Searching for a slice of heaven on earth? Look no further than Zanzibar Island, one of Africa's most mesmerizing gems.
Zanzibar Island is one of our favourite tropical destinations. It has all the ingredients for paradise: long stretches of soft, white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and beautiful sunny rays. But where should you stay if you want to experience the best slice of paradise? This blog will help you decide and tell you why Zanzibar North, and in particular, Nungwi Beach is our favourite.
Accommodation options in Zanzibar
In Zanzibar north, you can find accommodation to suit every budget and they are all within walking distance from each other. This is great if you prefer to be more flexible with accommodation and want the option to change hotels. It is also a great area to stay in if you don't want to opt for an all-inclusive package (includes all meals and beverages) at your hotel. This will allow you to try some local cuisine at bars and restaurants, and also save you money.
We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort Zanzibar in Nungwi which we absolutely loved. If you want to know how our experience was, you can read our review on Tripadvisor.
If it's a special occasion like a honeymoon or wedding anniversary, there are also some luxury options available. Our favourite is the Diamonds La Gemma hotel. The price is steep but it is all inclusive and you will be staying in a paradise within a paradise.
If none of the above tickles your fancy, you can also compare prices for hotels in the area for yourself.
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Things to do in Zanzibar: Bars, shops and restaurants
Besides food and drinks, you'll also have more price options to pick from when booking excursions. There's a number of local operators that can take you to surrounding islands like Tumbatu, Mafia and Mnemba island for snorkeling, scuba diving or even fishing. Booking with a local operator will often be more affordable than booking at the hotel and you will also help by directly supporting the local community.
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Best scuba diving spots in Zanzibar
If you're scuba divers like us, then staying in Zanzibar north will be your best option. Not only do you have a number of dive shops to choose from, but you'll also be located much closer to some of the best dive spots around Zanzibar. That means less time on the boat and more time underwater. In the north, you will be able to scuba dive around Tumbatu, Mafia and Mnemba island. Our favourite dive spot was Magic Reef. If you want to get a glimpse of diving in Zanzibar north, check out our video.
âHaven't got your scuba diving certification yet? Then check out our best way to get scuba diving certified guide to find out how you can save time and money when getting certified.
If you're not a scuba diver, but love snorkelling and keen to try a discover scuba course first before taking the big leap, you can try these activities:
We dived with Spanish Divers. They are PADI accredited and based on our research, offered the best value for money. They are one of the few operators that transport you to Mnemba island with a speed boat instead of a traditional dhow boat. Although we love sailing on dhow boats, the journey to Mnemba island can take 1-2 hours instead of 40 minutes via a speed boat. A much better option if you're sensitive to motion sickness. You can read our detailed review on Spanish Divers here.
Best beach in Zanzibar | Where the tide does not recede too far
This may seem like a weird topic, but if you want to maximize your time swimming in the ocean then it is an important factor to consider. The tide on the northern tip and west coast of Zanzibar island does not recede as far as the east coast. We discovered this on one of our long walks on the beach. The tide on the east coast can recede up to a kilometer or more at times, in comparison to a few hundred meters on the north and west coast. Although a kilometer isn't far, it can get quite uncomfortable when you're walking under a blazing sun and when you finally do reach the water, its feel more like a bath than the ocean. If you do want to stay on the east coast though, just check the tide schedule for that area before you book your accommodation, so you are not limited to only swimming during high tide.
Getting around Zanzibar Island
Things to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar
Go for a day trip in Stone Town from Nungwi and get an authentic experience of the day-to-day market life of the locals. Go see the local produce and smell the exotic spices, it's called Spice Island for a reason. Make sure to try some local coffee too if you're a coffee addict like us! Check out some of the other things you can do while you're in Stone Town.
Is it safe for solo female travelers in Zanzibar?
Yes, absolutely! We never felt unsafe at all during our stay in Zanzibar. Locals are very friendly and helpful. Just make sure to dress appropriately when you leave the hotel and beaches. Make sure to cover yourself by wearing a T-shirt and covering your knees. A sarong is a great option for both men and women and the locals sell exquisite sarongs that are not only practical, but beautiful too. It is a predominantly Muslim island so it is important to dress appropriately and respect their culture and religion.
Best time of the year to go to Zanzibar
Other things to do in Zanzibar besides the beach
If you're beach bums like us, then it may be challenging for you to tear yourselves away from the beach, especially when they are this beautiful and pristine. But if you do want to take the odd day off from beach bumming, then try some of these outdoor activities. You'll love these especially if you're an animal lover! We were quite unsuccessful at breaking away from the beach, but these were on our lists of things to do when we planned our trip.
Most beautiful beach in Africa
Zanzibar has a special place in our hearts because the beach is not only one of the most beautiful we have experienced through our travels, but also very accessible. This is what makes it so different from other beautiful beaches we visited in the South East Asia region, which were also beautiful but generally required a boat trip to get to. We don't usually go to the same place twice as our travel list is long, but we would return to Zanzibar again for another glimpse of Paradise.
Do you love beach holidays too? If you do, check out our best beaches in southern Thailand guide and find your slice of paradise on Koh Phangan island. Where are your favourite beach destinations? Let us know in the comments below.
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We're Michael & Chloe!
An adventure travel couple from South Africa. We've hiked up mountains, dived the depths of the ocean, free-fell through the sky and finally walked down the aisle together. We love exploring the adventurous outdoors and discover hidden gems. Our dream is to inspire others to travel more consciously and responsibly while having an adventure of a lifetime.