Where to Stay in Zanzibar: Best Towns & Hotels

Martina Rosado
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Map of Zanzibar

Tanzania.

Yellow = Key Attractions

One of the few historic sites on the island is Stone Town, where much of the country’s population lives, with shops and restaurants on the streets. Zanzibar itself is a very popular resort island consisting largely of beaches, many of which have white powdery sand and turquoise waters.

The island also happens to be the home of the famous Stone Town Ruins, aptly named the Stone Town Ruins because they were once inhabited by the locals of Stone Town. The town was once home to Swahili royalty as well as a haven for merchants and caravans.

Not even the Zanzibar Revolution, which began on 28 December 1964 and was peaceful until February 1965, changed the town’s remarkably beautiful beaches or even the nearby spice garden.

The next of the natural wonders on Zanzibar is the stupendous coral gardens of Buruni. Here, the coral gardens are filled with little rocks, stones, and boulders that were brought by the crash of the ancient super continent of Gondwana.

Stone Town

Stone Town is the core of Zanzibar’s tourism industry. The narrow streets are packed with tourists sipping cocktails while they watch tourists from the Gap Year program play frisbee on the grassy knoll. These sorts of tourists are a common sight in Stone Town, with beach bums in a tighty-whities and sunglasses hanging out after a day out at the beach. It’s amazing that this place attracts so many visitors, yet remains remarkably authentic. There are no street signs in Stone Town, and there is a distinct lack of street signs and directions to locations throughout the town. In some spots, it’s not even clear where the paths are. You’ll find a man with a sign that says “guides” and a small fee that presumably guides you to the post you need to be standing in for the photo on your beach day.

The beaches of Zanzibar are breathtaking, and you’ll never go hungry while you’re there. You’ll celebrate the lack of commercialism with lots of coconut candy. Locals enjoy sellers who walk around the harbor wrapped in banana leaves and hand out small chunks of fresh coconuts to tourists looking for a specific candy.

Where to Stay near Stone Town

The Stone Town Inn offers such a unique stay in Stone Town. You can even choose to stay in a room with a stellar view of Stone Town Square!

The staff are friendly and attentive. They are genuinely concerned about your comfort. You can even bring your own alcoholic beverages to enjoy in the hotel’s in-house bar. Additionally, the staff will prepare you a breakfast basket each morning.

Nightly rates start at US$ 90 per room, which is competitive with the other hotels in Stone Town.

Stone Town Inn’s hotel rooms offer you free wi-fi, as well as a flat-screen TV, VCR, DVD player and a DVD library. A private kitchenette featuring a refrigerator and microwave are also included in the room.

This is the perfect choice for the budget-conscious traveler. The rooms are spacious, and the staff are helpful and cooperative.

For those looking for a more luxurious stay, the Zanzibar Palace Hotel offers a stunning, “floating” view of the Ithaa island’s lagoon. You’ll wake up every morning to a spectacular view!

The hotel’s rooms are equipped with free wi-fi, flat screen TV’s, mini DVD library, video game console and DVD player.

Jambiani

Jambiani is a great recommended place to stay for anyone who wants a better experience with Tanzania. Jambiani is one of the well-known spots along the Tanzania Beachfront, which makes it a great starting point.

You’ll notice that the beaches of Tanzania are all the same. This is because the beaches in Tanzania are volcanic based. The lava in the sea has created the gorgeous sand beaches that visitors to Tanzania covet.

Jambiani is known for featuring a great beach setting along with a smaller community setting. Jambiani is also a beautiful setting for snorkeling and swimming, especially if you have the time.

Jambiani is also a good one to explore from a historical perspective. The city was originally established for the Sultan of Zanzibar, beginning in the year of 1870.

According to the historical museum in Jambiani, the city was once one of the most luxurious and beautiful locations in Tanzania. The city, including property and buildings, took a heavy hit during World War II. However, the beauty of Jambiani still remains.

Attractions

Some of the many attractions in Jambiani to checkout include the historical museum and ruins as well as the Jambiani Community Center.

