White powder beaches, sandbanks, private islands, tropical bays… beach lovers are literally spoilt for choices by the Swahili coast in Tanzania. From honeymoon retreats to family relaxation and group travel, there is something special for everyone, not forgetting resorts and excursions that suit your holiday style. Our ultimate beach travel guide is written for you as an essential resource for planning an unforgettable summer by the Swahili Coast.
Read along for the most useful tips and an insider guide for that dreamy beach holiday in Tanzania.
When to go?
Besides April and May, which is predominantly the rainy season in Tanzania, the Swahili Coast is ideal for visiting for the rest of the year. When it is winter in the rest of the world, December marks close to the peak summer season with plenty of sunshine and beach activities inviting globetrotters. Hotels and resorts get nearly fully booked during the peak season from June through March and, it is advisable to secure your bookings at least one month before your travel.
Most preferred – June to December
Few tourists- January to Mid-April
Rainy season- April 20th to end of May
Where to go?
The Swahili Coast in Tanzania is marked by three main islands; Zanzibar, Mafia, and Pemba and the smaller islands of Songo Songo, Ras Kutani, Dar es Salaam, and Bagamoyo. Historical landmarks, petite alleys, hidden treasures underwater, colorful corals, luxury resorts, and lip-smacking seafood delicacies; every island in Tanzania features signature coastal experiences while also offering exceptional excursions to the discerned traveler. From whale sharks diving in Mafia island to city explorations in Stone Town and world-class diving experience in Mnemba Island, every island experience is unique and rewarding in its own way.
Zanzibar island is well known for its five star resorts such as double tree and relaxing activities around its cool blue waters
One of the most accessible and popular islands; Zanzibar is a choice of most tourists, and one can get to do so much on its dreamy beaches; sky diving, parasailing, swimming with the turtles and also visiting a wildlife sanctuary.
Where to stay?
Zanzibar has plenty of beach destinations and offers a range of resort accommodation from budget to mid-range and luxury. Spend a day in Stone Town; A UNESCO World Heritage site, stay in a charming boutique hotel and, head to a pristine beach resort the following day. We would highly recommend staying in a mid-range or all-inclusive resort that offers relaxation and excursion options.
Our favorite beaches are Nungwi, Paje, Pwani, and the sandbank of Nakupanda near Stone Town. With long stretches of the island to yourself, you can expect barefoot luxury and world-class resorts to treat you with utmost sophistication. If you are someone who would enjoy to party and explore happening beaches, Kendwa will be your top choice.
- Tandem skydive – fly from Mnemba to Kendwa
- Deep sea diving in Mnemba Atoll
- Quad biking in Pwani
- Safari Blue full day snorkeling and cruising – starts from Fumba
- Spice tour with traditional lunch – Kidichi
- Stone Town historical tour
A signature Pemba experience- Stay at a Constance Ayana and go for world class diving
Favored by season divers, Pemba is a less-known top diving destination of the world, equally liked by honeymooners, couples and luxury style travelers. Pemba is exotic! With only 3 resorts and a handful of activities, you can expect to travel far and wide or choose to soak in your plush resorts and forget about the time passing by.
Where to stay
Pemba is meant for an intimate holiday and, one needs to have a handsome budget to stay in one of the select resorts. We highly recommend a minimum of 5 days. Our favorites are Fundu Lagoon with exceptional service and beach suites and the Constance Ayana featuring 30 villas all overlooking the ocean and surrounded by tropical gardens.
- Snorkeling and deep sea diving in Misali Island
- Exploring flying fox bat sanctuary in Kidike
- Explore the Ngezi rainforest reserve
- Visit the ZSTC clove distillery
- Stroll or swim in the heavenly Vumavimbi beach
- Visit the chwaka ruins dating back to the 17th century
- Eat at the Timeses Restaurant serving delicious pizza fish and rice
Known for the majestic whale sharks, Mafia island is a real treat for the adventurous traveler. This blissful island destination features the Chole ruins and a colorful marine park that fulfills the beach lovers’ dreams. Stay in tree-houses or luxury bungalows, there is a good selection of activities and hotels on this pretty isle.
Where to stay?
We would recommend to stay 3 days and above to make the most of your holiday on Mafia island. Butiama Beach Lodge is charming, rustic, and pocket-friendly with a scenic bar and offers the convenience to book your preferred excursions. Chole Mijini features unique tree houses and exotic activities in the Chile ruins- ideal for soulful retreats and relaxation. Pole Pole Bungalows are popular among honeymooners and Thanda island for the ultra-luxury travelers.
- Swimming with the whale sharks from October to April
- Snorkeling in Mafia Island Marine Park
- Explore the Chole island home to the world’s largest bats
- Enjoy a barbeque feast on the Marimani sand bank
- Swim in the hidden blue lagoon
- Enjoy a sunset cruise with a barbeque snack
- Watch sea turtle hatching from June to August
The Swahili coast is dotted with several pristine beaches, some of which are private islands such as Fanjove and Lazy lagoon, historical such as Bagamoyo, and sandbanks of Bongoyo, Mbudya, and Sinda, which are perfect for luxury yacht sailing and weekend getaways.
For a fulfilling experience in Tanzania, most travelers also prefer to combine safari and coastal itineraries, popularly known as the bush to beach experience. A 13 days holiday in the wilderness followed by a beach retreat is one of the most popular ways to explore the best of Tanzania.
Whether you are planning your honeymoon or a family beach vacation, our safari consultants will plan that perfect Swahili Coast summer for you. Write to us and get your incredible itinerary tailor-made for a lifetime memory.
Cover photo: Dorothe Stanek