The coast of Tanzania is perhaps most famous for the Zanzibar Archipelago, a cluster of islands that saw the growth and survival of Swahili civilisation and trade until the mid-twentieth century. Whether you’re content to stay on the mainland coast, or want to venture off into the atolls and islands of the Indian Ocean, the Tanzanian coast is a place of untouched beauty and enchantment.
Unguja is the archipelago’s main island, and the one with the best beaches. Historical Stone Town is part of the capital Zanzibar Town. Zanzibar’s coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world, but sand and surf vary depending on what side of the island you’re on. Up north, ocean swimming is much less susceptible to the tides, and smooth beaches and white sand make for dazzling days in the sun.
The port city of Stone Town dominates the west coast, where nearby is the Chole Island Marine Park, Prison , Grave, and Snake Islands. These make a refreshing day-trip and a good break from exploring the winding passageways of the old city.
On the south coast of Zanzibar lies the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a sea turtle protection area for the endangered species that come to breed on the island. Roads to the southeast coast take visitors through the Jozani Forest, home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys and a number of other primate and small antelope species.
Traditionally part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, Pemba Island is 48km northeast of Unguja, and is far removed from the Zanzibari Mainstream.
Pemba is well known for some of the best diving in the Indian Ocean. The Pemba Channel drops off steeply just off the west coast and the diverse species of marine life and coral are truly exceptional. Because tourism is still in its early stages, a trip to Pemba’s unspoiled shores and pristine waters is the underwater adventure of a lifetime.
Mafia Island is by far the largest of the archipelago’s islands and spans 55km from northeast to southwest, much of it covered by coconut plantations. Mafia’s some incredible and unspoilt dive sites have remained a well-kept secret.
Rubondo Island is tucked in the southwest corner of Lake Victoria, the world's second-largest lake, an inland sea sprawling between Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. With nine smaller islands under its wing, Rubondo Island protects precious fish breeding grounds. Tasty tilapia form the staple diet of the yellow-spotted otters that frolic in the island's rocky coves, while rapacious Nile perch, some weighing more than 100kg, tempt recreational game fishermen seeking world record catches.
Lupita Island is situated at the southern end of Lake Tanganyika. The 110 acre island offers guests complete privacy within breathtaking surroundings consisting of dense indigenous forest, open grassland and rocky outcrops.