Tanzania's reputation as one of Africa's greatest safari destinations often overshadows the fact that it has over 800 kilometres of dazzling Indian Ocean coastline to explore - and that's before you get to exotic Zanzibar and Tanzania's other tropical islands.
With enough variety to make it the ideal finale to a Tanzania safari or as a stand-alone vacation, a Tanzania beach holiday will appeal to every traveller. The beaches themselves are some of the finest on the East African coast while the range of world-class dive sites will delight scuba divers and snorkellers. Honeymooners will love the exclusive and indulgent beachfront lodges while parents will appreciate the range of family-friendly accommodation and activities available.
But it's not all about beaches and coral reefs: the highly diverse Tanzanian coast has a fascinating blend of cultures and cuisine. Spend time exploring back-street markets, tasting local dishes and interacting with local traders; the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed though - due to the strong Islamic influence - somewhat conservative, and you're advised to respect local traditions and sensibilities.
Pack lightly for your Tanzania beach holiday: it's usually pretty hot, sunny and humid all year round with temperatures averaging between 25 and 30°C. There are however distinct rainy seasons: try to avoid the coast during the long rains of March to April (when a number of lodges close) but there is less to worry about with the short rains of November to January.
It's generally agreed that the best time to go on a Tanzania beach holiday is during the drier and milder June to September months; the December - January holiday period is also popular but temperatures are high and there is some rain around.
We've split the coast into two distinct travel regions - the coast itself and Tanzania's islands, including Zanzibar.
Sprawling, bustling Dar es Salaam is perhaps not an obvious choice for a beach holiday but its international airport and central location means that this city is the logistics hub for the Tanzania coast. There are however great beach hotels and resorts within a 2-hour drive of the city while the unique Saadani National Park, tucked away in a wild coastal forest some 150km north of Dar es Salaam, makes for a great safari and beach combination.
Zanzibar Island: the crown jewel in Tanzania's coastal treasure chest and most famous for its idyllic holiday resorts and boutique beach hotels (not to mention outstanding scuba diving), Zanzibar is more diverse than you might think. Stone Town, the historical quarter of the island's capital Zanzibar Town, offers the inquisitive traveller the chance to explore twisting alleys, mosques and markets while scattered around Zanzibar are tiny, off-the-beaten-track islands, ideal for honeymooners and get-away-from-it-all vacations.
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Mnemba Island: a tiny island paradise lying a kilometre north-east of Zanzibar Island, Mnemba is the epitome of exclusivity and privacy. Its legendary reef makes for some of the best diving and snorkelling in the Zanzibar Archipelago.
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Pemba Island: set 50km from Zanzibar and long in its shadow, those who do travel to Pemba are seldom disappointed. Covered in forest and spice plantations and ringed by great beaches, it's still early days for tourism to Pemba which makes it perfect for people looking for a Tanzania beach holiday without the crowds.
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Mafia Island: lying a hefty 160km north of Zanzibar, Mafia has managed to remain under the radar for decades. It's a classic Indian Ocean island with a genuinely serene tropical ambience and is home to one of the world's best dive sites.
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Chumbe Island: an uninhabited island 12km south of Zanzibar Town and home to a pristine coral reef and private marine reserve, Chumbe makes an ideal day trip for keen divers and snorkellers.
Chole Island: a tiny scrap of land barely a kilometre long and accessible only via a 15-minute boat ride from Mafia Island. Chole lies at the heart of the Mafia Island Marine Park; its shallow-water reefs teem with life and you're assured of an exceptionally exclusive and private experience.
Browse our range of Tanzania beach holidays or simply contact one of our travel experts to tailor-make the perfect itinerary for you.
At a Glance
Kick back after a safari with a stay on a Tanzania beach. Zanzibar is the main attraction but there are miles of mainland beaches as well as superb and little-visited island destinations.