Zanzibar Beach Holidays
The Zanzibar archipelago consists of more than 50 islands, from tiny outcrops to the larger, more populated islands of Zanzibar, which are actually called Unguja and Pemba. The beaches are often stunning, with powder-white sand shaded by palm trees. The sea is shallow, but if you venture further out into the sparkling turquoise waters, you will find coral reefs that invite snorkelling and diving. The larger islands are lush and extremely fertile, and the scent of fruit and spices is in the air everywhere: an intoxicating, exotic atmosphere.

The island of Zanzibar is known as the tropical paradise of Africa and offers the most beautiful beaches in the world. Miles of white, palm-fringed sandy beaches surrounded by the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. The island of Zanzibar is part of the Zanzibar archipelago, together with the island of Pemba and many smaller islands. These islands are also called the Spice Islands because of their rich history in the spice trade and the many spice plantations.

A Zanzibar holiday is a popular option after a safari, but can also be a great stand-alone experience. The main island offers an exceptional variety of accommodation, from simple beach lodges and small boutique hotels to all-inclusive beach resorts and luxury hotels.

If you’re looking for a remote island, there are two more gems on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast: Mafia Island, long a favourite among divers, and the newly accessible Fanjove retreat.

Although Zanzibar is visited by holidaymakers all year round, most come outside the main rainy season when the weather in Zanzibar is at its best, between June and February. This combines perfectly with a safari in Tanzania, which has broadly the same weather pattern.

Beach holiday
The options for a beach holiday in Zanzibar are varied, but broadly speaking the island can be divided into five areas: Nungwi in the north, the east coast, the southeast, the west coast and a few offshore islands.

Two or three hours’ drive from Stone Town, the village of Nungwi marks the northernmost tip of Zanzibar. Surrounded on three sides by a turquoise sea, Nungwi has long been a magnet for visitors seeking paradise. They come for the good diving and beaches, and for its proximity to a lively village where there is always something going on.

The east coast of Zanzibar is lined with long, powder-white beaches. In the north, there are numerous small resorts with similar beaches, but they are all very different. Off the coast is the enchanting Mnemba Island – the ultimate island lodge for those who can afford it.

Along the south-east coast of Zanzibar, the beaches remain stunning: powder-white sand with a barrier reef, lots of palm trees and a wide lagoon between the beach and the reef. The villages get a little sleepier and more relaxed the further south you go, and Jambiani in particular is very laid back: for an authentic visit to a friendly village, you can’t beat it.

To the southwest of Zanzibar, the Fumba Peninsula is a very relaxed and friendly corner of the island, with two good lodges, while off the coast is the award-winning eco-resort on Chumbe Island.

Pemba Island, a 30-minute flight northeast of Zanzibar, is comparable in size but far more traditional, and visitor numbers here are very low. Apart from a handful of honeymooners, most come for the diving, which can be excellent – although it’s really only for advanced divers.

Equally magical, though not part of the Zanzibar archipelago, is the Mafia archipelago. More remote and tranquil than many other places in Zanzibar, Mafia Island offers excellent diving and snorkelling in its own marine park, serviced only by a few small lodges. And new on the Tanzania beach holiday scene is Fanjove Island, an ideal place to unwind after a safari in southern Tanzania.

Activities on a beach holiday in Zanzibar
Sun, sea and sand: a beach holiday in Zanzibar offers this in abundance. Zanzibar’s beaches vary, but almost all offer crystal clear waters lapping at the edge of powdery white sand that trickles down to your toes. Note, however, that on many beaches, especially on the east coast, low tide can turn the wide, shallow lagoon into an almost empty puddle and swimming is often only possible at high tide. It is always worth consulting the tide tables on the internet, as the daily variation along the East African coast varies from month to month, usually ranging from about 1 metre to more than 3 metres.

Zanzibar offers excellent snorkelling and world-class diving, concentrated in Mnemba Atoll in the northwest and Menai Bay Conservation Area in the southwest of the island. But even if you’re not a water fan, don’t miss the opportunity to view the coastline from a traditional wooden dhow.

The Maus Safari has visited almost all of the 250 or so accommodations in Zanzibar to bring you a selection of the best. Some offer exclusivity at a price, some are all-inclusive beach resorts and some are large international beach hotels. However, most of the best accommodation in Zanzibar is relatively low-key beach lodges.

Accommodation in Zanzibar
International-style beach hotels are far from the norm in Zanzibar, and those that could be described as such sometimes seem to miss the point and could be anywhere. Service standards in Zanzibar are improving and can be good in a relaxed way, but they don’t usually reach the level of service that most people would expect from a top international resort in the Caribbean.