Where to Stay in Jambiani

Jambiani is the capital of the Zanzibar archipelago, with the majority of the population depending on the tourism industry for their livelihood. It is the best location for renting a house on the western side of the island, and is relatively calm for a Zanzibar town. It is also one of the best beaches in the country, so when you aren’t busy meeting new people and sightseeing, you may want to stay here.

A great place to stay is the Harbour View Hotel, which is found right on the harbour. The rooms are basic, but the views of the harbour and ocean are impressive, as this looks out from almost every room.

It is also the best place to go out for seafood in Jambiani. It has great food at reasonable prices and a relaxing atmosphere. If you want to really get away from it all, book into an isolated house. The owner of the Harbour View Hotel offers these, with all meals and groceries included.

Jambiani is the least busy of the Zanzibar towns, but it is still popular among travellers and can be swarmed with tourists during popular times of the year such as the Zanzibar Festivals. Try to travel in the off-season if you can, or during daylight hours to limit the number of people you might run into.

Nungwi

Unguja:

One of my favorite places in Zanzibar was Nungwi Island just off the coast of Zanzibar Town. Nungwi is a lot like English villas because it has white sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and a laid back atmosphere.

Nungwi also offers amazing contrast between the traditional culture of Zanzibar and the very Westernized nature of the locals. You can find resorts, great restaurants, a number of busy, seaside bars, and more.

People who enjoy water sports are in for a treat here, as there are a lot of opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, sailing, or just enjoying a dip in the water.

The best islands I’ve stayed on were busy and full of tourists, so I haven’t stayed here. But I believe it would have been a fun and unique experience, and if you’re looking for a quieter corner of Zanzibar, Nungwi would be a good choice.

Nungwi is about a 15-20 minute drive from Historic Chini, but enjoys quieter beachside pads. There are a handful of hotels. These hotels include the Halawa Beach Hotel, Banyan Beach Club, and the Nungwi Beach Resort.

Where to Stay in Nungwi

This town is on the north-western coast of Zanzibar. It has a population of 10,000 people and a topography of mountainous plains. As such, there are numerous resorts and guest houses within the area.

If you wish to visit this town, in the process of traveling to and from the area, the following hotels and guest houses will do for the duration of your stay.

Superwoman Soko Lodge is a great choice. It has comfortable rooms and great views of the sea. Another option is Ginger House Guest House. This property also has an en-suite bathroom with private veranda.

Zanzibar Serena Beach Resort, on the other hand, is a great place to be. You can choose to have a garden bungalow or an ocean view room. The top deck of the resort offers views of the beach and the Indian Ocean.

Nungwi Beach Hotel is suitable for those who stoke their energy on the beach. You can choose to have an en-suite room or shared facilities.

Alternatively, you can stay at the Chitimbe Village, a famous and well-known resort dedicated to tourism. The rooms are big and spacious and come with en-suite bathrooms.

You can also avail of the services of the Mangani River Resort & Camp. This, on the other hand, is a lodge with bungalows and private rooms.

Paje

The Cultural Capital Of Zanzibar:

Paje is a maze of narrow streets and colorful walls clinging to granite and sandstone cliffs. It’s a great place to stroll through between exploring Zanzibar’s more remote beaches or looking for souvenirs. There are several hotels right on the beach in Paje, and you will find plenty of tours.

While there, you can try things like crafting your own white Swahili “carpet”, which is a popular souvenir that is made from a complex weaving of fabrics and frayed edges of raffia cloth.

A Must-Do Activity While You’re In Paje:

Nautilus Beach

This may be one of the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever get a chance to see, but it’s also a popular one. Get to this beach early to find a spot with a view of the water. The sea lions are just hanging out and relaxing in the shallow water, or when you get tired of them, you can always go in the water to see what’s hiding in the rocky riffles.

Saddle Rock Pinnacle: Through the tunnel

Where to Stay in Paje

Zanzibar.

Paje is also called Paje Sopa (or Sanda) in Swahili. This coastal town is a major tourist destination on the island. There are plenty of luxurious resorts located here, as well as places to rent. The beach is one of the best in Zanzibar.

