Are you looking for a kiteboarding destination to shake the cold temperatures of winter in Europe and the US? Head to Zanzibar in Tanzania for incredible conditions. Find out why Paje beach has become the #1 Zanzibar Kiteboarding spot, and why we felt it was one of the best kitesurfing spots we have ever seen. Our Paje kitesurfing was 2-week long in August, and several of our friends went as well in the summer months as well as returning during the winter months. Based on our combined experience and repeat kite trips there, we can only say kiteboarding in Zanzibar is one of a kind!
- Turquoise water? Check
- Warm weather? Check
- Two seasons per year? Check
- Strong winds? Check
So let’s see what Paje kiteboarding is about!
Located on the island off of Tanzania, Zanzibar is a popular destination all-year-round thanks to its beautiful beaches and the old town of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. About an hour away from Zanzibar City’s historical center, Paje is a small fishing village turned premier kiteboarding destination.
Paje Beach, also considered one of the best beaches in Zanzibar, is a long stretch of about 3 miles (5 km), or at least the length of the Paje Village. The coast, however, stretches even longer as it borders other villages like Jambiani. Imagine small villages, white sands, turquoise water!
A traditional fishing village still at heart, fishermen on their dhow boats sail across the lagoon in search of fresh fish. Women farm seaweed in the lagoon too (a rather unique farming method!), seaweed laying on the ground to dry under the sun. Maasai warriors recently came to Paje in search of an economical boom, drawn by the ever-increasing numbers of tourists.
Indeed, thanks to the strong winds that blow twice a year, that sandy stretch has turned kite beach in recent years into a popular kiteboarding destination, which has brought more business and visitors.
Zanzibar Kiteboarding: Paradise Spot in Tanzania
The Paje lagoon is nestled between the long stretch of sandy shores and a shallow reef that protects from the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean. The water is warm all year round, and that turquoise colors are as real as what you see in pictures!
The sandy beach is perfect for setting-up your gear, though the section can go from nothing at high tide to an extended walking surface at low tide. The beach access is rather convenient, with many resorts and kite centers right there.
Flat, Coral Reef, or Waves
Depending on the tide, Paje Beach offers a glassy flat spot, rolling waves perfect for surfing, or a coral reef where expert riders can catch some actions.
An expert-only spot, the thrill of reef riding is unbelievable! If your skills are in par, make sure to check it out once during your stay. Pay attention to the tides, though, as you don’t want to be stuck behind the coral reef when the tide goes down. The reef is higher than the lagoon, so watch is you go at low tide already in motion. Avoid going by yourself for safety reasons.
Tides Zanzibar variations are important given how low the water can recede that you can barely have any depth left for kiteboarding. So low fins will get stuck on the sandy bottom!
Low tides see most learners gathering in the lagoon closest to the reef. The depth becomes extremely shallow, but the mirror-like conditions are simply stunning! The water is so clear and transparent; it’s unbelievable. If the winds blow strongly when it’s low tide, you are for an incredible experience, the Zanzibar kiteboarding experience!
Half-way during ebbing and flooding is probably the time for the best kiteboarding sessions. The water will vary from ankle to waist, ideal for learners who still need to stand up but need some depth to practice their skills. These couple of hours are also perfect for advanced and experienced riders to try tricks and jumps. These hours are also when it’s the most crowded, with kiteboarders of all levels.
At high tides, the waves can come crashing up to the resorts and palm trees. That time is ideal for experienced kiteboarders who can enjoy the fewer crowded lagoon. The lack of beach makes launch and landing and tricky as you need to get far into the water to do so. The rolling waves might require you to body drag pass them, or you can get caught into a powerful washing-machine effect.
Make sure to look up the upcoming Zanzibar tide table so you can plan your day accordingly.
At low tide, watch for the spiky creatures! They are present on most of the rocky reef patches, and you will get your feet, knee or other fleshy parts on them at some point! We all came back with battle scars from the encounters, where urchins were the clear winners… Shoes will help though, so they are a must-have piece of kite gear to bring with you!
One of the local businesses is to grow seaweed in the lagoon. At low tides, women tend to the ropes to secure the algae and straighten wooden sticks that hold the ropes. At high tides, the waves recover the sticks and potentially make kiteboarding tricky. It’s best to scope and remember where these sticks are so you can avoid them during your kitesurfing session.
Kite Schools in Zanzibar Tanzania
There is no lack of kite schools on Paje Beach, even probably too many even. And as we spoke to local people from Paje village, more kite centers are scheduled for opening. On the one hand, it’s good competition when it comes to prices, but it also means the spot tends to get busy with beginners. We all have to learn, but it felt that sometimes, the sheer number of beginners might impact safety with every learner on the water at the same time.
