The best beaches near Dar es Salaam? But isn’t it a city?
Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s biggest city and one of the world’s fastest growing cities. When I moved to Dar es Salaam, everything I read told me to avoid the city at all costs. According to many well known guide books Dar is dirty, full of traffic with nothing to do.
They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Yes, Dar es Salaam is big. Yes, it’s crowded. But it’s a city of over 5 million people. What do you expect?! From diverse cuisine to world class nightlife (check out my playlist here), Dar es Salaam is a city that never rests. If you like busy places, you will love Dar es Salaam.
But what if you don’t?
Well, that’s what the ocean is for! Dar es Salaam sits in a natural harbour of the Indian Ocean. While much of it is used for fishing or transport, there are miles upon miles of unspoiled beaches to choose from. It can be overwhelming and hard to know where to go at first so I’ve done the hard work and picked some of the best beaches near Dar es Salaam. And when you’ve visited all of these, Zanzibar is only 2 hours away by ferry 😉
Residents of Dar es Salaam, I can hear you screaming at me- Coco Beach on a “best beaches” list?! Bear with me. When I came to Dar es Salaam as a tourist, a friend brought me to Coco Beach. After 2 hours in a traffic jam from the airport, trying to get my poor Irish body to adapt to the heat, it was just what I needed. It might not be the most picturesque, or the cleanest, but if you have time to kill and you want a place to grab a quick drink or a cheap bite to eat, it’s a pretty handy spot. Disclaimer: I am NOT suggesting you come here to sunbathe or swim. But for a drink and a view of the sea not far from the city it’s perfect.
Kigamboni, South Beach
Kigamboni is easily accessed from most areas of Dar es Salaam (it’s only 10km from the city centre). It’s a clean, white sand beach with beautiful water for swimming (with no rocks or sea urchins!) To go there from Dar es Salaam, it’s best to leave early and spend the whole day there as traffic jams can make it a longer trip than it should be. To get there you can either take the ferry from Kivukoni or else go by road via the new Kigamboni bridge. Taxi or Uber can take you the whole way across whichever route you choose as cars are allowed on the ferry. Kipepeo is my chosen base in Kigamboni. There’s an entry fee of about Tsh 5000 but it’s redeemable against drinks at their bar.
There are tonnes of beautiful beaches in the Mbezi Beach/ Kunduchi area. I recently spent time at the Leger Plaza hotel for work and, while I’m not usually a fan of resorts, the beach itself was beautiful. It’s on the eastern side of Dar so you won’t see a sunset here but the sunrise was amazing.
Moving away from mainland Dar es Salaam, Bongoyo is the closest island to the city. The island is small and rugged in places. The beach can often be crowded but it’s worth it for the warm tropical water and unspoiled white sand. You can take a short walk on a trail around the island or else rent a small banda for the day and just enjoy the sun. The water is crystal clear and safe for swimming. It’s the perfect Saturday day trip from the city.
Bongoyo is easily accessible by boat from Slipway on the Peninsula. There’s a fee of around Tsh27,000 for foreigners (resident or tourist) to access the marine conservation area.
Take the last boat back and enjoy this amazing sunset!
If Bongoyo is the perfect Saturday trip, then save your Sunday for Mbudya. Mbudya is slightly further along the coast but just as picturesque. It’s bigger than Bongoyo and not as crowded. The water is equally turquoise and perfect. It’s best accessed from Mbezi Beach but can also be accessed by boat from Slipway for a higher fee. Like Bongoyo, you will need to pay the marine conservation fee, but when you see this island paradise you’ll understand why.
Bonus addition if you time it right: Sandbank
This one is my ultimate favourite but you’ll have to be lucky to catch it!
It’s not exactly a beach, well…not all the time. The sandbank is only accessed by private boat and at certain points of the day it disappears completely. To me, this is paradise on earth. I was lucky enough to have friends who organised a trip out there on a yacht and when we were arrived we were the only people there. When we left all that remained was our footprints, and we knew that they, too, would disappear in a few hours. Perfection!