Located just below the equator in the tropical belt, Tanzania is scattered with consistently stunning white beaches and turquoise waters, offering year-round sunshine. It’s risen to become the African haven for beach lovers, who are drawn to its pristine shores to experience a little piece of paradise… and can you blame them?
As you prepare to ‘pole pole’ (meaning ‘slowly slowly’) and take it easy in Tanzania, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 Tanzania beaches to help you live your best laid-back life.
1. Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar
About 56km north of Zanzibar Town lies the popular fishing village of Nungwi; the dhow-building centre of Zanzibar with a lively atmosphere. This beach rightfully earns its place on every self-respecting list of the best beaches in the world! Nungwi has a lot to offer, such as rustic beach bars, restaurants and beachfront guesthouses like the always welcoming Kipepeo Backpackers Nungwi Zanzibar. There are plenty of activities to choose from here too, from kayaking and snorkelling to sunset dhow (sailing boat) cruises. Dotted with palm trees, Nungwi beach attracts a variety of travellers including culture seekers, party lovers and beach bums, so it’s not the beach for those after peace and quiet!
2. Kendwa Beach, Zanzibar
Some 3km south of Nungwi lies the village of Kendwa, overlooking the nearby Daloni Island. The beach is beautiful, clean, and has no shortage of beach touts selling ‘seafari’ tours and souvenirs. It also offers a number of water sports and is home to the monthly Full Moon Party in Zanzibar, though it’s nothing like the infamously wild Thai version. There are no fire skipping ropes, instead Maasai men casually walk down the beach wrapped in their traditional colourful fabrics. The gentle rolling waves are an open invitation for a safe swim, regardless of the tide.
3. Paje Beach, Zanzibar
Paje is on the east coast of Zanzibar and has a long strip of pure white sandy beach. The area experiences strong winds, making it the ideal spot to learn how to kitesurf. Paje beach is less busy than the other beaches on Zanzibar, but has a buzzing social atmosphere which is perfect for solo travellers. Extreme tides at Paje mean you can walk far into the foot-deep water and sand banks at low tide, when local women collect seaweed which is used to make soap, while the beach nearly vanishes at high tide. This is also where you’ll find one of our favourite hostels, New Teddy’s Place, a beach haven that won this year’s HOSCAR for the best in Tanzania!
New Teddy’s Place
4. Prison Island Beach
The ‘prison’ here was completed in 1894, but was only ever used as a quarantine centre for possible yellow-fever victims. The beach is small, quiet, and is great for a relaxed walk or for spotting wildlife. It’s a popular day-trip destination where visitors can stroke and feed Aldabra giant turtles, some of which are well over 100 years old. A visit here is usually combined with snorkelling the reef directly in front of the beach, but they probably had you at ‘giant turtles’. Prison Island is also known as Changuu Island, the name of a fish in Swahili.
5. Utende Beach, Mafia Island
Just off the southeast coast of Dar es Salaam, this is a perfect destination for a beach lover who also loves exploring below the surface, and one that’s largely overlooked by the waves of tourists breaking in Zanzibar. Contrary to its name this is an inviting island, and Mafia is the old Arabic word for “over there”. The main attraction, Mafia Island Marine Park, encompasses around 50% of the coastal waters of the island, with Utende beach being its heart and soul. There are many other smaller, more difficult to reach beaches along the south-eastern coast of the main island, if you’re the type of adventurer who likes a challenge.
6. Sange Beach, Pangani
This beach is Tanzania’s best kept secret. Previously unknown and requiring serious effort to reach, Sange is truly off the beaten track, a large, secluded bay of white sand located between Pangani and the Saadani National Park. While you’re there, check out the mangrove forest, spot dolphins off the coast and take a boat to the nearby Maziwe Island. This is a small and remote sandbar, surrounded by a large coral reef and only accessible during low tide. The nearby Ushongo beach is certainly worth checking out too if you like the sound of a tranquil spot flanked by palm trees.
7. Misali Island beach, Pemba
Located on the Southwest coast of Pemba Island, this beach is ideal for those who seek quiet and isolation from most travellers. The island is uninhabited, and it’s the type of beach to have you feeling like you have your own private island. The serenity combined with lively coral life make a trip here worthwhile. Take pictures that look like postcards from paradise, and enjoy a sundowner while listening to the natural sounds of the beach – bliss!
8. Jimbizi Beach, Kilwa Masoko
This port town located off the usual tourist route in Southeastern Tanzania is home to the locally dubbed “beach of beaches”. Jimbizi beach is home to soft sand, the occasional baobab tree and not much else, and the low tide allows you to walk from one sand bar to another. The nearby Kilwa Kisiwani island is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring ancient Swahili ruins, which is a must-visit. Kilwa means “Place of Fish”, so expect to see a diverse range of marine life if you strap on your snorkel!
9. Mbudya Island Beach
This is an ideal getaway destination from the hustle and bustle of Tanzania’s busy capital city. You wouldn’t expect to find an uninhabited island just a 20-minute boat ride away from Dar es Salaam! Its beaches are flanked by white sand and a myriad of blues. Remember to bring your own toilet paper and order your food early as it might take longer than usual – this is Tanzania, so ‘pole pole’!
10. Fanjove Island Beach
About 140km south of Dar es Salaam, this island is as private as you can get. It’s one of the most remote and secluded beach destinations in the world; there are just 6 eco-friendly bandas (tented rooms) with a maximum of 12 guests at any time. Don’t expect air-conditioning or a TV set though – just enjoy the authentic, intimate experience. A rich fauna life, secluded beach, year-round dolphin visitors and a feeling like Robinson Crusoe are just some of the things you can expect from Fanjove Island.
So, which of these Tanzania beaches is the one for you? Just pack your best attitude, funkiest outfits, check out all of our Tanzania hostels and remember: Hakuna Matata in Tanzania!
About the author:
Afrika Mdolomba is an adventure backpacker from South Africa. He’s swum with whale sharks, camped on the Great Wall of China, learned Mandarin and dipped into the Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls. You can follow him on Instagram: @afrika_insta
Beach lovers, keep reading!
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