The beach is lined with thatched huts and palm trees making it the best area to stay in Zanzibar.
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What is the Best Area to Stay in Zanzibar in 2024? (With a Map)

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Last Updated on: 4th February 2024, 02:56 pm

Planning your island getaway and wondering what’s the best area to stay in Zanzibar?

Then, you’ve made it to the right blog post!

We are Zanzibar regulars and have stayed in every area of the island over the past few years. So, we know exactly what area is best and which resorts to stay in when you travel to the Spice Island.

With its breathtaking beaches and vibrant culture, Zanzibar offers a diverse range of areas to choose from.

But which one is the best?

Get ready to discover the best area to stay in Zanzibar as we reveal our insider tips and recommendations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Zanzibar offers a variety of areas to stay, each catering to different preferences and interests.
  • The best area to stay in Zanzibar depends on your desired experience, whether it’s luxury, seclusion, cultural immersion, or a combination of all three.
  • Consider factors such as proximity to attractions, beach accessibility, and available amenities when choosing your accommodation.
  • Explore the interactive map provided to visualize the different areas mentioned in this article.
  • Whether you choose North, East, West, South, Central Zanzibar, or another area, you’re sure to have a memorable beach getaway in this exotic destination.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of them I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, which allows me to keep this blog up and running!

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Exploring Zanzibar: A Piece of Paradise in Tanzania

Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, is a true piece of paradise. With its stunning beaches, warm Indian Ocean waters, and rich cultural heritage, Zanzibar has emerged as a sought-after destination for tourists from around the world.

🚢 Do you need to get to Zanzibar from mainland Tanzania? Find out how to take the ferry to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam.

When you visit Zanzibar, you’ll be captivated by its idyllic beauty and diverse offerings. The pristine beaches provide the perfect setting for relaxation and sunbathing, while the crystal-clear turquoise waters invite you to swim, snorkel, and indulge in water sports.

But Zanzibar isn’t just about its natural wonders. The island is also infused with a vibrant culture that reflects its historical influences, including Arab, African, and European traditions.

From exploring the narrow, winding streets of Stone Town with its historic buildings and bustling markets, to immersing yourself in the local customs and traditions, Zanzibar offers a wealth of cultural experiences.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful beach getaway or an adventure filled with cultural exploration, Zanzibar has it all.

Stairs leading down to the pool area of TUI Blue Bahari Zanzibar which is a resort in the best area to stay in Zanzibar.
TUI Blue Bahari Zanzibar is the first resort we ever booked in Zanzibar and it was an excellent choice for our honeymoon.

North, East, West, South, or Central Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a stunning archipelago that offers a variety of regions to explore. Each region has its own unique attractions and experiences, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

Whether you’re drawn to the bustling nightlife of the north, the tranquil beaches of the east, the secluded hideaways of the west, the vibrant culture of the south, or the historical charm of the central region, Zanzibar has it all.

In the north, you’ll find lively resorts and vibrant nightlife. This area is perfect for those who enjoy a bustling atmosphere and want to immerse themselves in the energetic vibe of Zanzibar.

Head to the east for serene beaches and a laid-back atmosphere. This region is known for its tranquil beauty, making it ideal for those seeking relaxation and a peaceful escape.

🚙 Wondering how you’ll get around the island? Read our guide to find out whether you should rent a car in Zanzibar, or not.

If seclusion is what you’re after, the west offers secluded hideaways and pristine beaches. This area is perfect for those who want to get away from it all and enjoy privacy and tranquility.

Experience the vibrant culture of Zanzibar in the south. This region is rich in history and tradition, with opportunities to explore local markets, taste traditional cuisine, and engage with the friendly locals.

For a mix of history and charm, look no further than the central region. Here, you can explore the historic Stone Town and delve into the island’s fascinating past.

Map of Zanzibar

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Discovering Stone Town: The Cultural Heart of Zanzibar

Stone Town, located in Zanzibar City, is the oldest part of the city and holds the title of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This historic area is often referred to as the cultural heart of Zanzibar, and for good reason. Its winding alleys, ancient buildings, bustling markets, and rich cultural heritage make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an immersive experience in Zanzibar.

One of the most impressive aspects of Stone Town is its collection of historic buildings. These architectural gems showcase a unique blend of African, Arabian, Persian, Indian, and European influences.

From magnificent palaces to intricately carved doors, every corner of Stone Town tells a story of its past.

