Last Updated on November 20, 2022
I spent 10 days in Paje Zanzibar and I absolutely loved it. In this guide to Paje I share everything you need to know and answer all the questions that I had before my visit! From practical information for visiting, where to stay in Paje, the best places to eat and things to do on Paje Beach Zanzibar (spoiler, it’s BEAUTIFUL).
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How To Get To Paje Beach Zanzibar
Paje is located on the eastern coast of Zanzibar island in Tanzania. It’s approximately 1 hour from Stone Town and Abeid Amani Karume International Airport. There are a couple of ways to get to Paje, the quickest and easiest is via private taxis.
The taxis in Zanzibar are extremely clean and efficient but they are expensive. A taxi from the airport to Paje is 50USD. However if you book a transfer through an accommodation provider they are usually 40USD one way. I pre-booked my first pick-up online through Zanzibus. It was 35 EUROS (yes, Euro!) and they were waiting at the airport with a sign with my name. Be sure to tell them if you are arriving into the new terminal 3.
Local Buses/Dala Dalas
The local buses are called Dala Dalas. They are very cheap but can be very over crowded and often wait until they are completely full before they leave. The Dala Dalas also have no set schedule.
I was talking to my guide and he was saying that the locals hate it when tourists take Dala Dalas. The locals often have no other option to get around the island. When tourists are taking up the space on the bus, it then means that they have to wait for another which can slow down their day to day living.
Practical Information For Visiting
ATMS, money & Sim Cards
Most places in Paje accept Tanzanian Shillings, US Dollars and some places will also take Euros. I found that for the most part food and things to buy are priced in Shillings. Tours, activities and taxis are priced in Dollars.
However the two are interchangeable and there is a standard conversion that they use to calculate. During my visit at the end of 2022 we used the rough guide of 5000 shillings = £2/$2.
I had exchanged my money into USD while in the UK. Then once I arrived at the airport, I exchanged the dollars into shillings in the arrivals hall. I received 460,000 shillings for $200.
There are 3 ATMS located on the main roundabout as you come into Paje. From what others have said, there’s a ‘$100 limit’ at the ATMS. Cash is dispensed in shillings.
Tipping in Zanzibar is not expected, but it is appreciated.
There are also a couple of stands on the roundabout that sell local sim cards. Apparently Zantel have the strongest signal on the island. I tried the eSim company Airalo and bought a Vodacom Tanzanian sim card. I paid $10 and had 3GB of data ONLY for 30 days. The coverage was spotty and I mostly had a 3G signal.
Use code: KYLIE6856 to get $3 off your first Airalo eSim purchase
Otherwise I mostly used WiFi signal from my accommodation and some of the restaurants had it too..
As far as I saw, all the plug sockets in Paje were the same as the UK 3 pin outlets. I use a worldwide adapter which has multiple pin formations which cover almost every type of outlet. So for me, it’s something I don’t often need to consider!
There are a couple of very small supermarkets in Paje. I found the best one to be ‘The Village Market‘ which is open 24 hours a day. It’s located close to the Paje By Night accommodation. They sell drinks, snacks, toiletries etc. The tap water isn’t drinkable in Zanzibar. My accommodation provided drinking water, but I find it best to travel with a reusable water bottle and then buy larger bottles of water to refill my bottle from.
Be aware that Zanzibar no longer allows plastic bags on the island. It’s best to take a reusable shopping bag or have space in a backpack. Depending on who is on the door at The Village Market, they may make you leave larger backpacks or beach bags on the shelves near the door.
There are mosquitos in Paje and Zanzibar. I found them to be the worst between 6pm-10pm. It’s best to take some sort of protection whether it be DEET spray or repellant wipes or wristbands. Malaria is said to have a low risk in Zanzibar.
Before I left, the travel clinic in the UK advised me to have malaria tablets for Zanzibar. Many of the people I met were only taking them because they had been on mainland Tanzania where the risk is higher. I get bitten quite a lot, so I decided that for me I would try to limit the risk.
I did get bitten while in Paje and needed bite relief and my antihistamine tablets too. I was talking to one of my guides and he said that he’s had Malaria a couple of times while living in Zanzibar.
