Zanzibar Beach Resorts

Turquoise waters and coral reefs...

Overview

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.

Zanzibar Beach Resorts on the East Coast

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.

Zanzibar Beach Resorts on the North East Coast

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.

Zanzibar Resorts on the North & North-West Coast

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.

Zanzibar Resorts on the South-West Coast

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.

Features

Why you may love it

  • Wide range of Zanzibar beach resorts to choose from, depending on your interests
  • Some larger, and more family-friendly
  • Others aimed squarely at couples and those seeking a romantic tropical escape
  • Why not combine with a night in Stone Town?

When to visit Zanzibar Beach Resorts

January to mid -March

Summer in Zanzibar Resorts

Zanzibar has a tropical climate which means hot and humid for most of the year, with plenty of rain. There is a steady rainfall through the year apart from a fairly dry spell from June to September. However this rain takes the form of short, sharp thundery rain-showers, usually in the late afternoons. So in the summer months it doesn’t interfere with your beach time. As there’s plenty of sunshine at other times (averaging 9 hours per day).
AVG RAINFALL 67mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 9 Hours
MAX TEMP 34 ℃ / 93 ℉
MIN TEMP 25 ℃ / 77 ℉

Mid-March to May

Rain season in Zanzibar Resorts

This is the rainiest time of the year and not recommended for a Zanzibar beach holiday – especially April which sees nearly 400mm of rain in one month. It typically rains at least every other day during this time. This slightly cools down the temperatures but not by much! April is particularly cloudy with only 6 hours of sunshine. However late May sees the rain drying up and hotel prices and offers remain keen so this could be a good time to stay at some of the more expensive resorts.
AVG RAINFALL 305mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 6-7 Hours
MAX TEMP 23 ℃ / 73 ℉
MIN TEMP 31 ℃ / 88 ℉

June to October

Best time in Zanzibar Resorts

This is a reasonably dry period with short showers every four days on average. It’s a wonderful time for some beach relaxation after your safari as temperatures are still hot (29C during the day) and a very pleasant 21-22C at night). Days are dry and sunny with 8 hours of sunshine on average.
AVG RAINFALL 76mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 8 Hours
MAX TEMP 31 ℃ / 88 ℉
MIN TEMP 22 ℃ / 72 ℉

November to December

Short rains in Zanzibar Resorts

This is start of the “short” summer rains with hot and humid conditions and short, sharp thundery rain-showers, usually in the late afternoons. Rainfall tends to be higher at the start of summer (November and December) before settling down later on. However there’s still plenty of sunshine around.
AVG RAINFALL 122mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 8 Hours
MAX TEMP 33 ℃ / 91 ℉
MIN TEMP 24 ℃ / 75 ℉

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Accommodation

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Baraza Resort Review

I thought that Baraza Resort & Spa might be too 'over the top". It actually isn’t, though there is certainly some glitz and glamour. Indeed there’s an argument to say that its rejuvenating to stay at places which are completely different from home. If you have a bit of cash to splurge, this hotel would be hard to beat - see plus points below. The beach is stunning and the water never leaves the lagoon so it is always attractive, even at low tide.

The style is very Arabic set in lush tropical gardens. Yet the gardens are open and spacious which is a rarity in Zanzibar. The decor in the public areas is white and moroccan in style, with gold as the contrasting colour. The pictures give the impression of gold everywhere but this is deceptive. The overwhelming impression is of spaciousness, white walls and shade curtains swaying in the breeze, expanses of green lawn and a magnificent turquoise swimming pool. It looks truly amazing at night all lit up - very magical and straight out of Arabian nights...

Yes the gold trim was not completely to my taste but overall it worked. (Though I found the formal restaurant a little overpowering.)

Baraza is very romantic. But it is also child-friendly. It manages this by trying to keep the two groups apart! Each one bedroom suite has its own designated beach lounger on one side of the beach. (No marching out at 7am to claim the best lounger here!). The family chalets have some shaded sun loungers on the other side of the beach, which is a neat way of subtly dividing couples from families.

There are two room configurations - one bedroom villa and two bedroom villa. The one bedroom villas are extremely spacious all with private terrace, garden and plunge pool. There’s a bedroom, sitting room complete with day bed, dressing room and palatial bathroom. Personally we think it's worth paying a little extra for the Ocean Front villas to get that full-on sea view.

The two bedroom villas are designed for families (not two couples) as there is a master bedroom and a second twin bedded room with smaller shower room is for the kids.

The Presidential Villa was a little too under-stated for me and felt rather dark and heavy to me. But there’s no denying the setting.

All in all, if you have deep pockets and want to treat yourself, Baraza is the perfect place!

Positives

  • Amazing setting
  • Superb pool and gardens
  • Very friendly and service orientated staff
  • Good range of activities on offer
  • Excellent food - best we had!

Negatives

Very little! Coffee/tea offering in room does not match up to the rest of the hotel eg. instant coffee and only one type of tea! But apparently that is changing…

Kate’s Room Tip
If you are a couple, I DO think its worth paying extra for the Ocean Front villas.Personally I don’t think its really worth paying extra for the Sultan's Villas (family). All you are gaining is a slightly shorter walk - there is no improvement in view.

Cedarberg : Kate Bergh