Beaches in Tanzania, at a glance
After a week or two of safari on the mainland, there's no better way to close out your time in East Africa than a few days relaxing on the shores of Zanzibar.
There are plenty of beaches to choose from, each with their own unique atmospheres, accommodation options, and activities.
Kendwa Beach in Zanzibar is a favourite amongst younger travellers due to its shack-style bars and live music events.
Meanwhile, Mnemba Island is the perfect romantic retreat for couples.
Ushongo beach does not see the same visitor numbers as the beaches on Zanzibar. This means there are no intimidating beach hustlers, just friendly local fishermen.
Ushongo is a traditional fishing village which offers a glimpse of the day-to-day life of the local fishermen. Revolving around that traditional fishing culture is the seafood cuisine, which you can enjoy in an open-air restaurant or on a day trip to the nearby Maziwe Island.
Maziwe Marine Reserve is located off the coast of Ushongo Beach. It is the oldest marine reserve in Tanzania, and it is known for its healthy coral reef and beautiful sandbar.
Saadani National Park
Saadani National Park is the only park in East Africa that borders the Indian Ocean. It is a great location to see game in the verdant mangrove forests and to relax on the beach’s golden sands, soaking up the evening sun.
You can spend your mornings on game drives and your afternoons tanning by the sea. The park is home to elephants, lions, giraffe, and buffalo.
Sange Beach is the hidden gem of Saadani National Park. Located ‘off-the-beaten-track’, Sange Beach is a paradise for travellers who want to escape the crowds at some of Zanzibar’s more commercial beaches.
Dotted with swaying palms and thatched accommodation, Sange Beach is the perfect location for a meditative walk.
Ras Kutani Beach
Jutting out into the Indian Ocean, Ras Kutani Beach boasts countless miles of white sand and crystal waters along the Swahili Coast.
When you are standing in this paradise, it is difficult to imagine that Ras Kutani is just 15 miles south of Dar es Salaam. Easily accessible from Dar, Ras Kutani Beach is a great destination for a day trip. Ras Kutani Beach is a great place to swim and there is even a shipwreck that intrepid snorkelers love to explore.
Ras Kutani Lodge offers comfortable accommodation and an exciting range of activities on the beach and in the surrounding lagoon, including fishing, kayaking, and turtle nesting tours.
The exportation of shells is illegal in Tanzania, so do not buy small shells in curios shops or they may be confiscated at the airport.
Zanzibar’s beaches are second to none, and we recommend combining a safari holiday on Tanzania’s mainland with a beach holiday in Zanzibar.
On Zanzibar’s Unguja island, all beaches are public (by law).
Most beaches are only an hour away from Stone Town’s airport, making it an easy commute from your safari holiday. Swap your safari boots for your sun hat and shades and wind down at the beach.
Zanzibar boasts many spectacular beaches:
- Kendwa beach
- Fanjove Island
- Paje beach
- Pemba Island - Vumawimbi Beach
- Misali Island
Unguja’s Eastern coast: Paje and Jambiani
Jambiani beach is located on Unguja Island, the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago.
Jambiani is the perfect ‘away from it all’ escape. This genuine, no-frills beach is the ideal place to set aside technology, embrace the local culture, and fall back into the rhythm of a traditional fishing village.
Unlike Paje, Jambiani is less affected by commercial tourism, meaning that your peace and quiet will not be interrupted by street venders or fellow travellers. Much of the locals’ lives (and the tourist activities) revolve around the beach at Jambiani.
The residents socialise on the beach and they work in the sea as fisherfolk or seaweed collectors.
Things to do at Jambiani
One of the best things you can do at this beach is sit back, relax, and play bao, a traditional Zanzibari game which is similar to mancala. Jambiani has plenty of activities to offer:
- If you love beach walks, you can walk from Jambiani to Michamvi via Paje, Bwejuu, Dongwe, Pingwe. This is a whopping 20km trip across beautifully simple and untouched beach.
- The regular side shore winds means that Jambiani is a popular kitesurfing destination for beginner and advanced kite surfers. The beach experiences high and low tide, meaning that the water is often not high enough to launch in the day. However, there are far fewer sea urchins on this beach compared to northern beaches.
- Scuba diving offers sightings of sea horses, octopuses, stingrays, and turtles.
