Subscribe to Mambo Magazine
Matemwe boasts one of the nicest stretches of beach on the east coast, and also a beach landscape that so far has not been too much altered by tourism. The beach remains an important thoroughfare for locals, and activities such as fishing and seaweed harvesting are still key to the local economy. On this side of the island, the sea goes right out at low tide and you can wander out to the reef. The fierce sun reflecting off the white coral sand gives the midday landscape a strange, bleached quality that is other-worldly, but in the mornings and evenings the softer light complements the classic tropical beach scene.
Matemwe’s hotels are, on the whole, upmarket but low key - although there is also a handful of budget options. The big resorts and international hotels of neighbouring Kiwengwa haven’t made inroads here, and accommodation tends to be more intimate, with bungalows built from local materials. This is the closest you can stay to the stunning Mnemba atoll without staying on Mnemba Island itself, which is exclusive and expensive. This area of ocean offers some of the best snorkelling and diving possible off Zanzibar, with high chances of seeing turtles and wild dolphins, as well as diverse, colourful coral reef fish.
Driving into Matemwe is through lush, green landscapes – this area is one of the most fertile on the island, with rolling rice fields and cassava and sugar plantations.