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Discover Zanzibar's best beaches with its spectacular sunsets, pristine palm-fringed beaches, turquoise waters and colourful coral reefs.

by Tom Blakey

If you’re planning to visit this exotic island for a few days of post-safari relaxation or as a stand-alone destination, our guide to Zanzibar’s best beaches will give you some ideas and inspiration about where to stay.

We offer a wide choice of accommodation options in Zanzibar, from rustic beach properties to luxurious resorts. Below we’ve selected some Wayfairer's favourites, however we can also book other lodges, hotels and resorts (including options in Stone Town). If you’re ready to plan a holiday to Zanzibar please talk to one of our Africa Travel Specialists who will aim to match you to the most suitable accommodation based on your requirements and sense of style.

Bwejuu Beach

This white sandy beach lined with palm trees on Zanzibar’s southeast coast, approx 1.5 hours by car from Stone Town, is considered to be one of the best beaches on the island and it was named by Conde Nast Traveller magazine as one of the top 30 beaches in the world. It’s one of the quietest parts of Zanzibar and it’s a popular choice for Wayfairer clients who are seeking total relaxation.

We suggest spending a week in Bwejuu to truly relax and unwind. Should you wish to leave your resort and explore the local area you’ll find that there are plenty of activities and excursions that you can choose from, including a mangrove forest and dhow trip, a visit to the local village of Bwejuu, a reef safari, snorkelling and diving, a visit to Stone Town, or a day trip to the Jozani Forest, which is home to the Red Colobus Monkey.

Our preferred accommodation options in Bwejuu are Baraza Resort and Spa, Breezes Beach Club and The Palms – all three properties are included in ‘The Zanzibar Collection’ which is a portfolio of privately owned luxury hotels and resorts inspired by the magic of Zanzibar.

Baraza Resort & Spa

Baraza Resort & Spa is Zanzibar’s most exclusive boutique resort. This luxurious, family-friendly hotel is set on a beautiful stretch of beach with spectacular views over the Indian Ocean. The resort is and run by the Raguz family, who have many years of experience in running hotels on the Zanzibari coast.

This fully-inclusive resort has 30 beautifully designed one and two bedroom villas each with private plunge pool and spacious terrace. The facilities at the resort include a well-equipped children's club, large outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, gym, a spa offering a range of massages and treatments, and a water sports club offering wind surfing, kite surfing and sailing, plus snorkelling and diving.

Wayfairer Opinion: Baraza Resort & Spa is ideal for those who are looking for luxury and total seclusion.

Breezes Beach Club

Breezes Beach Club is a friendly, relaxed resort situated along a pristine, untouched beach on Zanzibar’s tranquil southeast coast.

All 70 en-suite rooms and suites are spacious, fully air-conditioned and tastefully furnished in a relaxed Zanzibar style. There are four dining options, including a beachfront eatery and a private gazebo overlooking the ocean, as well as three bars and a cafe. Other amenities include an open-air lounge with a thatched roof and an outdoor pool surrounded by palm trees, plus a spa, a gym, and a dive centre.

Wayfairer Opinion: Both families and couples will love this resort, dive centre and spa.

The Palms

With just six villas, The Palms is Zanzibar’s most exclusive private resort. Each villa has a private plunge pool and a terrace offering magnificent views of the Indian Ocean. Set among palm trees, this upscale, beachfront resort is situated next to Breezes Beach Club on the pristine sands of Bwejuu Beach.

This is an all-inclusive resort so your breakfast, lunch and dinner are included, plus afternoon tea, mineral water, soft drinks and juices, tea and coffee, and a selection of house wine, beer and spirits.

Wayfairer Opinion: Voted one of the world's most romantic all-inclusive resorts, The Palms is perfect for honeymooners or couples looking for privacy.

Michamvi

Michamvi is a peninsular on the central east coast of Zanzibar. Although there are two fairly large resorts in the area, Michamvi feels remote with long stretches of empty beaches to explore.

The peninsula consists of two parts - Michamvi-Pingwe and Michamvi-Kae. On the eastern side is Michamvi-Pingwe with a stunning coral lagoon and beautiful palm-fringed beaches set in a string of scenic coves between high coral-rag cliffs, and on the western side is Michamvi-Kae which faces west towards Chwaka Bay.

Kichanga Lodge

Set amid tropical gardens on the Michamvi Peninsula, this tranquil, private resort is nestled within a stunning hillside overlooking the Indian Ocean. Kichanga Lodge has 22 thatched-roof bungalows, including large family bungalows, spacious private villas, a VIP honeymoon suite, garden view and ocean view bungalows. All bungalows have ceiling fans and 4-poster beds with mosquito nets.

The main lodge has a large open-plan lounge, bar and restaurant area high above the beach. Food is simple, but fresh and tasty with plenty of fresh fish on the menu. There is a swimming pool which overlooks the beach, and on the beach itself there’s a traditional, weathered dhow boat which serves as the bar. The lodge also has a small spa offering massages and treatments and mountain bikes, snorkel equipment and kayaks are available to hire.