Yellow Fever certificates are required only if coming from an area where Yellow Fever is a risk. (There is no risk in Zanzibar). I came from the UK via Dubai and wasn’t asked for one on arrival.
For the most part I felt fairly safe while in Paje. I was travelling by myself, however I did meet up with other travellers which I spent time with. We found that we did attract lots of attention from the ‘Maasai’ that mostly hang around on Paje Beach.
It did become annoying and I often felt uncomfortable as it tended to be 2 against 1. I never felt threatened though and if you said ‘no thank you’ and kept walking they would leave you alone. One of their common questions was ‘which hotel are you staying at’ which I never answered and would just reply ‘oh I’ve been moving around’. (They also all had better iPhones than mine!)
I usually have a rule where I tend not to go out by myself in the dark. There are parts of the village that are in total darkness. I did once alone but I made sure I completely covered up just to avoid potential attention. Which leads me on to…
What To Wear
On Paje Beach it’s fine to wear beachwear, shorts and vest tops etc. However when going into the village do not wear swimwear. The beach has lots of tourists but it is mostly locals when you venture into the village.
Shorts and t-shirts are acceptable in the village as it’s a tourist area (my hotel even had a sign that said longer shorts and t-shirts need to be worn in the village, this is fine. In Stone Town and in villages off the tourist path, shoulders and knees should be covered as a minimum). At nighttime I often opted for knees and shoulders coverage or wore full length lightweight bottoms.
Where To Stay In Paje
Paje By Night
The majority of my time in Paje was spent at Paje By Night. It’s one of my favourite places that I’ve stayed at! It was kind of middle of the ground when it comes to budget, there are places in Paje that are cheaper but then there are also places that cost a lot more.
Read full review: Paje By Night Zanzibar Review | Hotels in Paje
I initially picked it because the reviews said it was great for solo travellers and people felt very safe there. They have a yoga school (more on that below) which is where lots of us met and ended up then spending time together outside of class. I liked the swimming pool and jacuzzi and hammocks that were dotted around the property. A spa with various massages is on-site and is very reasonably priced compared to UK and US spa prices.
The gardens were beautiful and on most days, around 4pm, a troop of Zanzibar Red Colobus monkeys (again, more on them below!) would descend on the hotel! They mostly hung out on the roofs and in the trees and completely ignored people.
I loved my room. I had the budget friendly Jungle Bungalow which was 2 storey! Downstairs were 2 single beds and the bathroom and then upstairs was a double bed with a mosquito tent and a balcony (some of the standard rooms just had a bench and some had no outside seating space). The shower had a setting that made water come out from the side as well as the top.
The staff were great and were always happy to help and organise tours and taxis.
A decent sized breakfast was included in my room rate which had to be chosen the day before. They had a restaurant and bar as well as a detached beach bar. Paje Beach is 100m away, but the beach facility was around another 100m walk along the beach.
At Paje By Night On The Beach we were able to use the bean bags and deckchairs without the pressure of needing to buy food and drink. You can choose to put things onto the room bill so there is no need to carry cash. There was also a toilet here.
Heart of Zanzibar Bungalows
On my first night I stayed at the Heart of Zanzibar Bungalows. It was slightly cheaper than Paje By Night but after my flights got changed I needed accommodation for one more night! It was a smaller ‘hotel’ but had a nice little pool and breakfast was included in the room rate.
My room had a double bed plus a single and both had mosquito nets. There was also a restaurant serving food in the evenings and Paje Beach was a 200m walk away.
Even though I reserved Heart of Zanzibar Bungalows through Booking.com, they accept CASH ONLY, which I paid with US Dollars on arrival.
Again, I felt safe at Heart of Zanzibar Bungalows. They do close and lock the ‘gates’ at 10pm but everyone is given a key if you decide to go out and about in the evenings.
