Zanzibar Hotels

Central East Coast Hotels

Much of the Central East Coast of Zanzibar is dominated by holiday resorts. This is largely on account of its white sandy beaches and relative locality to Stone Town and popular tourist sites. It is wise to note that seaweed and sea urchins mar the beach (especially February to December) and that most of the beaches are not combed as they are in the Caribbean, but left natural. However, the seaweed provides a livelihood for many of the locals who farm it and sea urchins can be fascinating (just don’t tread on one!). The beaches are subject to wide tidal variation. At low-tide, swimming is generally impossible except in tidal lagoons (or hotel pools).

Many visitors to the East Coast choose to take day trips to the Kiwengwa-Pongwe Forest, or to break their journey from Stone Town at the ruins of Dunga Palace.

Most of the hotels listed on this site are located around the main beaches of either Pongwe or Kiwengwa.


This is a quieter destination than some of Zanzibar’s beach havens, and feels more remote than Kiwengwa as it has been less developed by traders in tourism. There is not a lot to do in Pongwe itself but relax and enjoy the beach. As bathing is possible at any time of day from Pongwe beach itself the sea is the major attraction. Diving and snorkelling are easily arranged, but most visitors simply come for a chance to unwind. Watching the locals farming seaweed is fascinating and walking along the beaches and exploring the reefs is nice. Excursions to the Kiwengwa-Pongwe Forest and boat trips can be organised locally.

You may be approached by beach-sellers attempting to sell goods or services (though these are a bigger problem further north and to the east). However these co-called “beach-boys” are not usually as insistent as in Stone Town or along more touristy stretches of the coast.

How to get to Pongwe

Pongwe is 46 km for Stone Town. Public transport from Stone Town by daladala is not easy to organise. The number 209 does not run every day and you must enquire in advance. Do not confuse Pongwe with Mwera Pongwe - an entirely different place. Much simpler is to arrive by taxi or organise transfers through your hotel. Taxis and transfers cost in the region of USD 60.

Pongwe Accommodation:


This is one of the most heavily developed stretches of coastline on Zanzibar. Many visitors find the large, almost barricaded resorts (predominantly occupied by Italians) threatening and uninspired. However, there are better places to stay in the Kiwengwa region. It is a good idea to look for smaller establishments or those with local and eco development projects. Not only for moral reasons, but because locals have taken badly to many of the largest and least considerate resorts at which many guests show flagrant disregard for Zanzibari culture and life (topless sun-bathing is illegal on the island though in parts of Italian-Kiwengwa you would be forgiven for not believing so).

Kiwengwa is popular on account of its white sand beaches and its ‘all-inclusive’ feel—bars, restaurants and tourist-friendly enterprises make it an ‘easy’ choice for visitors to the island. So, while not as magical perhaps, or as secluded and exotic as parts of Zanzibar it has its plus-points, especially for families or younger travellers looking for hassle-free entertainment and to meet other tourists.

Swimming at low-tide is not possible. Most resorts have large pools. Diving and snorkelling can easily be arranged around Kiwengwa. Visitors often take time to tour local villages but the bitter feeling towards tourism makes some feel uncomfortable doing so. ‘Beach-boys’ touting goods and service are an increasing problem on the beaches in the Kiwengwa region. Though irritating, they are not as threatening nor as persistent as the papasi (touts that tail tourists) of Stone Town.

How to get to Kiwengwa

40 km to the northeast of Stone Town Kiwengwa is frequently served by the number 117 daladala. The journey is not particularly comfortable as daladalas aren’t. However the road is tarmac, so it is not so bad. Many visitors choose to break the journey at the ruins of Dunga Palace. Most hotels and resorts will arrange a transfer for a set fee of about USD 50 from with Stone Town or the airport.

Kiwengwa Accommodation

To the south of Matemwe is the recently opened Kiwengwa Pongwe Forest conservation area. Open daily 7 30am-1700 to visitors, the reserves offer the option of a 200m, 400m or 2 km nature trail through coral rag forest. Entry costs around USD 10.

Wildlife is varied and you might catch sight of the endangered red Colobus monkey, Sykes and blue monkeys and Aders duikers (a small and rare species of antelope) as well as some of over 40 species of indigenous bird. You can also explore coral caves- though watch out for bats!

How to get to Kiwenga-Pongwe Forest

From Kiwenga the forest can be reached on foot (approximately 2 km down a main road) or one can catch the number 117 daladala. For detailed information you can contact the conservation project on +255 242 238 628 or

Dunga Palace

On route to Pongwe and Kinwengwa is the Dunga palace from which one can get good views over the island and stroll around the gardens to look at the Indian almond trees. The palace itself is also of interest (though characteristically under sign-posted. One of the few pre-Omani palaces it was built in the first part of the nineteenth century by Ahmad al-Alawi of the Wawinyi Wakuu who ruled before the usurping Seyyid Saïd took control of the island.

The daladala to Pongwe passes the ruins.

<< North East Coast Hotels

Mchanga Beach Lodge >>