Understanding the different parts of Zanzibar

The island of Zanzibar is located off the coast of Tanzania offering the ultimate holiday experience with its warm waters, beautiful beaches, and rich culture. But the sand, sea, surf, and resorts vary depending on which side of the island you are on.


The island stretches over 100km from side to side and 200km from top to bottom. And each coast offers a unique experience – there are breaking waves, and rock pools beckoning to be explored, a windy coast that is a haven for kitesurfers, to long endless stretches of squeaky sand where you can dazzle in the sun. There really is something for everyone on this island.

So which part of Zanzibar is best for your next holiday? Keep reading to find out.

Stone Town


Stone Town is the cultural epicentre of the island. It’s the vibrant heart of Zanzibar that is well worth a visit for its beautiful rooftop restaurants, intricate carved wooden doors, and delicious spices. You can extend your stay on the island by adding a night or two in Stone Town into your itinerary or simply choose to visit for a day. Some hotels, such as the five star Sea Cliff Resort & Spa even offer a free return shuttle into Stone Town.



Loctaed in Zanzibar’s far north, Nungwi boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar. The beaches here are also not really affected by the tides so you’re guaranteed warm waters any time of day. There also isn’t as much sea grass, weed or urchins as can be found on the rest of the island. Due to this, Nungwi is also where you will find the most luxurious resorts in Zanzibar. If you’re looking for upscale, all inclusive and a great destination to escape for a honeymoon or special celebration you can’t go wrong booking a hotel in Nungwi. This is also a great spot to catch a sunset and you’ll also find some exciting nightlife nearby for those who want to party. Some of our favourites include the brand new Riu Jambo (previously known as La Gemma dell’Est) and the Riu Palace Zanzibar.

The South East


The South East of Zanzibar incorporates the areas of Paje, Jambiani, and Michamvi. This is a very popular area as aside from Nungwi it boasts the best beaches on Zanzibar yet you can find some more affordable accommodation options here. The tides here can be quite dramatic but without too many corals and urchins you can enjoy extended walks on the beach. This is also the kitesurfing capital of the island and is the area where you will find the famous Rock Restaurant of Zanzibar. One of our favourite properties in this area includes the vibrant Kae Beach Resort, located in the Michamvi area.

The North East


The areas of Matemwe, Kiwengwa, and Pongwe make up the North East coast of Zanzibar. This is a more relaxed side of the island with a smattering of smaller boutique hotels offering a more intimate experience. Visitors to this area of Zanzibar like it for its relaxed, laid back atmosphere where you can really disconnect from the world. The North East coast is the most affected by the tides with the water extending some 500 metres out to the reef which is pretty spectacular to see. This is also the launching point for many of Zanzibar’s best diving and snorkelling sites. One of the oldest hotels on the island, Diamonds Mapenzi, a Holiday Factory favourite, can be found in this part of Zanzibar.

Ready to start planning a holiday to Zanzibar? Give us a call on 011 233 2300 or email info@theholidayfactory.co.za to get a quote today.