Aerial view of Paje Beach and village, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Escape to a beach on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean

Tanzania's Indian Ocean beaches are excellent whether you're looking for a standalone beach holiday or for a few nights before or after a safari.

Aerial view of Paje Beach and village, Zanzibar, Tanzania

© MDobilas,Shutterstock

Escape to the beach!

We all deserve time to chill out and do nothing much. For many of us, if we can do that next to the warm blue waters of the Indian Ocean, so much the better!

Whether you're looking for a standalone beach holiday or you're going to enjoy a safari before heading for the beach, Tanzania is a perfect choice. And there is such variety in the types of beaches and properties available to you. You can hideaway on a tiny uninhabited island where there are only 6 rustic eco-bandas, or perhaps you'd prefer a luxurious beachside resort with a choice of restaurants and pools, or maybe watersports are the thing you're potty about. There really is somewhere for everyone.

Below you'll find some ideas but also, take a look at our 'Guide to Zanzibar Beaches' for even more ideas.

  • Zanzibar beaches
  • Pemba Island
  • Mafia Island
  • Chumbe Island
  • Fanjove Island
  • . . . and not forgetting the mainland Swahili coast
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Chill out on the tropical shores of the Indian Ocean

Take a look at some of Tanzania's fabulous beaches.

Escape to an Indian Ocean beach © TravnikovStudio,Shutterstock

When to go to Zanzibar

Zanzibar and the Swahili (mainland) coast welcome visitors all year round, however, mid-March to the end of May tends to be too rainy for the taste of most people and so many hotels close at that time. In late November/Early December, the short rains fall but these tend to be more refreshing than annoying for holidaymakers.
The peak season is June to October and in these months the weather is generally warm/hot and sunny (though occasional showers are not impossible). Temperature sticks to around 30°c most of the year.

Zanzibar

Zanzibar Archipelago is in the Indian Ocean about 20 miles off Tanzania's mainland coast. The main island is called Unguja but is mostly referred to as Zanzibar. The capital is Stone Town, a fascinating World Heritage Site.
Zanzibar Island is well-populated and visitors looking for a beach escape can choose from a very wide range of hotels, simple lodges and luxury resorts on its many miles of coast.
The two busiest stretches of beach are at Nungwi (on the northern tip) and in the east/southeast, but wherever you go there are always resorts where you can escape to a haven of peace and luxury if that's what you're looking for.
On the days you're not on the beach, take a spice tour, explore Jozani Forest or discover the history and culture of Stone Town, but at the coast, you can simply relax, swim, eat, drink, read a book . . .

Chumbe Island

Chumbe Island Coral Park is an award-winning eco-resort on a tiny privately-owned island about six miles off Zanzibar. If you’re looking for a back to nature experience yet still with comfort and good food, and you love snorkelling in a marine park, this is your place.

Pemba Island

Zanzibar’s northerly neighbour, Pemba, is more remote and less-visited, and it has far fewer places to stay.  There are fewer perfect beaches, and no hot-and-cold-running butlers (if you get our meaning) but you can always find a beach spot if you choose a good place to stay and the lodges are simple but wonderful. We highly recommend Fundu Lagoon. Pemba is also a diving and snorkelling paradise thanks to the coral reefs surrounding the island.

Mafia Island

Mafia is a small island and archipelago about 100 miles south of Zanzibar. It is a much smaller and quieter option and ideal for those who like to head for somewhere far fewer people travel to. It’s a beautiful tropical island surrounded by a marine park where diving and snorkelling is just amazing, and you might even meet a whale shark from about October to March. Consider Pole Pole Lodge, Kinasi Lodge or Butiama Beach.

Fanjove Island

Even further south than Mafia Island is the teeny-tiny islet of Fanjove. No-one lives here, there are just 6 eco-bandas, and the 12km-long coral reef means marine life here is wonderful. This is barefoot luxury and a real escape Robinson Crusoe style (well, with a good bathroom, cosy bed, wine and great food!).

Tanzania's mainland

On Tanzania’s mainland coast, there are two spots in particular which we love, and both of which are north of Dar es Salaam: Pangani and Saadani National Park.

Pangani is a small village and there is a great little place nearby called The Tides which is well worth considering if you want a good beach and good swimming but very few other people. It’s best reached by light plane from Dar.

Saadani is a wonderful bush and coast destination. It’s more about the coastal habitat than a beach for sun-and-sea worshippers since the tide goes out a long way and it’s shallow water, but it’s amazing to have the choice of wildlife viewing one day then sitting on the beach the next. Try Simply Saadani.