Tanzania Beaches and Zanzibar

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.

Why go to the beaches of Tanzania?

1)     When combining with a safari (as many do when going all the way to Africa!) with the beach, nowhere is more suited than Tanzania. With world-class wildlife only a short hop away, by holidaying in Tanzania you save precious time and money combining safari and beach. You also have so many options with accommodation on Tanzania beaches; there is really no need to look any further afield! Even if you are not going on safari, the international airports on the mainland are closer to the beach than anywhere else in Africa…  
2)     Accommodation on Tanzania beaches ranges so much in style and price, meaning there are amazing options for a variety of budgets. There are so many boutique hotels on the flamboyant and fabulous Zanzibar Island; you will be spoilt for choice.
3)     Other islands off the Tanzania coast offer world-class options for specific needs… Mafia and Pemba offer really world class diving, but there are also completely exclusive and luxurious options for the beach purists out there, such as the absolute Indian Ocean dream that is Mnemba Island.
4)     Also off Mafia Island sits a rare opportunity to swim and dive alongside the incredible whale sharks, which are quite literally, the biggest fish in the sea.
5)     The Tanzania beach gem of Zanzibar also offers cultural and historical intrigue. It was a former slave trade post, and taking a guided tour around Stone Town really gives you a peak into the history behind it’s crumbling buildings. It also has a really vibrant Arabic culture, so enjoy wondering around and soaking in its unique atmosphere. 

What are the best Tanzania beach holiday accommodation options?

Mnemba Island is, as previously mentioned, complete isolated Indian Ocean luxury. It is a lodge which sits on its own private island, and is probably one of the most remote and luxurious beach getaways in the world. If you are looking to push the boat out on your special trip, then Mnemba should be at the top of your list.

Ras Kutani is our favourite Indian Ocean mainland lodge. We say lodge, not hotel, because as it is owned by a safari company it has a really special owner-ran, safari-like and personalised feel to it – something you don’t get from hotels in the region. Ask us for a safari and Ras K combination, and the special offers you can get from such a trip!

Xanadu is one of the more luxurious and quirky Zanzibar offerings. With private villas scattered around the grounds, it offers seclusion, romance, privacy, and its huge perk – a chef who is quite literally Michelin star. It is a fantastic option for all different types of parties.

The Palms is a honeymooner’s dream. It is intimate, luxurious and offers really amazing service. It is probably one of our favourites on Zanzibar, simply because it demonstrates all-round excellence. 

The best Tanzania Beach Lodges

Where should I go on a Tanzania beach holiday?

There is excellent diving and snorkelling on the reefs around ZanzibarPemba 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 consider, 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.

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.

the best Tanzania beach destinations

How much does a Tanzania beach holiday cost? 

A Tanzania beach holiday cost obviously depends a huge amount on the quality of accommodation you are after, and how long you are staying for. The huge plus with a Tanzania beach holiday, is that a flight to say Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam is only around $200 return – when compared combining beach time with a Southern Africa itinerary, this is ludicrously cheaper and easier. Generally though, accommodation in Zanzibar starts with fantastic value for money great quality accommodation such as Pongwe, at $140 pppn and ranges all the way up to the extremely exclusive offers at $1,760 pppn…

Tanzania beaches luxury Vs Tanzania beaches adventure

The beauty of Tanzania beaches is that you can have all the luxuries of fabulous accommodation, whilst also enjoying a variety of different activities, especially when staying on Zanzibar. However, if you are mad keen on adventure and an avid diver, you may want to forfeit some accommodation luxuries and stay on the slightly less developed Mafia Island for your knock out diving. There is no reason why you can’t do both though! That is the great thing about a Tanzania beach getaway – everything is so close together! For absolute luxury and seclusion, ask us about the private islands which are on offer – some are not quite as expensive as you may think…

When is the best time to go to on a Tanzania beach holiday? 

The best time to go to Tanzania beaches is similar to the rest of Tanzania. Generally the dry season is recommended which runs from July to October. However, you will still have a fabulous time just outside these times (October and June), avoiding high season prices, and also from December – March is great – it could rain in short showers, but generally will be sunny and nice (not to mention low season prices…). .  

Top 5 Tanzania beach holiday tips

1)      Go on a marine life safari! There are beautiful reefs and a colourful marine life – all you have to do is break into the beautiful Indian Ocean.
2)      Choose boutique hotels instead of big commercial builds – this will give you a more intimate stay, and a more personalised and special all round experience.
3)      Drink some bubbly on an Indian Ocean dhow cruise… a really unique experience, which will give you variation in your beach stay, for adventurers and full time chillax-ers alike!  
4)      Splash out on a private island such as Fanjove, Mnemba and even the completely exclusive Thanda. These options are the unparalleled Tanzania beach experience, and this statement could even extend to the whole of Africa.
5)      Deep sea fishing is fantastic here! Give it a go, or if you are an extremely keen fisherman, we can give you the best tips for an amazing fishing holiday.

Tanzania beaches Vs Indian Ocean Island beaches 

We can’t stress enough how much easier the Tanzania beaches are than the other islands off the coast of Africa such as the Seychelles and Mauritius. It is a far more cost effective and less time consuming option, and unless you have a real yearn to visit these places, the extra money could be better spent on really high quality accommodation off the Tanzania coast. However, if you are seafaring in Southern Africa and definitely looking for beach time then these two other options, as well Mozambique’s coastline are still really attractive options for your Indian Ocean relaxation in the sunshine.  

How to combine safari with a Tanzania beach holiday?  

You can easily combine a safari in any park in Tanzania and Kenya. Most flights will touch down in Dar es Salaam, and then go on to the beaches of Tanzania - it really couldn't be simpler. It is especially easy from Tanzania, as there is no need to waste time twiddling your thumbs at passport control! You can also combine Zanzibar with Southern Africa itineraries; however, it will take a bit more time with costly flights. 

Tanzania beach holiday further details: 

Between us here in our office we have visited almost every lodge, hotel or camp in Tanzania that is worth talking about so the best way to book a a Tanzania beach holiday is to get in touch and have a chat with us. Email us on [email protected] or call through on 1866 356 4691 or the UK on 020 8704 1216. 

We don't just know Tanzania! 

For more information on Tanzania, the best thing to do is to give us a ring for an impartial chat. Although we love Tanzania, we also love the rest of Africa too and have experts in all the main safari countries. If you are undecided as to where to visit, please do just drop us an email or give us a call! 




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