Zanzibar 2013: Kendwa Beach

Last week I finally visited Zanzibar for the first time. Zanzibar is an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania and home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Stone Town. It’s a really popular destination for travelers from all over the world (except the United States, it seems). It’s kind of crazy that I had been in Tanzania almost a year and I still hadn’t visited, seeing as I can get there in less than 2 hours on a ferry for less than $25 round trip. I honestly don’t know why we hadn’t been yet, but my friend’s visit was just the push I needed. We spent two days and one night there.
As soon as we arrived, we took a taxi to Kendwa Beach, a 40 minute drive from Stone Town on the North end of the island. We knew we wanted to stay somewhere a little more secluded where we could feel comfortable dipping into the water in our bikinis and enjoying a relaxed atmosphere.
We stayed at Sunset Bungalos, which I wasn’t all that impressed with. It was pretty expensive for a developing country ($98/night) and the rooms weren’t all that great. The beds were uncomfortable and the food was terrible. But this was our view, so I couldn’t complain too much…
As soon as we finished lunch, we decided to explore Kendwa a bit. It was low tide and cloudy, casting everything in a dull color… nothing like the pictures you see in magazines. But it was interesting to watch people working, relaxing, or a combination of the two.
As the tide started filling in, the sun began peeking out, revealing the rich, vibrant colors of Zanzibar. It was incredible. I’m not sure what the people in the picture below were doing; it almost looked like some sort of gathering or ceremony. All I know is, women showed up with empty buckets and left balancing buckets full of tiny fish on their heads… but those two boys seemed to be the only ones out of all those people who were actually fishing. I’d love for someone to explain it to me if you know what’s going on…
We watched for a bit then continued our journey. We looked around in the beachside markets and got hour-long massages for 30,000 shillings (about $18). It had been forever since I had a massage and it felt simply wonderful. We met a beach boy who convinced us to take a sunset cruise on a Dhow, which I’ll post about some other time (I already have way too many pictures to share here). The beach boy (and everybody, it seems) were enamored with Maria’s tattoos and asked to take a picture with her.


After our sunset tour, we ate dinner at Kendwa Rocks, the hotel next to ours. Kendwa Rocks is known for its huge full moon party, which we missed by two days. I was actually quite glad we missed it. It was hard enough not to be able to sip cocktails with my girlfriend without some epic party going on. Both our meals at Kendwa Rocks were terrible, and so was the service. Not only that, but it was pretty expensive for Tanzania. I don’t know if we just had terrible luck that day or if it’s always like that, but we were pretty disappointed. And hungry. Once again, though, the atmosphere was spectacular…
The next morning we woke up early so that we could explore Stone Town and Prison Island before our ferry ride home. We walked on the beach for a bit before our hotel served breakfast (which was terrible again)…
I loved this area of Zanzibar but I’m not sure if I’d want to actually stay there again. The beaches are fabulous but the hotel and food sucked. We’re planning a family trip to Zanzibar before we leave, but I think we might try out the south end of the main island next time. Anyway, more on Zanzibar another day…


  1. Our internet here couldn’t handle posting all your photos :/ Oman and Zanzibar share an interesting historical connection. There was a Zanzibari restaurant I often headed to with one of my Omani friends. Are the embassy tours only a year there? How soon do you guys head out?

  2. This is my favorite post from you so far. I hope you sent these photos to nat geo or Afar, they are so beautiful and you really seemed to capture the people and the culture. The lady with the bucket of baby fish on her head was one of my faves.

  3. Holy batman! Amazing photos. What kind of camera do you use to shoot these gorgeous shots? Just stumbled upon your blog not to long away, and am excited I did. I love reading your updates, and looks like you are having a great time with your friend!

  4. Wow ! Your photos are always beautiful, but these are out of this world amazing. I do know of a married couple that went to Zanzibar a little over four years ago for a scuba diving vacation after they climbed Kilimanjaro (this couple is amazing for being in their late fifties / I so hope I am as active as them when I am their age).

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