My Top 3 beautiful favourite beaches in East Africa

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When you think of beautiful beaches, your mind may not necessarily envision Africa—but it should. The continent is home to paradisaical stretches of sand and water, whether on the Atlantic or Indian Oceans or even near freshwater lakes.

But what most people don't know is that Africa is home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches and islands, each with unique and fascinating stories, cultures, natural landscapes, and sights of interest.

Some are best for surfing, swimming and snorkel others simply offer superb sunsets and historic ruins to inspire poetic souls. I love how the pace of life is usually slow, allowing travellers to truly relax for a couple of days.

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Here are some of the most stunning beaches and islands that I'm obsessed with on the East side of our beautiful African continent.

TOFO BEACH

Tofo is a picturesque village close to Inhambane, known for its fantastic surfing, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. It's very popular with South African divers during school holidays who visit the village to see the dolphins, Whale sharks and Manta rays.

Even though its a surfing area, Tofo beach is still safe for swimming and most of the accommodations are on the beach. There are also great pubs and restaurants around the village where you can have a good time while sipping on some local beer, sampling grilled prawns and crayfish – and just chilling.

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What to do in Tofo:

You can visit the local market and find fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood straight from the local boats. Take a walk to Tofino beach, not even one kilometre away from Tofo beach and explore its rocky headland where you can surf and fish for kingfish for hours.

Accommodation is mostly self-catering, but they still have a couple of luxury hotels and some guesthouses. There are three dive schools (activity centres) in Tofo that cater for beginner to expert divers.

It is worth visiting Inhambane town for a dhow cruise around the harbour and a walk through the historical architecture, meeting friendly local people. You can make use of the banks, the post office, and the internet cafe or use your Visa card to get cash at the ATM.

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What to bring:

Passport, visa (for none South Africans), insect repellent, malaria medication, hats, sun creams, swimming costumes, light cool clothing, cash and visa cards.

Getting to Tofo:

The nearest town to Tofo is Inhambane and the Inhambane airport is 24 kilometres away. LAM flights land here regularly from Maputo and Johannesburg. You can also drive from Johannesburg on tar roads, but to get to some lodges you will need a 4×4 to get in.

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PAJE BEACH IN ZANZIBAR

“Welcome to paradise!” 

Is written on a huge sign as you enter the town of Paje.

A true paradise to relax on the white sands, soak up the sunshine and snorkel in the crystal clear waters. Paje Beach is my number one go to the beach in Zanzibar.

Situated on the east coast of the fabulous Zanzibar island, Paje is essentially a huge, long strip of white sand bordered by a small village on one side and a collection of beachfront accommodation services and eateries, as well as turquoise waters on the other side.

Although there are numerous hotels and guesthouses, the beach wasn't crowded at all when I visited. There seemed to be enough space for everyone and it was easy enough for us to find a place that had beach chairs and cold beverages. We had a swim, kicked back and enjoyed the constant sea breeze.

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Things to Do in Paje

As I said before Paje is known for its water sports, most commonly its excellent scuba diving opportunities. In fact, if you are looking to dive in Zanzibar, Paje is absolutely the place to come. But there are plenty of things to do in Zanzibar like:

BLUE SAFARI: A day trip to discover the beautiful marine landscapes studded with small atolls, desert islands, marine caves and sandbanks re-emerging for a few hours from the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. 

This is usually a full-day trip inclusive of traditional Zanzibari lunch based on grilled fish, rice cooked in water of coconut, seafood and exotic fruits. It includes beverages (except alcohol).

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DOLPHIN SAFARI: Dolphins are wondrous creatures. In Zanzibar, you can meet both bottlenose dolphins and humpback dolphins but bottlenose dolphins are most commonly sighted. These are well known for their playful and carefree nature.

PRISON ISLAND: Just a few miles off Stone Stone there are numerous islands and among them is Prison Island [Changu Island]. This trip combines the charm of snorkelling in shallow water nearby the reef to the visit of giant tortoises.

SPICE TOUR: Zanzibar is the island of spices. In past centuries it achieved fame and wealth thriving on trade and became the capital of Oman. A visit to a plantation is certainly very interesting for the wide variety of spices and fruits there grown which includes cloves, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, citronella grass, saffron and curious fruits like tope.

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What to bring:

Passport, visa (for none South Africans), insect repellent, malaria medication, hats, sun creams, swimming costumes, light cool clothing, cash and visa cards.

Getting to Zanzibar

If you are short on time, or just want to make the most of your time on the islands, flying to Zanzibar is a great option, especially if you tie it directly into your arrival or departure flights from Dar Es Salaam.

If you’ve arrived at Dar Es Salaam by land, you’ll have to decide between the shorter, but possibly confusing journey to the ferry plus the one-and-a-half-hour boat ride, versus the possibility of being stuck in city traffic for hours on your way to the airport for a 20-minute flight.

If you opt for the ferry, take the morning one to and from the island. The winds often pick up in the afternoon making the crossing rough and long. Your stomach will thank you!

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DIANI BEACH

A vibrant, uncrowded, intimate little paradise on the quiet shores of the Indian Ocean just south of Mombasa in beautiful Kenya.

The sand is soft and brilliantly white; the sea is turquoise and usually crystal-clear; the reef is a safe thirty-minute swim or a ten-minute boat ride away; and, arching overhead, the coconut palms create pools of cool shade and keep up a perpetual slow sway as the breeze rustles through their fronds.

But due to the recent downturn in tourism due to safety issues which has made the area very quiet and some of the hotels closed down. I only did a day visit for a photo shoot, so there isn't much to share about things to do. But this place is one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen.

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