Zanzibar island is arguably the best beach getaway in east Africa, offering unbeatable tropical white-sand beaches — along with lush tea plantations, incredible history, and a fascinating culture. This semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, which sits 20 miles off the mainland in the Indian Ocean, is technically an archipelago. It contains numerous small islands, and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar), and Pemba. The islands’ relatively small size and ease of navigation means you’re never far from a beach when you’re in Zanzibar — in fact, it’s hard to select only one to visit. This top 10 list should help you decide.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
Matemwe is famous for its wide, windswept beaches and extreme tides. Since the water retreats hundreds and hundreds of meters when the tide goes out, this is not the best beach for swimming, but is perfect for kitesurfing, reef walking, kayaking and sailing. If you stay in or near Matemwe Village, you’ll also get a hearty dose of local culture.
Located in the northwest of Zanzibar, Nungwi is unique because the tide rarely fluctuates here — unlike some other parts of the island. This means you can swim at almost any time of day.The beach has the classic white-sand-and-palm-trees vibe that visitors from afar treasure. Nungwi is considered a “party” beach and there are several large Italian resorts in the area, but it’s nowhere near as rowdy as somewhere like Ibiza or Miami.
Tucked into an idyllic cove, Pongwe is one of the more remote beaches in Zanzibar. The tide comes up very high here, making it a great place to swim. To enjoy this beach it’s best to stay at Pongwe Beach Hotel, which sits right at the shoreline. The hotel’s picturesque gardens make it especially beautiful, and the hammocks and loungers nestled in the luminescent sand will make you feel like you stepped into a dream.
Kendwa is walking distance from Nungwi but a bit more low key. It’s a great place if you’re looking for undisturbed lounging, broken up by dips in the crystal clear water. Small shade huts called bandas dot the beach and locals like to congregate here at sunset for a game of beach volleyball or football.
If you’re hoping to observe marine life, Chwaka is a broad inlet fringed by mangrove lagoons that provides a home for fish and marine animals. It’s not great for swimming as the water is pretty busy with sea life, but it makes for a unique walk in shallow water.
Paje isn’t just a beach but a small beach town, buzzing with tourists enjoying the bungalows, restaurants and beach bars. Paje sits on the southeast side of Zanzibar and offers some of the best scuba diving lessons and water sports in the area.
Bwejuu isn’t necessarily where you’ll want to go for a dip, but it is the best place to observe raw, untouched beach beauty. It’s rare to even encounter another soul on the white sands of this quiet beach town, and sometimes the only sound is the tall palm trees swaying.
If you like to keep modern comforts nearby when you’re at the beach, Kiwengwa is the beach for you. Several luxury hotels line this beach, but even though it’s a high-traffic area, the beaches are still perfectly pristine.
Kizimkazi is a charming fishing village that sits alongside coral lagoons. That makes it rather uninviting for walks or swims but it’s ideal for taking photos. The hotels in the village, however, have their own small sandy coves where guests can lounge, protected from the rugged coral sea floor.
Just off the Northeast coast of Zanzibar, the small island of Mnemba has arguably some of the whitest sand beaches and bluest waters in the world. It is private, however, so you have to be a guest of the Mnemba Island Lodge to access it.
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