1. East Coast Zanzibar
The east coast of Zanzibar is lined with powder-white beaches which look out towards a long barrier reef, about a kilometre offshore. Inland there’s a coastal strip of coconut palms within which there are small fishing villages and a variety of places to stay.
Lodges here generally have more space than those in the Nungwi area, but like the north, the beaches here slope very little. This means that when the tide is out, the water retreats a long way and swimming from the beach is difficult – although paddling to the top of the exposed reef with the right local guide is fascinating!
2. Michamvi Peninsula
In the southeast corner of Zanzibar, the Michamvi Peninsula and south-east Zanzibar is very similar in character to the east coast which stretches north of Chwaka Bay – and is covered on this site under East Coast Zanzibar. It has the same powder-white stunning beaches, barrier reef, palm trees and significant tidal change.
In fact, that area south of the peninsular, around Paje, Bwejuu and Jambiani, used to be the busiest part of Zanzibar’s beach scene – especially for backpackers. But in recent years low budget travellers have moved more to northern Zanzibar, around Nungwi and Kendwa, leaving this south-east stretch relatively quiet. This leaves the south-east as more of a low-key, low-impact beach retreat.
3. Northern Zanzibar
Two or three hours drive from Stone Town, the village of Nungwi has traditionally been the centre of Zanzibar’s dhow-building industry. However, 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.
4. South-west Zanzibar
South of Stone Town airport is the Fumba Peninsula. It’s probably the most relaxed and friendly corner of the island, but until recently it has really only been used as venue for short few day-trips, to see dolphins from Kizimkazi or the red colobus monkeys in Jozani Forest.
5. Stone Town
The heart of Zanzibar Town, Stone Town, was constructed during the 19th century and remains largely unchanged. Labyrinths of narrow alleys lead to palaces, mosques and old Arab houses; tiny shops sell dotted tinga-tinga paintings, Zanzibari clocks and heavily adorned chests. The early-morning market on Creek Road is fabulous, as determined Zanzibaris haggle over fragrant spices, exotic fruit and enormous fish.