Travel Notes

Exploring beaches in Zanzibar – Kendwa

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If you are looking for a place to relax and enjoy the sand and the sea, Unguja is the perfect place for you!

Have you ever heard about it? What about Zanzibar? Unguja is the actual name of the main Zanzibar Island, in the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar.

I absolutely loved Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar, so much that I even went back a second time. And, having lived my life in a beautiful place by sea, I’m not easily impressed when it comes to beaches and seaside place.

Before landing in Zanzibar I did lots of research about what the best two or three beaches to visit would be, but they all seemed amazing and looked incredible. A friend of mine, who lived in Tanzania for a year, really recommended Jambiani beach, so that was on the list of things to see, but we decided to just go to Stone Town and decided from there. Here, we met a local guy who said Kendwa was the best place to go, for the beauty of the place and for the party.

After Stone Town, we went to Kendwa, in the North of Zanzibar. Kendwa Beach is a long stretch of white sand full of resorts, hotels and guesthouses. Here you also have a choice of water-sports and other activities like fishing trips, snorkelling and scuba diving. This isn’t usually the kind the of place I would choose, as I prefer more authentic and less touristy areas, but we still managed to have fun!

Things to see and do in Kendwa:

  • Have a sunset swim
  • Stay at Kendwa Rocks
  • Go on a snorkelling trip
  • Walk along the coast and find out what else is happening there

We arrived in Kendwa at around 5pm and the first thing we did starlight after getting our room, was running down to the beach and enjoy the sunset. Not many people were in the water at that time but I had to get in, and watching the sunset from in the water was magical, so I really would recommend having a sunset swim!

Again, not really the place I would normally choose to stay in, but we spent three nights in Kendwa Rocks, a very nice resort right on the beach. They have different kinds of rooms – even rooms with your own private swimming pool – a main swimming pool, a restaurant with so many options for both lunch and dinner, free sunbeds and a tour operator on sight that arranges water sports and other activities for you. This place is also famous for its Full Moon Parties, although we weren’t there for one.

We walked around quite a lot and we didn’t think the other hotels were as nice. We also asked other companies about prices for tours and activities, and the one in Kendwa Rocks seemed to be the best.

One of the days in Kendwa, we decided to go on a snorkelling trip around Mnemba Island, a small island approximately 3km off the east coast of Ungija. This is a private island with a luxury resort, so you can’t actually go on the island (unless you pay for it). However, all around Mnemba there is a conservation area, with one of the most impressive coral reefs I have seen.

The are was turned into a Marine Conservation Area by the government in 2005, to protect the corals, ensuring that tourist and fishermen activities only took place in certain areas and that fees to visit the island and its surroundings would be used for community projects.

We paid $45 for the trip, including lunch, snorkelling twice with all the equipment and water, and it takes approximately 2 hours to get there. We saw lots of different kinds of fish and starfish, jellyfish, lobsters and even dolphins.

The only downside of the trip for me was that you end up spending approximately 7 hours on the boat and it’s very rocky! I had travel sickness gums and tablets with me, but that didn’t help, so my suggestion is to just get into the water if you feel sick. I was also stung by a Portuguese Man o’ War jellyfish, which was very painful, but it went away after a few hours.

Finally, one of my favourite things to to in Kendwa was taking long walks along the coast. There are a few small markets, and you can get to talk to local artisans who are making jewellery and paintings and fishermen.

In the evening we stayed in Kendwa Rocks, for some live music and lovely food, but one of the nights we decided to go for a walk and ended up seeing a beautiful place just beside our hotel, where they had a traditional dance show on.

Kendwa is only the first one of the beaches we visited in Zanzibar, so keep an eye out for the next chapter!

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