Zanzibar is the perfect beach add-on to a safari in mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar is East Africas finest beach destination surrounded by coral reefs with numerous idyllic beaches lined by huge sweeping palm trees. Zanzibar is much larger than one might expect; driving from top to bottom takes about two hours. Stone Town and the airport are found on the Western edge, with a transfer from any beach lodge taking about an hour. The islands best beaches for a Zanzibar holiday are found on Zanzibars Eastern and Northern coastline.
The Northern coast is called Nungwi, appropriately named after Nungwi village. This is arguably Zanzibar’s best stretch of beach and if you choose the lodge correctly, one of the more quiet areas. South west of Nungwi is Kendwa, known for its pristine beach but also for being a backpackers haven and very busy. if you are on a real budget then this is the place. It also boasts a few parties, beach stalls and a buzzing local atmosphere.
The north-eastern coast is called Matemwe. The beaches here are really not very good at all, but this does deter people and therefore you actually get a relatively remote stay with amazing views of Mnemba island.
Even further east of Matemwe is Kiwengwa and Pongwe. These areas have great beaches, but also a few large hotels that don’t really offer much charm. Unlike most other areas of Zanzibar, there isn’t any real focus or central point to head to here, such as a village. Bweju and Dongwe are home to some of the best beaches on the island and a very long stretch of pristine beach. Although there are a few big properties here, they are very good and this area is well worth staying in.
On the far southern coast is Kizimkazi. The beaches here are mainly coral rock but the dving and snorkelling around these area are incredible, especially at Unguja. Stonetown is the historical capital of Zanzibar island, a wonderful tumbledown mess of palaces, bazaars and markets, one of the most atmospheric and fascinating places on the whole Swahili Coast.
Certainly for several centuries the sultans of this Arabic enclave held sway over huge tracts of the interior and dominated trade in silver, ivory and slaves. Any visitor with even the slightest cultural or historic interests should try to spend some time here, preferrably to overnight. But be aware, behind a thin tourist veneer, Stonetown remains a defiantly African place.