Where to Stay in Zanzibar?

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Nov 17th, 2009, 09:06 AM
  #1
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Where to Stay in Zanzibar?

I am going on a honeymoon safari to the Northern Circuit of Tanzania in last week of May 2010, low season. We are then going to end our trip in Zanzibar for some nice rest and relaxation.

We are probably going to go with Good Earth Tours for the safari but unfortunately the TO isn't well versed in Zanzibar accommodations.

We want a peaceful, romantic place to stay but also want some fun. We are a young couple going on our honeymoon. We love good food, good drinks, and relaxing by the beach. We also love water sports! We are really debating between Breezes Beach Club, Z Hotel, or Ras Nungwi.

I heard Breezes is a beautiful, peaceful beach but very "resort-ish" . I heard Z is on a great beach, but can get loud at night. I also heard Ras Nungwi has a lot of activities, but you are with very many people at the hotel.

What are everyone's experiences of these? Would you recommend another place altogether?

Also, can we take a day trip to Stone Town or would you suggest I stay one night there? What is there to do in Stone Town?

THANKS so much! Any suggestions is greatly appreciated!
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Nov 17th, 2009, 09:14 AM
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The Zanzibar Serena is the best place to stay with terrific Indian Ocean views.

I was there 2 months ago. !
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Nov 17th, 2009, 10:58 AM
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My view is that all the hotels on Zanzibar are a compromise, one way or another. This is not to say that they are not good, simply that you need to choose the one that best fits your requirements. To me Breezes is too large and to popular to be right for a honeymoon, Z hotel I have never particularly liked – great rooms but a very very busy part of the island where you are surrounded by 18 year old backpackers, and so I would opt for Ras Nungwi which is about 30 rooms though in an isolated stretch of coast – great beach and not too large. Though as I say it is a personal call …
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Nov 17th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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I'm with tanzaniatouroperator, of the three you mention, I'd choose Ras Nungwi with only 30 or 32 rooms... not large by any sense... a lovely hotel.

The Serena Inn, as Percy mentions, is in Stone Town unlike the beach properties you indicate.

Many like Pongwe Beach, best beach, remote and no others around, but only ceiling fans, no air conditioning and they tend to turn the generator off at midnight, so can be uncomfortable for sleeping.

Depending on your budget, not far from Pongwe, is Matemwe Bungalows, but here too no a/c, which on this tropical island - hot and humid - many seriously want. Matemwe Retreat, with air is very expensive.

There's Kilindi, new with the WOW factor, expensive, but no air, however their ceiling fans stay on thru the night. Barazza, also new might be too large, but lovely, expensive and with air.

Check out this site for listing of many properties on the island... might help.

www.encounterzanzibar.com/index.htm
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Nov 17th, 2009, 01:59 PM
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I just assumed you would go to Stonetown where you have the hotel, beach and the town to explore.

But on a honeymoon, why would you need anyone around
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Nov 17th, 2009, 05:25 PM
  #6
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Thank you for your insights!

The idea of an 18 year old backpacker really threw me off the idea of Z, thanks for that tip. I have read similar things on other forums.

Matemwe seem a bit our of my budget. So now I am considering Pongwe or Ras Nungwi. AC doesn't mater to me too much... I do like the relatively smaller sized hotels (but not too tiny). Would it be easy to take a day trip to Stone Town from these locations?

Any other locations/hotels in that price bracket you would all recommend?

Thanks in advance
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Nov 17th, 2009, 06:16 PM
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I stayed at Breezes for 4 nites and loved it. It was in Feb/march and not at all crowded. There is a marvelous beach, w/ the usual chaise lounges etc...and also a pool area which is where I settled. The rooms were amazing and try to get one that faces the beach....we did and it was amazing every morning to rise at sunrise and walk out on the beach...alone....and just be!

In Stonetown we stayed 2 nites at the Serena and it is an excellent hotel. You can do a walking tour of the town and its quite fascinating. There are also day trips to Prison Island....to see the monster turtles...and you can snorkel etc.

Zanzibar was really a delightful surprise!!!
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Nov 17th, 2009, 11:49 PM
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I would call this on price - Pongwe is a wonderful location - small, great beach, but simple and i would say the best value beach lodge on the island. Ras Nungwi does cost more and is also great but it is a different product from Pongwe. Whichever you choose you will love it !
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Nov 18th, 2009, 08:04 AM
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I've stayed at Pongwe a couple of times. It's a lovely place on one of the most beautiful beaches on Zanzibar. One of their cottages is at the far end of the beach... no foot traffic past it and that one would be perfect for you. Pongwe books up well in advance, though, so start now if you want to stay there. They have a nice pool onsite, but no other activities. However, they can arrange anything you'd like to do... fishing, snorkeling, touring.

