Most visitors come to Tanzania for prime game-viewing in reserves like the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area; but when you’ve had your fill of the Big Five, the country’s picturesque coastline awaits. Whether you prefer backpacker waterfronts with vibrant party scenes or private islands with abandoned stretches of untouched sand, there are beaches to suit all tastes in Tanzania. The most famous are located on Zanzibar Island, but for those in the know, there are plenty of magical beaches on the mainland and smaller Tanzanian islands as well.

Nungwi Beach

Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar Island in Tanzania
Located at the northern tip of Unguja Island (known to most as Zanzibar), Nungwi Beach is the island’s most famous stretch of sand – and for good reason. Crystal-clear waters wash upon white sand shores, while anchored dhows provide an atmospheric backdrop for your vacation selfies. Popularity comes at a price, though, and Nungwi can be overpopulated with tourists and locals attempting to sell their wares. However, those that like to be part of the action will love the beach’s atmospheric waterfront bars and restaurants, while accommodation options range from backpacker B&Bs like Nungwi House to 5-star resorts like Essque Zalu Zanzibar.

Kendwa Beach

Kendwa Beach, Zanzibar Island in Tanzania
Zanzibar visitors looking for a quieter place to catch a tan will love Kendwa Beach, located on the island’s northwestern tip. It’s possible to walk there from Nungwi at low tide and you’ll find the same white sand and turquoise waters, but with fewer crowds. Because the waters off Kendwa get deep quickly, there is less of a tidal range here than on the eastern beaches, making it ideal for swimming no matter the time of day. Its western location also means that for scenic sundowners, there’s no better place to be. Various operators offer snorkeling trips and Kwenda village tours, while Kwenda Rocks resort is known for its monthly Full Moon Party.

Mnemba Island

Mnemba Island off Tanzania

If exclusivity is a priority, consider booking a stay on Mnemba Island. Located off Zanzibar’s northeast shore, this private getaway is only accessible to guests of luxurious &Beyond Mnemba Island Lodge and has a circumference of just 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles). Essentially, the entire island is a breathtaking ivory beach, studded with a patch of causarina pine forest and surrounded by protected coral reefs. The lodge’s PADI dive school offers exceptional scuba diving excursions, while private beach dinners, open-air massages and yoga sessions are all on the menu for those staying in one of the 12 thatched beach bandas. Activities range from fishing to dolphin watching.

Saadani National Park

If you have limited time in Tanzania and want to combine the safari and beach elements of your trip, head 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of Dar es Salaam to Saadani National Park. It’s the only national park in East Africa to border the Indian Ocean, and it’s entirely possible to see game venturing out of the mangrove forests and onto the beach’s golden sands. Divide your days between lazy hours spent tanning on the beach and game drives spent searching for an impressive array of game including lion, elephant, giraffe and buffalo. Wami River cruises are a particular highlight, giving you the opportunity to spot hippos, crocodiles and a plethora of aquatic birds.

Sange Beach

Sange beach, Kijongo Bay Beach Resort
Located in between Saadani National Park and Pangani, Sange Beach is another off-the-beaten-track mainland destination for those that prefer peace and quiet to full moon parties and backpacker bars. Silver sand and swaying coconut palms provide an idyllic backdrop for the thatched accommodation of Kijongo Bay Beach Resort. Whether you choose a beach bungalow or duplex villa, these private rooms are perfect for families and feature large verandas with daybeds overlooking the ocean. The lodge can arrange activities to suit all interests, from snorkeling and scuba diving trips to walking tours of historic Pangani and river cruises on the Msangazi estuary.

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