East Coast Zanzibar Island Beach Holiday Vacation Destinations Africa

Zanzibar Island Scuba Diving


 The East Coast of Zanzibar is home to the island's best and most idyllic beaches, lined with powder-white beaches which look out towards a long barrier reef, about a kilometer offshore. Inland there's a coastal strip of coconut palms within which there are small fishing villages and a variety of places to stay.

Lodges here generally have more space than those in the Nungwi area, but like the north, the beaches here slope very little. This means that when the tide is out, the water retreats a long way and swimming from the beach is difficult – although paddling to the top of the exposed reef with the right local guide is fascinating!

There's good diving and snorkeling here, and both Matemwe and Shooting Star have nearby dive centers for easy diving and snorkeling trips. (Such trips often visit the reefs around Mnemba Island.)

The Beaches and Important Sights on East Coast Zanzibar Island.

Matemwe Beach

This is the northernmost beach on the east coast of Zanzibar and has remained reasonably intimate compared to more built up and westernized destinations to the south. The beach offers fine white sands and remains reasonably unspoiled (though here are still occasional beach-sellers and touts). As with all beaches on the northern coast (except Pongwe) swimming is impossible at low tide and the beach becomes an extensive desert of coral flats.

However, the reef is wonderful to explore and most hotels offer walking if not cycling tours, village tours as well as possible kayak hire and sailing trips. Snorkeling and diving trips as well as excursions to various attractions on Zanzibar can be easily arranged.

Seaweed is a seasonal pain for hoteliers and tourists alike along the northern coast. The beaches are not as rigorously combed as in the Caribbean so do not expect them to be weed free. Many locals farm the plant so it is best to keep an open mind about its annoyance.

The Mnemba Atoll

Mnemba Atoll is renowned for the best SCUBA diving on Zanzibar and some of the best snorkeling also. This small heart-shaped island, approximately 2.5 km off the coast between Matemwe and Nungwi, is home to the every exclusive Mnemba Island Lodge and its privately owned beach.

Pongwe Beach

This is a quieter destination than some of Zanzibar’s beach havens, and feels more remote than Kiwengwa as it has been less developed by traders in tourism. There is not a lot to do in Pongwe itself but relax and enjoy the beach. As bathing is possible at any time of day from Pongwe beach itself the sea is the major attraction. Diving and snorkeling are easily arranged, but most visitors simply come for a chance to unwind. Watching the locals farming seaweed is fascinating and walking along the beaches and exploring the reefs is nice. Excursions to the Kiwengwa-Pongwe Forest and boat trips can be organized locally.

Kiwengwa Beach

This is one of the most heavily developed stretches of coastline on Zanzibar. Kiwengwa is popular on account of its white sand beaches and its ‘all-inclusive’ feel—bars, restaurants and tourist-friendly enterprises make it an ‘easy’ choice for visitors to the island.

So, while not as magical perhaps, or as secluded and exotic as parts of Zanzibar it has its plus-points, especially for families or younger travelers looking for hassle-free entertainment and to meet other tourists.

Swimming at low-tide is not possible. Most resorts have large pools. Diving and snorkeling can easily be arranged around Kiwengwa. Visitors often take time to tour local villages.

Dunga Palace

On route to Pongwe and Kinwengwa is the Dunga palace from which one can get good views over the island and stroll around the gardens to look at the Indian almond trees. The palace itself is also of interest (though characteristically under sign-posted. One of the few pre-Omani palaces it was built in the first part of the nineteenth century by Ahmad al-Alawi of the Wawinyi Wakuu who ruled before the usurping Seyyid Saïd took control of the island.

Kiwengwa Pongwe Forest

To the south of Matemwe is the recently opened Kiwengwa Pongwe Forest conservation area. Open daily 0730 - 1700 to visitors, the reserves offer the option of a 200m, 400m or 2 km nature trail through coral rag forest.

Wildlife is varied and you might catch sight of the endangered red Colobus monkey, Sykes and blue monkeys and Aders duikers (a small and rare species of antelope) as well as some of over 40 species of indigenous bird. You can also explore coral caves - though watch out for bats!

Why visit East Coast Zanzibar Island.

  • The plenty of opportunities for scuba diving at the east coast of Zanzibar Island
  • Take Kizimkazi Dolphin that includes a ride from Stone Town to the village of Kizimkazi in the south tip of the island, a few hours boat tour that includes snorkeling and chasing dolphins, local lunch, and nap on the beach and an optional tour to Jozani Forest a complete day of fun and a very memorable experience, especially for the dolphins.
  • To experience one of the best dives in East Africa to the famous Mnemba Atoll Marine Park for divers and snorkelers. Mnemba Atoll is known for having clear warm waters. Dolphin and Green Turtle encounters are very common, though not guaranteed.
  • For a ride on a local's traditional dhow (a carved, wooden boat).
  • Just to sit and stare at the water for hours on end.
  • To kite surf a popular sport in Paje Beach, where the crystalline lagoon waters and reef protection offer ideal conditions for both advanced and beginner kite surfers. At full moon the lagoon maybe very full and conditions may be suboptimal.
  • Just to relax and to get away from it all after an African Safari Expedition or as a weekend gateway from Africa, Europe, The Middle East and Parts of Asia.
  • As a stopping and resting place at the beginning or end of your safari holiday to Africa or within the Island of Zanzibar and surrounding island archipelagos.

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