Zanzibar is small island but has many accommodation options… it’s important to find the right place to stay so that you get the best out of your time there. We have stayed in three separate parts of the island, and each caters to a different type of traveller.
Given that food is an important factor in my holiday experience, then I’ll drop in some of the food places we tried and liked for one reason or another. And if you already have the accommodation taken care of and you are looking for things to do, then see this post for our top 10!
So what is best the best place for you to stay in Zanzibar? Read on an we’ll help you decide which locations will best suit your holiday requirements.
Kendwa and Nungwi – North
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If you are looking for a resort style vacation, sandy white beaches and maybe a place to party. Then Kendwa and Nungwi is probably for you.
We have two young children and on our visit the grandparents tagged along. For this reason we stayed in Nungwi which is slightly better suited to a more laid back atmosphere. If you are looking for a more active night life then look in Kendwa and you’ll find accommodation that suits all budgets.
Ultimately, this northern area of the island suits families, couples and singles. It is therefore, one of the busiest places on the island. And with good reason…
It is great for dining out, as there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Getting from one place to another is easy, because everything is walking distance, with the beaches acting as the path between most locations.
But best of all… there is an abundance of accommodation options to choose from. The map below displays options in Kendwa, just scroll up to see your options for Nungwi.
Best Places to Eat in Nungwi
For restaurants overlooking the beach there is plenty to choose from. Walking through the busiest part of Nungwi Beach, towards the southern end will bring you along the tourist trail. The vibe is good, but I’m just going to put it out there that the food caters for non-repeat customers (maybe I’m just a food snob). So choose carefully, and keep expectations realistic. Or go for the local curries… it makes sense that the local dishes are going to be made very well.
Flame Tree Restaurant – For a dinner setting under the night sky, strung lights and Frangipani trees, this restaurant has atmosphere. A simple menu but done well, this dinner or lunch spot is worth a visit.
Gerry’s Bar – I think we became regulars here… a great place for an afternoon drink overlooking the fishing dhows and white sandy beach. In a thatched beach hut style, this laid back bar and restaurant gets you in the holiday spirit. And the food is goooood too!
Matemwe – North East
If you have just finished a week long safari in Tanzania and would prefer some R&R before returning back to work life, then this part of the island might suit you better.
Here you’ll find long sandy beaches, with more remote accommodation options.
We stayed at these small boutique villas in Matemwe for three nights and it was paradise. The staff were super helpful and friendly and it was the perfect location to chill, read a book and sip G&Ts by the ocean.
The most convenient aspect of this accommodation is that the dive centre is connected to the hotel. If you want to take a dive trip out to Mnemba Island, you’ll probably want to base yourself here.
Also! Do yourself a favour and wake up early to catch the sunrise. I’m not a morning person… but it sure was a good way to start the day (followed by coffee).
Bwejuu – South East
This beautiful spot is great for peace and quiet, reef walks, and is close to the monkeys of the Jozani forest. The location provides the perfect balance of rest, and at the same time activity when it’s needed. If you stay here, you’ll also be relatively close to Stone Town and there is plenty to explore nearby.
To be honest it ticked all the boxes for me… I think it was probably my favourite spot on our family holiday. The small family run Bellevue Guest House wasn’t directly on the beach, but had all the important beachy elements. Such as an open air restaurant, hammocks to kick back in, cool music playing in the background, monkeys, lush gardens and trees. It was only a short 2 minute walk down the path to the beach. Our kids loved the small pool… while I loved the adult drinks by the pool.
Best Places to Eat Around Bwejuu
To be honest, you won’t need to stray far from the Bellevue Guest House, if this is where you decide to stay. Every meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner is fantastic. In fact, many non-guests visited the restaurant for dinner, a sign of good word of mouth in the community! The small restaurant, surrounded by jungle and monkeys was the perfect place to start and finish the day. They’ll even prepare a cooking lesson with the head chef, if you’d like to learn how to cook the local curry and flat breads.
