Best beaches of Tanzania

The beautiful and historic coastline running from the Kenya border South towards Dar es Salaam is popular with the East African expatriate community, but largely overlooked by the tourist industry. However, this is bound to change in the near future, so this is the time to rent a Roadtrip car with camping gear in the back of your trunk and visit this paradise.

The Tanzanian coastline is a hidden gem. It is largely overlooked by the tourist industry. This is partly because all tourist agencies focus on the Northern Circuit and then fly their clients to the honeymoon offshore island of Zanzibar, to to the extent that some would say Zanzibar has become overcrowded and lost its authenticity. Secondly, the coast is not connected with the main highway linking Moshi with Dar es Salaam.

A visit to the Indian ocean is not to be missed on any Tanzanian road trip. It is a very scenic and diverse journey from the dry plains of Moshi via the lush Usambara mountains with its colourful African Alpine villages to the palm tree and babobab studded Swahili coast. What a change of scenery!

Sroll down below and read about our favourite beaches. 

Pangani

About 55 km south of Tanga is the small Swahili outpost of Pangani. It used to be an important trading center during the colonial heydays, but today it is a sleepy town which has witnessed little further development since. It has an attractive, utterly tropical location, on the North bank of the forest-fringed Pangani river, where the river meets the Indian Ocean. The beautiful and practically deserted beaches running north and south of the town rank as the best kept secret on the Tanzanian coast. Where to stay and eat clusters around the following areas: 

North of Pangani

There is a fine stretch of beach 20 km north of Pangani town, where you can camp or sleep in a cottage at Peponi Holiday Resort or Capricorn Beach Cottages, set in lovely grounds studded with palm trees, baobabs and bougainvillea. At low tide, the sea is far out.

Ushongo

About 15km south of Pangani river lies beautiful Ushongo bay. Coming from the North, you have to take the ferry to cross the river. Here the beach is even wider and longer, making it a great spot for long beach walks. Since the tides are not strong, you can swim all day. Our favourite places to stay are Emanyani Beach Lodge and the Beach Crab Resort

Things to do at Pangani beach, beyond sipping cocktails...

  • Go on a dhow cruise, snorkeling, diving and lunch at a sand island - $20 pp, Peponi.
  • Diving - Kasa Divers, next to Emanyani Beach Lodge.
  • Snorkel trips to Maziwe Island atoll - Kasa Divers.
  • Game fishing in the Pemba Channel - The Tides Lodge
  • Windsurfing, kite surfing and kayaking - Beach Crab Resort and Kasa Divers.
  • Sunset cruise up the Pangani River, gliding through mangrove forest and passing villages at the river bank. Great for bird watchers! ($70 / boat).
  • Community-run walking tours in historic Pangani town
  • Safari to Sadaani National Park – the only wildlife sanctuary in East Africa with an Indian Ocean Beachfront! (owners of Beach Crab are a good source of information)

Zanzibar

Zanzibar is one of those magical travel names, which brings up imaginative associations to many Westerners who wouldn't even have any idea where to start looking for it on the global map. It is easy to add a visit to Zanzibar Island to your itinerary with Roadtrip Tanzania. Several boats run between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar every day, departing from Sokoine Drive. The crossing takes about 2.5 hours and lands at Stonetown. One way tickets are around $ 40. Check the website of Azam Ferries and Fast Ferries for scheduled departures and tickets.

If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the port, it is good to know that beach resorts at Pangani, Ushongo and Bagamoyo, also listed on this website, operate private chartered boats to Zanzibar. You can safely park your Roadtrip car at the premises of these lodges and make a detour to Zanzibar for a few days. Costs are in the range of $ 220 per boat / one way. The journey takes an hour. The boat lands at Kendwa Beach, one of the most beautiful stretches of beach at the North coast of the island. From Kendwa, it’s a 2 hour scenic drive to Stown Town. For a dedicated guide to the Zanzibar Archipelago, see the Bradt Travel Guide;Zanzibar, Pemba & Mafia. Also, Expert Africa is a good source of information. 

The Ultimate Indian Ocean Roadtrip - down south to Kilwa

For those Roadtrippers that want to ensure plenty of beach celebration and Swahili culture in their holiday, a roadtrip all the way down south to Kilwa, passing the beaches and coastal towns of Pangani, Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam, makes the Ultimate Indian Ocean Roadtrip! 

Kilwa is the collective name given to three different areas on the Tanzanian Coast: Kilwa Kisiwani, Kilwa Kivinje and Kilwa Masoko. Visitors come here to explore the remains of the largest mercantile city that once lined the medieval Swahili coast. The Kilwa ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins are located on Kilwa Kisiwani, an island. Most visitors stay at Kilwa Masoko, a small settlement on the mainland. Besides the history and architecture, Kilwa is a good place to immerse yourself in traditional Swahili culture. Jimbizi Beach is good place to base yourself to go fishing, diving, snorkelling and to enjoy the beautiful beach. 

Considering a road trip to Kilwa? 

Kilwa really is an off-the-beaten-track location, more so than Pangani. It is about 300 km south of Dar es Salaam and the drive takes about 5 hours. Coming from Dar, it can be combined with a visit to Selous on your way there or back, but it nevertheless remains a detour.

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