Best Places to Stay in Zanzibar: Top Areas & Accommodation 

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Looking for the best places to stay in Zanzibar? There are many different areas and beaches with great accommodation options. 

Choosing the best places to stay in Zanzibar can be overwhelming with all the different choices available to you! This guide has outlined all the best neighborhoods with hotel suggestions across all different budgets. 

I first visited Zanzibar in 2020 and fell in love with the atmosphere and the people. As a Florida native, I love beach destinations and Zanzibar is one of my favorites. I spent most of my time on the east side of the island with quick visits to the north and Stone Town. 

Ready to find where to stay in Zanzibar? Here are the top places to book all around the island!

boats docked near pier, places to stay in zanzibar

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Zanzibar Quick Accommodation Quick Guide 

Trying to find accommodation quickly? Here are the top recommendations around the island! 

BudgetNew Jambo Bungalows: These private bungalows are right on the beach. Each bungalow has its own bathroom and some have mini kitchens as well. They also have dorm rooms with shared bathrooms for a lower price than the private rooms. On-site, they have volleyball courts, a bar, and a restaurant. 

Mid-RangeZanzibar Coffee House: One of the most centrally located hotels in Stone Town. You can get to the city center in seven minutes on foot and to the beach in 5 minutes. The hotel is well-known for its coffee shop and extensive coffee selection. You can drink coffee and have breakfast on the rooftop terrace. 

LuxuryRoyal Zanzibar Beach Resort: This is one of the best Zanzibar hotels. All the suites have balconies with either an ocean or a garden view. They have several on-site restaurants and bars with terraces where you can eat and see the ocean. They also have tennis courts and a spa. 

fisherman in boat at sunset, beach hotels zanzibar

Stone Town

Stone Town is the best area to stay in Zanzibar if you want to be close to museums, markets, and other tourist attractions. You can still get to the beach easily from many hotels here. Stone Town is an amazing city with plenty of opportunities to learn about the island’s history. 

You can take a spice tour, chat with locals in the craft markets, or learn about slavery at the Old Slave Market.

If your main vacation goal is beach time, you can spend one or two nights in Stone Town and then spend the rest of your time at the beaches. 

BudgetLost & Found Zanzibar: This hostel is great for solo travelers that want to meet others. There are tons of common areas including a TV room and game room. They are one of the only hostels on the island with AC which is much needed during the dry and hot months! 

Mid-RangeMangrove Lodge: Voted the best hotel in Zanzibar for many years in a row, Mangrove Lodge is close to Stone Town but is still right on the beach. You can have the best of both worlds. There is a bar and restaurant on-site as well as hammocks in a large garden where you can relax. 

LuxuryPark Hyatt Zanzibar: This hotel has private beach access with an outdoor swimming pool, spa, and fitness center. While most hotels in Zanzibar have private tours, Park Hyatt has one of the largest selections. Choose from sunset cruises, snorkeling excursions, spice tours, and many more. 

alleyway in stone town, hotels zanzibar

The North Coast 

The north coast has some of the best accommodations in Zanzibar. This is also the best place to stay for swimming and scuba diving. Even during low tide hours, the water is very deep, and you can swim all day, unlike on the east coast beaches. 

The east coast beaches have extremely low and high tides. So, you aren’t able to swim until late morning when the tide comes up. 

You can also easily visit Mnemba Island from the north coast for some of the best snorkeling spots. It’s the only place on the island with green sea turtles. 

The main beaches on the north coast are Nungwi and Kendwa beaches. Nungwi is better for snorkeling since the water is shallower. Kendwa is better for swimming. Both beaches have great choices for bars and nightlife.  

BudgetMakofi Guest House: This guest house has dorm rooms if you want more of a hostel experience where you can meet other travelers. They also have private rooms if you want your own space. They have a beautiful patio where you can order drinks and chat with other people staying at the guest house. 

Mid-RangeNungwi House: They have basic double rooms as well as full suites if you want a small kitchen and a sitting space. Breakfast is free with western food and traditional Tanzanian food. They don’t have a private beach, but you can get to the public beaches in less than a 5-minute walk. 

LuxuryZ Hotel: Their rooftop bar is one of the most popular places to get drinks. The hotel rooms are beautiful and spacious. If you don’t feel like being at the beach, they also have a beautiful outdoor pool. They also have a well-known spa. They get fully booked, so make sure you call ahead for any spa treatments you want. 

aeriel view of blue water and shoreline in zanzibar, 5 star hotels in Zanzibar

Paje Beach (East Coast) 

The island’s east coast also has plenty of beach hotels. There are typically fewer tourists here, though you can still find many ex-pats that own hotels or work remotely and live here full time. 

The beaches are stunning on this side of the island and have tall palm trees and pure white sand. While the northern beaches are better for scuba diving, the east coast is where you will find better opportunities for kite surfing. 

BudgetSagando Bungalows: There are many different options around Paje Beach to stay in beachside bungalows, and Sagando is one of the best. They have a beautiful garden as well as bonfires during the weekend evenings. They also have a beach bar!

Mid-RangeKikoi Boutique Hotel: This cute boutique hotel has free bike rentals to help you explore Paje Beach! They have a small swimming pool with a garden where you can relax. They also have a lounge and bar on-site with live entertainment on weekends. 