👣 Want to explore Stone Town the right way? Discover the 3 BEST Stone Town walking tours and what you need to know when visiting.

When it comes to accommodations, Stone Town offers a range of options that perfectly complement the cultural and historical charm of the area.

Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly guesthouse or a luxurious boutique hotel, Stone Town has something to suit every traveler’s taste and budget.

Stone Town Accommodations with Character

Here are some recommendations for accommodations in Stone Town that will provide a true taste of Zanzibar’s history and culture:

AccommodationFeaturesRating
Zanzibar Serena HotelHistoric building, direct beach access, four-poster beds⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Emerson Spice19th-century building, rooftop restaurant⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Dhow Palace HotelConverted dhow palace, courtyard swimming pool⭐⭐⭐⭐

These accommodations not only provide a comfortable stay but also allow guests to immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere of Stone Town.

Staying in one of these properties is like taking a journey back in time and experiencing the rich history and culture of Zanzibar firsthand.

A woman standing on a balcony at a hotel in Stone Town Zanzibar.
We loved Zanzibar Serena Hotel as it gave us a great base to explore Stone Town.

The Pristine Beaches of Nungwi: Luxury and Serenity Combined

Nungwi, located on the northern tip of Zanzibar, boasts some of the island’s most stunning and pristine beaches. With its powder-white sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and breathtaking sunsets, Nungwi offers a truly idyllic beach getaway.

If you’re seeking luxury and serenity, Nungwi is your perfect destination.

The village offers a range of upscale accommodations, including beachfront resorts and boutique hotels, where you can indulge in the ultimate relaxation and pampering.

Luxury Accommodation in Nungwi

When it comes to luxury accommodations in Nungwi, there is no shortage of options. Whether you prefer elegant beachfront resorts or intimate boutique hotels, you’ll find the perfect retreat to suit your taste.

Here are some top recommendations for luxury accommodations in Nungwi:

AccommodationFeaturesRating
Nungwi Dreams by MantisDirect beach access, spa facilities, gourmet dining⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Essque Zalu ZanzibarSuites, infinity pool, water sports activities⭐⭐⭐⭐
The ZanzibariStylish rooms, infinity pool, tranquil spa⭐⭐⭐⭐

These luxury accommodations provide a perfect blend of comfort, serenity, and impeccable service, ensuring an unforgettable stay in Nungwi’s paradise-like surroundings.

A woman in a dress staring at the ocean in the best area to stay in Zanzibar.
I absolutely loved the color of the ocean at Nungwi Dreams by Mantis.

Jambiani: Authentic Village Charm Meets Seaside Relaxation

Jambiani is a small fishing village located on the southeast coast of Zanzibar. This area offers a more authentic and laid-back experience compared to the more touristy regions of the island.

With its quiet beaches, friendly locals, and charming village atmosphere, Jambiani is perfect for travelers looking to unwind and immerse themselves in the local culture.

Accommodations in Jambiani: From Lodges to Resorts

In Jambiani, you’ll find a range of accommodations that cater to different preferences and budgets.

From cozy lodges to luxurious resorts, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking a budget-friendly option or a beachfront oasis, Jambiani has it all.

Here are some of the top accommodations in Jambiani:

AccommodationHighlightsRating
Zanzibar Beach ResortBeachfront location, swimming pool⭐⭐⭐
Sharazād Boutique HotelLuxurious rooms, onsite spa⭐⭐⭐⭐
Coral Rock HotelPanoramic ocean views, rooftop terrace⭐⭐⭐

These are just a few examples of the diverse accommodations available in Jambiani.

Whether you choose a lodge, hotel, or resort, you’ll be able to enjoy the serene beaches and immerse yourself in the authentic village charm of Jambiani.

Ocean view from the pool at a hotel in the best area to stay in Zanzibar.
We loved sipping cocktails by the pool at Sharazād Boutique Hotel.

Experience the Vibrant Nightlife and Water Sports in Kendwa

Kendwa is a village located on the northwest coast of Zanzibar and is known for its vibrant nightlife and exciting water sports activities. This area offers a lively atmosphere with beach clubs, bars, and restaurants where visitors can dance the night away.

Kendwa is also a popular destination for water sports such as diving, snorkeling, and kitesurfing.

Barefoot Bliss Accommodation in Kendwa

For a memorable stay in Kendwa, there are a variety of accommodations that offer barefoot bliss.

