With a choice of more than 25 gorgeous white-sand beaches on Zanzibar, it’s easy to find a secluded spot to play out Robinson Crusoe fantasies or to relax on a sun lounger just a short stroll from the comforts of a 5-star resort – just perfect for couples enjoying a romantic honeymoon holiday.
Most of Zanzibar's best beaches lie along the east coast, the exceptions being Nungwi on the northern tip of the island and Mangapwani Beach on the west coast.
The best beaches in Zanzibar, include…
Pick your own spot to sunbathe on this 1.5km-long, palm-fringed white-sand beach that stretches around the northern tip of the island.
While narrow on the western side, the beach gets wider as you round the cape to the east.
Go swimming, snorkelling and diving in the warm reef-protected waters of the lagoon, looking out for turtles, dolphins and numerous species of rainbow-hued reef fish.
In the early morning see local woman dragging nets through the shallows to catch the day’s meal. Watch craftsmen building traditional wooden sailing boats (dhows) of centuries-old design.
Facilities including sun loungers, shade huts, toilets, bars, restaurants, beach volleyball and soccer courts are found only around the resorts. Water sports include kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, sailing, dhow cruises, waterskiing, windsurfing and kite surfing.
Visit for a day or stay longer in the eco-sensitive, palm-thatched, whitewashed cottages of the luxurious Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel, which sits surrounded by lush tropical gardens facing the beach. The resort hosts a fully equipped water sports centre with a world-class PADI facility.
Nungwi Beach is located at the northern tip of the island, around 55km from Stone Town.
Unwind on the shimmering white sands of this long, pristine and uncrowded beach that shelves into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Sunbathe on the soft sand and go swimming or kayaking in the crystalline waters.
Facilities include thatched shade huts and sun loungers provided by the various beachside resorts and a choice of bars and restaurants that line the beach.
Kendwa is known for its monthly Full Moon Party, arranged for a Saturday night just before or after a full moon.
Stay for a day or be pampered with a range of creature comforts at the La Gemma Dell'Est, a luxurious 5-star eco-friendly resort that overlooks the beach.
Kendwa Beach lies to the south of Nungwi Beach on the northwest coast, around 40km from Stone Town.
Dip your toes into the soft white sand of this idyllic stretch of palm-fringed beach that stretches on either side of Matemwe fishing village.
The long beach is indented by jagged rock formations that jut into the calm turquoise waters of the reef-protected lagoon. While swimming is impossible at low tide, the long hike across the lagoon to the barrier reef is worth it.
Sunbathe on the uncrowded beach, go swimming and snorkelling in the crystalline waters at high tide or head over to nearby Mnemba Atoll for excellent diving and snorkelling. Watch local village women harvest seaweed at low tide and then hang it on racks to dry (before it’s exported to Japan).
Facilities including shade huts and sun loungers are found at several beach resorts, including the Zanzibar Retreat Hotel, a charming whitewashed and thatched-roof boutique hotel. Water sports equipment includes kayaks and sailing catamarans.
Matemwe Beach is located on the northeast coast less than an hour’s drive from Stone Town, around 45km.
Unwind on this pristine and uncrowded powder-white sand beach that shelves into the palm-fringed waters of a sheltered cove.
Visit for a day or stay longer at the Pongwe Beach Hotel, a small and intimate hotel with just 16 traditional thatched cottages set in private gardens backing on to the white-sand beach.
Pongwe Beach sits in the centre of the northeast coast, around 35km from Stone Town.
Bring to life Robinson Crusoe fantasies on the soft white sand of this long, seemingly endless and unspoiled beach that stretches along the southeast coast of Zanzibar.
Go swimming, snorkelling and diving in the warm reef-protected waters of the lagoon.
Try beachcombing or biking along the pristine and uncrowded shoreline, stopping to visit some of the small fishing villages that lie scattered along the beach.
There are no facilities except for those at the occasional guesthouse and hotel.
Visit for a day or stay longer at the charming Blue Oyster Hotel. Jambiani Beach is on the east coast, around 50km from Stone Town.
Latest update: Best beaches in Zanzibar: 3 January, 2023