White sandy beaches border the vibrant turquoise water of the Indian Ocean along Tanzania’s coastline. Like its safari destinations, Tanzania boasts a wide variety of stunning beach locations. Here you can scuba dive, snorkel, kayak, or sit back and relax after an adventure-filled safari!
One of its most well-known tropical islands is Zanzibar. Take a 20-minute flight over beautiful ocean waters and arrive in a culturally rich melting pot. This separate state within Tanzania has a history as rich as its beautiful beaches. A visit to Zanzibar’s Stone Town is a perfect way to tap into this island’s history. Take a stroll through its streets filled with captivating architecture, lively markets, and aromatic restaurants. Along the mesmerizing shoreline, the passing dhow boats pull you into the island’s pace. A common phrase on the island is “pole pole,” meaning “slowly, slowly” in Swahili. Settle into the slow island pace and savor the absolute beauty of Zanzibar’s beaches, people, and unimaginable sunsets.
Two smaller islands, Pemba Island to the north of Zanzibar and Mafia Island to the south, are excellent diving spots that offer an intimate island experience. Pemba is a quieter destination than Zanzibar. Its coral reefs provide an excellent place to snorkel, fish, and scuba dive. Mafia Island’s rich coral reefs boast an amazing biodiversity, and this island is a great place to see whale sharks from October to April. Both islands offer open-air, more rustic accommodations, perfect for intrepid travelers who seek an authentic beach adventure.
Tanzania’s mainland coast also offers an amazing beach vacation. A stay at Ras Kutani beach, south of Dar es Salaam, combines well with Tanzania’s southern safari circuit (Ruaha and Selous). This isolated stretch of sand provides the most relaxing beach spot we have visited in Tanzania. The wide white sandy beaches invite you to spend your day under the shade of picturesque, palm-leafed cabanas. This is a great place to take an evening stroll along the beach, in time to return to the beachside bar for a sundowner.
Tanzania’s coast experiences two rainy seasons throughout the year. The short, mild rains last from November to December, and the long rains last from March to May. Some beach destinations remain closed from April to May during the long rains. The long dry season lasts from about June to August. Temperatures remain mild and pleasant, with a slight chill at night. As the region awaits the short rains in November, temperatures increase. The short rains bring intermittent mild showers that quickly pass to reveal unimaginable painted sunsets. From January to February, the short dry season brings warm temperatures, a steady wind, and bright blue skies.
Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia Islands are all world-class snorkeling and diving destinations. The crystal clear waters offer amazing visibility and an incredible view of its massive coral reefs and hundreds of species of tropical fish. Diving with whale sharks is a seasonal wildlife highlight from October to April. Whale watching is another amazing wildlife experience from June to September. Humpback whales pass through the main channel between Tanzania’s coastline and its islands this time of year.
Sea turtles come to shore on Tanzania’s beaches to lay their eggs. Due to their sensitive reproductive strategies, their nests are monitored and protected by local wildlife conservation groups and committed wildlife conservationists at lodges. When hatchlings make their journey from their nest to the ocean, interested guests can gather to witness this humbling event.