The Zanzibar archipelago is one of the most popular tourist regions in all of Africa.
The main island of Unguja (referred to primarily as “Zanzibar island”) is packed with beaches that have achieved world-renowned fame. And while there is much more to Zanzibar than just beaches, this article focuses on beach life.
We’re taking you through our favorite beaches in Zanzibar, from the tourist hotspots to the hidden gems.
Best Zanzibar Beaches
When it comes to the best beaches in Zanzibar, you’re blessed with the luxury of choice. The Eastern side of Zanzibar Island is packed with amazing beaches and stunning locales.
These serene white beaches look out onto the Indian Ocean, and this side of the island also contains a protective barrier reef which sits below vivid blue waters.
Needless to say, you can’t really go wrong with most of Zanzibar’s beaches.
On the North tip of Zanzibar Island, you’ll find the stunning Nungwi beach. It’s certainly one of the most popular beaches in Zanzibar, and it’s easy to understand why.
Like many of Zanzibar’s beaches, Nungwi is beautiful and picturesque. Its endless white sand and blue waters wrap around the Northern tip of Zanzibar.
Off the beach, you’ll find lots to do in the town of Nungwi. It’s a popular tourist locale, full of restaurants, bars, and cafés.
And of course, the area is also packed with hotels and beachfront resorts, offering you plenty of choice for accommodations.
You can easily reach Nungwi by bus or by private car from Zanzibar City.
Kendwa Beach is another highly popular tourist favorite. Unlike many of Zanzibar’s popular beaches, this one is on the west side of the island, about 3km South of Nungwi beach.
Kendwa Beach is attached to the village of Kendwa – a small, bustling town which has become more dedicated to tourism in recent years (though it hasn’t lost its cultural roots).
This is definitely the beach to go if you’re interested in more of a “party” vacation. The beach and resort vibe are geared toward young high energy people. Well-attended full moon parties occur every Saturday closest to the full moon.
It’s another picturesque, beautiful beach full of white sand and clear blue waters, but you can expect it to be much more crowded than many other beaches in Zanzibar. Definitely the spot to go if you’re looking for a more energetic vacation.
Paje Beach is another fun beach that we’d highly recommend. It’s located on the eastern side of Zanzibar Island, toward the island’s southern edge.
Paje beach is another beach which is popular younger tourists, like backpackers or those looking for a more fast-paced vacation. There are plenty of resorts and hotels and hostels that market to this crowd. There are also many bars, restaurants, and cafés which line the beach.
It’s also a popular destination for water sports. The beach gets great waves, which are ideal for kitesurfing. You’ll see both beginner and experienced kitesurfers lining the beach, with plenty of pros offering lessons, if you want to give it a try.
Overall, Paje is a fun, enthusiastic beach town that offers an exhilarating vacation experience. It’s another excellent option, even if you just want to spend your days lounging in the sun.
Nakupenda Beach is a truly unique beach experience. Not so much a “beach” as a large sandbank in the middle of the water. It’s located off the coast of Stone Town in the capital of Zanzibar City.
You’ll see many offers for tours and boat-rides out to Nakupenda Beach when you visit Stone Town, and we think it’s worth your while to check it out. Picture a beach where you’re surrounded on all sides by clear blue water. Most tours jet you out for lunch and a few hours in the sun.
It’s not a very big beach, and you can walk the entire area in just a few minutes. This makes it a great half day excursion, or a great place to relax and take a dip.
Nakupenda is great addition to any visit to Stone Town. Which brings us to our next beach…
Stone Town Beach
Stone Town Beach is right in the heart of Stone Town, in the historic district of Zanzibar City. Stone Town itself is a great area to visit.
It’s a preserved look at the historic architecture of Zanzibar itself – a winding maze of streets and alleys, full of places to eat, shop, and grab a coffee.
Most people overlook the beach connected to Stone Town in favor of the town itself, but it’s actually quite a great little beach.
It doesn’t offer the seclusion or natural phenomena like many other beaches on our list, but it has the white sand and blue waters you’ve come to expect from Zanzibar beaches. It gets quite crowded, but it’s a great way to experience local culture (although still quite “touristy.”)
