zanzibar beach

Going to Zanzibar? Congrats, Zanzibar is the perfect mix of beach and culture! If you love the beach but get bored easily, this could be the perfect destination for you! Now that you have decided to go to this beautiful island, y­ou must need of recommendations for great Zanzibar hotels – and you are in the right place!

Zanzibar is an African island off the coast of Tanzania. It’s a fairly small island and has about 1.3 million people living there.

zanzibar beach

With lots of activities to do like snorkelling, surfing, and kite surfing, as well as the opportunity to learn about the culture and history, this isn’t just a beach vacation (please check my detailed post on Amazing Things to Do in Zanzibar here). I’ll tell you all about the best Zanzibar hotels in different locations on the island!

If you’re already planning a trip to Zanzibar Island or want a great island vacation, there’s a lot you’ll need to know about this beautiful destination! There are different areas of Zanzibar, each with its own feel and vibe.

Stay tuned as here in this post we are going to go through the best places to stay in Zanzibar with hotel recommendations for each of them (I also broke them down into different price categories for your convenience)!

What you need to know before booking a hotel in Zanzibar

indian ocean beaches

Do you already know when you are going to visit?

When planning your trip, I recommend you take the rainy season into account.

  • Dry season (June to October) – It’s best to visit Zanzibar in these months, when it’s cool and dry.
  • Hot season (December to February) – Another popular time to visit is during the hotter months of the year. I visited in January and, even though we had a couple of cloudy days, the weather was very comfortable.
  • Long rainy season (March to May) – While it can be rainy during this season, you might also get lucky and have no rain during your whole vacation!
  • Short rainy season (November) – In November it tends to rain every day, but just for a short while.

NOTE: Wondering when to go to Zanzibar for scuba diving? It is best to go from June to October on the North coast and between November and March on the South coast.

weather zanzibar

Zanzibar is a very interesting island in terms of accommodation choices. Why? There are really strong tides on the island and the ocean in front of your sea view room might disappear for hours! That is why I break down my recommendations by areas.

IMPORTANT: More about the tides – the tide goes out to a coral reef that’s 1 to 1.5 km off shore. The north coast is popular because you can always swim there, even at low tide. During high tide on the west coast, the beach entirely disappears as the water comes all the way up to the rocky cliffs.

The best way to know when high tide and low tide are is to check the Tide Forecast. It changes day to day so you can check out predictions for when you’re planning to visit.

Where to stay in Zanzibar

First of all, here is a Zanzibar map of all the best areas I am recommending:

where to stay in zanzibar

Now let’s see the complete list of Zanzibar hotels that I can definitely recommend:

1. The North coast – Kendwa and Nungwi beaches

Nungwi beach zanzibar

The North coast is popular because it’s least affected by the tides. There are two popular Zanzibar beaches in the north, Nungwi and Kendwa.

Nungwi is known for its diving, while Kendwa has more nightlife to offer. In the north, you can also visit Mnemba Island, just a kilometer off the shore. This has great diving and snorkelling spots and is also a home to green turtles!

Here is my list of hand-picked hotels in North Zanzibar, all sorted by price and category so it’s easy for you to find what you need:

zanzibar luxury hotels

Luxury ($170 USD and above)

  • Riu Palace Zanzibar has a private beach, a spa, and a dive center. It truly offers a luxury, all inclusive Zanzibar experience!
  • Zuri Zanzibar offers beachside bungalows in Kendwa for couples or for families if you’re on a Zanzibar family holiday. When you’re not on the beach, you can wander through the garden or hang out by the pool. This is truly one of the best Zanzibar luxury hotels!
  • Zanzibar Queen Hotel is one of the best north east hotels. Located in Matemwe, this hotel has diving facilities, a barbeque, water sports facilities, and even a spa center! Mnemba Island is also just 6 km off the coast.
  • Z Hotel is a beautiful spot for an escape. It has everything you could want, including an infinity swimming pool and a spa. It also is known for its famous Z Hotel rooftop bar, which might be one of the best places on the island for drinks at sunset!

Middle-priced ($56 to $170 USD)

  • Nungwi House is a great spot if you’re looking for spacious rooms and a great, free breakfast. It’s centrally located and is a quick walk from the beach. This a great option among middle-priced Zanzibar hotels.
  • Natural Kendwa Villa has both a pool and a private beach area. I also recommend the restaurant, which offers a delicious buffet every morning. This hotel is also considered to be one the best 4 star hotels in Zanzibar!
  • Aluna Beach Lodge is only a few steps away from the beach; it has a pool, garden, restaurant, and bar. You’ll never even want to leave the property! If you do feel like leaving though, the Lodge is right next to a maritime conservation center where you can learn all about the turtles.
  • Warere Beach is right off the beach and some of the facilities it has include a pool with a bar. What more could you ask for? The hotel also has amazing views from the pool deck!

