The Best Resorts in Tanzania

Find yourself a luxury villa with a private beach amid these Tanzanian resorts
Find yourself a luxury villa with a private beach amid these Tanzanian resorts | Courtesy of Zuri Zanzibar Hotel /
Glynis Horning

From snow-crested Kilimanjaro to the wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania has it all. After all the mores of the mainland, though, you may want to kick back – and that’s where the white sandy beaches and honeymoon-ready tropical islands of Zanzibar, adorned with upscale resorts, come into play, offering respite and relaxation after an all-action African adventure.

1. Zuri Zanzibar Hotel


Zuri Zanzibar Hotel
Courtesy of Zuri Zanzibar Hotel /

Choose from 56 bungalows or luxury villas with private beaches on tropical Unguja – the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago. Decor is an easy blend of thatch, wooden decks and local artworks, with timber louvres opening to the view. Food celebrates the island’s past as a meeting point for spice traders from around the world, showcasing African, European, Arabic and Indian flavours. There are two restaurants, or you can book a candlelit beach dinner for two with a private bonfire, or even a Bahari seafood barbecue extravaganza under garland-strung palms.

2. The Residence Zanzibar


The Residence Zanzibar
Courtesy of The Residence Zanzibar /

The Residence is in fact 66 spacious villas secluded in 32ha (80 acres) of tropical gardens, each blending contemporary comforts with Swahili, Omani, Indian and British design. Explore the gardens on foot or by bike. Visit Stone Town, book a dive with dolphins or a deep-sea fishing cruise, or just doze on a daybed at your private pool. There are two restaurants, or you can have lunch (fresh seafood, fritters, pasta) delivered to your side in a rattan basket. Later, the hotel can arrange a private barbecue on the jetty at sunset.

3. Xanadu Villas & Retreat

Luxury, Independent Hotel

Xanadu Villas & Retreat
Courtesy of Xanadu Villas & Retreat /

This Bounty-ad retreat has just eight luxury villas with draped arched windows, buttoned sofas, butler service and their own stretch of pristine Zanzibar beach. Owners Marcus and Eileen pamper guests with fine local cuisine and hand-picked wines, served in the romantic restaurant, in your villa, or even on a more remote island. Staff will arrange activities from kitesurfing to scuba diving and dolphin tours, or excursions to Jozani Forest to see the indigenous red colobus monkeys.

4. Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa

Resort, Spa Hotel

Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa
Courtesy of Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa /

Set among palms above a powdery beach on the east coast of Zanzibar, this simple-yet-stylish hotel has thatched roofs, white walls and arched windows echoing the Arabic past of the island. Rooms are brightly decorated in Zanzibari style, with hand-carved furniture. A Sultan Suite at the ocean’s edge is sheer opulence, with a huge double room, bed swathed in muslin and a lounge opening to a wide veranda. The main Makuti Restaurant serves themed dinners, Zanzibari to Italian and Swahili, with traditional Zanzibar dancers, Taarab music and acrobats.

5. Essque Zalu Zanzibar


Essque Zalu Zanzibar
Courtesy of Essque Zalu Zanzibar /

Essque Zalu’s 40 suites and eight villas overlook gardens, a turquoise lagoon and the inky Indian Ocean at this food-centred resort on the north-east coast of Zanzibar. All feature traditional steep makuti-thatched roofs and simple decor inside, accented with traditional artwork. Two restaurants celebrate international and local food and you can learn to prepare Swahili dishes at Mosha Studio, where Tanzanian sous-chef, Rose Mosha, puts guests through their paces in a state-of-the-art kitchen.

6. Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa


Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa
Courtesy of Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa /

Choose from 11 villas, with one to five bedrooms, on this family-owned eco-luxe island resort. Some have a rooftop terrace overlooking the beach with a hot tub. Unlimited rental of snorkelling gear, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and bicycles is included in your stay, as well as games from pool to pétanque and ping pong. You also have use of the fitness area, main pool and spa with its sauna, steam room and hot tub. The food, served in two restaurants, on the beach or in your villa, is fresh and healthy with an African edge, centred around produce from the resort’s own organic herb, fruit and vegetable garden – and seafood caught fresh daily.

7. Fundu Lagoon


Fundu Lagoon
Courtesy of Fundu Lagoon /
This remote private paradise is on Pemba, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, and is accessible only by boat. Accommodation is in tented safari-style bungalows on the forest-fringed beach or a hillside above the view, some with their own plunge pool. The restaurant showcases fresh seafood and subtle spices. Fundu is among the best snorkelling and dive sites in the world, the shallow lagoon dropping to great depths with a variety of sea life hidden beneath. You can also kayak through the mangroves or just stroll along the shore. Fundu Lagoon has scooped awards, too, for Best Marine Safari Experience in Africa and Best Hotel in Africa.

8. Pole Pole


Pole Pole
Courtesy of Pole Pole
Pole pole means ‘go slowly’ in Swahili, or ‘take it easy’ – which is key to the charm of this exclusive little eco lodge on Mafia Island, off the Tanzanian coast. Just seven bungalow suites blend into the tropical garden, furnished with carved and antique pieces, including Zanzibari daybeds. From your private veranda, overlook the blue of Chole Bay – heart of Mafia Island Marine Park – in which, whale sharks and sea turtles roam. Cuisine is a cultural mix, with Swahili dinners served once a week or on request, and most food organically grown.

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