Spice Island, also known as Zanzibar, is a vibrant and colorful city. The laid-back people, relaxed vibe, and beaches keep tourists visiting yearly. I did some snorkeling, swimming, walking, and watching an acrobatic show at six beaches around the island. I have provided feedback below on the best six beaches to visit in Zanzibar according to locals. I’ve also included places for accommodation at the end.
I went here from Prison Island, about a twenty-minute boat ride. It is possible to snorkel here, but unfortunately, there were too many jellyfish when I went. So, I skipped it and opted to swim on the other side of the sandbank. The turquoise-colored water is refreshing, and the endless sandbank makes it easy to walk up and down the beach. Tour companies can also arrange a bbq lunch. The boat will return to Stone Town, taking about fifteen minutes.
I liked swimming here because the water was clear and not rocky. During high season there are a lot of tourists at the beach. The boats will provide shade even if a bbq is not on the agenda. Numerous ladies will continue to ask you to buy souvenirs and drinks. The trip cost $110, but included a visit to Prison Island, snorkeling, and a Stone Town walking tour. It is possible to book only the sandbank. Tour contact details are posted below.
While heading to the island, guests may be able to see some dolphins. Once arriving near the beach, it’s time to snorkel from the boat. Colorful yellow, pink, and blue fish are swimming all around. There were about five other boats with maybe ten people snorkeling nearby when I went. I was solo, so my guide said I could stay here as long as I wanted. I only snorkeled for about forty minutes because the waves were a little rough, making it hard to see a lot of fish.
Then our boat headed to the other side of Mnemba, where I could stand and walk in the sandy turquoise and blue seawater. I liked this part because of the sea color and the fact that I could walk and relax in the water. We also had fresh fruit to snack on. My guide provided snorkel gear, fruit, and water. After swimming, we went to Garden Bob Swahili Restaurant. It’s colorful decor includes surf board tables. I recommend the grilled banana coconut with Chuku Chuku fish. Mnemba will always be recommended as one of the best six beaches to visit in Zanzibar according to locals because visitors can stand and walk in the water far from the beach.
This is the one of the best six beaches to visit in Zanzibar according to locals for those wanting to see a twenty-minute acrobatic show after the sun sets. Eight guys will jump, flip, and limbo while the stick is on fire. Guests can also join the limbo fun before the fire starts.
I’ll be honest; this was my least favorite beach. We came here around 4 pm to wait for the sunset. Swimming isn’t good because it’s too rocky and there is a lot of seaweed. I suggest coming here closer to sunset and watching the acrobat show. There is a bar and music so visitors can dance the night away.
Locals will say this is the best beach on the island because of the swimming, dhow sunset cruises, white sand, jet skis, and plenty of bars and restaurants. There is also a full moon party every month. Kendwa was the busiest beach I visited. It is possible to use the lounge chairs near the beach where the Kendwa rocks swing is. It is also safe to keep your belongings on your chair while swimming. Drinks and food are also available, and the restaurant takes credit cards.
I can see why everyone says this is the best beach because there are many things to do here, but maybe because I live in a country with just as many beautiful beaches, I was not hooked on this being the best beach. I’m glad I came here to swim. This northern beach is about a thirty-minute drive from Paje.
Kite surfing is the main reason why Paje is one of the best six beaches to visit in Zanzibar according to the locals. Paje beach was one of my favorites because there is seaweed farming, kite surfing, and rippled sand formations in the water. It is also a very chilled beach. Around 10:00 in the morning, it is common to see local women in the water looking after their seaweed farms. Book a tour at Mwani to learn more about seaweed farming.
Many come here for kite surfing, and there are at least ten shops along the beach to book a three-hour lesson. Some shops have lounge chairs, and they will let guests use them for free. There are restaurants and souvenir shops along the beaches. I enjoyed peanut-encrusted fish with bananas in a sweet tomato sauce at the Seafood Restaurant in town. Paje has a very beach town vibe, and several hotels and beach bars have nightly parties. For those wanting less noise and more chill, Jambiani is another option to stay, which is less than a fifteen-minute drive from Paje.
I stayed in Kairo, Kiwengwa, which was the less touristy side. There is a kite surfing and diving shop here. I preferred swimming in the afternoon, around 4 pm, when it wasn’t so wavy and windy. The non-crowded beach makes relaxing very enjoyable; however, this side of the island is very windy, especially after 5 pm.
One place for a good tiramisu is The Yoga Bar. This chill place with good music also has daily yoga sessions. I enjoyed coming here to write but missed the yoga class. Another excellent restaurant to eat at is Amore Beach Restaurant. I ate here three times because the food was fresh and flavorful, like the Ugali with fish coconut curry and the octopus with vegetable curry. There are maybe ten places to stay in this village, so it’s quiet and peaceful. Kiwengwa is about an hour from Stone Town.
I stayed at Deja Blue bed and breakfast. It was in a good location – a two-minute walk to town and a three-minute walk to the beach. Breakfast includes eggs, toast, and fruit. Relax on the hammock or read a book on an oversized cushioned chair. The greenery all around makes this a relaxing place. Only cash is accepted, but it is possible to pay in Shillings or dollars. The price for three nights cost $120.
The Kichwa House is a newer guest house. It is located inside Kairo village, with the beach just a minute away. The cost for three nights was $153. The included breakfast is at Amore Beach Restaurant. Muhiddin, who runs the house, is extremely friendly, and if you have questions, ask him. Coffee and tea are available in the common area. Chill upstairs on the roof when needing a break from the sun. I also recommend a spiced oil massage at Mama Africa Hot Spa, two minutes from the B&B.
To sum up
So hopefully this list of the best six beaches to visit in Zanzibar according to locals has helped. There is a beach for everyone, whether for water sports, relaxing, or catching sunsets. For snorkeling and boat trips, I booked mine through Imran Jape, a friend of one of my university students who own a tour company with his brother. You can also send him a message on WhatsApp at +255 628 948 607 or on Instagram @Imran_jape. To prepare for your trip, check out my tips for traveling to Zanzibar here.