Zanzibar it is a destination suitable for any type of traveler. Whether you want to enjoy the beaches and the sun, whether you are interested in the cultural aspects of the island or you want to dedicate your days to nature excursions, you will certainly not be disappointed by this destination.
What most people call Zanzibar is actually the island of Unguja, the largest of theZanzibar archipelago. The island is wonderful and my advice is to travel far and wide to discover its beauties and hidden gems.
In this post, however, I would like to dedicate myself to advising you where to stay in Zanzibar because it was one of the questions I asked myself: this is why, when I was there during my trip to Tanzania do it yourself, I did a few days here and a few days there, in order to try them all!
Choosing the best area to sleep on the island depends above all on personal tastes and what you want to do during your vacation. I will explain to you from time to time why you should choose a coast and a location instead of another according to your needs.
- What to know BEFORE booking a hotel in Zanzibar
- 1 - The North coast: Nungwi and Kendwa
- 2 - Costa Est: Kiwengwa, Matemwe e Uroa
- 3 - South-East Coast: Paje and Jambiani
- 4 - West Coast, where NOT to sleep in Zanzibar
- 5 - Where to sleep in Stone Town
- BONUS !!! 3 Dream resort for your honeymoon
What to know before booking a hotel in Zanzibar
The doubt that haunts all travelers leaving for Zanzibar is that of which cost to choose. Each location has its own characteristics and telling you which is the most beautiful is difficult, if not impossible.
What I can do, however, is to tell you to choose according to your tastes, also taking into account the tidal phenomenon.
Some stretches of coast are very affected by the lowering and rising of the sea water, while others are very slightly affected.
Although the phenomenon of the tides is very fascinating, it is also true that it can cause some problems for tourists who want to enjoy the beaches of Zanzibar: in some cases the water withdraws for hundreds of meters making it impossible to swim.
I have created a map so you can orient yourself better:
The north - west coast is minimally affected by the tides, while the east coast is more so.
When planning your trip, try to take into account the rainy season as well as the tides.
- Dry season (June to October) - It is best to visit Zanzibar in these months when it is cool and dry.
- Warm season (December to February) - the hottest months of the year, a decent season to visit Zanzibar.
- Long rainy season (from March to May) - Season in which it is more likely to get rain, but if you are lucky you could also have the sun for a whole week.
- Short rainy season (November) - In November it tends to rain every day, but only for a short time.
Having said that, now I'll tell you in detail what they are the best areas to stay in Zanzibar and why.
The NORTH coast
La north coast it is practically not affected by the phenomenon of the tides. It can be seen around Nungwi, but it has no effect on bathing and it is for this reason that this area of Zanzibar is perfect for those who want to spend their days at the sea swimming.
This is also the area where they arise the largest number of international resorts. Where fishermen's houses once stood, today there are luxury hotels or guesthouses.
Lovers of the sea will also find there a series of diving and diving schools to organize unforgettable dives.
The main places where I recommend you to stay are Nungwi e Kendwa.
Nungwi it is a very lively place, where hotels, restaurants and bars follow one after the other along the beach.
Once a favorite destination for backpackers for its hippie vibe, today Nungwi is one of the busiest places in Zanzibar.
In Nungwi there is also a small town, so in addition to walking on the sand you can walk in the internal parallel street surrounded by bars where you can have a cocktail or eat something.
It is located 3 km from Nungwi Kendwa, less crowded and quieter than the first. The beach is wider and is not affected by the tides, so you can always swim. In the evening, however, it offers fewer venues to choose from.
Where to stay on the North Coast: the best hotels
If you are looking for luxury you should take a look all-inclusive Riu Palace Zanzibar which offers a private beach, a SPA and a diving center.
With Hotel (Luxury) is the ideal place for a romantic getaway. It has everything you could want for a honeymoon stay, complete with an infinity pool and SPA.
It is also known for its famous rooftop champagne / cocktail bar, one of the best places on the island for a sunset drink!
Nungwi House (average) is the perfect place if you are looking for spacious rooms and a great free breakfast. It is centrally located and is within walking distance of the beach. This is a great option among the mid-priced Zanzibar hotels.
Warere Beach (average) it is right on the beach and some of the facilities it has include a pool with a bar. What more could you ask for? The hotel also has stunning views from the terrace!
Kilimani House (cheap): probably the best choice in Nungwi for those traveling on a budget. The accommodations have a garden and terrace and to move around the hotel offers a bike rental service.
Kidoti Wild Garden (cheap): perfect for those looking for a somewhat isolated place to relax away from the crowds. It is located 6 km from Nungwi, offers sea view or garden view rooms and wi-fi connection.
