Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline is superb, an almost continuous succession of white sand, palm trees and turquoise waters. In Kenya and Tanzania in particular, Swahili coastal culture promises depth and a seductive appeal to the senses.

From spicy cuisines that draw their inspiration from across the Indian Ocean to the soulful experience of diving off a wooden dhow (traditional sailboat) into the calm waters to discover the marine life beneath. Whether it’s visited as an add-on to a safari or a destination in its own right, this coast can feel like paradise if you choose the right place to stay. Here are 10 of the best African beach resorts.

The accommodations below are not ranked in a specific quality order.

 

1. Diani Sea Resort, Diani Beach (Kenya)

Diani Sea Resort

The first things you notice about Diani Sea Resort are the deep blues of the ocean, the vivid greens of the lush vegetation that surrounds the resort, and the white sand that extends for miles in every direction. Rooms here take full advantage of the ocean views (you may have a lounge bed on your balcony) and there are restaurants, pools and a wide range of activities to choose from.

Diani Sea Resort Tours

 

2. Constance Ephelia, Mahé (Seychelles)

Constance Ephelia

No one does luxury resorts in Africa quite like Seychelles, and the Constance Ephelia is one of the best. Tucked away on a quiet, lush lagoon on the main island of Mahé, this place is all about pampering, with stunning spacious rooms and a high-end spa center. There’s a choice of everything, from pools to restaurants.

 

3. Nungwi Beach Resort by Turaco, Zanzibar (Tanzania)

Nungwi Beach Resort by Turaco

You couldn’t be any closer to the beach than you will be at Nungwi. Hugging the shore, this sophisticated resort has everything you could want: enticing pools, incredible views, and high-class bars, restaurants and lounge areas, all facing out to sea. The rooms have classic Zanzibari style with traditional wood carvings and four-poster beds. And you’re perfectly positioned for long walks along the beach.

Nungwi Beach Resort Tours

 

4. Meliá Zanzibar, Zanzibar (Tanzania)

Meliá Zanzibar

If you’re looking for the perfect combination of luxury and location, Meliá Zanzibar is outstanding. The bright, sophisticated rooms catch the sea breezes, and the restaurants have a reputation for excellence. Facilities include a spa center, swimming pools and grounds that feel like a hidden tropical paradise. The resort’s east-coast position is close to everything on this special island.

Meliá Zanzibar Tours

 

5. Baobab Beach Resort, Diani Beach (Kenya)

Baobab Beach Resort

When it comes to luxury resorts in Africa, Kenya’s Diani Beach has some of the best. Sitting alongside a beautiful arc of sand, Baobab Beach Resort has a swimming pool for every mood and a spa center with an array of treatments. Palm trees fill the property and natural light floods the character-filled rooms. You can walk out your door and onto the beach from some of the apartments.

Baobab Beach Resort Tours

 

6. Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort, Zanzibar (Tanzania)

Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort

Close to the beautiful northern tip of the main island, Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort is one of the best places to stay anywhere on Zanzibar. Rooms face the ocean and have traditional wood furnishings, and everything here wraps around a private beach. There are interlocking swimming pools, a luxury spa and massage center, fine restaurants and plenty of lounge areas from which to enjoy the incredible sunsets.

Royal Zanzibar Tours

 

7. Santorini Mozambique, Vilanculos (Mozambique)

Santorini Mozambique

On a gloriously quiet stretch of southern African coastline, Santorini Mozambique is modeled on the Greek island of the same name. It has opulent whitewashed suites and villas, some with their own private pool. The views are incredible and it’s such an exclusive place that you’ll sometimes feel that the coast belongs to you alone. Expect fine dining and a luxury spa as well.

Santorini Mozambique Tours

 

8. Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa, Bamburi Beach, Mombasa (Kenya)

Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa

You may be conveniently close to Mombasa, but you’re a world away from its noise at this exceptional place. Sarova Whitesands is one of the best African beach resorts anywhere this close to a major city. Rooms here have soothing colors and every comfort you could need. It’s not just the facilities (five swimming pools, wellness spa, gift shop, restaurants and bar areas) that stand out: the service is impeccable, too.

Sarova Whitesands Tours

 

9. Serena Beach Resort & Spa, Mombasa (Kenya)

Serena Beach Resort & Spa

The large rooms at Serena Beach Resort & Spa are filled with decorative Swahili flourishes from traditional craftspeople. As a result, you’ll feel that real sense of individuality that makes the best African beach resorts stand out. Restaurants, spa treatments, cultural performances, swimming pools and a full range of activities are all standard. And magical Mombasa is just around the corner.

Serena Beach Resort Tours

 

10. Tui Blue Bahari Zanzibar, Zanzibar (Tanzania)

Tui Blue Bahari Zanzibar

Overlooking a magnificent stretch of sand along the east coast of Zanzibar, the Tui Blue Bahari Zanzibar has stylish rooms with contemporary flair and supremely comfortable furnishings. It has everything you’ll need, from pools and high-class cuisine to spa treatments and a range of activities. And it has that special feeling of paradise that only the best resorts have.

Tui Blue Bahari Tours

 

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By Anthony Ham
Australia AU

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks to Africa.

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