6 Best Beach Destinations in Tanzania

Most visitors come to Tanzania for prime game-viewing in reserves like the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. But when you have had your safari fill, the country’s coastline beckons with the promise of an idyllic beach holiday. Tanzania is blessed with some of the best beaches in Africa – making it a top choice for those seeking a safari and beach combo.

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 great beach hotels and resorts within a 2-hour drive of the city. You’ll be spoilt for choice with an array of beautiful Tanzania beaches, while another major drawcard of the destination is the slew of Zanzibar resorts taking pride of place on Tanzania’s main tourist island.


1. Zanzibar: The Island of Spice

The crown jewel in beautiful Tanzania's coastal treasure chest and most famous for its idyllic setting and boutique beach hotels (not to mention outstanding scuba diving), Zanzibar is a must-visit while on a Tanzania beach holiday.  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. Scattered around Zanzibar are tiny, off-the-beaten-track islands, offering an incredible location for those seeking a romantic honeymoon or a get-away-from-it-all vacation. This tropical island is good to visit at most times of the year, thanks to regular sunshine, however the best time to visit Zanzibar would be during the dry season from June to October.

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2. Mnemba Island: An Exclusive Escape

When visiting the beaches in Tanzania, many come to a pause at Zanzibar and look no further. But, there are an incredible array of beautiful island destinations that need to be explored. One such place is Mnemba – a tiny island paradise lying a kilometre north-east of Zanzibar Island. Host to the celebrated Mnemba Island Lodge and spectacular beaches, this intimate island is the epitome of exclusivity and privacy off the Tanzania coast. What’s more, its legendary reef makes for some of the best diving and snorkelling in the Zanzibar Archipelago.

3. Pemba Island: Honeymooners' Paradise

Set 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Zanzibar and long in its shadow, those who do travel to the wonderful island of Pemba are seldom disappointed. Not many know of the wonderful island off the Tanzania Coast, but it offers a spectacular experience all of its own with a unique topography and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to stay at The Manta Resort - an underwater hotel. 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.

4. Mafia Island: A Hidden Gem

It’s difficult to imagine there are beaches in Tanzania that haven’t yet been occupied by sun-hungry tourists. But lying a hefty 160 kilometres (99 miles) north of Zanzibar, Mafia has managed to remain under the radar for decades, a true hidden gem. Part of a larger archipelago where a quintessential beach holiday experience awaits, it’s home to one of the world's best dive sites. There is a small amount of accommodation on offer, all of which creates the perfect base from which to relax after a day exploring, and swimming in crystal-clear waters.

5. Chumbe Island: A Protected Coral Reef Sanctuary

If the crowds of Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam aren’t your cup of tea for a Tanzania beach holiday, then perhaps an uninhabited island 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) south of Zanzibar Town will grab your attention. Home to a pristine coral reef and private marine reserve, Chumbe makes an ideal day trip for keen divers and snorkellers looking to escape busy holiday goers. And, if you’re looking to stay a night or two, make sure to visit the eco-friendly Chumbe Island Coral Park. The small, state-of-the-art eco-lodge offers accommodation in unique thatched bungalows right on the beach.

6. Chole Island: A Peaceful Haven

Remote beaches in Tanzania are often more sought-after than the busy ones, given they’re considered to be some of the best beaches in Africa. And this tiny scrap of land, barely a kilometre long and accessible only via a 15-minute boat ride from Mafia Island, is certainly considered to be off-the-beaten-track. Chole lies at the heart of the Mafia Island Marine Park, where its shallow-water reefs teem with life and you're assured of an exceptionally exclusive experience at the magical Chole Mjini Treehouse Lodge.