See Other Hotels in NUNGWI and KENDWA
The costa IS
La east costa is the part of the island most affected by tidal phenomenon: nature offers different and wonderful landscapes every day. The beach widens with the retreat of the water giving the opportunity to take long walks.
It seems that this part of the island is the favorite and it is possible that you will find yourself surrounded by fellow countrymen to befriend.
The north east coast is also the one most frequented by beach boys, the local boys who try to sell a bit of everything. Along the beach you will also find many local craft shops.
Kitesurf lovers here will find the right place to practice: the wind and the shallow waters promise fun even for the less experienced.
Kiwengwa it is perhaps the most touristic area of the island: here there is a strong concentration of hotels, resorts and guesthouses.
At low tide it is impossible to swim, but the show is guaranteed.
Kiwengwa is also an excellent destination for those who intend to visit the rest of the island: its location makes it perfect for starting day trips.
Less touristy than Kiwengwa it is a quieter place to enjoy long walks on the beach and a postcard landscape.
Uroa is perfect for those looking for just a place to sleep and want to visit the island. Its location makes it a good starting point for day trips, but unfortunately, due to the currents, the bay is almost always chock-full of algae which make swimming impossible.
Where to sleep on the east coast: the best hotels
Il Kiwengwa Beach Resort (luxury) really has everything you could want. It has a pristine beach, swimming pools, a spa, tennis courts, and a recreation area for children. A complete 5-star experience!
Sultan Sands Island Resort (luxury): another choice for those who love luxury hotels. It offers traditional African style huts with balcony or terrace, swimming pool, two restaurants and sea views of the Indian Ocean.
Zanbluu Beach Hotel (medium): infinity pool, lounge bar, SPA and ocean view, the rooms are equipped with all comforts (one of them also has a private pool). There is a diving center for diving lovers.
Sea Crest Hotel (cheap): a pearl for travelers who don't want to spend a lot. It offers an on-site restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, and rooms are equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a hairdryer and a private bathroom. Excellent continental buffet breakfast.
Bahati Villa (economic): still among the cheapest accommodations, Bahati Villa is probably one of the best choices. A small and very nice hotel with a private beach surrounded by a garden with luxuriant vegetation. The rooms are furnished in Swahili style, have private bathroom and balcony for relaxing moments.
See Other Hotels in KIWENGWA
The SOUTH - EAST costa
The south - east coast of the island is the quietest and least crowded with tourists. The only drawback here may be the wind that whips the coast with more force than other areas of the island.
Paje e Jambiani, the two main resorts are the preferred destination for travelers on a limited budget due to the large choice of economic options but at the same time attentive to quality.
This coast is also an excellent starting point for exploring the Jozani forest where you can meet monkeys. In these parts there are also spice plantations and algae crops.
If you want to take a nice boat ride from the southernmost tip there are excursions during which, if you are lucky, you can admire the dolphins and, sometimes, the whale.
Paje it is a lively destination. In the evening there are some little places on the beach where you can stop to eat or drink something.
Paje is a particularly suitable place if you love nature, walking or kitesurfing! In fact, in recent years it has become a very popular destination among lovers of this sport.
A Jambiani there is one of the largest beaches on the island. The presence of boutique hotels or luxury resorts makes this destination perfect for those who want to relax and think about nothing.
Where to sleep on the South - East Coast: the best hotels
Ananda Beach House (cheap) is located in Paje Zanzibar. Treat yourself to a bungalow directly on the beach and enjoy everything this hotel has to offer. You can wake up every morning to the sound of the ocean!
Zanzistar Lodge (cheap) is located in the city of Jambiani. Full of vibrant colors and modern décor, the real star of this hotel is the restaurant. The fish dishes are to die for!
Summer Beach Paje (cheap): great location, wi-fi connection. some rooms have ocean views.
Location Zanzibar (Average): Slightly more expensive, the Mahali offers air-conditioned rooms with balconies, a private beach, and a gorgeous pool. The on-site restaurant offers an à la carte menu and for an aperitif there is a beautiful beach bar!
Belvedere Resort (medium): the ethnic-style bungalows have thatched roofs and are surrounded by a lush garden. The terrace has ocean views. Perfect for those looking for a relaxing holiday, the Belvedere is also perfect for the most active travelers: in fact, in the surroundings you can practice a range of activities such as cycling, fishing or diving.
See Other Hotels in PAJE and JAMBIANI
The WEST coast
La west coast of Zanzibar it is very different from the previous ones and in many places it is rocky and jagged.