Things To Do In Paje
Paje Beach Zanzibar
Of course a major draw to Paje is Paje Beach! It has amazing blue sea and white sand as soft as powder. As mentioned above, there are a lot of ‘Maasai’ roaming the beach. After having a chat with you, they then want to show you their ‘little shops’ that they carry around. They mostly sell bracelets, magnets, key rings etc. You can walk for MILES in either direction towards Jambiani in the south or Bwejuu to the north.
Kite Surfing & SUP
It’s a perfect spot for kite surfing due to the wind conditions and the calm lagoon. Along Paje Beach you’ll find many different companies offering lessons. As a beginner it takes a while to even get in to the water though. It’s not a ‘quick to learn’ sport. A big chunk of time is spent on the beach learning how to control the kite. Then the same again but standing in the water and once that is mastered you are given the board.
To give an idea of prices, Paje By Kite offer 6 hours of one-to-one private lessons for beginners for $420. Peak kite surfing season is between June and September.
Alternatively, some of the kite surfing companies rent out stand up paddle boards too. Paddle boarding is a lot quicker to pick up compared to kite surfing!
Swimming at paje beach
The tides are CRAZY at Paje Beach! Sometimes at high tide the water will literally cover the whole beach. But on the other extreme, during SOME of the low tides the whole lagoon completely empties and will be ankle deep for miles. If you want to swim at low tide on the ’empty’ days you’ll need to walk out a long way to reach swimmable water.
There were days where the low tide was still quite high and these were the best times to swim. It would surprisingly get deep quite quickly! You also need to keep a watch out for kite surfers in the shallower areas. When the beach is extremely long, it’s quite easy to find an empty spot though.
On the days when the lagoon emptied, I usually just swum at the hotel pools instead.
Mwani Zanzibar – Seaweed Centre Tour
A really interesting place to visit at Paje Beach is Mwani Zanzibar. It is also known as the Paje Seaweed Centre. You can take a tour for $10 where you’ll learn about how the women harvest seaweed and turn it into beauty products like soap and body scrub. The first part of the tour takes place on the beach and the second part is in the production room.
Unfortunately Paje Beach does not face the direction of sunset and in the evenings the beach is often in the shade. However it does face the sunrise! One morning I woke up at 5.30am to watch the sunrise which was 6.05am. A group of us went and sat on the beach to watch it. It was slightly cloudy though, but there were several other people doing the same thing.
Yoga in Paje
As mentioned above, Paje By Night has a yoga school. It is open to guests and non guests, however the hotel guests do get priority. They have classes both in the morning and evening. Twice a week they do the morning session at Paje By Night On The Beach. The evening sessions are a slower pace and focus more on stretching. I signed up for one session during my stay but several people did daily sessions and were treating it more like a yoga retreat.
Several places along the beach were offering massages. I had mine at my hotel ‘spa’. A one hour Swedish Massage was $45 and because I had booked directly through my hotel, I received an additional 15 minutes for free. They offered a range of different types of massage, from deep tissue to yoga massages and Balinese massages.
The massages were in a little hut with curtains over the windows, so there was a nice breeze. However if you are a little more conservative, if someone happened to walk by and glance in, they would be able to see in. You are covered with sheets though for the most part! I always wear a bikini so for me it doesn’t feel much different to what is seen of me on the beach.
Shopping in Paje
Paje village has many souvenir shops that all roughly sell the same things: jewellery, paintings, t-shirts, wooden animals, bags etc. Nothing is priced, so you will need to haggle. We found that if you halved their first offer, you’d then end up meeting somewhere in the middle. It can be a bit stressful as you need to mentally do the conversions to make sure you aren’t over paying.
If you aren’t happy with the price quoted, there is no harm in walking away.
Supermarkets and the more ‘local’ shops along the main street often have prices listed on the shelves. (The souvenir shops in Stone Town had prices listed).
Eat & Live Music
I was so impressed with nearly every meal I ate while in Paje! I set myself the goal to try and eat somewhere different for every meal. The fruit and vegetables are so fresh and tasty and the smoothies and juices are amazing. As Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim, not all the restaurants will serve alcohol.
