Jambiani Beach was one of the highlights of my week in Zanzibar. It was so different than Zanzibar’s other beach towns; it was untouristy, relaxed, and felt much more authentic.
it’s also much cheaper than big beach towns like Nungwi or Kendwa, so is one of the best places to have a low cost Zanzibar vacation.
Because I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to write a Jambiani Beach guide to help you plan your trip to Jambiani. I’ve included the best Jambiani hotels and restaurants, as well as ideas on what to do in Jambiani.
Table of Contents
Where is Jambiani Beach, Zanzibar?
Jambiani Village is a sleepy fishing village on the southeast coast of Zanzibar. As you walk the beach, kids say ‘Jambo!’, but no one tries to sell you anything. There’s not much to do besides swim and sun-bath, so I felt zero guilt drinking a coconut and reading for hours.
The easiest way to get to and from Jambiani is by private taxi. I recommend booking a taxi through your hotel.
Stone Town to Jambiani: Stone Town is about an hour away Jambiani by car. A private taxi will cost around $50 for two people.
Tip – Before you leave Stone Town, take out cash from an ATM. There are no ATMs on Zanzibar outside of Stone Town.
Jambiani to Paje: Paje is a beach town about 30 minutes away from Jambiani by car. A private taxi will cost around $20 for two people.
Jambiani to Nungwi: Nungwi is about 90 minutes from Jambiani Beach by car. A private taxi will cost around $60-70 for two people.
Best Jambiani Hotels
There are no big-box beach hotels in Jambiani, Zanzibar. But if you’re looking for cheap hotels in Jambiani located directly on the beach, read on for my recommendations.
Mid-range beachfront hotel: Coral Rock Beach Resort – Coral Rock is a small beachfront hotel. Every room has sea view, and many of the rooms have private balconies. The restaurant also serves delicious seafood. (Read reviews | Book here)
Mid-range beachfront hotel: Red Monkey Lodge – I stayed at Red Monkey Lodge, an inexpensive beach lodge in Jambiani Beach with just 12 rooms. It was cute, unpretentious, and directly on the beach – I walked about 20 feet every morning to take a dip in the ocean. (Read reviews | Book here)
Rent a beachfront bungalow – you can also rent a beachfront bungalow in Jambiani for relatively cheap on Airbnb. (Book here)
New to Airbnb? Get $40 off your first stay here.
Coral Rock Beach Resort: Coral Rock has a wonderful restaurant where you can eat seafood for a low price. P.S. You can learn to play bao (Zanzibari version of mancala) at Coral Rock, where bao boards are built into the tables. (Read reviews)
Red Monkey Lodge: Red Monkey Lodge has a beachfront restaurant that serves delicious breakfasts and dinners. Like Coral Beach, they also serve lots of seafood. For less than $20, you can buy an epic seafood platter of rock lobster, fish, and shellfish. (Read reviews)
The Rock Restaurant: Though The Rock Restaurant is located in Paje, but I wanted to include because it’s well worth the trip. The Rock is a restaurant perched on a tiny rock in of the Indian Ocean. More info here.
Things to do in Jambiani Beach
My schedule in Jambiani was wonderfully relaxing; wake up, drink a coconut, read, swim in the ocean, watch the sunset, feast on seafood, repeat.
I couldn’t even muster up the effort to take a Zanzibari cooking class. Normally I LOVE cooking classes and take them in every country I can. But in Jambiani I was such a lazy bum that even cooking, one of my favorite activities, sounded like too much work.
Learn how to play bao
While in Jambiani, you can learn how to play bao, a Zanzibari game that is similar to mancala. I learned to play bao at Coral Rock Beach Resort, where bao boards are built into the tables. I simply asked one of the servers how to play, and he gave us a three-hour lesson. Easy enough.
Be warned – bao is not a short game; we played for three hours and didn’t even finish. But luckily in Jambiani, you’ve got all the time in the world to do nothing.
Swim in the crazy blue water
The water in Zanzibar is the lightest, most transparent turquoise blue water I’ve ever seen. I spent many happy hours swimming and snorkeling in the ocean – it was seriously bliss.
Hang out on the beach
In Jambiani, life is lived on the beach. On the sand, you will see women in colorful hijab, little kids building drip sandcastles, groups of boys playing soccer. And locals significantly outnumber tourists.
I especially loved how safe I felt walking the beach in Jambiani, even at night. No one bothered us, regardless of the time of day.
Should you visit Jambiani or Paje?
Paje is only 30 minutes from Jambiani, so definitely visit both!
Paje is an excellent place to learn how to kiteboard. It’s livelier than Jambiani, as many young people go to Paje at night to party. In contrast, Jambiani Beach is quieter and more relaxing.
Should you visit Jambiani or Nungwi?
Both! Jambiani offers a more local experience; it’s more relaxing and less touristy.
Nungwi has a lot to offer: scuba diving, boutique hotels, and miles of white-sand beaches. That being said, the beach sellers in Nungwi are relentless and will interrupt your sun-bathing to try to sell you bracelets, knickknacks, etc. The best part of Jambiani Beach? No beach sellers.
I recommend spending 3 days in Jambiani and 3 days in Nungwi. Here’s a link to my one-week Zanzibar itinerary.
Jambiani Beach is not the most beautiful beach in Zanzibar (that award goes to Nungwi or Kendwa). But I loved it because it offers something different – a chance to see what life on Zanzibar is actually like.
Important info about Jambiani Beach:
Citizens from most western countries can get their visas on arrival for $50 on Zanzibar, payable by cash for credit – it costs $100 for US citzens. Learn more about visa information here.
Travelers to Tanzania must present proof of the yellow fever vaccination at the airport if you are traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever – see countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission here.
The malaria risk on Zanzibar is low, so I didn’t take medication. However, some travelers decide to. See the recommended vaccines for Tanzania here.
Make sure to purchase travel insurance before your trip to Zanzibar. I’ve used World Nomads for years and highly recommend it.