- Snorkelling at the Blue Lagoon in Dongwe is also very popular. The lagoon is only 15 minutes from Jambiani beach.
- Out on the ocean, you can catch marlin, tuna, sailfish, barracuda, seabass, groupers and dorado, which is why this area is very popular for deep sea fishing.
- Hire a dhow boat and cruise the ocean with a sundowner.
- There are a number of caves near Jambiani, including Kuumbi Caves and Kuza caves.
- Jambiani is a tidal beach. At low tide, the sea recedes and leaves seaweed debris on the beach. While some may find this unsightly, it has a very important cultural and economic background. The Jambiani women walk the beach during low tide to pick up seaweed.
Paje is also on the east coast of Unguja. The beach is known as a kite surfer’s paradise with wind almost every day of the year, great beach bars, and live music throughout the week.
This is a popular destination for low-budget travellers, regardless of whether you enjoy kite surfing.
For those that do not, you can enjoy the beaches, or take a bike ride to the East coast’s other towns.
Unlike Jambiani, Paje attracts a younger crowd because of its lively atmosphere, cheap food, and parties through the night.
Unguja’s Northern beaches: Nungwi and Kendwa
Nungwi, the second largest settlement on the island of Unguja, sits on the northernmost tip of Zanzibar and is.
It is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Tanzania, so it is no wonder that life at Nungwi revolves entirely around the seafront. This charming village is filled with bars, restaurants, water sports activities, and it is the perfect place to slow down and enjoy a beach holiday.
Nungwi has been nicknamed ‘Jambo Square’ due to its popularity with foreign visitors. However, Nungwi is an intricate blend of modernity and tradition.
Traditional fishing boats still sit out on the water. As you sit down for dinner, the dhow boats cast off for a night of deep-sea fishing.
Things to do at Nungwi
Nungwi is most famous as a haven for kitesurfers. Thanks to the tide, there is always plenty of water to launch, making this a very popular kitesurfing destination, for both beginners and advanced borders. Other activities include;
- Taking a sunset dhow cruise
- Scuba diving
- Deep sea fishing
Kendwa is located in the north of Unguja, Zanzibar’s main island. It is only a 15-minute drive from Nungwi, another popular beach on the island.
Kendwa is just as beautiful as Nungwi, but it is far more popular with young travellers, with shack-style bars lining the beach front and music playing all night.
It should be noted that the most popular beaches in Zanzibar, Kendwa and Nungwi can be rather crowded at high season.
If you prefer quieter beaches, we recommend heading to the eastern coast and staying at a boutique hotel.
Pemba Island and its beaches
Pemba Island has remained largely untouched by tourism, which is part of the island’s appeal.
One of the best beaches on Pemba Island is the Fundu Lagoon beach, a white sandy beach which is bordered by a mangrove forest.
For those looking to immerse themselves in local culture, Vumbavimbi village beach on the eastern shore is an untouched stretch of sands.
There are no bars, hotels, or restaurants on this beach, making it one of Tanzania’s best untouched beaches, but you will need to bring a picnic with you.
The Vumbavimbi beach still has traditional fishing boats moored in the shallows, and you can watch as the fishermen cycle to their boats to begin fishing.
Misali Island, a small island off Pemba, can also be reached with the help of a tour operator. It offers true seclusion as one of the world’s finest white sand beaches.
If you love scuba diving, Pemba Island and its neighbour, Mafia Island, are some of Tanzania's best locations for scuba diving.
Mnemba Island is a private island which is the ultimate romantic getaway spot.
Managed by &Beyond’s Mnemba Island hotel, the island is famous for its beaches, which offer fantastic conditions for all-day swimming, snorkelling, and diving due to the favourable tide.
The best snorkelling site can be reached by a 10-minute motorboat journey, which can easily be arranged with staff. For those who are looking to unwind and relax, there are yoga sessions on the beach and massages offered by the wellbeing centre.
All activities are organised and run by the hotel.
Unlike Mnemba Island, this private island is run with an eco-conscious mindset, so do not expect air conditioning or televisions.
However, the pristine white sand and unpolluted night skies make Fanjove one of the most magical beaches in the Zanzibar archipelago.
In the crystal blue waters, there are pods of dolphins, clams, and green turtles. The tranquil island is also an important nesting site for green turtles.
Popular Trips to Tanzania
The tours below showcase just some of what is possible. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.
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