Kenya and Tanzania have long been favourites for those looking for a safari and beach holiday, with the vast plains of the Serengeti, Masai Mara and other reserves offering what many consider to be the ultimate safari experience. Wherever you go on your safari in East Africa, Zanzibar is the most popular choice for a beach extension, and it’s easy to see why given its beautiful beaches, warm waters and choice of wonderful hotels.
Zanzibar is a relatively small island, only 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, set the in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean about 25 miles from the coast of mainland Tanzania. The Island is easily reached by plane from either Kenya or Tanzania, and the vast majority of hotels can be reached within 90 minutes of the airport. There are some beautiful beaches all around the Island, although some on the East Coast in particular can be very tidal. Many of the very best beaches are found on the North West Coast around Kendwa, and the best diving and snorkelling are at Mnemba Atoll, just off the North East Coast.
Here are some suggestions for relaxing in Zanzibar as part of your safari and beach holiday.
AndBeyond Mnemba Island
If diving is your passion then this may well be your perfect paradise. AndBeyond Mnemba Island is an award-winning private beach lodge set in the heart of the Menmba atoll, Zanzibar’s premier diving and snorkelling site. This exquisite private island, with its white coral beaches, is renowned as one of the most romantic ocean destinations in the world, offering a privacy and rustic exclusivity unparalleled on the African coastline.
The 10 beach-side rustic bandas are tucked into the tropical foliage on the edges of the magnificent white sand beach and overlook the gently rolling waves and pristine coral reef. Although rustic in design, the well appointed bandas have a spacious bedrooms with a four poster bed swathed in mosquito netting and cooled by gently whirring fans, an elegant dressing area, and a covered walkway leading to a shuttered en-suite bathroom with a huge glass-beaded shower curtain.
The service here is a blend of local charm and warmth, and the understated excellence that is a typical of the safari lodges that AndBeyond operate across Southern and East Africa. The combination of stylish, rustic accommodation, excellent service, and a truly magnificent island setting make this one of the very best beach destinations to add to a top-drawer safari holiday.
Xanadu Villas is one of the most beautiful hotels on Zanzibar and offers a truly exclusive experience for the most discerning 5* clients. There are just 6 beautiful villas set in a tropical garden by one of the finest beaches on the south-east coast of Zanzibar.
The beautiful setting, fine food and unpretentious service make it difficult to leave the retreat, however sunset dhow cruises, snorkelling, paddle boarding and tours of the island can all be arranged on request during your stay.
Having opened only in the summer of 2018, Zuri Zanzibar is a recent addition to the Zanzibar coast at Kendwa, however it is already drawing rave reviews for its wonderful rooms, service and food – and it’s easy to see why. The location on the west coast is superb, and this amazing setting provides guests with a stunning white-sandy beach, turquoise waters and unforgettable sunsets.
The property itself has 55 stylish and beautifully appointed rooms set among spice gardens, with the majority of rooms offering stunning views over the Indian Ocean. There are three restaurants, a stunning infinity pool, a water-sports centre and dive centre.
If you are including a trip to Zuri as part of your honeymoon (or if you are just an old romantic at heart) then be sure to ask about dinner on the beach – there is nothing as romantic or atmospheric as enjoying a candlelit beach dinner with a private bonfire under the starriest of skies.
Baraza Beach Resort & Spa
With just 30 villas, and located along the beach that was named as one of the top 30 in the world by the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller magazine, Baraza is one of Zanzibar’s most exclusive boutique resorts.
Baraza offers some of the most luxurious accommodation on the Island of Zanzibar, with Swahili arches, intricate hand carved cement decor, beautiful antiques, handmade furniture and intricate brass lanterns. This beguiling fusion of Arabic, Swahili and Indian design is complimented by excellent service and fine food and wine. The beautiful beach here is very tidal and so not really suitable for swimming, however the diving and snorkelling are excellent on this part of the Island, and there is a fantastic swimming pool with plenty of space to relax and soak up the sun in between swims.
Kilindi Zanzibar offers a stylish blend of Middle Eastern style and Scandinavian minimalism, and has a relaxed barefoot and back-to-nature feel. The hotel is comprised of a series of white-domed pavilions which are all set in 50 acres of lush tropical gardens on the North West coast of the Island.
The Main Pavilion has a bar which overlooks the large infinity pool and the sparkling warm waters of the Indian Ocean beyond, and the 15 guest Pavilion Suites each have a private pool, day pavilion, sun terrace and magnificent ocean views. The property is laid out in such a way as to ensure guest privacy and a feeling of being at one with nature, and from your room or private terrace you are much more likely to see monkeys, birds and lizards than a fellow guest.
The private beach is just a short walk downhill and offers comfortable loungers and beds, plus paddle boards and kayaks which are available for guest to borrow.
Paul Campbell is a Co-founder and Managing Director at Travel Butlers. Travel Butlers are specialists in tailor-made safari and beach holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean.