At Experience Africa Tours, we specialize in beaches both on the mainland of Tanzania and the islands of the Zanzibar and Mafia Archipelagos. Each area offers a unique travel experience. Whether you want to dive with whale sharks and snorkel along the reef, explore ancient ruins and old stone cities, or simply swim and relax on white sand beaches, we can get you there.
Stone Town, the former capital of the Zanzibar sultanate, is located on the west coast of of the island. For centuries, Zanzibar played an integral role in the trade routes in the Indian Ocean. Bringing Portuguese, Arab, Indian, Persian, and mainland African influences together, Stone Town exemplifies the rich cultural diversity of the Swahili coast of East Africa. Wander the winding, stone alleyways, bargain at the local markets, take in the stunning architecture, watch the sunset from a rooftop verandah, listen to the calls to prayer, and feel the history of an exceptionally unique place.
Bright blue waters, white-sand beaches, great diving and swimming, and busy towns make Northern Zanzibar one of the most popular vacation spots on the island. Ocean swimming is possible all day here because of minimal tidal range. Northern Zanzibar is an ideal setting for a lively tropical vacation. However, if you are looking for a more secluded beach experience, we recommend heading farther south.
East Coast Zanzibar
The east coast of Zanzibar is known for its expansive, white-sand beaches. Bordered by coral reef, the ocean here is actually a vast shallow lagoon. The tidal range can make ocean swimming difficult during certain parts of the day, but the tides are a part of the natural rhythm of the island. People rely on the sea for their livelihood and the shores bustle with fisherman, seaweed farmers, and people going about their daily lives. During low tide, you can explore the lagoon floor, which is abundant in coral, seaweed and animal life. The village beaches are a great place to take in local culture. If you would like a quieter atmosphere, there are plenty of secluded areas as well.
On the east coast is the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, the only national park on the island. The rainforest, mangroves, and seagrass beds provide habitat for diverse animal life. The Red Colobus is an endemic species and can only be found on Zanzibar. Other species that can be spotted in the park are Aders’ duikers, servaline genets, bush babies, Sykes’ monkeys, and over 40 species of butterflies.
The southeastern coast of Zanzibar is known for being calm and quiet. It is a great place to experience authentic island living. On the beaches you will see seaweed farmers cultivating along the shore, fishermen bringing in their daily catch, as well as kids splashing in the water or playing football. The white-sand beaches and crystal blue waters are astonishing. Like most of the beaches on the eastern coast, the tidal range here can make it difficult to swim at low tide. If you are looking for a relaxing getaway in authentic Zanzibar towns, Southeast Zanzibar is the place to be.
Also in the Southeast is the Michamvi Peninsula. The 10km peninsula offers quiet beaches and great opportunities for diving. The white sand, barrier reef, and palm trees make for the quintessential tropical beach scene.
Southwest Zanzibar is a friendly and quiet area on the island. Low tourist traffic and minimal development keep things very relaxed. The coastline here is unique, marked by coral cliffs sitting above the water giving way to secluded alcove beaches. This corner of the island is also the best place to see and swim with dolphins. Southwest Zanzibar is rich in history and culture. You can visit Kizimkazi Mosque, one of the oldest buildings on the Swahili Coast of East Africa. The southwest offers a unique and secluded Zanzibar experience.
Pemba, located a 30-minute flight northeast of Zanzibar, is not on the typical travel itinerary for the Swahili coast. Known as “the Green Island” in Arabic, it boasts beautiful green blue waters and fertile agricultural land. Pemba is more rural than Zanzibar and almost exclusively Muslim. With steep ocean drop offs, pristine coral, and diverse marine life, Pemba offers great opportunities for diving. On the island, you can explore the oldest known ruins in the Zanzibar Archipelago, dating back to the 14th century. Pemba is the perfect destination for those interested in a less traveled route in the Spice Islands.
The Mafia Archipelago, neighboring the Zanzibar Archipelago to the south, is a magical Indian Ocean island chain known for it’s pristine marine habitats. Mafia has just a handful of lodges and is perfect for travelers interested in a more remote setting for their island vacation. The opportunities for diving and snorkelling on the island are abundant, particularly in the Marine Park where mangrove, coral reef, river, and marine ecosystems merge to create habitat for diverse animal and plant life. Mafia is home to dugong, sea turtles, rays, and more than 50 species of coral. It is one of the few places in the world where you can dive alongside whale sharks in their natural habitat. Mafia is a great location for nature lovers and those seeking a relaxing getaway.
Located on the coast of mainland Tanzania, Pangani offers opportunities to dive, snorkel, swim, take a dhow sailboat ride in the Indian ocean, or visit settlement remains dating back to the 15th century. Although similar to the east coast of Zanzibar, Pangani sees much less tourist traffic than the island. It is a great place for those who want to experience Swahili culture and see the historic influences of Indian ocean trade while staying in a more remote area. Don’t forget to take a day trip up to the Amboni Caves
, the most extensive limestone caves in East Africa.