meters from the coastline, during the low tide, we found one fantastic sand dune.
And it seemed unreal!
After walking along the bottom of the ocean, our guide Ljubce took us to reach the stars.
And there are no ordinary stars, but the beautiful, and colorful sea stars in the Indian Ocean…
After we reached the stars, we continued with our blue safari. But the sand dune where we walked one hour ago was gone… The high tide covered it and we could not see it anymore. Well, that is the real power of nature.
Kizimkazi is a small fishing village on the southern coast of the island. It is about 35 kilometers away from the Zanzibar Stone Town. It consists of two settlements: Kizimkazi Dimbani in the north, and Kizimkazi Mkunguni in the south. Kizimkazi is one of the richest villages in Zanzibar. The houses and schools are bigger and made of better materials.
It is known for fishing and dolphin safari, organized by local fishermen. The safari begins after 6.00 in the morning when the sun rises. Sometimes you can see the dolphins after 20 minutes, but sometimes it takes one or two hours. When you find dolphins, you can jump into the water, go snorkeling and swim with dolphins. The dolphins are not trained, it is their natural environment. So, take care, because safety and security are not on a high level.
Just before our visit in June 2018, one 300-year-old baobab tree in Kizimkazi Dimbiani fell down because of the stormy weather. It was sad to see the old baobab, the former symbol of the village, cut into pieces.
The coastline in Kizimkazi is a little bit different from the other parts of the island, so there are only a few lodges and resorts here. Interesting places for accommodation are Unguja Lodge and The Residence Zanzibar.
About 4 kilometers from the village is the Kizimkazi Mosque from the 12th century. It is the earliest evidence of Islam in East Africa.
Often along the beaches in Zanzibar, you will also meet young Masai men, dressed in the typical red or violet checkered cloths resembling blankets. They are true members of the tribes from Mainland Tanzania. The owners of hotels and resorts pay them to spend a few months on a year on the beaches.
Masai men are very communicative and like to pose and take photos with tourists.
Be ready to bargain and shopping on the beach!
They sell hand-made jewelry, souvenirs, wood figurines, the paintings with motives from African and Masai life.
Sometimes in the evening, they are making the performance of Masai warriors dance.
Masai men entertain tourists, but they are also some kind of beach bodyguards.
I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get enough of beach photos with white sand, crystal green-blue water, and coconut palm trees.
Sometimes when I am sad or upset, I just close my eyes and remember the rustle of palm leaves, the sound of ocean waves and Zanzibar powdery sand under my feet.
Then I imagine the breeze and see wooden dhows while cruising on the ocean during the sunset…
Well, it is just a perfect picture of the beach from the dreams.
And I feel better immediately go on with a smile on my face.
These moments of the beautiful beaches stay in memory forever. They show us how simple things could make us happy and make us see the world from a different point of view.