“A budget guesthouse on an endless sandy beach, with live music, excellent seafood and simple rooms”
Occasionally, though, it comes alive to African music, performed by local musicians. The sounds come from family-run Palm Beach Inn, a coconut’s throw from the water’s edge. Mama Naila and her team take care of the food - some of the tastiest seafood on the island - while young Mahfudh looks after the music-making and guests. Their joint efforts create that very rare thing - a budget hotel that can make you feel like a lord. Freshly picked blooms dot your path to breakfast; lobster, octopus, parrot fish and crab come in on the high tide for dinner; and when you fall into bed you find a fragrant frangipani flower on your pillow. It’s very simple but very imaginative.
- Some of the best (and best value) seafood we tasted on Zanzibar
- The live music showcases a wide range of East African musical talent
- The cosmopolitan feel - backpackers, families and diplomats hang out together
- The proximity to the beach - it's sand all the way, and you barely need shoes
- The inn is green and organic. Most things come from the village and a lot goes back in, including all the running costs for a special school
- You can’t swim at low tide on the east coast, though the hotel has a pool overlooking the beach
- The bedrooms are pretty simple (but spotless)
- It's a budget option, so don't expect top-dollar facilities; restaurant service can be a little slow
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Guesthouse
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
The bedrooms are nothing special: a dozen or so simple, somewhat institutional rooms arranged in 3 buildings around a central courtyard. But they are well equipped for the money, and you should get a decent night’s sleep, which is what matters.
All rooms have ensuite bathroom with shower (hot water), flushing toilet and an elegant wooden-mounted basin. The beds have firm, unsprung mattresses and mosquito nets, and you’ll find air-con, ceiling fan, a simple wooden wardrobe and a small fridge. But they do vary considerably in size and charm…
Kamilo: is our favourite, and we'd say it's worth the extra money. It has great sea views, but does lack some privacy, being next to the path from the courtyard to the dining room. It is composed of 2 parts, a sitting area and bedroom; and there is a bathroom at the back.
Abdi Karume Bungalow and Bi Mtumwas’s Suite are newer additions: we haven't seen them yet, but the former is spread over 2 floors by the beach, while the later has a comfy kingsize bed. Sleeping no more than 2 people each, they both sound suited to those seeking a couple's bolthole.
Dikoni, Michamvi, Gomani, Mlango Mkuu: These 4 large rooms are in a separate building near the dining room, facing the sea. The first 2 rooms have 1 double bed and sea views, the latter 2 have a double and a single bed (with space for an additional single bed), and side views.
Bui, Amu: situated at the rear end of the courtyard, away from the beach, these rooms are quiet and nicely decorated, especially Bui. Bui has 1 double bed which can be replaced with 2 singles on request, while Amu can accommodate a couple or 3 people (appears in both the Double and Triple category).
Kingama, Zangine: Also at the rear of the courtyard, but slightly less appealing, Kingama has 1 double bed and a single, while Zangine has a double bed and space for a baby cot.
Bandani A/B, Cham, Igogo, Chopra: Situated in a separate, school-like wing off the court, these single and double / twin rooms are small and charmless, especially the first 2. They have corrugated iron rooves rather than thatch, and a probably best suited to chilled out backpackers.
Mahfudh usually pre-allocates rooms when booking so, using our list, you know what to request / expect.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Mosquito net
This is what you came here for! Fresh seafood - kingfish, barracuda, tuna, squid, octopus, prawns, lobster - is bought from the local fishermen every day and cooked by Mama Naila and her helpers, using Swahili recipes with an extra zing. Curries and fresh spices feature large, as does oil and batter (you can request oil-free dishes if you want). Our fish brochettes, battered squid, spicy prawns and grilled octopus count among the yummiest fare we tasted on Zanzibar - and that includes hotel meals costing 5 times as much. If you overorder, Naila can make a cumin, lemongrass and honey tea to help your digestion.
Breakfast, which is included in the room rates, consists of fruit, juices, cakes, bread, jam and hot drinks. All meals are taken in a lovely dining room with a vaulted wood-and-thatch ceiling and curved windows to the sea. On some evenings there's musical entertainment.
The Spice Legends bar offers an impressive range of smoothies, cocktails and coffees and the chance to watch live music in the evenings. During the day refreshments are brought to the poolside.
If you want to eat out try Paje beach 3km north, where you'll find a good variety of restaurants and bars.
- Vegetarian menu
- Sail with Captain Jongo on the hotel’s ngalawa (outrigger) to the reef at high tide
- Fishing lines can be provided
- Masks and fins can be hired - when snorkelling don’t forget to wear a T-shirt!
- Bicycles can be hired for the day, and we recommend cycling up towards Dongwe and Ras Michamvi, where the enclosed ‘lagoon’ waters are more turquoise than you thought possible. A picnic lunch can be provided
- Visit nearby Jozani Forest, one of the last patches of endemic woodland and a sanctuary for the red colobus monkey, which can usually be seen taking a siesta in the afternoons
- Hire a bike and guide, and go crab-hunting in the mangrove swamps (you’ll need boots which can get wet)
- Swim or sail with dolphins in Kizimkazi Bay - a neighbouring villager, Mr Kwacha, operates a half-day trip leaving at 8.15am to get there before the day-trippers from Stone Town (includes a light lunch)
- Have a massage or get your hands decorated with a traditional henna tattoo
- Play bao or enjoy one of the hotel’s evenings of live African music
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Dolphin watching
- Private guided tours
- Scuba diving
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
The staff are wonderfully attentive to children’s needs. There’s a small menagerie in the garden with tortoises and turtle doves, and the beach is less then a minute away (a gate separates it from the hotel). The larger rooms would suit families and can sleep 4 or 5. Toddlers go free (cots are provided), and extra beds are available at an additional cost.
Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking