Turquoise waters and coral reefs...
Think of a Zanzibar beach resort. Images of pristine, white sandy beaches lapped by warm turquoise waters will float into your mind. Add a few coconut palms, nearby coral reefs, great cuisine and hospitality. And you have a pretty fair impression of a stay at one of the top Zanzibar resorts.
Zanzibar only really began welcoming overseas visitors in the late 1980s. This means that aside from a few Zanzibar resorts catering for incoming southern Europeans on direct charters (not featured here!), there are plenty of smaller Zanzibar beach lodges. All offer local character and oodles of charm.
The Zanzibar resorts on the East Coast are probably the best known. And they most closely reflect the classic Zanzibar beach paradigm - Long white beaches which overlook a long barrier reef just offshore.
The North-East offers various beaches such as Matemwe, Kiwengwa, Paje, and Pongwe. This area is famous for its fine beaches, the contrasting colours of the Indian Ocean and the coral reef. Great options include Matemwe Lodge, Kasha Boutique Hotel and Zanzibar White Sand.
The South-East includes the Michamvi Peninsula, which also offers long powdery beaches, palm trees and a barrier reef for snorkelling. Here the tidal effect is not so marked as further north so that your sea view remains attractive at all times. Plus from here you can take an excursion to visit the red colobus monkeys in the Jozani Forest. Check out the perennial favourite Breezes Beach Club or its more exclusive sister hotels, Zawadi Resort and Baraza Resort & Spa.
Some of the Zanzibar beach resorts in the far north face the mainland (and thus are less affected by the tidal range). Ras Nungwi is probably best area for experienced divers. But the village of Nungwi itself has become quite busy and over-developed. Yet there are some more secluded Zanzibar lodges such as Zuri Zanzibar and Elewana Kilindi. Note that the transfer time to the far north is quite long, up to 2 hours. So it's ideal for a longer stay.
There are also some great little Zanzibar resorts in the south-west of the island - such as Fumba Beach Lodge or Unguja Resort. The beaches here may lack the classic coconut palm adornment. But they have their own charm and tranquillity in this friendly and unpretentious part of Zanzibar. Dolphin encounters are also a strong possibility here as the dolphin pods often congregate off the southern coast near Kizimkazi. The South-west is also less affected by the tidal range.
Note on Tidal Range - It’s worth mentioning that the shallow gradient of most of the beaches on Zanzibar means that you cannot swim in the sea at low tide. Plus some visitors report annoyance at the large populations of sea urchins.
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Breezes Beach Club is a friendly and comfortable four star resort hotel set on a really lovely beach. (It is officially five star but we don't sell it as that!) It has a homely feel so I would say it is a good premier standard hotel. But all was well maintained and the food was excellent.
There’s a main bar, pool bar, main restaurant which is used if you have booked on DBB basis and small private restaurant (Sultans Table) which can be booked at extra cost. There’s a second private restaurant just for two - Tides - overlooking the ocean which is very popular for honeymoons and anniversaries.
Rooms are in a series of plantation buildings, each with six rooms, There are two suites on the 1st floor and four deluxe bedrooms on ground floor. Basically these are all the same room size inside but the suites have a large balcony with an outdoor shaded sitting area. There are only two blocks at the front and so the front four suites have sea view and the other suites would only have partial sea views. The rooms are spacious but I was disappointed in the bathrooms which were very old-fashioned. So need to make this abundantly clear in description.
The Frangipani spa was a really good spa with range of treatments, with Jacuzzi and sauna (plus the Sultans Spa for couples)
Room Tip from Kate - Personally I am not convinced that its worth paying extra for a front ‘sea facing’ room as the rooms are relatively far back to allow a large area for sun loungers etc. however it's a matter of personal choice. Similarly I am not convinced about paying extra for the suites unless you had one of the four front-facing suites as then you would have a sea view (through the palm trees).