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Tanzania Coast
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The Tanzania Coast


... is a wonderful area of tropical white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, thatched villages, historic Swahili ports and magnificent marine life, islands stretching for 675km from Kenya in the north to Mozambique in the south.

It is important to realise that this Indian Ocean coast here is not all about beaches, it is also a fascinating cultural experience, being home to the Swahili people, descendants of the Arab traders who have dominated this coast since the tenth century.

The region provides a stark contrast to the safari areas inland, with a completely different set of cultures, climates and landscapes. It really is necessary to the coast if you are to gain an understanding of the country as a whole.

Tanzania coast

When to visit ...

When it comes to deciding when to visit, the best times down on the coast are generally considered to be Jul/Oct and Dec/Mar, when there is usually slightly less rain and wind.

Read more about when to visit this region ...

Areas ...

We divide the Tanzania coast into ten separate areas, each of which has its own special character and reasons to visit. We start with the offshore islands, before moving on to the mainland coast ...

Zanzibar ... is a classic tropical island with broad white-sand beaches and tropical lagoons. It is the first choice for the majority of international travellers and is increasingly busy these days, with a very broad range of accommodation. If you choose your locations carefully, there are some lovely areas and top lodges, as well as great diving and kite-surfing. Historic Stonetown remains defiantly African, an extremely interesting and atmospheric place to visit.

Pemba ... lies just to the north and is an island of similar size, but experiences only around 2% of the visitor traffic. It is a verdant hilly landscape with very much an agricultural economy. The island is famous for its diving, especially big drift dives and large pelagic action, as well as great snorkelling and kayaking. A limited range of accommodation means that the island is best suited to relatively high-end guests and backpackers, there's not much in between.

Mafia ... is the third major island, further to the south and known for its old Swahili Coast atmosphere. There is also excellent diving and swimming with whale sharks, although the beaches are not generally so great. The island also experiences only a trickle of visitors, but has several decent small beach lodges, notably the the quirky Chole Mjini Lodge .

Fanjove Island ... is a tiny and remote atoll with, surely one of the most beautiful in the world, and with a simple but stunning small lodge.

Ras Kutani ... is a section of the mainland coast which feels remarkably remote given its proximity to Dar es Salaam and makes for a very convenient hideaway, especially useful at the front end of a beach-safari-beach combination.

Saadani ... is a coastal nature reserve on the mainland opposite Zanzibar, the only place to offer 'bush and beach' in the same location, but which is not particularly strong at either.

Pangani ... is an interesting and relatively untouristic section of the northern coastline which contains some interesting and good value beach lodges for more outdoorsy travellers.

Kilwa ... lies on the southern coast and is home to some spectacular Swahili ruins, but has little in the way of decent accommodation.

Mikindani ... is an historic coastal town on the extreme southern end of the mainland coast, largely of peripheral interest, but containing a rather cool and historic lodge.

Dar es Salaam ... is a major coastal city and major port of entry for the country, somewhere which guests often have to spend their first night when arriving on late international flights.

Tanzania coast

How we like to include the Tanzania coast in trips ...

The vast majority of visitors coming to Tanzania for safari or trekking also head down to the coast at some point to enjoy the classic 'bush and beach' combination for which the country is so well known.

Most people stay either in one or two of these beach areas, often combined with a night or two in Stonetown on Zanzibar, over a period of 4 to 12 nights.

These coastal segments are commonly combined with safari areas in Tanzania North including Serengeti and Ngorongoro, or Tanzania South including Ruaha and Selous, as well as treks on Mount Kilimanjaro, usually in trips of 10 to 21 nights.

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Jay Hanson
Jay Hanson, Senior Safari Consultant
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