Paje is a great place to relax and unwind. Check out the Swahili house hotel and a local restaurant or shop in town. If you’re looking for a unique experience, rent a house from a local family.

What to Do in Paje, Zanzibar: These highlights include visiting the Zanzibar Archaeological Museum, checking out some of the cool shops in town, and hanging out on the beach.

Most travelers who visit Paje want to stay in the area to make full use of it, but they don’t necessarily want to be anchored to the beach all the time. There is an area in town that has apartments you can rent for a day, or several days at a time. If you want a taste of a lavish lifestyle in Zanzibar, these apartments may interest you.

Matemwe

Located in northern Zanzibar Island, Matemwe is the largest settlement in Tanzania. Matemwe is a two-seat port and it is also home to the Zanzibar-Pemba Joint Technical Board.

Matemwe was once the main center of trade between India and Oman through the Red Sea. A large share of goods were transported through this city, which led to the buildup of local trade and foreign trade.

Westerners used to determine the price of raw materials in Zanzibar from here since they set the rates in most of the southern ports.

The islands and the mainland were conquered by the Arabs during the early twentieth century. Many buildings in Matemwe were converted to mosques during the period of Islamic dominance.

You can find mosques, including the historic white mosque, the largest in Zanzibar, as well as the House of the Good and the House of the Salvation.

Hilton Mwembetini

Hilton Mwembetini is part of the Hilton chain and it is located in the western part of Zanzibar island. One of the features of the hotel is the Coral Beach, which features a heated outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant, as well as an open-air bar.

Most of the rooms are round-shaped bungalows that have rooms for at least two guests.

Where to Stay in Matemwe

When you stay in Matemwe, you’ll be close to Kizimkazi and the Pelican’s Beach. These two destinations provide a lot of what you could expect in a seaside town. One of the main attractions in Matemwe is the Matemwe Resort.

This is a great place to stay because you have a professional guide, very friendly staff, and a clean, safe, and air-conditioned room. You have the convenience of a secure parking lot and a restaurant on site that serves meat, seafood, and salads, as well as vegetarian options.

You can enjoy the last swim of the day on a beach right outside your door, and the property has meeting rooms, internet access, and a TV room.

For those traveling with their dog, they can enjoy the hotel’s dog-walking services.

This property also has one of the best locations in the town, as it sits right around the corner from the bus station and market.

You have quick access to the beach, and you’re one block away from the market.

The owner of the Matemwe Resort, Mr. Mohammed Hesham, wants to ensure your comfort and safety while you’re on his property. To that end, each room has a large mirror to make good use of the bathroom facilities.

Kendwa

Zanzibar Town (known locally as “Kendwa”) is possibly the island’s most iconic town. Many visitors find this busy town too hectic to enjoy, but the reality is that most of the hustle and bustle is probably just part of the charm.

Most people come to this rustic town to visit the spice market. This is a great place to see locals going about their business.

The most common souvenir that people take from the market are the Zanzibar Stone Carvings.

You can even take a short trip through the ocean to a small coral island that is home to flamingos and herons. At the Kendwa Eco-Village, guests can rest and relax right on the beach.

They can take an optional excursion to the island of Jozani Chwaka, where they can hike through the traditional Zanzibari village or learn about marine ecology.

Lodging

For guests that are looking for a traditional stay, there are guest houses and hotels in Zanzibar Town. For people who want to explore the island without driving, you might consider renting a bicycle or scooter.

Where to Stay in Kendwa

Kendwa is one of the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar. It is also home to one of the oldest existing hotels in the town. The Thapanya Resort is perched on a hilltop overlooking the mouth of the Kizimkazi River.

The resort is surrounded by a lovely garden, and boasts facilities like a restaurant, bar, and pool. Sea lions and crocodiles can often be seen in the shallow waters of the river, and dwarf mongooses can be spotted roaming around.

Many have reported that they have seen endangered sea turtles nest on the beach, as well as fishermen offering to show visitors how to catch these creatures in the river.

