Not only is Tanzania blessed with an incredible land based biodiversity and world famous destinations like the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro. It also has fantastic biodiversity, scenery and culture along its coastline and amongst its islands. Zanzibar is another iconic destination probably even better known than Tanzania itself.
But how to approach a Tanzanian beach holiday?
Most commonly visitors will come to the coast after their safari. This is typically the relaxation part of a ‘beach and bush’ style safari and thie combination works very well. What a lot of people overlook is that a safari, with it’s dawn wake ups, bumpy roads and non stop excitement is a tiring business and time unwinding on the beach is well deserved and most welcome before catching a flight home. Sometimes the beach element might come first, honeymooners for example often prefer things this way around to recover from the nuptial ceremony.
Increasingly Tanzania’s ocean destinations are hosting entire holidays in their own right. Guests might stay at two or three different locations and not go on a safari at all. Perhaps a quick hop over to the Selous if the mood takes them. And there is always a healthy portion of domestic visitors looking to escape city life. It’s important to bear in mind that many beach properties will offer long stay discounts, which can be excellent value, seven nights for the price of five for example. Once Swahili time sets in, it’s easy to spend this long de-stressing and taking it easy. Sometimes a safari can feel rather like a bubble and spending time at the coast is an opportunity to experience and expose yourself to local culture. Wonder through surrounding villages, bicycle down the beach, watch the daily catch come in before it makes its way to the kitchen.
You can visit the coast all year round. It will be hot and humid typical of a tropical monsoon climate and rain is much more common than inland. There is almost always a cool ocean breeze, the Kaskazi from December to March and the Kusi from July to September. These winds have governed life along this coast for millennia.
Zanzibar is the first name that comes to mind when talking about a Tanzania beach trip. Zanzibar has the fabulous white sand azure beaches of dreams and a quality of accommodation to match. There are a number of very luxury private villas now on offer. I would argue that wondering the streets of Stonetown for a least a night before heading to the beach is an essential. Zanzibar has become somewhat overdone of late and I would always looking beyond as well. Try these: Baraza, Qambani, Breezes
Mafia Island to the south of Zanzibar is much smaller with only a handful of accommodations and a more laid back attitude. It also has its own marine park complete with wonderful coral reefs for snorkelling and world class scuba diving. A must for marine wildlife fans, untouched coral reefs, whale sharks, turtles, the list goes on. A personal favourite of mine. Try these: Chole Mjini, Pole Pole, Fanjove
Pemba Island to the north of Zanzibar has an even less developed tourism offering, perfect if an authentic island pace of life is what you’re looking for. The properties that are there are of a very high standard and a genuine escape worth the effort in getting there. Try these: Manta Resort, Fundu Lagoon
And Tanzania’s coastal options don’t stop there. The mainland coast offers fulfilling options for the more dynamic traveller all the way from Tanga near the Kenyan border, private islands in-between and right across to the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the west.