Zanzibar is an archipelago of historic Indian Ocean islands, awash with atmosphere, intrigue, and idyllic beach experiences. Zanzibar island itself is approximately 90 km long and 40 km wide. There are masses of accommodation options across the price spectrum, and plenty to see, do and discover. As the birthplace of the Swahili, site of Sultans’ Palaces and renowned for its spice plantations, the little island republic of Zanzibar features larger-than-life on the world map and is a must-see at the end of any trip to Tanzania.
Options for a Zanzibar beach holiday are many, but broadly, the island can be divided into five areas: Nungwi in the north, the east coast, the south-east, 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 turquoise-blue ocean, Nungwi has long been a magnet for visitors seeking paradise. Come for some good diving and beaches, and proximity to a lively village where there’s always a lot going on.
Zanzibar’s east coast is lined with long, powder-white beaches. To the north, numerous small resorts boast similar beaches, yet all are quite different. Offshore you’re find the magical Mnemba Island – the ultimate island lodge for those who can afford it.
Continuing along Zanzibar’s south-east coast, 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 become a little sleepier and more relaxed as you head south, and Jambiani, in particular, is very relaxed indeed: for an authentic visit to a friendly village, you can’t beat it.
In south-west Zanzibar, the Fumba Peninsula is a very laid-back and friendly corner of the island, with two good lodges, while offshore is the award-winning eco-resort on Chumbe Island.
A 30-minute flight north-east of Zanzibar Island, Pemba Island is comparable in size, but far more traditional in outlook, and visitor numbers here are tiny. Apart from a handful of honeymooners, most come for the diving, which can be excellent – although it’s really best suited to advanced divers.