Zanzibar: Where to stay guide


By Matt McMillan

Zanzibar is the perfect spot for post-safari relaxation or simply an idyllic beach holiday with a twist of something special. The island is covered in banana and coconut trees, spice farms and lush vegetation along with some of the most beautiful beaches you will find in any part of the world. At 80kms long and 30kms wide its quite a large island, and choosing where to stay can be a complex decision with factors such as beach quality, tides and access to the property all needing to be taken into consideration.

Zanzibar has a huge tidal range, especially in some regions which can make swimming difficult at any time other than high tide. The low tide can be a chance to visit nearby spice farms or to explore rocky pools and seagrass meadows by wearing some reef shoes, but if you just want to laze on the beach then you need to choose carefully. Luckily several of our team have been to Zanzibar and experienced all there is to offer; so what follows is a quick guide of where to stay and why, along with a few of our hotel suggestions.

North-West Coast

Popular beaches in this region: Nungwi & Kendwa

It takes around 60-90 minutes from the airport to reach the northwest coast of Zanzibar and Nungwi and Kendwa are the most popular beaches, often featuring in ‘worlds best’ lists. There isn’t a lot of difference between Nungwi and Kendwa, they are essentially the same beach with Nungwi having more bars and nightlife and Kendwa being more laid back, and the beach widens a bit more in this area so is more spacious. Apart from fantastic beaches this area will provide you with the best sunsets on the island and a comparatively small tidal range means you can swim in the ocean throughout the day. The clear waters are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and diving with some fantastic coral reefs nearby.

Stunning Nungwi Beach

Our Hotel Picks:

  1. Zuri Zanzibar
  2. “Relaxed luxury property hidden amongst the jungle on the best stretch of beach I have seen in Zanzibar, mid way between Nungwi and Kendwa. Spacious and well designed rooms and a laid back vibe, you can even take a free spice tour and cooking demonstration on site” Matt McMillan, Eclipse Travel Director.

  3. Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est (will soon be rebranded as ‘Riu Palace La Gemma’)
  4. “Despite being quite a large hotel with 138 rooms it doesn’t feel busy as it’s really spacious and spread out. Lovely grounds overlooking the ocean and a huge variety of activities. I’m generally not a fan of large hotels but with its excellent beach, nice rooms and great facilities I feel this is a great option for couples and in particular families to enjoy the best area of Zanzibar in my opinion” Matt McMillan, Eclipse Travel Director.

East and South-East Coast

Popular beaches in this region: Bwejuu, Pingwe and Jambiani

This area is home to some of the island’s most spectacular beaches and barrier reefs. The tidal range here is considerable which means you may have to go for a walk on the reef to find a swimming spot at any time other than high tide. It’s also home to a wide variety of lodges and resorts catering to all types of customers.

Pingwe Beach

Our Hotel Picks:

  1. Baraza Hotel and Spa
  2. “The villas were amazing. Arabian design, private pool and fully stocked fridge! A few different eating options, right on the beach. Perfect” Tim Farquhar, Eclipse Travel Director.

  3. Breezes Beach Club
  4. “Breezes is a family owned property located on a great stretch of beach that feels less commercial than some of the other larger resorts but still has lots of amenities and a buzzing atmosphere, which is ideal for families.There are tennis courts, a movie room, swimming pool, PADI dive & watersports centre on site, volleyball etc.” Hilary Dubyk – Eclipse Travel Africa Travel Designer.

Stone Town

No visit to Zanzibar would be complete without a visit to vibrant historic district of Stone Town, located within the capital city, Zanzibar City. I’d definitely recommend starting or finishing your trip with a night here so you can sample the history and culture of the island as you wander through the labyrinth of old streets and visit its bustling fruit, seafood, meat and spice markets along with the interesting museums located within the city.

Eclectic Stone Town

Our Hotel Picks:

  1. Kisiwa House
  2. “Exclusive boutique hotel located in the old centre of Stone Town with spacious rooms and a lovely open terrace with views of the ocean” Matt McMillan, Eclipse Travel Director.

  3. Tembo House Hotel
  4. “Waterfront property with great views, swimming pool and comfortable rooms. I really liked the ambiance of the bar and restaurant by the port and think this is a great value option, especially for families with its large family rooms” Matt McMillan, Eclipse Travel Director.

Talk to our specialist travel designers today to find out more about this intriguing destination and start planning your African adventure of a lifetime.

You can read Ben’s blog on his visit here, or see the Zanzibar holidays we offer here.

If you want to find out more about the destinations in this article, or have any questions in general please contact us.