Before you book your kite lessons, make sure to check the reviews of that specific kite school, see what languages they offer in case you want something in addition to English, and ask for their no-wind policy in case there is no wind during your stay.
We personally did not take any classes, but we enjoyed the welcome of the Aquaholics Kite and Surf Zanzibar team, who let us hang there with them. The staff, which is composed of an international as well as local teachers, was incredibly friendly! They gave us awesome tips when we arrived and let us set up and launch right in front of their kite center. For the no-wind days, the center offers surf trips! So if you are in the area, make sure to check them out.
When is the Best time to visit Paje Zanzibar
The best time to visit Zanzibar is from June to October when the weather is dry and cool. This period is actually the winter season since Tanzania is in the Southern Hemisphere. The summer temperatures can be chilly, especially at night. Bring a jacket and warm layers for the evenings!
When it comes to kite season, there are two wind periods in Paje:
- June – September: The Kusi wind blows from the South, with August usually the strongest of these months. During our 2-week overlapping July-August, we enjoyed strong winds during the first week, where we rode in 9-m kite most of the time. The second week was weaker, as we could barely ride on 12-m kites. Some schools even dusted their 15-m kites for lessons.
- December – February: Kaskazi, the wind below the North, is not as strong and not every day as Kusi, but still offers great kiting days. Our friends rode on 10-m kites most of the time, though several days had no wind.
In general, the Zanzibar weather follows these patterns:
- Best Season: from June to October, the weather is cool and dry. Bring a small jacket or fleece as some evenings can be cold, especially if you are staying or dining by the beachfront.
- Alternate Months: between December to February, with hot and dry weather.
- Rainy Season: avoid April-May
Accommodation in Zanzibar
Most of the kite resorts or lodging associated with kite centers are on the beach. There is a wide range of Paje Zanzibar hotels, though most of the Zanzibar beach resorts tend to be on the pricier side (though they also come with nice amenities and services!).
Some of these resorts are partnering with kite centers, but even without that partnership, you can either pack your gear for the night, or rent a box from one of the kite shops.
- Best beach hotels in Zanzibar:
- Luxury Paje beach hotels
- Budget Paje Zanzibar hotels and guesthouses
For budget and independent travelers, you can also find several guesthouses with wifi and kitchen. We stayed at the Sunny House Paje, which is about 5 minutes away from the beach, tucked in a quiet street. Clean rooms, a small garden, and a well-equipped kitchen helped us save money!
How to Get to Paje
Easily accessible thanks to the Zanzibar International Airport, you can be at Paje Beach kiteboarding within one hour of landing.
Different options are available:
- Rent a car and drive by yourself
- Take a taxi from the airport or Stone Town: about US$35 per car one way
- Jump on a local dala dala bus for 2,500 TSH
The drive takes about one hour. If you are planning on visiting the island by yourself, you might want to consider renting a car for more flexibility.
Other Kitespots on Zanzibar
Paje Beach is the better-known spot, but Jambiani Zanzibar also offers kiteboarding opportunities, though not as good as Paje. Another spot is Nungwi Zanzibar, where you can also find kite school and center.
Things to Do on Zanzibar
If you want to take a break from kitesurfing, or have a no-wind day and want to explore the island, check out our top things to do in Zanzibar. Activities include:
- See the Red Colobus Monkeys at the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park
- Learn about the history of the island when visiting Old Stonetown
- Snorkeling and diving in Menai Bay
- Go dolphin-watching in Kizimkazi
- Join a spice tour, spices that gave the island its nickname of Spice Island
Zanzibar Travel Advice
- Zanzibar is in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning that July and August are winter months. Nights can be cold, especially when the wind still blows. Bring a jacket and scarf for the evenings.
- ATMs are limited on Zanzibar. There is one at the airport; the other in Paje. But that one runs out of money quickly, so pack some US$ or Euros to change at hotels.
- Zanzibar prices tend to be close to European cities when it comes to food and lodging. You can find local restaurants and shops in the village where you can buy cheaper groceries.
- Get a SIM card from one of the stores in the villages, as wifi can be spotty.
- Learn a few words of Swahili though most people in Zanzibar will speak some English.
- Note that plastic bags are banned in the country. Our luggage was not checked, I am not sure whether it’s because we were tourists or it’s a relatively new law. Having said that, no plastic bag was used in the market or at the grocery store. Old newspapers, reusable bags, ripped cloth pieces – anything but plastic! We were impressed by how Zanzibar already implemented the eco-friendly policy. Next steps, we hope, would be to ban other plastic wraps, plastic straws etc.
Zanzibar Travel Books and Guides
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Have you been to Zanzibar for a kiteboarding trip? What was your experience? Any other tip you want to share? We would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment in the Comment section!
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