Zanzinar beaches




Changuu (Prison) Island

A 20-30-minute boat ride off Stone Town, this former holding area for slaves and for quarantines has also long been a vacation spot. A half mile long and just 755 feet wide, Changuu features in addition to the prison ruins but also a compound for the protection and nurturing of giant land tortoises. And the beach here - set off by a rustic wooden bridge justting out into the water - is lovely, and so is the snorkeling.


Mafia Island

A little farther afieldJust a 30-minute flight from Unguja, Mafia is a tropical paradise with a population of around 48,000 (many of which live in the main town, Kilindoni) and consisting of one large island (152 square miles) and several smaller ones. There are very few hotels, which only adds to its allure as a destination for the adventurous traveler and beach lover. Divers and snorkelers, too, as one of the top attractions here is a marine park created to protect its coral reefs; there's diving for all levels, and experts in particular will find challenges unlike any others in Zanzibar. The atmosphere of all the islands is one of adventure: days are spent fishing or exploring exposed sand bars and untouched reefs. (And in case you're wondering, the name is thought to come from the Arabic morfiyeh, meaning "group"  or "archipelago," or possibly the Swahili mahali pa afya - "healthy dwelling place". No mobsters involved!) 


Mnemba Island

Reachable only by boat, a 15-minute boat ride from Matemwe Beach on the northeast coast of Unguja, Mnemba is just 12 hectares (30 acres), ringed by a mile (1.6km) of delicate, powder-white coral sand, where green sea turtles come to nest, Mnemba has at its heart a tropical forest that's home to a casuarina pine forest inhabited by suni antelope, butterflies
. Besides swimming, snorkeling, and diving, other popular activities include fishing and spotting humpback whales (in season) and dolphins. The catch is that this island is privately owned, and the only visitors allowed are guests of its very pricey andBeyond beach resort. But non-guests may snorkel and dive on the offshore reef (part of a marine reserve) amid some 600 species of tropical fish, and many tour operators run jaunts out here.



This quiet, secluded stand on Unguja's northeast coast about an hour from Stone Town is perfect for unwinding and relaxing, free from the hustle and bustle of the island's more commercial beaches - ideal for privacy, intimacy, and a romatic getaway. There are several hotels but not so many standalone restaurants. The snorkeling and diving are great here, as well.



Also on the northeast coast, Kiwengwa is a fantastic beach area for families with kids, lined with all manner of lodgings, from small budget lodges to big resorts with swimming pools and full amenities and facilities (there are also short-term apartment rentals available). The beach itself isn't always the best for swimming - particularly at low tide - so many visitors tend to stick to the properties in which they're staying.


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