Life’s a beach in Zanzibar, a sublime cluster of tropical islands in the Indian Ocean. Zanzibar’s all-inclusive resorts help keep vacations a beach, too — getaways that are not constantly interrupted by the separate payment of every meal, activity, and poolside cocktail. Take a look at our few favorite favorite all-inclusive resorts in the archipelago.
Baraza Resort & Spa is one of the island's most opulent all-inclusives. The gorgeous five-pearl resort has 30 elegant villas, all of which have their own private plunge pools. Along with a few restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, the hotel also offers a water-sports center, an incredible spa, a fitness center, a pool, and a kids' club. Staying at this beautiful and romantic place costs a premium, but at least the high rates are all-inclusive. Baraza offers four dining options featuring a mix of Arabic, Indian, Persian, East Asian, and Tanzanian dishes that incorporate local produce, including the island's famous fragrant spices. Items on offer change seasonally.
The Palms is an intimate (as in just six villas intimate) boutique resort overlooking Bwejuu Beach, considered one of the finest in the world. All-inclusive rates cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with most drinks and spirits. Meals are excellent and often include freshly caught fish and seafood cooked in local spices, along with homemade pasta. The refined, but rustic, restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, and a casual, breezy ambience. There are also two bars, one next to the hotel's outdoor pool, which is adjacent to the powdery beach. The Palms' six villas are almost identical and offer more than 1,500 square feet of space, and while they are elegant, their look doesn't quite live up to the hotel's luxury claims -- or the bar set by Baraza. Terraces are furnished with silk-draped daybeds and sea-facing plunge pools (though some have better views than others). Unfortunately, there are no spa or fitness facilities on-site.
Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa is a 67-room, luxury beachfront property with a private vibe and an isolated location at the northern tip of Ungula Island. Rooms are elegantly decorated with lots of gold and have verandas with garden or ocean views. Suites are right on the sand, while villas have private hot tubs. Along with a wide white-sand beach with loungers and straw umbrellas, there's a Balinese-style spa with a serene outdoor covered lounge. Other features include a sleek outdoor pool, two restaurants serving local cuisine, and two bars -- one on the beach. Despite family-friendly features such as a kiddy pool and kids' club, the quiet atmosphere and secluded setting tend to draw primarily couples.
Located on the remote northern tip of Unguja Island, Diamonds La Gemma dell' Est is a naturally gorgeous resort set on its own wide stretch of sunny white-sand beach. There's also a large saltwater lagoon pool with swim-up bar and extensive water sports (wakeboarding, windsurfing, and water skiing, plus an on-site PADI dive center). All Diamonds' 138 rooms and suites have daily-replenished minibar and private terraces with views of the Indian Ocean. However, guests have complained of poor Wi-Fi connection (free here) and lackluster housekeeping and minor maintenance issues in rooms. A selection of four restaurants and five bars include a seafood grill on the beach and a lounge on the pier with regular live music.
Melia Zanzibar is a family-friendly all-inclusive with lush grounds on a white-sand beach. Rooms are large and airy with private terraces (though not all have ocean views, like Diamonds), while private villas have huge gardens and plunge pools. There are plenty of on-site activities and facilities, including a huge pool, an excellent spa, and a fitness center. While Diamonds offers water sports on site, Melia guests must take a (free) golf cart ride up the beach to the nearby Gabi Beach Club. All-inclusive guests have the option to upgrade to Premium packages, which come with minibar refills and premium liquor. The resort has six restaurants and bars, including the Spices Buffet, which has terrace seating and nightly themed dinners featuring culinary specialties from around the world. Unlike The Palms, which charges a fee, Wi-Fi is free here, but its signal can be slow.
Set on the beach in Zanzibar's quiet northeast, Dream of Zanzibar is a relaxed resort with two pools, a spa, and a range of on-site activities like kayaking and water aerobics. Its all-inclusive package includes a welcome cocktail, all three meals, and a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails. There are almost a dozen bars and restaurants on-site, including a sushi bar, a buffet restaurant serving local dishes, and a Moroccan-style hookah bar. Some restaurants require additional fees on top of the all-inclusive rates. The 157 simple but elegant rooms benefit from bright local artwork, colorful area rugs, and furnished terraces. While all of Melia's rooms feature large soaking tubs, Dream of Zanzibar has only walk-in showers.
This upscale hotel is set on 20 acres of gardens overlooking the Indian Ocean in the northwest tip of the island. The gorgeous, white-powder beach is indeed superb and popular with guests, though not private and prone to hawkers. The decor in the 96 rooms is rather underwhelming, though all units have large balconies and bathrooms, and several offer sea views. The property's four freeform swimming pools are among the most impressive on the island, and the ocean-facing massage rooms are a standout. As opposed to Melia and Dream's vast dining choices, Royal Zanzibar only has two on-site restaurants. All meals at Spices, the main restaurant, are included in the rate, and while lunch is free at the a la carte, sea-facing Samaki, dinner is not.