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Tanzania Beaches

The shores of East Africa are lapped by the Indian Ocean; brilliantly blue and beautifully warm, creating beaches to dream about. The coral sands of the mainland and islands are soft, white and powdery and the sea teems with colourful marine life. These are fabulous beaches, too good to miss, and the perfect complement to the excitement and adventure of safari.
This glorious Swahili coastline caters to every whim. Action or relaxation, air conditioning or a sea breeze, beach-shack-chic or deluxe resort with all the bells and whistles – all styles of accommodation can be found on a Tanzania beach.  The general vibe is easy going and laid-back, in keeping with the glorious natural setting.

There is excellent diving and snorkelling on the reefs around Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia; big game fishing is available in places and some beach locations also have sailing boats, kayaks and kite-surfing.  Let us know what sort of activities you enjoy, and we will match you with the lodge that best fits your requirements.  Be aware that the cost of the various activities does vary from lodge to lodge.


Where else should we start, but one of the world’s most famous paradise islands?  Ninety percent of Tanzania beach accommodation is found on Zanzibar, just a twenty-minute flight east of Dar es Salaam, a forty-minute flight from the Selous and now, thanks to a new fast service from Coastal Aviation, just two hours from the Serengeti.

Zanzibar is blessed with miles and miles of glorious white sand beaches, protected by the coral reef that rings the majority of the island. There are secluded coves, working beaches where the dhow fisherman leave their boats, private stretches of untouched sand and, equally, stretches of sand with sun-beds as far as the eye can see (although our clients usually prefer to avoid these!).  This is an island with something for everyone.

The western side of the island has little to offer in beach terms save in the far north and south.  As you move anti-clockwise around coast from Stone Town the first lodge / hotel of note is The Residence, on the western side of Zanzibar’s southerly tip. The beaches here tend to take the form of small coves flanked by rocky cliffs - they're ok, but there are better beaches elsewhere.

Rounding the south of the island towards the bottom half of the east coast, an almost uninterrupted beach stretches all the way to the Michamvi Peninsula. Some parts are better than others, but in places this is one of Zanzibar's best beaches.  There are many good lodges here including some of our favourites to the north. The central village of Paje on this south east coast has become a world centre for kite surfing.

Crossing Chwaka Bay towards the upper half of the eastern coast, this area is dominated by the beaches of Kiwengwa and Matemwe. Kiwengwa is the domain of some of the island's largest resorts (generally best avoided!) but Matemwe is a great stretch of sand with several high quality boutique lodges.

At the northern tip of Zanzibar, generally regarded as the prettiest part of the island, lies the village of Nungwi. This once sleepy fishing village is now a travel hotspot, with some great lodges to the east and a lively backpacker’s area on the western side.

Continuing around the coast to the west and south brings us to the beach area of Kendwa, home to Zanzibar’s finest beach but, very unfortunately, some of its worst resorts. This is also the main backpacker area with massive 100+ room hotels next to $50 a night bungalows. Kilindi, hidden round the headland from this area, is the exception.

Best Tanzania Beach Lodges

Other islands and the mainland

While Zanzibar is the obvious focal point of Tanzania’s beach scene, the mainland coast and some of the smaller islands should not be forgotten...

Of the islands, the furthest south of these is the incredible Fanjove, a Robinson Crusoe style private island – the stuff of most kids' (and if we’re being honest, most adults!) dreams....

A short flight up the coast is Mafia, the island that time forgot. This is a diving mecca surrounded by thriving marine park, but with relatively poor beaches - one for divers and explorers rather than beach lovers.

One mile off the coast of Zanzibar’s Matemwe beach is Mnemba, one of Africa’s, if not the world’s, finest private islands. The best beach hideaway, with a price tag to match.

North of Zanzibar Island is Pemba, relatively large but little visited. Like Mafia, Pemba's diving is better than its beaches although it does have some stunning sand off-shore, notably from Fundu Lagoon.

While we try and make our website as comprehensive as possible, if you would like some more background information on the Tanzanian coastline, or Tanzania in general, have a read through the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania and Zanzibar, written by our director Annabel. The most recent addition was published in 2005 so some of it is slightly dated but generally it is fully reliable and comprehensive.




Although we tailor-make all our trips we have reproduced a number of popular itineraries here

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Tanzania Map Tanzania - Serengeti Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania - Lake Manyara Tanzania - Tarangire Tanzania - Kilimanjaro Tanzania - Selous Game Reserve Tanzania - Ruaha Tanzania - Mahale Mountains Tanzania - Katavi Tanzania - Zanzibar Tanzania - Pemba Island Tanzania - Mafia Island Tanzania - Dar es Salaam Tanzania - Arusha
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