Budget (up to $56 USD)

  • Green’s Guest House Nungwi is just 300 meters from Nungwi beach. With a garden and terrace, as well as free Wi-Fi, you’ll have plenty to do after a long day on the beach.
  • Makofi Guest House is another option in Nungwi. You can either opt for a cheaper, hostel experience in a mixed dorm room or select a private room just for yourself. The patio also gets busy at night if you’re looking to meet other travelers!
  • Kidoti Wild Garden is perfect if you’re looking for some relaxation. Located about 6 km outside of Nungwi, this eco-friendly hotel is solar powered. I recommend it if you’re looking for a bit of a quiet escape.
  • Papaya Guest House is a great option in Nungwi. It has a bar and a restaurant, so you don’t have to go far for good food and drinks! It also has a garden and each room leads out onto a patio.

2. Best Hotels in Stone Town

Stone town

If you’re looking for some culture and history, Stone Town is a must-see spot!

It almost feels like stepping into a time machine, with a variety of old colonial buildings lining the streets. You’ll be sure to get lost in the maze of narrow streets, but that’s half the fun! It’s also the best place to try the cuisine and learn about the history of the island. If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out my post on Things to do in Zanzibar, where I give tons of tips on what to see in Stone Town.

Moving on, here are some great Stone Town Zanzibar hotels with fabulous reviews and facilities:

where to stay in zanzibar

Luxury ($170 USD and above)

  • Antonio Garden Hotel has a garden, a swimming pool, and a restaurant. It’s located within walking distance from most of the attractions in Stone Town and offers a continental breakfast before you set out for the day!
  • Kisiwa House is one of the oldest buildings in the city, but features a modern design. This boutique hotel offers all the creature comforts you’ll need to make you feel at home.
  • Zanzi Resort is one of several Zanzibar resorts near Stone Town. At 15 km outside of the city, this is one of the best hotels in Zanzibar because of its beachside bungalows. You can get a massage right on the beach or a take a free bicycle out for a ride!
  • Park Hyatt Zanzibar has almost everything you could ask for. Right on the beach, this hotel also has a pool, spa, restaurant, and fitness center. If you feel like heading out, their tour desk can arrange a variety of trips and tours for you!

Middle-priced ($56 to $170 USD)

  • Mizingani Seafront Hotel is right by the ferry terminal, so you won’t get lost trying to find your way there! It is decorated in traditional Zanzibar style for an authentic stay! Oh, and be sure to ask for a room with a sea view!
  • Zanzibar Coffee House will make you feel like you traveled back in time. The rooms all have antique details without sacrificing any modern comforts.
  • Mangrove Lodge is an eco-friendly spot for a great vacation. If you want to be close to the attractions of Stone Town, but also want a private beach getaway, this is the place for you! It has a bar, a restaurant, and a lounge with lots of hammocks for having a lazy day on the beach.
  • Kholle House was built for a princess – really, it was! Built in 1860 for Princess Kholle, the hotel has a rooftop terrace, a pool, and a teahouse! What more could you ask for?

Budget (up to $56 USD)

  • Zenji Hotel is a great option for a traveler on a budget. Each room has it’s own balcony and air conditioning. There’s also a restaurant on-site and, during your stay, you can enjoy the rooftop deck!
  • Ten to Ten Stone Town Zanzibar is right on the beach and also a short distance from lots of attractions, such as the Old Fort of Zanzibar. It also offers a free city tour every day!
  • Balcony House offers shared balconies from every room as well as mosquito nets. There’s also free Wi-Fi and anything else you might need for a pleasant stay!
  • Lost & Found Zanzibar is perfect for backpackers!. It has common areas to get to know other travelers. It also has privacy curtains on each bed and AC.

3. The East Coast – Home to the Best Beaches in Zanzibar

paje zanzibar

A very popular spot on the East Coast amongst kite surfers – Paje

The East Coast features what some people consider to be the best beaches in Zanzibar and it is the area I chose to stay in as well! Typically a little less touristy than the North coast, the East Coast has beautiful, idyllic beaches like Pingwe, Paje, and Jambiani. I personally stayed somewhere between Paje and Jambiani; read more about my experience below.

These white sand beaches have water that comes up right to the palm trees along the shore during hide tide.

NOTE: Keep in mind that you can’t swim at low tide, but you can still enjoy walks along the beach.