Pongwe Beach is a beach on the eastern side of Zanzibar Island, located closer to the center between South and North. Pongwe beach is much quieter than many of the options above – a major plus for many travellers.
The area is more low key than the more popular Zanzibar locales. The beaches are wide open, quiet, and secluded. Its gorgeous vast white sand and warm shallow waters make Pongwe a great place to come and unwind, or an ideal spot for those looking to avoid the touristy side of Zanzibar.
Of course, because it isn’t very popular with tourists, there aren’t many options when it comes to restaurants, shops, or bars. There are a few hotels in the area, and you can rely on them for food and lodging, but that’s about all you’ll get.
Kiwengwa Beach is another popular beach on the eastern shores of Zanzibarm, with great sand, warm waters, and picturesque views.
We would describe this beach as “touristy but not too touristy”. It’s well-known, but not nearly as crowded as some of the other beaches like Nungwi and Kendwa. There are shops, restaurants, and hotels that line the beach, offering options for food and drink.
Overall, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a happy medium between the hustle and bustle of the Northern tip and the isolation of some of the more secluded beaches.
Here’s another popular beach along the Eastern tip of Zanzibar. It’s a decently popular tourist spot, and you’ll find bars, restaurants, and shops lining the beach. It does sometimes get crowded, but it’s no overwhelming. The beach is nice and wide, so there will almost always be plenty of space for you to seclude.
It’s another great choice, similar to Kiwengwa above, if you’re looking for an area with some life that’s not overly jam-packed.
There are plenty of beachfront activities too, such as snorkelling and sailing.
Unlike most of the beaches above, Kizimkazi Beach is actually located on the eastern side of Zanzibar Island, toward the southern end.
This is another beach that isn’t quite as busy as other options on our list. Perhaps this is because it is so far away from the main beach area on the eastern side of the island. It’s a great beach to visit and a great option to cap off our list.
Kizimkaze beach is laid-back and connected to a fishing village. You’ll get a taste of local culture, while truly getting the opportunity to set your schedule to “island time”. The beach also gets some of the highest tides on the island, which make it great for swimming.
If you’re looking for a truly isolated beach experience on the eastern side of Zanzibar, then Kizimkazi beach is a great destination.
When is the Best Time to Go to Zanzibar Beaches?
Zanzibar’s tourist seasons are generally divided into low (or rainy) and peak seasons.
The low seasons coincide with the “rainy” seasons. They last from March to May, and again from November to December. The period from March to May has more potential for torrential downpours, so it’s generally best to avoid Zanzibar.
While from November to December is considered rainy season, the rain is much lighter during this time as compared to the March to May season. Pockets of fantastic weather be found during these seasons, and the beaches are far less crowded and less expensive.
Zanzibar’s peak seasons are from June to October and December to February. These months are hot and dry with significantly less rain. If you’re looking for blue skies and tropical weather, then this is the best time to visit Zanzibar. Just expect busier beaches and higher prices for accommodation.
Thanks for checking out our guide to some of Zanzibar’s top attractions – the beaches. As you can see, there are so many options to choose from.
From the hustle & bustle of the beach towns on the northern tip, to the secluded beaches in the south, Zanzibar has something for everyone. We hope our list has helped you decide on a destination that meets your personal preferences.
People may vacation differently, but almost everyone can find something to enjoy on a hot sunny beach day.
Which part of Zanzibar has the best beaches?
This is a hard question to answer, as it’s very much a subjective decision. However, most of Zanzibar’s most popular beaches are located on the east side of Zanzibar’s main island and run up to the northern tip. This is where almost all the beaches on our list are located.
Are there sharks in Zanzibar?
There are sharks in Zanzibar! The Reef Shark is the most prevalent. But don’t worry too much about shark attacks. There hasn’t been a shark attack in Zanzibar in a long time. Shark attacks are extremely rare in general.
Can you take alcohol into Zanzibar?
You can take alcohol into Zanzibar, but there is a restrictive culture toward alcohol on the island overall. The majority of Zanzibar’s population is Muslim and does not drink. As a result, you will probably only find alcohol in tourist areas. It is sold in some shops but is quite rare.