ZANZIBAR BEACH HOLIDAY
Zanzibar Beach holidays
The Zanzibar archipelago consists of more than 50 islands, ranging from tiny outcrops to the larger, more populated islands of Zanzibar (more properly called Unguja) and Pemba. The beaches are often stunning, with powdery white sand, shaded by palm trees. The sea is shallow, but venture further out into the sparkling, turquoise water and you’ll find coral reefs for great snorkelling and diving. The larger islands are lush and highly fertile and everywhere the air is suffused with the aroma of fruit and spices: it’s an intoxicating, exotic atmosphere.
Popular as a post-safari choice, a Zanzibar holiday can also be a great stand-alone escape. The main island offers an exceptional diversity of accommodation, from simple beach lodges and small boutique hotels to all-inclusive beach resorts and luxury hotels. If you’re in search of a remote island getaway, Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coastl has two other gems: Mafia Island, a long-time favourite of diving aficionados, and the newly accessible hideaway of Fanjove. For a brief summary of Zanzibar’s regions and the differences between them, see our page on the different areas of Zanzibar.
Although Zanzibar receives holiday visitors all year round, most people come outside of the main rainy season, when Zanzibar’s weather is at its best, between June and February. This can link in perfectly with a safari in Tanzania, which very broadly shares the same weather pattern.
What to expect on a Zanzibar beach holiday
Sun, sea and sand: a Zanzibar beach holiday offers these in abundance. Zanzibar’s beaches differ, but almost all feature crystal-clear waters lapping at the edge of powdery-white sand that trickles through the toes. Be aware, though, that off many beaches, especially on the east coast, low tide can reduce the broad, shallow lagoon to a virtually empty puddle, and swimming is often only possible when the tide is in. It is always worth consulting online tide tables, as the daily range along the East African coast varies through each month and typically ranges from around 1 metre to more than 3 metres.
Zanzibar offers some excellent snorkelling, and world-class diving – which is centred around Mnemba Atoll to the north-west, and the Menai Bay Conservation Area, to the island’s south-west. But even if you’re not a water enthusiast, the chance to view the coastline from a traditional wooden dhow is not to be missed.
The team at Expert Africa has visited almost every one of the 250 or so places to stay in Zanzibar to bring you a selection of the best. Some offer exclusivity, at a price; others are all-inclusive beach resorts; still others are big international beach hotels. Most of Zanzibar’s best places to stay, however, are relatively low-key beach lodges.