If you’re looking for places to stay during your east coast holidays, you’ve come to the right spot for information!  I’ve found some great hotels along the east coast for you to choose from.

east coast holidays

Luxury ($170 USD and above)

  • Kiwengwa Beach Resort truly has everything you could want. It has a pristine beach, pools, a spa, tennis courts, and a recreation area for kids. They are also able to help you book any activities you would like to try. A complete 5-star experience!
  • Baladin Zanzibar Beach Hotel has bungalow style rooms that look out onto an infinity pool and the ocean. It’s hard to get sick of the views from the infinity pool at sunset. Definitely Instagram worthy!
  • Milele Beach Resort, located in Pingwe, is a little slice of heaven. It’s a beautiful hotel with balconies that overlook the beachside pool. It also offers a full restaurant and the staff can arrange evening entertainment if you’re traveling in a group.
  • Ananda Beach House is in Paje Zanzibar. You can get a bungalow right on the beach and enjoy everything this hotel has to offer. You can wake up every morning to the sound of the ocean!

Middle-priced ($56 to $170 USD)

  • Nyumbani Residence – This is the hotel where I stayed and I really enjoyed my experience there! You can find my full, honest review with details below.
  • Kikoi Boutique Hotel has a private beach, pool, and garden, as well as a bar and lounge. You can also take advantage of great hiking in the area or rent a bike and go for a ride!
  • Tsunami Village is the perfect spot if you want some peace and quiet. You can come here to enjoy the beach without worrying about crowds! The on-site restaurant also features a wide range of options!
  • Villa Huruma is a beautiful villa steps from the beach in Paje. It also has a pool and offers a free breakfast.
  • Zanzistar Lodge is located in the town of Jambiani. Full of bright colors and modern décor, the true star of this hotel is the restaurant. The seafood dishes are to-die-for!

Budget (up to $56 USD)

  • Sagando Bungalows is a perfect spot for a laid-back beach vacation. It’s beachside and features a tropical garden so you’ll be sure to make new friends around the nightly bonfire or while grabbing a drink at the bar!
  • Barabara House is a great find for a budget traveler. It’s close to the beach and has lots of places to relax and enjoy the nature in Jambiani.
  • Jua Apartments in Kiwengwa are made for complete relaxation! With an outdoor pool and located just steps from the beach, you can go from check-in to the beach in minutes!
  • Demani Lodge Zanzibar has a beautiful garden and restaurant. A great place for backpackers as there’s also a night club right in the hotel!

BONUS – Special hotels in Zanzibar

Underwater hotel

If you want a truly unique experience in Zanzibar, consider staying in a Zanzibar underwater hotel. The Manta Resort has an underwater room off the shore where the bedroom is underwater. You may have heard of “sleeping with the fishes,” but never like this!

The top floor of the room is a lounge area where you can lay out in the sun and relax. The main floor has a deck, outdoor living room area, and a bathroom, of course. Then, you head down a ladder and experience the magic of the ocean. Windows in the underwater bedroom let you see the sea life around you. This is a one-in-a-lifetime experience that will let you be immersed in the ocean like never before.

Checking in a private island!

Mnemba Island Zanzibar

Photo credits: &Beyond

If you want to stay right on the water, check out Dreamer’s Island. You can rent a houseboat right off the coast of Stone Town and really enjoy the ocean.  From the boat, you can fish or just sunbathe on the deck. Imagine being able to snorkel right outside your front door!

Another amazing idea is to stay on Mnemba Island, a small island located around 3km off the coast of Zanzibar and probably the most intimate and secluded place you can stay in Tanzania. It is truly a beach paradise and it is also perfect for people who are going to Tanzania for their honeymoon, but not only them! If you want to truly feel like you are on your own private island paradise, I recommend staying at AndBeyond Mnemba Island! There are only 12 rooms on the entire island and each of them is equally gorgeous!

Feel the history of colonialism in style

the zanzibari hotel

Another unique hotel in Zanzibar is the Dhow Palace Hotel in Stone Town.  This hotel is a converted historical building that was built in 1559.  The décor is in true Zanzibar style. If you want to get the full Zanzibar experience, travel back in time in this boutique hotel! There’s also a pool, a restaurant, and a rooftop terrace.

Where NOT to stay in Zanzibar

west of zanzibar

You may have noticed I haven’t included any hotels on the west of Zanzibar, except for Stone Town.

The west coast is more remote than the rest of Zanzibar, but the beaches just can’t compete with the northern and eastern beaches. This is mostly because of the rocky shoreline in certain areas.

