Stretched out along Unguja’s (the main island in the archipelago) stunning northeast coast lagoon of tropical Zanzibar, Matemwe has emerged in recent years as the island’s low-rise, chic beach destination far from major hotel developments. About an hour’s drive from Stone Town out in the shamba (countryside) Matemwe’s is largely a place of fishing and seaweed farming.

Matemwe Village

The village has retained a strong community ethos with few inhabitants hailing from elsewhere. Chickens, goats and ducks roam free during the day while at night bush babies are about. Groups of inhabitants sit outside on their benches in the shade and chat away much of the day. There is no great sense of rush. And why should there be? They live in tropical paradise after all.

The recent arrival of exclusive, low-rise villas and small hotels catering to the international travel market has expanded the village’s economy since the early 2,000s, providing hospitality employment and opportunities for local artisans, famers and entrepreneurs.  With the population having a high proportion of children who play outside their homes or down on the beach, the village has a distinctly youthful feel to it.

Having maintained its authenticity while welcoming hospitality businesses along its beach, the Matemwe’s future appears promising. With each relative contributing in different ways, whether in cash from their job at a villa or hotel, or as the family’s fisherman, goat herder or fruit grower, family members share what they have with each other for the greater good.

Matemwe Beach

Undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Zanzibar, Matemwe Beach promises a paradise beach holiday. The beautiful, palm-fringed beach is of pure white sand and stretches for miles along the stunning lagoon. This is the place to come if you are looking for a relaxing beach holiday in Tanzania, away-from-it-all.

Fishing dhows punt up the lagoon at dawn on their way to Miuni channel and then on out past Mnemba Island. At dusk they sail back, their lateen sails unfurled in the afternoon breeze. One can walk for miles in both directions along Matemwe’s majestic beach only occasionally coming across other people. A near continual shore breeze affords natural air conditioning throughout the year.

Mnemba Island

Matemwe is the best place to stay in Zanzibar if you like to dive or swim with dolphins – just a 30 minute boat ride will take you to some of the most spectacular underwater landscapes in the Indian Ocean. Jerald, a senior policy analyst for the education trust

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