Where to Stay in Zanzibar
If you are looking for warm lazy days and white tropical beaches then Zanzibar is a wonderful island to visit (especially in December). Stone Town is the equivalent to Venice only in Africa with its narrow walkways which allow you to immerse yourself in culture and history. It can get a bit crazy over December with a lot of travellers flocking for some sun and tropical beaches.
The big question you have to ask yourself about Zanzibar is what sort of beach holiday / experience you are after for Zanzibar?
The NE coast of Zanzibar is where the majority of the resorts and hotels are located with the beaches with the best swimming. This area doesn’t get affected by the tides dropping. Below is some information on different areas. The last one listed might be the best actually.
Stone Town, Zanzibar
In the centre of Zanzibar is the town of Stone Town. It was built in the 19th Century and features a labyrinth of narrow alleys with palaces, mosques, and small shops. It not clean and busy and noisy but it has a vibrant, exotic atmosphere the can encite the senses. Stay for a night or two at one of the beautifully converted merchant houses and go out to shop and eat.
For a good-value hotel of reasonable quality with local flavour, start by looking at sister-hotels: the Tembo Hotel and Dhow Palace Hotel; both offer good standards and value for money.
2 to 3 hours in the car north from Stone Town you will reach the village of Nungwi. This is the northern most part of Zanzibar. The bright blue ocean surrounds it on 3 sides. Nungwi is a popular area for travellers looking for paradise. Perfect for diving, beaches and location to a great village. There is so much going on in this area.
Over the last decade the coastline here has turned it into one of Zanzibar’s busiest beach areas. What was a ramshackle fishing village has become an increasingly busy place as various guesthouses, bars, shops and restaurants appear. The setting is beautiful, but the number of people in Nungwi town, the noise and the constant stream of apparently uncontrolled development do take the exclusive air off its charm.
That said, there is so much to do there and a must on every travellers plan. A visit to the turtle sanctuary is great and the night life a must. There are a number of great places to stay, one being Flame Tree Cottages with is a small guest house only a short stroll from the centre of the village. Perfect for a good nights sleep and not hearing the evenings noises from the bars.
East Coast of a Zanzibar
The NE coast of Zanzibar is made up of long white beaches which over look a reef about 1km from the shore line. Lodges on this coast are bigger then the NW region. The coast is effected by the tide which drops a long way at low tide meaning you can’t swim deeply in the water. Paddling on the top of the reef is fascinating.
Great area for snorkeling or deep sea diving. There are some great dive centres at both Matemwe Hotel and Shooting Star Hotel.
Matemwe Lodge is located in a great spot away from everything on a nice white sandy beach. The property allows for nice rooms and has a lovely atmosphere. A great place to stay in style.
A nice place to stay is the Pongwe Beach hotel, if not a bit rustic and very chilled.
Michamvi Peninsula and South-east Zanzibar
Moving south down the East Coast welcomes you to a quieter life and friendly villages. The soft sandy beaches continue and the tidal pull gets greater at low tide. If you are looking for relaxation Jambiani is a great option.
The area around Paje, Bwejuu and Jambiani, was once the most popular area for backpackers looking for the beach. But recently they have moved north leaving this area quiet. This area is more low key and perfect for a quite beach retreat.
If you are looking for a budget friendly place to stay the Echo Beach Lodge is a perfect place with stylish rooms, relaxed atmosphere and a great dive centre.
Just south of Stone Town is the Fumba peninsula. It is too is very relaxed and a friendly region of Zanzibar. You might like to go there to see dolphins or Monkeys in the Jozani Forest. Great place to escape the masses.
2005 saw the beginning of the Fumba Beach Lodge. It is located only 30 minutes from the airport and has 40 acres of land and 3 great beach coves. It is one of the only lodges in the Menai Conservation areas.
Another one of my best places is the Unguja (meaning Zanzibar). It’s a peaceful place, perfect for snorkeling and relaxing while watching the sunset over the ocean.
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