The characterful Zanzibar Island is Tanzania’s most loved and well-known beach spot. However, there are an awful lot of incredibly mediocre hotels on the island, so picking the right one really is make or break. Luckily, there are still a few excellent boutique hotels on the island. In the wider archipelago are the private islands of Mnemba and Fanjove which offer a truly exclusive beach experience. On the mainland coast, there is only one lodge worth talking about. Ras Kutani is one of the finest beach lodges in East Africa. Let me take you through each one in detail.


Xanadu Villas are the crème de la crème of luxury beach villas in Zanzibar. Nowhere on the island quite lives up to the luxury it exudes from the villas themselves, to your private butler, the Michelin standard food and your private pools… Xanadu is king for a private villa experience on Zanzibar. You can experience this luxury from $400 per person per night in their most reasonably priced villa; Umande.

Zuri Zanzibar

Zuri Zanzibar is bigger than Xanadu – at 52 rooms it is by no means the intimate option. However, each room is nestled in their beautiful tropical gardens, making the experience a relatively private one given its size. Zuri has without a doubt the very best beach on Zanzibar Island. Starting prices are $345 per person per night for their staple garden bungalows.

Mnemba Private Island

Mnemba Island, although part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, is not on Zanzibar Island itself. Mnemba Lodge is a private island off the coast of Zanzibar and the very best of barefoot luxury beach-chic experience Africa has to offer. The “bandas” are spread out across the beautiful beach, and all offer everything you need but in an utterly authentic sense. If you love authentic hideaways, exclusivity and have around $1,700 per person per night, then Mnemba would be a beach holiday of a lifetime.

Fanjove Private Island

Fanjove is Mnemba’s rustic and much cheaper alternative. Nowhere is better than this private island if you love an off the beaten track, cast away experience, but without paying the big Mnemba price. Getting here is an adventure in itself, but well worth the slightly more expensive internal flights, and the beautiful boat ride in. The ultimate Robison Crusoe adventure can be yours from $385 per person per night.

Ras Kutani

Ras Kutani is the only beach lodge worth mentioning on Tanzania’s mainland coast. It is not only the most personalised and tranquil lodge on the mainland coast, but probably throughout East Africa. The thing which sets it apart from every other lodge is that it is owned and ran by a safari company, so you are guaranteed a truly memorable experience. Anyone who has been on safari before knows the levels of hospitality are above and beyond any beach hotel they have ever stayed in… But not this one! Ras Kutani is truly unbelievable value at $350 per person per night.

Marc Harris is Managing Director of Tanzania Odyssey. Tanzania Odyssey is a leading tour operator that has specialised in Tanzania since 1998.

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