The hotel also hosts two different types of accommodation, including standard rooms and lumbi cottages. Lumbi cottages offer more comfortable accommodation with a particular emphasis on privacy. The rooms are of a more spacious size and have on-site private bathrooms.

All rooms and meals at the hotel are additional costs on top of the room rates.

Hotel: Thapanya Resort

Where to Stay in Mzizima Beach

One of the largest beaches in Zanzibar, Mzizima is home to the Mfuni Mfuni Bay Resort. The resort is perched on the edge of a steep cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, and has a breathtaking view.

Kiwengwa

Kiwengwa, the main town on Zanzibar, is where most visitors stay. It features a sprawling market with plenty of souvenir shops, a main street, and a few restaurants. It’s also the gateway to the other local towns and villages, like Changuu, Chumbe, and Jui, by ferry.

Because of its central location and the ferry system that connects the islands, Kiwengwa is the most crowded town on the island with a visitor population of 44,000 people. The other towns have much lower population densities.

The city offers several options for accommodation and dining. There is a host of small hotels that offer good value. Most of the guest houses are in the older districts of the city.

There is a distinct lack of large hotel chains, but the ones that exist are primarily car rentals. As the name suggests, Changuu Island is known for its outstanding scuba diving. Many of the accommodations and restaurants in Changuu serve food from across the archipelago.

Changuu is one of the most picturesque areas, with small beaches and a steady flow of white water from the equatorial rainforest.

Where to Stay in Kiwengwa

Gisenge, Zanzibar Isolated and secluded, Kiwengwa Gisenge, Zanzibar (pronounced Ki-WIN-ga Gisenge, guttural like a three syllable German-speaking peoples pronunciation) is a quiet, small fishing village and the capital of the Chumbe island group off the coast of Zanzibar.

A few patches of sandy beach are available at the hot springs area of the village. A short stroll away from the village, which overlooks the ocean, you will find the village’s designated fishing spot a serene cove with glimmering coral reef.

This is a popular spot for local fishermen and visitors alike and is full of hidden serene coves where you can explore an underwater landscape of colorful coral and colourful fish.

If you fancy an evening walk, a stroll around the island and then a visit to the village is a great way to spend your evening.

Accommodation at Kiwengwa Gisenge

Accommodation can be found at either the Hot Springs Seahouse or at one of the village’s three homestays. For those seeking the authentic Zanzibari experience, the Hot Springs Seahouse is a wonderfully atmospheric and charming guesthouse with 12 rooms.

Michamvi

This is a central part of Zanzibar situated in the Indian Ocean. The island offers a great deal of seclusion, as well as being within easy reach of many activities.

There are beautiful sunsets here, and the beach here is amazing. It is definitely a bonus to have such an amazing beach on the island.

A fact that is really great about this island is that it is so small, and there is so much to do and see, that you won’t be able to go to the same place twice.

This is a smaller place, but it has its own charm. A peaceful and relaxed atmosphere reigns here. If you want to stay here in this small town, then you’ll really want to do some exploration to find your way around.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a guided tour of this great island. This island is the main home to many resorts, and will be a great place to find a resort to stay at. You can choose from many different choices here, including hotels, resorts, or serviced apartments.

Where to Stay in Michamvi

Being close to the beach and having waterfront properties is a great perk to living in Michamvi, Zanzibar. Michamvi is on the northwest tip of Unguja (Zanzibar), one of the main islands in the archipelago.

Being close to the beach and having waterfront properties is a great perk to living in Michamvi, Zanzibar. Michamvi is on the northwest tip of Unguja (Zanzibar), one of the main islands in the archipelago.

Michamvi’s town center, Masaki, is located in the northern part of the island. It is a popular destination among local residents and tourists from around the world looking for a quiet vacation getaway close to famous white-sand beaches.

The beach is set less than one and a half kilometers away from town. The rest of the island has many beaches where you can soak up some tanning rays or enjoy some tranquility.

Hotel ratings and price vary widely, so be sure to do your research before choosing. Below are some of the hotels and resorts that are also ideal for those who plan on renting an apartment.