Deciding where to stay in Zanzibar
The largest town in the archipelago and the capital, Stone Town is located in the middle of the west coast of Unguja, the main island. Named for the coral stone buildings that were built there during the 1800, Stone Town is known as the ‘Old City’ and cultural heart of Zanzibar. Indeed, little changed here in the last 200 years; and as such, it’s rife with historical significance. Due to this heritage, Stone Town is also a major attraction for visitors to Tanzania.
The city’s architecture dates all the way back to the 19th century and reflects the diverse influences of several underlying cultures. Due to this rich blend of art and history, Stone Town was designated a UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 2000.
Nevertheless, the town retains its urban fabric and townscape virtually intact with its fine buildings and unique culture. What better way to explore Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements than in one place? Everything here reflects this mixture, including the people, the brass-studded monuments, bustling oriental bazaars, marble balconies, carved doors, twirling stairways, carved wooden lodgings and everything else. With such amazing sites to explore, some visitors spend days strolling along the fascinating and magical labyrinth of narrow streets and cobbled alleyways.
Kiwengwa is one of the most heavily developed stretches of coastlines in Zanzibar. Beyond that, it’s perhaps the most secluded and exotic section of Zanzibar. This area is popular on account of its white sand beaches. In fact, Kiwengwa beaches are known for their unbeatable locations and tourist-friendly amenities. Here, you will find several bars, restaurants and other tourist-friendly enterprises; but most tourists have been attracted by the wide sandy beaches for which the area is rightly well known. Not only is Kiwengwa great for romantics, but younger travellers looking for hassle-free entertainment and to meet others as visitors often take time to tour local villages.
Nungwi is a charming little village at the northern tip of Zanzibar. For several years, the coastline here has rocketed in popularity to become one of the island's busiest beach destination.
Here, you will find beachside hustle and bustle, populated by hippies, spring breakers and gap-year students, all enjoying the powdery white sand, stage-set towering palm trees, turquoise waters and sparkling sunshine. On the other side of things, nightlife here is excellent; however, it’s not about glitzy nightclubs and glamorous strips. Here, it’s about reveling on the beach where bonfires blaze, cocktails flow and the music rocks. As dawn breaks, you’ll get a chance to sunbathe, swim and indulge in exotic tropical amenities.
This little fishing village was until recently virtually inaccessible and untainted by commercial tourism. It is an approximately 4 kilometers long and narrow stretch of startling white sand along a classic coral lagoon.
Today the village remains largely un-spoilt and as such is excellent for adventurous spirits. In Jambiani, visitors get a chance to immerse themselves in the quiet and private atmosphere of the eco-friendly surroundings; whether it is the wildlife, the tropical plants or the breathtaking white sand beach that embraces s the turquoise blue Indian Ocean. As such, the village has many small and intimate places to stay.
Over the past few years, Jambiani has also been seeing an increase in visitor arrivals with an increase in kite surfing, diving and snorkeling along the lagoon.
Paje is a lagoon village on the Tanzanian island of Unguja, part of Zanzibar. Paje is for those who enjoy the thrill of the wind, including windsurfers, wake boarders and kite flyers. This is due to a very consistent side-onshore wind that blows most of the year. Indeed, this is where the kite centers and best wind conditions can be found with a variety of different conditions. As such, Paje features kite centers with the latest equipment, amenities and instructors to help visitors make the best of their kiting experience. Snorkeling and diving are also relatively poplar activities here as the reefs are excellent.
Pongwe is one of Zanzibar’s quieter destinations. It’s more remote and less developed than Kiwengwa and as such there’s not a lot to do here. Instead, this island is about pure relaxation. It’s about peace, quiet, seclusion, complete bliss and serenity. No wonder Pongwe is popular destination for persons looking to recover from illnesses or rejuvenate, for a chance to unwind. Indeed, Pongwe is also excellent for romantics who like the seduction of nature as secluded lagoons, bays and other idyllic locations are numerous across the length and breadth of this stretch of coastline.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful island in the archipelago, Bwejuu is a coastal village situated South of Mafia. Bwejuu is great for hanging out and lounging on the beaches. Here you will find a broad coral lagoon backed by several groves of coconut palms amidst thatched house villages. There are several luxury accommodations here that are some of the best of at the lower end in Zanzibar. This area is good for all budgets; visitors can choose to live simply and closer to nature or amidst a bit more luxury. There are several beaches here that are so spectacular that they have been included in Conde Nast Traveller's top 30 beaches in the world.
As such, swimming in the turquoise waters just off the beach is a wonderful experience. Furthermore, snorkeling and diving can be enjoyed as well.
The distinction of these beaches is that it’s largely secluded. As such, you won't be sharing most of the area with many other tourists. Notably, visitors will find a few excellent restaurants in the area offering traditional Tanzanian food.