Wayfairer Opinion: This simple resort is ideal for those who want to relax, plus it offers a range of beach activities such as kite surfing and scuba diving for the more adventurous.

Konokono Beach Resort

Konokono Beach Resort is located on the Michamvi Peninsula and it is one of the most secluded places on the island. The resort is a quiet paradise offering privacy and romance in the heart of nature.

You’ll find all the modern luxuries such as a beach bar, restaurant, pool and spa which were designed with your romance and relaxation in mind. After long, lazy beach days, you can enjoy romantic sundowners on the beach, just metres from the clear tropical waters.

Wayfairer Opinion: Konokono Beach Resort offers the perfect combination of romance and relaxation. It is a Wayfairer favourite for honeymooners and couples.

Z Hotel

Z Hotel is located 2 km from Nungwi town centre on the northern tip of Zanzibar. This chic 35 room boutique hotel blends elegant, contemporary design with traditional Zanzibari features and it is undoubtedly the most upmarket property in this part of Nungwi.

Set in a lush, tropical garden with direct access to the white sandy beaches, the Z Hotel has been finished to a high specification by an international team of architects and interior designers. Each room has floor to ceiling glass doors leading onto a balcony which looks out to the Indian Ocean. The hotel offers à la carte, alfresco dining in the main restaurant ‘Saruche’, along with Asian-fusion tapas and sharing platters in ‘Cinnamon’, the cocktail bar, where you can also find an exclusive list of cocktails.

Wayfairer Opinion: The Z Hotel is ideal for those who want to enjoy activities such as waterskiing, snorkelling or diving, and it is also a great base for those who want to take a spice tour or visit Stone Town, Jozani Forest or Mnarani Turtle Sanctuary.

Nungwi Beach

Nungwi Beach on the northwest coast is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches in Zanzibar. Nungwi is the liveliest area of the island with numerous resorts, hotels, restaurants and bars for night-time entertainment.

This area has fantastic coral reefs which are ideal for diving and snorkelling - you may even be lucky enough to see dolphins, green turtles and, at certain times of the year, whale sharks.

Wayfairer Top Tip: Nungwe Beach offers some of the best sunsets in Zanzibar and we recommend taking a sunset cruise on a traditional dhow sailing boat.

Hideaway of Nungwi Resort & Spa

Surrounded by exotic gardens on the northwest coast of the island, Hideaway of Nungwi Resort & Spa is a sophisticated, beachside spa resort located 3 km from Nungwi Beach.

All rooms and suites have private terraces and stunning views over the lush gardens and Indian Ocean. They are designed for guests in search of seclusion and space.

Interiors have a sophisticated contemporary style with subtle Zanzibar touches. The Superior Junior Suites are within the Privileged Area, as well as two stunning Suites with private Jacuzzis on their terraces. Here guests enjoy a higher level of all-inclusive stay, with complimentary dining and priority reservations in the à la carte restaurants, butler service and private garden beach.

Hideaway resort also has four beach villas which are situated within the Privileged Area. The Prestige Beach Villa can accommodate up to four guests or for the ultimate in spacious privacy there is a three bedroom Ocean Front Villa.

Wayfairer Opinion: This resort is perfect for couples looking for an elegant, modern and sophisticated Zanzabari experience.

Kizimkazi

This small fishing village on the south coast of Zanzibar consists of two adjoining settlements: Kizimkazi Dimbani to the north and Kizimkazi Mkunguni to the south.

The coastline here is very different from the classic palm-backed lagoon of the east coast - here a coral rag cliff elevates the waterfront above the ocean and the beaches take the form of small coves rather than broad expanses of sand. For this reason there are relatively few lodges and resorts, and the area has a distinct and authentic atmosphere.

The village of Kizimkazi is famous for its dolphin safaris. If you’re visiting Kizimkazi please be careful about joining boat trips which offer the opportunity to swim with dolphins. There are no regulations regarding dolphin tourism in Zanzibar, and most tours are run by boat drivers with no experience or interest in animal behaviour.

Often boats crowd round the dolphins and chase them, and tourists jump into the water to swim with them, with no monitoring of the dolphin’s behaviour. Ask us about how to swim with dolphins responsibly if this is something you are keen to do.

The Residence Zanzibar

The Residence Zanzibar is a luxurious hotel situated on the southwest coast of Zanzibar, 20 minutes’ drive from Kizimkazi. Cocooned among 32 hectares of tropical gardens and fringed by a pristine mile-long beach, The Residence retains a feeling of privacy and quiet despite the fairly large number of villas.

The spacious one or two bedroom villas are split into six categories: Luxury Garden Pool Villas and Luxury Ocean Front Pool Villas are identical in design, but the latter are located closer to the beach, while Prestige Ocean Front Pool Villas are situated on the beachfront, offering superb views of the Indian Ocean from every room.