There are resorts on the West Coast, but I personally would rather hit the beaches up north or to the east. If you do head to the west coast and want to go somewhere besides Stone Town, you can consider heading to an island devoted to eco-tourism.

The South of Zanzibar is the most populated part of the island, which means it is a great place to visit to understand more about their culture and take some very interesting tours. But if you are dreaming of a beach vacation, staying in the South is not the greatest idea, as the height difference between high tide and low tide is more noticeable there.

My Experience Staying at a Hotel in Zanzibar

experience staying in zanzibar

When I visited Zanzibar, we stayed at Nyumbani Residence. This charming hotel has a pool and is 2 minutes away from the beach in Paje.  I got to stay at this place when it was brand new – it had opened literally a couple of weeks before we checked in!

The owner of the hotel, Daniele, even woke up at 3:30 in the morning just to say goodbye to us when we left for the airport! And I promise you this wasn’t because he knew I was a blogger!

Most of the time when I travel I go “incognito” because I don’t want any extra attention and I want to get a real experience – without anyone trying to impress us for free publicity!

Daniele got up to say goodbye purely in the name of hospitality. He and his wife were also extremely nice and welcoming during our whole stay.

zanzibar resorts

So, Nyumbani is actually a residence meaning we had the whole apartment (60 m2) to ourselves with a fully equipped kitchen and huge living room. They only have about 7 rooms I think and they all face the pool- how cool is that!  I loved making smoothies for us every morning and having breakfast with this wonderful view- it was an amazing way to start the day!

Laundry service and food delivery as well as the transfer from the airport can be arranged (I think it was about 40 USD one way to the airport). They can also call a taxi for you to get to the nearest “town” (Paje); this will cost about 7000 TSZ ($3 USD) one way. Otherwise, we found that there are tons of restaurants within a 5 minute walk (ask the owner for recommendations as they are Italian and they know the good places! 😉 )

If you’re addicted to Wi-Fi, I will tell you that the internet isn’t super fast (it’s not fast anywhere on the island to be fair!). But there is a router right in your bungalow, so no need to go to the lobby or anything like that.

All in all, I really enjoyed my time there and I highly recommend this place if you want somewhere tranquil and intimate.

Bonus – Practical info about staying in Zanzibar

Now that you know about all the best areas and hotels to stay at in Zanzibar, let’s take a look at some practical information about staying on the island:

Where is Zanzibar located?

zanzibar map

If you ever find yourself asking, “Where is Zanzibar in Tanzania?” there is no shame in that! I, for instance, though it was a separate country before I started to plan my Tanzania trip. 😉

Zanzibar is a group of small islands off the coast of Tanzania, which lies on the Eastern coast of Africa. Although they’re commonly referred to as Zanzibar Island, the main island is actually called Unguja Island. The island is known for the white sand Indian Ocean beaches that surround the coast and the warm ocean water.

FUN FACT: Actually, the old name of the country was Tanganyika and it changed to Tanzania when they merged with Zanzibar!

How do I get to Zanzibar?

where is zanzibar

You can get to Zanzibar either by ferry or plane. Both leave from Dar es Salaam on the eastern coast of Africa. There are also plenty of international flights that land in Zanzibar. I arrived by Oman Air, and there was a transfer in Muscat Airport. Check the best rates from your city here.

By plane

Flights to Zanzibar run daily from Dar es Salaam and cost about $100 USD.  If you’re coming from Arusha at the base of Kilimanjaro, you can also catch a flight to Dar es Salaam for about $150 USD and then transfer to a flight to Zanzibar.

Please read more about my safari trip in Arusha here. I also climbed Kilimanjaro and I talk about my experience here!

If you are traveling from your home country, you are in luck since Zanzibar is a popular destination now and many international flights land there. For example, I arrived by Oman Air, (there was a transfer in Muscat Airport). Check the best rates from your city here.

By ferry

tanzanian islands

There are various companies that have ferries leaving from Dar es Salaam. Tickets one way cost between $20 to $50 USD.  Some ferries are faster than others. You can get cheaper tickets if you’re willing to take an older, slower boat.

Be sure to reserve ferry tickets ahead of time as the boats fill up quickly. You can book online with most of the companies to ensure you have a spot on the boat.

What’s the weather in Zanzibar?

weather forecast zanzibar

The weather in Zanzibar is typical of a tropical island. Since it is located pretty much on the equator, it’s hot almost all year round and has two rainy seasons.

  • March to May is the longer rainy season. There can be monsoons and flooding.
  • Mid-October to early December a shorter rainy season, where it typically rains for a bit every day.