Whether you prefer luxurious beachfront resorts, cozy guesthouses, or eco-friendly lodges, you’ll find the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Many accommodations in Kendwa provide direct access to the beach, allowing you to indulge in the stunning views and enjoy the warm sand between your toes.

Here are some of the best accommodation options in Kendwa:

AccommodationHighlightsRating
ZURI ZanzibarPrivate villas, infinity pools, on-site spa⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Z HotelFriendly staff, personalized service, direct beach access⭐⭐⭐⭐
Kilindi ZanzibarSustainable practices, nature-inspired design, luxury suites⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

No matter which accommodation you choose, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Kendwa and enjoy a truly blissful experience.

Aerial view of lively Kendwa which is the best area to stay in Zanzibar.
Kendwa is usually busy and quite lively making it ideal if you want entertainment.

Paje: A Kitesurfer’s Dream and an Idyllic Beach Haven

Paje, located on the southeast coast of Zanzibar, is a small village that has gained popularity among kitesurfing enthusiasts worldwide. With its constant winds and shallow waters,

Paje offers excellent conditions for kitesurfing, making it a haven for thrill-seekers and water sports lovers.

But Paje is not just for kitesurfers. It also offers a tranquil and idyllic beach setting, perfect for those seeking a peaceful beach getaway.

With its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and breathtaking natural beauty, Paje invites visitors to relax, unwind, and immerse themselves in the surrounding serenity.

Beachfront Stays: From Guesthouses to Upscale Villas

When it comes to accommodations in Paje, you’ll find a wide range of options to suit your needs. Whether you’re a budget traveler or seeking a luxurious beachfront retreat, Paje has something for everyone.

Here are some recommended accommodations for your stay in Paje:

AccommodationFeaturesRating
Dhow Inn Boutique Hotel ZanzibarDirect beach access, water sports center, spa⭐⭐⭐⭐
Paje Beach Apartments & HotelSpacious apartments, direct beach access, restaurant⭐⭐⭐
Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & SpaPrivate, opulent suites, upscale spa⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

No matter where you choose to stay in Paje, you’ll be steps away from the sparkling turquoise waters and pristine beaches.

Wake up to breathtaking ocean views, bask in the warm sun, and fall asleep to the gentle sound of the waves. Embrace the beauty of Paje and create unforgettable memories in this beachfront paradise.

A man kitesurfing in Paje which is the best area to stay in Zanzibar if you love water sports.
Paje is a kitesurfer’s dream destination.

Kiwengwa: The Quintessential All-Inclusive Resort Destination

Kiwengwa is a coastal village located on the northeast coast of Zanzibar and is renowned for its all-inclusive resorts and luxurious accommodations.

This idyllic area offers guests a delightful combination of pristine beaches, mesmerizing ocean views, and unparalleled comfort. If you’re looking for a truly indulgent experience where every aspect of your stay is taken care of, Kiwengwa is the perfect destination.

All-Inclusive Luxury in Kiwengwa

Staying at an all-inclusive resort in Kiwengwa means that you’ll have access to a wide range of amenities and activities without having to worry about the logistical details.

One of the highlights of Kiwengwa is the exceptional dining options available at the all-inclusive resorts.

From international cuisine to local delicacies, the culinary experiences in Kiwengwa are sure to tantalize your taste buds. Immerse yourself in the vibrant flavors of Zanzibari cuisine while enjoying breathtaking views of the beach and ocean.

Moreover, Kiwengwa boasts an array of activities and entertainment to cater to every interest.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, you’ll find something that suits your preferences. Indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments, embark on exciting water sports adventures, or simply unwind by the pool with a refreshing cocktail in hand.

When it comes to accommodations, Kiwengwa offers a selection of luxurious options to ensure a memorable stay.

AccommodationFeaturesRating
The Palms ZanzibarLuxurious and secluded beachfront retreat⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Breezes Beach Club and SpaSpa facilities and exquisite dining experiences⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Baraza Resort and SpaClassic Swahili architecture and opulent amenities⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kiwengwa truly offers the epitome of luxury in a beachfront paradise.

Aerial view of an all-inclusive luxury resort in the best area to stay in Zanzibar.
Kiwnegwa is the ideal choice if you value all-inclusive luxury.

The Serene Oasis of Matemwe: Tranquility Away from the Crowds

Matemwe, located on the northeast coast of Zanzibar, is a peaceful village that offers a serene oasis away from the crowds.

