We are often asked – “Where is the best place to stay on Zanzibar?”
The answer must be – “It depends what you are looking for”.
To get an idea one needs to understand the geography of the island so we have included a map. The island is about 50 miles long and 25 miles wide.
Assuming people are looking for beach locations, different parts of the island have different types of beaches and different attractions.
Visitors to Zanzibar need to know that the island, and the whole of the East African coast, has extreme tides. At low tide swimming in the ocean is limited, but lovely to walk out towards the reef through the pools. At high tide the ocean is warm with gentle waves. Snorkeling off the beach is very limited – best to go out beyond the reef with scuba dive boats.
THE SOUTH EAST COAST (the bottom right hand side of the map). This is where one gets the long stretches of palm fringed beach with powder soft sand. The northern part of this stretch has been ranked by Conde Naste Traveller in the top 30 beaches in the world. This is the kite surfing “capital” on Zanzibar. Scuba diving and snorkelling beyond the reef is rewarding. Top tip. Hire bicycles to ride for miles along the beach calling in at villages along the way. Visit Zala Park nature reserve. Hotels on this stretch include Sultan Palace Hotel, – Breezes Beach Club & Spa, – Echo Beach Hotel, – Zanzibar Ocean Blue, – Arabian Nights Suites.
THE SOUTH COAST – is more coves and bays rather than extensive stretches of beach. As such, less populated with hotels. Top tips. Hump back whales muster during July/August. Some interesting villages to visit. Diving and snorkelling is good. Hotels we use are Unguja Lodge and Fumba Beach Lodge both of which organise dolphin viewing trips.
THE NORTH EAST COAST (top right hand side of the map). Also long stretches of beach, particularly further north. Many hotels have been developed on this stretch, but visitors can still find seclusion. Very good diving and snorkelling around the Mnemba Atoll. Good kite surfing. Hotels we favour on the North East Coast are Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa, – Shooting Star Lodge, – Sultan Sands Hotel, – Next Paradise Boutique Hotel, Azanzi Hotel, – Green & Blue Hotel.
NORTH COAST – NUNGWI – The beach in the fishing village of Nungwi is, obviously, shared with local people. There are a wide variety of marine activities on offer. Apart from the beach things to do include a visit to the small turtle sanctuary, guided village tours, watch dhows being built in the traditional way, hire bikes to explore the north. Of the many hotels in Nungwi we like Flame Tree Cottages, – The Z Hotel, – Langi Langi Beach Bungalows and for an international style hotel, Double Tree By Hilton, Nungwi.
NORTH EAST COAST – This stretch of coast, south of Nungwi village, is least affected by the extreme tides which are experienced on the whole of the East Coast of Africa. Along this stretch there are a number of very large All Inclusive hotels, as well as some back-packer type hotels which we do not use. Some of the hotels we use are La Gemma Del’Est – Hideaway of Nungwi – and probably our favourite – Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa.
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