Beer is approximately 5000 shillings (around $2), juices are 8000 shillings, soft drinks 3000 and cocktails are 15,000. Meals are from around 10,000 ($4) up to 25,000 (of course some dishes are upwards of 25k). The restaurants in the village are mostly cheaper than those on the beach.
Several of the bars and restaurants, mostly along the beach, will have live music nights. Paje By Night have live music every Friday from 8pm until 10pm.
Where To Eat In Paje
Beachfront Restaurants & Bars
- Mr Kahawa – Great for coffee
- Paje By Night On The Beach – Ice cream & mostly Italian food
- Beach Bar Mahali – The BEST chips outside of the UK!
- B4 – Expensive, yummy ice cream milkshake cocktails
- Tiki Beach – Expensive, closer to Bwejuu
Paje Village Restaurants
- Sativa Cafe – Great for vegans and vegetarians
- Mapacha Street Food Court – Various outlets with a seating area and fish pond, located next to the main roundabout
- Rooftop Restaurant – Lovely juices and salads with great views over Paje village and main street
- African BBQ – Cheap, always busy, bit of a ‘Maasai’ hang out after their day on the beach…
- Paje By Night – Mostly Italian dishes
Day Trips From Paje
The Rock Restaurant
The Rock restaurant is located 20 minutes from Paje. A return taxi is approximately 25USD. The driver will take you there, wait for you, then bring you back. When the tide is in, the restaurant is reached by a small boat. At low tide you can simply walk to it. I’m not going to lie, the food is very expensive. For a beer, main and dessert my bill was $40. In comparison, in Paje, I could get a beer, main and dessert for around $10. You are definitely paying for the location and the novelty.
Jozani-chwaka bay National Park
The Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park is the only National Park in Zanzibar. The park is a 15 minute drive from Paje. It is mostly known for being the home of the Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey. Zanzibar is the only place where this particular species lives in the wild. There are thought to be around 5000 of them altogether across the island.
They co-exist in the forest with the Blue Monkey (also know as the Sykes Monkey) which are more commonly found across parts of Africa.
As mentioned above, I did see the Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey most days while in Paje. Obviously I can’t say it for all hotels and areas, but if I had known I could see the monkeys in my hotel before booking the tour, I probably would have skipped the forest.
Entrance to the National Park is $12 and includes a boardwalk through the nearby mangrove forest too. However, I went on a combined day trip along with the spice farm tour, for $70.
Spice Farm Tour
The spice farm tour was probably my favourite day trip that I did while in Zanzibar. I went to the Jambo Spice Farm in Dole, around 1 hour from Paje. It was really interesting learning about how different plants and trees are used for spices and fruit. The guides made me baskets, necklaces, bracelets and crowns out of flowers and leaves.
Lunch was included and was very tasty. Plus I had a fresh coconut and sampled a whole range of different fruits.
Stone Town & Prison Island
My trip to Stone Town and Prison Island was the most expensive tour that I did, costing $110. This included the taxi to and from Stone Town (just over 1 hour one-way), the boat and entrance to Prison Island plus a tour guide while on the island and around Stone Town.
The boat to Prison Island takes 25 minutes. It is home to a large amount of Aldabra Giant Tortoises that have been living on the island for over 100 years. They believe that the oldest tortoise is 185+ years old. You are given a few cabbage leaves and can feed the tortoises.
Ironically the facility at Prison Island never actually held prisoners. It ended up being a quarantine station for people with Yellow Fever.
Stone Town is the capital of Zanzibar. My guide showed me several historic buildings (Freddie Mercury’s House, House of Wonders, Old Fort, Forodhani Park, Stone Town Market, an Anglican Cathedral etc) and explained the history of the city and Zanzibar. There are so many alleyways and side streets that it was nice to have a guide that knew the easiest way to get from A to B!
The Safari Blue
Several people in my hotel did the Safari Blue experience which is a boat trip with snorkelling and a visit to a sandbank. The tour left quite early in the morning and was expensive. The reviews seemed to be that the snorkelling was just ‘ok’. Those that had done snorkelling in other locations, weren’t overly impressed and had had better experiences else where.
Any questions about visiting Paje Beach Zanzibar? Feel free to drop me a comment!
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