Expect high temperatures whenever you go with highs in the summer around 38 °C (100 °F). Even in the cooler months it still usually reaches 29 °C (84 °F) every day.

Even if it’s raining, the Indian Ocean is always warm enough for a swim and is usually between 25 °C (77 °F) to 29 °C (84 °F) depending on the time year.

Where is the best beach in Zanzibar?

best beaches in zanzibar

There’s a lot of debate over where the best beach is on the island. It all depends on what you’re looking for!

In my personal opinion, Nungwi beaches are the most picture perfect. During high tide, east coast beaches are amazing! But, as I said, during low tide, the water is so far from the beach that you have to walk up to 1 km to reach it!

Where should I stay in Zanzibar for nightlife?

stone town zanzibar

Even though the majority of people in Zanzibar are Muslim, you will not have a problem finding a bar or pub to go to at night for a drink.

If you want more traditional bars and nightclubs, Stone Town is the place to go. I recommend 6 Degrees South if you’re looking for the perfect place to have some cocktails while watching the sun go down.

For beachside bars, in the north you can head to Kendwa and Nungwi. Kendwa is also home to the once a month Full Moon Party (similar to the one on Koh Phangan in Thailand!), which is usually held the first Saturday after the full moon. It’s a recipe for a perfect night of dancing on the beach.

To the East, there’s Jambiani and Paje, which each have lounges on the beach. Jambiani has Monday night parties at the Red Monkey Beach Lodge. You can also head to Pingwe and hit one of the most unique bars, The Rock. You have to wade out into the water to reach this restaurant/bar, which is literally just on a rock in the ocean!

What should I bring to Zanzibar?

all inclusive zanzibar

Once you have your hotel booked, you’ll need to start packing! Here are some things I recommend you bring with you to the island:

  • A bathing suit
  • Plenty of sunscreen
  • Some light-weight long-sleeved shirts and long pants – as I mentioned, Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim and there are areas, such as Stone Town, where it’s best to dress modestly. If you’re on the beach and heading into town, I recommend using a beach cover-up or a large shawl.
  • Mosquito repellent! – most hotels have mosquito nets or spray for mosquitoes, but it’s hard to avoid the little buggers while you’re out and about.
  • You may also want to consider getting a yellow fever vaccine and carrying a yellow fever card with you. The Government of Tanzania requires you to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate, but only in case you are from a country where there is a yellow fever risk or if you had an airport transfer in a country that is at risk (for example: if you are from the United States but you had an airport transfer in Nairobi, which is one of the risk countries, you will still need the yellow fever vaccine.)

Where should I stay in Zanzibar for a honeymoon?

Zanzibar honeymoon

Any of the luxury hotels I’ve mentioned before would be perfect for a honeymoon!

Another option would be the Konokono Beach Resort on the Michamvi Peninsula. With monkeys surrounding this beach hideaway, it has all the makings of an incredible honeymoon.  The restaurant also has spectacular views from the top of a cliff so you can take panoramic shots of the sunset.

Another spot for a romantic getaway is the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Zanzibar.  Located in Nungwi right on the beach, this resort will give you a fully relaxing experience. With yoga on the beach every morning, spa treatments available and a variety of tour options, newlyweds can spend quality time together in luxury.

best hotels in zanzibar

For a more private honeymoon, you can rent a villa at The Residence Zanzibar.  You can get your own ocean-side villa with a private pool.  Wake up every morning to sunrise over the ocean and go to sleep to the sound of the waves!  Their location offers a wide variety of activities as well, from a wellness center and a glass-walled pool to tours of the nearby Jozani Forest Reserve.  Or if you want to just enjoy some alone time together, you have the privacy of your villa, pool, or the beach right outside your front door.


Conclusion

zanzibar island

In this article, I recommend the 3 best areas to stay on the island of Zanzibar and the best hotels for each of them. I’ve handpicked each hotel based on price category and amenities so that no matter where you choose to stay, you can have the best experience!

I also mention areas where I don’t recommend you stay and I give you practical information about the island and other useful tips for your trip!

Depending on what kind of Zanzibar vacation you’re looking for, you can pick the perfect hotel for you depending on your budget! In the North you’ll see more travelers, but you’ll also get beautiful beaches. Stone Town offers so much culture and history. Then, to the East you get more remote beaches and exclusive resorts.

Each area of Zanzibar has amazing things to offer but only you can decide what kind of trip you want to have. Or visit them all, why not?

Whatever you decide, I hope you have a relaxing beach vacation!  If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section and I’ll get back to you!

Yulia

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zanzibar hotels

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zanzibar hotels