LuxuryKiwenga Beach Resort: This 5-star hotel in Zanzibar has tennis courts, a huge spa, and an outdoor swimming pool. The outdoor recreation area for children makes it one of the best places to stay in Zanzibar with kids. They also have a private beach. 

yellow boat in the sand, where to stay in zanzibar

Top Things to do in Zanzibar

Now that you have the perfect Zanzibar accommodation recommendations, here are some of the top activities to do around the island:

  • Take a spice tour. Zanzibar is well-known for all the spices that are locally grown on the island. The best places to take spice tours are in Stone Town. The guide will show you how the spices are grown and the common dishes where they are used. You even get to try local dishes prepared with the spices.  
  • Take a cooking class. One of the best parts about Zanzibar is the food. The cuisine is much different than what you find on mainland Tanzania. Taking a cooking class lets you see how they make some of the famous dishes so you can make them for your friends and family when you return home!
  • Go snorkeling. Zanzibar has some amazing, unbeatable snorkeling opportunities, especially in Nungwi and Paje beach. You can book tours through your hotel, and they will take you to all the best spots. The fee also usually includes lunch and fresh juice. 
  • See the sunset on a cruise. Sunsets around the island are stunning. While you can see them from the shoreline, they are even more magnificent when you’re on a boat. Most hotels offer sunset cruises that offer dinner and drinks along with the incredible view. 
  • Shop in Stone Town. The city center of Stone Town has many little markets that sell fruits, vegetables, souvenirs, and traditional clothing. It’s fun to wander the stalls and pick up things to bring home. It’s also a great way to meet locals. 
  • Relax on the beaches. Your time in Zanzibar isn’t complete without spending time on the beaches. The best ones are Nungwi, Kendwa, Paje, and Jambiana. You’ll find tons of ex-pats and locals here to hang out with. 
historic stone town, hotels zanzibar

How to Get to Zanzibar

Zanzibar has a small airport (ZNZ). If you’re already in Tanzania or east Africa, you can get a direct flight to Zanzibar. If you’re flying from a destination further away, tickets to Zanzibar airport can be very expensive. 

Most people book a flight to Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. You can then connect to Zanzibar through one of Tanzania’s local airlines like Precision Air or Air Tanzania. 

zanzibar airport, plane on airstrip, best places to stay in zanzibar

How to Get Around Zanzibar

Depending on where you’re staying in Zanzibar, you can walk everywhere. This is especially true if your hotel is close to the beach and restaurants. To get to other parts of the island, I recommend hiring a driver. 

You can usually book private taxis from the reception desk at your hotel. Taking local taxis around Zanzibar is very confusing as they don’t have posted routes and don’t arrive at set times. 

When to Visit Zanzibar

Visit Zanzibar from July to September as this is the dry season. Since you want to be able to experience the beach and do plenty of outdoor water activities, visiting during the dry months allows you to make a great Zanzibar itinerary. 

Although you might find great flight and hotel deals during other parts of the year, it won’t be worth it. The rainy months see so much rainfall that you can’t really enjoy your vacation. 

There is also a hot season from December to February. It usually only rains during the afternoons, so you should still be able to do plenty of beach activities in these months. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions people often ask when planning a trip to Zanzibar. 

Which beach is better, Nungwi or Kendwa? 

There are many different beaches around Zanzibar that you can stay around. Nungwi is one of the best beaches for hotels and nightlife, and many tourists and ex-pats stay around Nungwi. 

For swimming, Kendwa beach is far better. The water is deeper and better for swimming and watersports. All of the other beaches in Zanzibar are very dependent on the tide, especially the ones on the east coast of the island. 

You will see the tide on the eastern beaches go out in the late evening and come back up to the shoreline in the late morning. On this side of the island, the water has such extreme low tides, you even have to drive to the ocean edge to start activities like snorkeling and scuba diving. 

women carrying sticks walking on beach, accommodation in zanzibar

How many days should you spend in Zanzibar?

If you love the beach and watersports, try and stay in Zanzibar for as long as you possibly can! Zanzibar is one of my favorite destinations and my 5 days there were not enough. 

Most travelers recommend spending 7-10 days, but this isn’t always practical when you also want to head to mainland Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro or see the national parks. 

Aim to spend at least 3-5 days in Zanzibar if you’re limited on time. This allows you to get enough beach time, do some tours in Stone Town, and participate in watersports. 

Is Zanzibar safe?

Zanzibar is very safe, even for female and solo travelers. The most common crime for tourists is mugging, though. Make sure you always keep your bag and money guarded especially when walking around at night. 

Muggings and serious crimes are rare and often easily avoidable. I traveled to Zanzibar solo and felt completely safe the entire time. 

the rock restaurant, best area to stay in zanzibar

Ready to Book One of the Best Places to Stay in Zanzibar? 

The best places to stay in Zanzibar range from boutique hotels to luxury beach resorts. There are options for every budget. 

You can stay on the beach, in Stone Town, or a mix of both! Almost all Zanzibar accommodation offers tours for many different activities that you can book around the island. 

Are you ready to start your vacation in Zanzibar? Which place are you going to book?

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