The Rock – A little further up the coast from Bwejuu is this infamous restaurant. Just for the record, we did not eat here so I cannot speak as to the quality of the food, or service. However, the dining concept is unique, in that the restaurant sits perched on a tiny island (or rock) just off the beach. If you are staying in this area you may want to check it out, and then let us know your experience in the comments below. It is important to note that space is limited and so be sure to book before you plan your visit.
Stone Town – West
If you choose to stay here, it will probably only be for a few nights. It is convenient such that it is centrally located and the main point of entry to the island. There is plenty to explore in Stone Town and you’ll definitely want to check it out. It is rich in history and culture and is a genuinely interesting town to explore. I normally avoid towns on a beach holiday, but I’d recommend that you don’t miss this one.
If you are looking for the best place to stay in Stone Town, then check out the Zanzibar Coffee House. They have nicely furnished, clean rooms, and the guest house is centrally located
And if you do stay there, you won’t go wrong with coffee and cake! It’s probably the best I found in Zanzibar.
But, the point of Zanzibar for most people is beach, I would assume. And so I’d recommend do what you need to here, and then get yourself to one of the picturesque beaches listed above.
For more information on Zanzibar and what to do while you are there… then click here to see our top 10 things to do in Zanzibar. Many of the activities and things you will do in Zanzibar will depend on the location you choose to stay in. So checking this list may also help you narrow in on the best place to stay.
If you have any questions about what to expect or other Zanzibar travel related inquiries, drop your comments below and we’ll help where we can. In the meantime why not pin this for later.
I have honestly never even heard of Zanzibar before! But these pictures look incredible and it sounds like an amazing place to stay! Thanks for sharing all about it!
Alexis Farmer says
This looks amazing! Super helpful information too 🙂
Love, Em says
This looks like such a beautiful place! I would love to visit those beaches, they look like the perfect place to relax. I think I’m going to have to look for a holiday here! It looks gorgeous, and those drinks look delicious 😉 Thank you for sharing these places to stay!
Oh my goodness, your pictures are just amazing! I’ve heard of Zanzibar before but it was never really on my travel radar – thank you for tuning me in to all of this beauty! Wonderful post 🙂
I’ve been considering a trip to Zanzibar for a while and this post has definitely convinced me! It looks so amazing, Matemwe seems like the perfect spot for me! Thanks for a great article!
I’m so intrigued by Zanzibar and it’s definitely on my list after reading this post! Thank you for sharing it ☺️
Sarah Camp says
What an absolute dream! Africa captivated our hearts last year while in South Africa – we are booked for next year to visit a few other countries there…but I really need to get to Tanzania too!
Sharon Ward says
It’s such a beautiful part of the world… where have you booked to go next year?
Josy A says
The small boutique villas in Matemwe looks seriously stunning. We stayed somewhere similar to that in Mombasa. It was sooo relaxing and gorgeous…it must have been perfect with kids (as long as you have loooads of sunscreen!)
I can totally see why you loved it.
Sharon Ward says
I might need to add Mombasa to my travel list in that case ?
This is defiantly on my list! thanks for all the tips, looks gorgeous!
Mohana and Aninda says
I have wanted to visit Zanzibar since watching Bourdain explore Stone Town in Parts Unknown. The beaches look stellar! I’d love to know about the history of the island, spice trade, and eat some local food.
The Bellevue Guest House looks amazing! I could totally go for being poolside with a cocktail or two these days lol. I am going to pin this post for my travels to Zanzibar.
Rhonda Albom says
After seeing your photos, I would want to stay at a place on the beach. I like that the villas where you stayed are attached to the dive centre.
Arielle Kurtze says
Wow Zanzibar is just beautiful! We haven’t (yet) made it there but it is definitely on our bucket list. Loved your photos and details and thanks for sharing!
Sharon Ward says
You are most welcome… thanks for the comment, and I hope you get there soon ?