The beaches, thus, give way to a few coves. Tourism here has only been developing in recent years, but for now I do not recommend you to look for the hotel here.
Between Kizimkazi e Mangapwani new, often luxurious, accommodation facilities arise, such as the Sea Cliff Resort with its 9-hole course overlooking the sea.
Where to sleep in Stone Town
Zanzibar is called "The Spice Island" due to the number of different spices grown and is also famous as the hometown of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.
Stone Town is often described as a "cultural melting pot", due to the different populations that have settled here over the centuries: it can still be seen today in the architecture, customs, food, beliefs, religion or people themselves.
Zanzibar was also an important commercial center, as well as the starting point for many trips to the "unexplored" African interior, including those of David Livingstone e Henry Morton Stanley.
Zanzibar was also at the forefront of the slave trade during its heyday in the XNUMXth century when men, women and children were forced into slavery on the mainland, brutalized, chained and auctioned in the slave market and then shipped to other parts of the country. world.
Visiting Stone Town is like stepping into a time machine, with its old colonial buildings lining the streets. It is also the best place to try the cuisine and learn about the history of the island.
Today in Stone Town there are excellent hotels in which to spend a night or 2.
The best hotels in Stone Town
Zanzibar Palace Hotel (luxury): offers customized Zanzibari, Arabic and English style suites, all with seating area. some offer a private jacuzzi, balcony or terrace. There is a SPA and a restaurant with a wide choice of wines. The breakfast is buffet style.
Park Hyatt Zanzibar (luxury) has almost everything you could want. Right on the beach, this hotel also has a swimming pool, SPA, restaurant and fitness center. If you feel like going out, their tour desk can arrange a variety of trips and excursions!
Zanzi Resort (luxury) is one of the many resorts in Zanzibar near Stone Town. 15km outside the city, this is one of the best hotels in Zanzibar due to its beach bungalows. You can get a massage right on the beach or take a free bike for a ride!
Island House (medium) is one of the oldest buildings in the city, but has a modern design. This boutique hotel offers all the amenities you need to make you feel at home.
Antonio Garden Hotel (medium) has a garden, a swimming pool and a restaurant. It is within walking distance of most of Stone Town's attractions and offers a continental breakfast.
Il Mizingani Seafront Hotel (medium) is located right next to the ferry terminal, so you won't get lost while trying to get there! It is decorated in the traditional Zanzibari style for an authentic stay! Oh, and be sure to ask for a sea view room!
Bottoms Up Hostel (cheap): probably the best hostel in all of Stone Town, a full-blown hostel with a terrace overlooking the sea, buffet or à la carte breakfast and a communal kitchen. It offers both private rooms and mixed dorms.
Zenji Hotel (cheap): Another great option for travelers on a budget. Each room has its own balcony and air conditioning. There is also a restaurant on site, and you can enjoy the roof terrace during your stay!
Darajani Apartment (economical): a stone's throw from the main attractions of Zanzibar City, this apartment has a terrace, wi-fi connection, 2 bedrooms and an equipped kitchen.
See Other Hotels in STONE TOWN
BONUS! Where to sleep in Zanzibar for your honeymoon: 3 Dream Resorts!
With long white beaches, crystal clear sea, fantastic resorts, Zanzibar is no coincidence that it is one of the most popular destinations for honeymooners.
If you are looking for a unique hotel, Zanzibar will certainly not disappoint you: check out these 3 dream resorts!
Xanadu Villas & Retreat: a piece of paradise located in Bwejuu, Xanadu is one of the best resorts in all of Zanzibar. Here you really find everything you could ever want: a private white sand beach, swimming pool, spa and the suites all have a seating area, a balcony and in some cases, a patio.
The hotel also offers butler service and a hairdresser.
Zuri Zanzibar: located in Kendwa in the midst of lush vegetation, the Zuri Hotel offers (in addition to the private beach, by far one of the most beautiful in Zanzibar) an infinity pool, elegantly furnished rooms, a rich continental breakfast.
Cleaning is flawless.
If you want a truly unique experience in Zanzibar, consider sleeping under the sea!
Il Manta Resort has an underwater room off the coast where the bedroom is underwater. You may have heard of "sleeping with fish", but never like that!
The top floor of the room is a lounge area where you can lay out in the sun and relax. The main floor has a terrace, an outdoor sitting area and a bathroom.
Go down a ladder and experience the magic of the ocean. Underwater bedroom windows allow you to see marine life around you. This is a once in a lifetime experience that will immerse you in the ocean like never before.