You should stay in Stone Town for one night, rather than running back and forth from the beach areas for a tour. For instance, if you have an early morning departure, I'd definitely recommend you stay in Stone Town the night before. If you have an afternoon departure, then you could stay in Stone Town either your first night on the island or your last. Stone Town is a fascinating place and you should not miss the opportunity to learn about Zanzibar's history and Swahili culture. You might also enjoy a spice farm tour. I've used Ocean Tours Zanzibar for each of my four trips there. My fantastic guide in Stone Town was Masoud Salim; see if you can get him.
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Nov 18th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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Heidi at Pongwe arranged for their driver to take us for the day to Stonetown ($100 I think). He basicly gave us an island tour and then dropped us in town for a few hours while we shopped then we met and gave him our bags and then we went to lunch and arranged a time for pick up. Totally accomadating, and for us, much better than staying overnight in town which we did in 2008.

We LOVED Pongwe. 16 rooms that all face the ocean with a sea breeze. We were there in Feb 2008 and Feb 2009 and would return in a heartbeat. They have kayaks and bikes to borrow, and also books and board games. And the food is fresh and fabulous!
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Nov 18th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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Did you check out The Palms? It shares some amenities with Breezes, but it's much more exclusive. I was there in August of 2008, and it is the most luxurious beach hotel I've been to (you can't really call it a resort with only 6 or so cottages) with fabulous personalized service. It was a great ending to our safari, and every bit as special as the camps we stayed in. Back then, it was running about $1K per night for 2 people, but that was completely inclusive. So it's a splash-out, but worth it. But you're not near Stonetown, and you are pretty secluded, but those are ideal situations for a honeymoon and some R&R after a strenuous safari.
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Nov 18th, 2009, 12:15 PM
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Let's not put Breezes and definitely not The Palms (they're sister hotels... and the latter's rate has increased since '08) in the same category as Pongwe. If as OP indicates Matemwe Bungalows would be too expensive, then these two and Ras Nungwi are way out of budget.
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Dec 29th, 2009, 08:03 PM
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Hello all! I actually booked Ras Nungwi but after reading Lonely Planet and other forums, people suggest Matemew as the most beautiful beach. I am so torn! Is it worth the extra money to book at Matemwe or just stay at Ras Nungwi?
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Dec 30th, 2009, 03:54 AM
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I think the beach at Nungwi is Far FAR nicer than the beach at Matemwe. The Nungwi beach is far "warmer" colour wise than that at Matemwe. Matemwe is also a busy beach with the locals
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 11:07 AM
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What agents are specialists in Zanzibar, especially offbeat, atypical things beyond resorts/beaches?

I would think Good Earth would routinely partner with someone for Zanzibar, just like they partner with a Kenyan operator and one in Uganda for gorillas.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 11:11 AM
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For atypical, have you looked at Chumbe Island? www.chumbeisland.com/ It is off the coast of zanzibar(short boat ride)-a private eco island with working biologists on the island. There are about 6 huts and I believe they restrict the number of visitors at any time to 14. We loved it-very Gilligan's Island though, so don't expect luxury. But wow is it beautiful.

nj
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Jan 10th, 2010, 09:51 AM
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I'll throw my two cents worth...

Ras Nungwi. 300USD/per/person per night in a superior deluxe chalet based on half board (breakfast and dinner included). Drinks including water NOT included. The bathrooms are dated. But rooms are clean. The beach is very nice but at high tide is non existent. At low tide, the water is far out but not as far as in the south. But beach is private. Pool good. Has dive centre on site. Quiet at night.

Z Hotel in Nungwi. I didn't even consider this as its where all the back packers are. The beach is not private so you will have hawkers coming up to you. Rooms are very modern and nice. No dive centre. Good if you like to party i guess.

Breezes. Big resort. But nice in terms of resorts. Cheaper than many other accomodation. Beach is nice at high tide. At low tide there is no swimming in ocean. Sea weed in water. All inclusive. Good cheaper choice but lotsa people.

On the expensive side are Kilindi (1300/night) in the north which is all inclusive with awesome food, good beach, and original accomodation. In the south is Baraza (1200/night) which is owned by breezes. All inclusive with very nice beach and awesome food.

Matemwe Bungalows in also on a nice beach across from Mnemba island. mid range prices. no dive centre on site. Matemwe retreat is really nice. expensive and private. very quiet.

It all depends on what your price range is and what you want. For me, nice beach, really good food, nice bathrooms (i am picky), and diving were important. Money didn't matter that much so we decided between Kilindi and Baraza. Ras Nungwi ocean suite was our third choice. Hope this helps
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Jan 10th, 2010, 11:10 AM
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Nice variety of options.
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Jan 10th, 2010, 11:23 AM
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bookmarking for next summer...
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Jan 11th, 2010, 10:33 AM
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Nice summary from Doctor John

Definately the best are the new Kilindi, and the older Palms / Baraza / Ocean suite at Ras nungwi / Matewme bungalows

next tier (price wise) down are the likes of Ras nungwi / Matemwe / Breezes

then Shooting star / Echo Beach / Pongwe

To answer atravelynn; any Tanzania specialist should be able to advise on these hotels - as it is easy enough to send a consultant to Znz to see every hotel in about 3 days
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