🤷‍♀️ Is this your first visit to Zanzibar and you’re wondering about safety? Read our guide to find out whether Zanzibar is safe to visit.

With its secluded beaches, crystal-clear waters, and tranquil atmosphere, Matemwe is the perfect destination for travelers seeking privacy and peace during their stay in Zanzibar.

Exclusive Stays at Matemwe: Privacy and Peace

When it comes to accommodations in Matemwe, exclusivity and tranquility are the key themes.

There are a variety of options available that provide a high level of privacy and a peaceful environment for a truly relaxing getaway.

AccommodationFeaturesRating
Matemwe RetreatPrivate plunge pools, ocean views⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Zoi Boutique HotelPrivate beach access, spa facilities⭐⭐⭐⭐
Kasha Boutique HotelSecluded location, infinity pool⭐⭐⭐⭐

These are just a few examples of the exclusive accommodations available in Matemwe. Each property offers a unique experience, focusing on ensuring privacy, tranquility, and a peaceful environment for guests.

A traditional Zanzibar dhow heading out into the ocean at sunrise.

Michamvi Peninsula: Where Seclusion Meets Scenery

The Michamvi Peninsula, located on the southeast coast of Zanzibar, offers a serene and secluded escape for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

With its pristine beaches and breathtaking scenery, the Michamvi Peninsula is a perfect destination for a peaceful getaway.

Beachfront Hideaway Accommodation in Michamvi

When staying in the Michamvi Peninsula, there are a variety of beachfront hideaway accommodations to choose from. These exclusive properties provide guests with the opportunity to unwind and immerse themselves in the picturesque surroundings.

Whether you prefer a luxury resort, a private villa, or a boutique hotel, you will find the perfect accommodation to suit your needs. Indulge in panoramic ocean views, relax by the infinity pool, or take a leisurely stroll along the secluded beach.

AccommodationFeaturesRating
Konokono Beach ResortSecluded beachfront retreat, pet friendly, spa⭐⭐⭐⭐
Michamvi Sunset Bay ResortDirect beach access, outdoor pool, laidback vibe⭐⭐⭐⭐
Emerald Dreams Boutique HotelOpulent amenities, fitness center, spa facilities⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Michamvi Peninsula and enjoy the seclusion and serenity that this hidden gem has to offer.

View of the iconic The Rock Restaurant Zanzibar which is in the best area to stay in Zanzibar.
Michamvi is where you’ll find the iconic The Rock Restaurant in Zanzibar.

Navigating Zanzibar’s Tides

Zanzibar is known for its unique coastal dynamics and changing tides, which can significantly impact beach choices and swimming opportunities.

Understanding the tides is essential for planning a beach vacation in Zanzibar to ensure the best swimming experience.

Understanding the Coastal Dynamics of Zanzibar

Zanzibar’s coastal dynamics are influenced by various factors, including the moon’s gravitational pull and the geographical features of the island.

🌊 The tides in Zanzibar can vary greatly, with a tidal range of up to 3 meters in some areas.

During low tide, vast stretches of sandy beaches are exposed, providing ample opportunities for beachcombing, sunbathing, and leisurely walks along the shore. The low tide also reveals intricate coral formations, rock pools, and marine life, creating a unique landscape to explore.

On the other hand, during high tide, the beaches can become narrower, and some areas may even be submerged underwater. However, high tide enhances the swimming conditions in certain locations, as the deeper water allows for more comfortable and refreshing swims.

A person walking along the Zanzibar shoreline at low tide.
This is what some areas of Zanzibar look like at low tide.

Hotels and Resorts for the Best Swimming Experiences

To make the most of your swimming experiences in Zanzibar, it is important to choose hotels and resorts located in areas that offer optimal conditions during different tide levels.

For those who prefer calmer waters and the opportunity to swim all day, hotels and resorts situated in areas with minimal tidal fluctuations, such as Kiwengwa and Matemwe, are ideal choices.

These areas have stunning beaches with crystal-clear waters that remain swimmable throughout the day, regardless of the tide.

If you enjoy exploring the exposed coral formations and marine life during low tide, consider staying at hotels and resorts located in Nungwi or Jambiani.

These areas have extensive tidal flats, providing ample opportunities for snorkeling, wading through shallow pools, and observing the fascinating marine ecosystems that thrive along the Zanzibar coast.