All of these accommodate either two adults and two children, or three adults and one child. Frangipani Garden Pool Villas have an additional bedroom with either twin or king size beds, whilst the Frangipani Ocean Front Pool Villas are closer to the beach. The Presidential Villa offers superb privacy, sea views and a large living room with spacious dining area, along with two en suite bedrooms with outdoor showers.

Guests can choose to eat privately in their villas or in one of two restaurants serving a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Wayfairer Opinion: The Residence Zanzibar is great for families as they can be accommodated easily in most of the villas and there's no minimum age. The kids' club is open from 8am to 5pm each day and offers plenty of activities to keep children amused, such as baking, making popcorn, visiting the nearby rescue animals and hair braiding. It’s also perfect for couples who are on their honeymoon and offers ideas to make your stay here extra special, such as private dinners on the beach. Weddings can also be arranged.

Unguja Lodge

Unguja Lodge is a small beach lodge situated at the southern tip of Zanzibar, near Kizimkazi Mkunguni. It is a very quiet part of the island with small, quiet beaches and lush green surroundings

Unguja Lodge has 10 private villas and two family houses. It can accommodate a maximum capacity of just 30 guests and as the manager lives on site you’re guaranteed a personal service during your stay. The lodge has an excellent relationship with the local people who live in Kizimkazi Mkunguni and most of the staff are from the village.

Wayfairer Opinion: The intimate atmosphere of Unguja Lodge makes it a great honeymoon destination. You can expect excellent personal hospitality, stunning views over the ocean and personal, romantic touches.

Matemwe

Matemwe is a section of coastline on the northeast of Zanzibar. The long, idyllic beach at Matemwe (the longest beach in Zanzibar) has some of the finest sand on the island and amongst the palm trees at the back of the beach you’ll find traditional fishing villages which offer a fascinating insight into the local culture.

Around 2km offshore, just beyond the main reef, is the world-famous Mnemba Atoll, surrounded by pristine and very accessible coral reefs. In terms of activities, this area has the best diving and snorkelling on the island, plus some excellent kite-surfing and sailing.

Matemwe Lodge

Vibrant yet laid-back, Matemwe Lodge has perfected the tropical island experience. Perched on an outcrop overlooking a shallow, coral-fringed lagoon on the quiet northeast coast of Zanzibar Island, Matemwe Lodge’s blissful location and relaxed atmosphere make it the ideal place to unwind.

Each of the 12 beach chalets scattered through the lush gardens has a private sea-facing veranda. From Matemwe Lodge you can go snorkelling, sailing, sea-kayaking or scuba diving, and it is easy to arrange tours to take in the rest of Zanzibar's sights such as Stone Town, Jozani Forest, Prison Island and fragrant spice plantations.

Wayfairer Opinion: This comfortable lodge is ideal for anyone looking for a secluded location and a relaxing, laid-back atmosphere, plus it is easy to access to Mnemba making it a great option for those who want to dive the Atoll.

Mnemba Island Lodge

Mnemba Island Lodge is an upscale all-inclusive resort situated on a private island just 4.5 kilometres off the northeast coast of Zanzibar, surrounded by an atoll of breathtaking coral reefs.

This is the height of exclusivity. There are 11 rustic-chic beachfront cottages, constructed from hand-woven coconut palm and local timber, overlooking the beach. The cottages are large, airy and each has a huge bed, wooden furniture, and comfortable sofas, and a palm-covered walkway leads to a stylish timber and glass en-suite bathroom.

Famous guests at Mnemba Island Lodge have included Tom Cruise, Naomi Campbell and Bill Gates.

Wayfairer Opinion: If you're looking for a luxury beach holiday in an exclusive setting, then Mnemba Island Lodge is a perfect choice. The service is first-rate, the food exquisite and everything runs like clockwork.

Pongwe Beach

Pongwe's quiet arc of beach is dotted with palm trees and backed by dense vegetation, and is about as close to the quintessential tropical paradise as you can get.

Pongwe Beach Hotel

Situated at the southern end of the beach that runs from Matemwe to Chwake, Pongwe Beach Hotel is a relaxed and peaceful property located on one of the most beautiful beaches on Zanzibar. Pongwe Beach is lucky in the fact that the whole beach is protected by an offshore reef which keeps the inner waters calm and safe for all to swim in, and snorkelling and boat trips can also be arranged to the reef. As with many Zanzibar beaches the area is tidal, however there is a beautiful infinity pool for you to enjoy when the tide is out.

With only 20 rooms (16 Beachfront Rooms and 4 Sea View Suites with private pools) there is a small and intimate feeling at Pongwe Beach Hotel. The rooms have been built in a traditional Zanzibari style with coconut palm thatched roofs, lime wash walls and hand-crafted wooden doors and within the rooms themselves there is hand crafted furniture and a large en-suite bathroom with Moroccan style walk in showers.

Wayfairer Opinion: This hotel is great for couples who want an authentic local experience rather than a high-end resort.

If you’re ready to start planning a holiday to Zanzibar, call our Luxury Travel Specialists, on 0203 143 4293 or send an online enquiry to inspire your journey.

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