5. Kizimkazi Beach, Authenticity & Dolphin Safaris
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 fewer accommodation options and the area has a distinct and authentic atmosphere.
The village of Kizimkazi is famous for its dolphin safaris. However, if you’re visiting Kizimkazi please be mindful 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 no monitoring of the dolphin’s behaviour.
Instead, contact us to ask about how to swim with dolphins responsibly in Zanzibar during your holidays, if this is something you are keen to do.
The Best Resorts Around Kizimkazi Beach
- The Residence Zanzibar is a luxurious and family-friendly hotel on the southwest coast of Zanzibar, 20 minutes’ drive from Kizimkazi, surrounded by 32 hectares of tropical gardens and fringed by a pristine mile-long beach.
- Unguja Lodge is a small beach lodge on the southern tip of Zanzibar, near Kizimkazi Mkunguni. This is a very quiet part of the island with small beaches and lush green surroundings. The lodge has an excellent relationship with the local people who live in Kizimkazi Mkunguni and most of the staff are from the village.
6. Matemwe Beach, Local Culture & Scuba Diving
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 two kilometres offshore, just beyond the main reef, is the world-famous island of Mnemba Atoll; a popular scuba diving spot surrounded by pristine and very accessible coral reefs.
The area around Matemwe Beach has the best diving and snorkelling on the island, plus some excellent kitesurfing and sailing.
Where to Stay Around Matemwe Beach
- Matemwe Lodge is perched on an outcrop overlooking a shallow, coral-fringed lagoon on the quiet northeast coast of Zanzibar Island. The easy access to Mnemba makes this resort a great option for those who want to dive the Atoll.
- 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 coral reefs bursting with life. Famous guests at Mnemba Island Lodge include Tom Cruise, Naomi Campbell and Bill Gates.
7. Pongwe Beach, Tropical Paradise & Calm Waters for Swimming
Pongwe beach is arguably the best swimming beach in Zanzibar.
Pongwe's quiet arc of beach is dotted with palm trees and backed by dense vegetation; this is about as close to a quintessential tropical paradise as you can get.
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. Snorkelling and boat trips can also be arranged to the reef.
The Best Beach Resorts Near Pongwe
- Pongwe Beach Hotel is a small and intimate resort located on one of the most beautiful beaches on Zanzibar. The rooms have been built in a traditional Zanzibari style with coconut palm thatched roofs, lime wash walls and hand-crafted wooden doors. There is also a beautiful infinity pool for you to enjoy when the tide is out.
8. Paje Beach, Kitesurfing & Diving
Located on the southeast coast, Paje beach has all the makings of a perfect beach: long stretches of white sand, palm trees swaying in the breeze, turquoise waters and exquisite sunsets.
Bordered by a small village on one side, Paje is peaceful and quiet, making this beach a great alternative to the busier, more developed beaches in the north of Zanzibar.
Paje beach is known for its water sports and the excellent kitesurfing conditions draw amateur and professional kitesurfers from all over the world to this specific area of the island.
In addition to this, the clear, warm waters are great for scuba diving, as the reefs offshore are home to turtles, starfish, trumpet fish, moray eels and other colourful marine creatures.
You might also see locals collecting seaweed at low tide at Paje beach, which is used to make soap via a women’s cooperative.
The products come wrapped in banana leaf and can be purchased at local shops; buying a bar or two is a great way to sustainably support the community, plus the soap’s natural ingredients are incredibly good for your skin.
You can find out more about Zanzibar's seaweed soap initiative in this recent article by the BBC.
After sunset, the beach turns into a lively party spot, though the atmosphere is relaxed and international.
The Best Beaches in Zanzibar for the Holiday You Want
Whether you’re looking to explore the island’s colourful coral reefs on a scuba diving trip, or simply recline on the powder sands with a cocktail in hand, we hope this map and guide to the best beaches in Zanzibar has helped you decide which beach is best for the type of holiday you want.
Plan your Zanzibar Holiday