It is worth noting that some hotels and resorts in Zanzibar have constructed seawalls or artificial swimming pools to mitigate the impact of tides on their guests’ swimming experiences.

These establishments provide a controlled and consistent swimming environment, regardless of the tide level.

AreaSuitable Tide Levels for SwimmingRecommended Hotels and Resorts
KiwengwaAll tide levelsZawadi Hotel, Dream Of Zanzibar Resort
MatemweAll tide levelsZanzibar Queen Hotel, Sunshine Marine Lodge
NungwiLow tide for exploring coral formations, high tide for swimmingEssque Zalu Zanzibar, RIU Palace Zanzibar
JambianiLow tide for exploring tidal flats, high tide for swimmingSharazād Boutique Hotel, Blue Oyster Hotel
View of the ocean from a luxury beach bungalow in the best area to stay in Zanzibar.
High tide brought the sea right up to our bungalow at Seasons Lodge Zanzibar.

Personal Recommendations and Top Picks

With so many beautiful areas to stay in Zanzibar, it can be challenging to choose the best one for your vacation.

Below are our personal recommendations for hotels and resorts and top picks for the best area to stay in Zanzibar based on different preferences and interests.

Whether you’re looking for luxury, seclusion, cultural immersion, or a combination of all three, we will help you find the perfect area in Zanzibar for an unforgettable getaway.

AreaAccommodationBudgetRating
PongweSeasons Lodge Zanzibar$⭐⭐⭐Book it!
NungwiNungwi Dreams by Mantis$$$⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Book it!
Stone TownZanzibar Serena Hotel$$⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Book it!
JambianiSharazād Boutique Hotel$$⭐⭐⭐⭐Book it!
KizimkaziKizikula$$$⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Book it!
Pwani MchanganiTUI Blue Bahari Zanzibar$$$⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Book it!
A woman sitting and working on a laptop with an ocean view.
Kizikula was one of my favorite resorts and it’s perfect for digital nomads.

Map of Our Favorite Zanzibar Hotels

Best Area to Stay in Zanzibar FAQs

Which is the best part of Zanzibar to stay?

Determining the best part of Zanzibar to stay depends on your preferences. Stone Town offers a historical experience, while the northern beaches like Nungwi and Kendwa are known for pristine sands and vibrant nightlife. The southeast, including Paje, is famous for water activities and a more laid-back atmosphere.

Which side of Zanzibar has the best beaches?

Zanzibar’s northern coast, particularly Nungwi and Kendwa, is renowned for having some of the best beaches. These areas boast powdery white sands, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, making them ideal for sunbathing and water activities.

Which is better, Nungwi or Kendwa?

Nungwi and Kendwa are neighboring beaches in northern Zanzibar, each with its unique charm. Nungwi is known for its lively atmosphere, water excursions, and proximity to attractions. Kendwa, slightly quieter, offers a more relaxed setting with stunning sunsets. The choice between them depends on your preference for activities and ambiance.

What is the best resort in Zanzibar?

Determining the best resort in Zanzibar depends on your preferences and budget. Popular choices include Essque Zalu Zanzibar in Nungwi, The Residence Zanzibar in Kizimkazi, and Meliá Zanzibar in Kiwengwa. Consider factors like location, amenities, and reviews to find the resort that aligns with your preferences.

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🗺 MORE ZANZIBAR TRAVEL GUIDES & RESOURCES

3 BEST Stone Town Walking Tours in Zanzibar & What You Must See

What is the Best Time to Visit Zanzibar? (Plan Your Getaway)

10 Best Boutique Hotels in Zanzibar to Book

Is Zanzibar Safe To Visit? (What to Know Before You Go)

Should You Rent a Car in Zanzibar? (What to Know)

Review of the Spice Tour in Zanzibar (Why You Should Book it)

Mauritius or Zanzibar? An Honest Comparison

Are There Sharks in Zanzibar And Is It Safe To Swim?

Zanzibar or Seychelles: An Honest Comparison to Help You Choose

How to Take the Ferry to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam

Book Your Zanzibar Getaway

No matter which area you choose, you can be sure of a rejuvenating vacation in this piece of paradise.

To make the most of your Zanzibar experience, it is recommended to book your accommodations in advance. This will ensure that you secure the best options for your preferred area.

So go ahead, plan your trip to Zanzibar, and get ready for a beach getaway like no other. With its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and wide range of accommodations, Zanzibar is waiting to welcome you.

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