Paje is a village of approximately 500 people on the coast of Zanzibar. It has good conditions for kitesurfing and retains an authentic and chilled-out beach atmosphere (fewer beach boys and merchants on the beach). Paje is experiencing a boom in tourism as more tourists come to kitesurf (the first kitesurfing school was built in 2012). Despite this, Paje is extremely safe and one can appreciate Zanzibar's natural beauty by walking on the beach at midnight in total safety.
Paje's beach can be tide-dependent - at low tide, one may need to walk almost a kilometer to reach the water, while at high tide the beach may disappear in places. These extremes usually only happen once a month, dependent on the moon.
There is an ATM in Paje, operated by Barclays PLC, near the petrol station. Only the largest hotels/restaurants accept credit cards.
Taking a minibus from airport takes 1 hour and costs approximately US$60. Just when you leave airport, taxi or minibus will cost much less - around US$40. Shared shuttles can be booked for US$10 and provide all the comforts of a taxi at a reduced price (book here). The local bus transportation (named dala-dala) is much cheaper - Tsh 1500, and not much slower, but surely less comfortable. Use a taxi or minibus and you can enjoy sightseeing and air condition, but use dala-dala, if you want to chat with local people and get many interesting suggestions for trips or destination!
As Paje is a village more than 5 km long, it is better to tell the driver the name of hotel where you plan to stay or a closer direction. If you have not decided for a certain accommodation yet, do not rely on drivers decision - he will drive directly to most expensive hotel. Or hop off on the crossroad in Paje (actually a roundabout with a big red supermarket nearby) and you can walk only about 100 m to the beach.
The village can be explored by foot. The village is widespread from about 1 km south (Bwejuu) on 5km strip to the south (Jambiani). You can drive here from Stone Town in 30-40 minutes by car or motorbike, or take dala-dala Nr. 309. The whole village can be reached by foot, or you can make a visit around by bicycle or by taxi (around US$1.30 per person sharing). Most roads in Paje are not suitable for cars, as they are only dusty tracks actually.
Sleepy fishermens village is situated on a beautiful strip of seashore. It is an important crossroad - main road from Stone Town (direction Kitogani) is divided in two direction directly in Paje. Either you can drive to the north to Bwejuu (turn left) or continue to the south (turn right) to Jambiani and Makunduchi. You can find small shops and two supermarkets near this cross road. Further inside the village you can find more small shops, where you can buy souvenirs, especially vivid coloured paintings in Zanzibarian style and various coconut products.
Paje is built in traditional Swahili style, so you can make short trips through long dusty "streets" and enjoy local cordial atmosphere. You will meet dozens of children asking for "caramella" (sweets) or biscuits. Local people usually spend the whole day in their usual work - gathering seaweed, making ropes of coconut fibers or repairing or building boats (dhows). If you want to take photos, please be kind and ask before you take a shoot. For many locals this is a pleasant source of income.
As Paje is famous kitesurfing centre, most tourists are either keen on kitesurfing here or they have possibility to learn basics of this popular sport. Windy weather conditions are not only good for kitesurfing, but also a pleasant natural air conditioning. Zanzibar weather as strongly influenced by monsoons, so tourist are advised to watch weather forecast before planning their trip!
Evenings on shore of Paje are dedicated to football. Local boys, men, and tourists meet every evening for serious game. And for a couple of drinks for all participants right after the match, regardless of goals or winners.
If lazy atmosphere of Paje makes you sick, you can make long trips along the shore - in 1 hour you can reach Jambiani or Bwejuu (but hot sun makes you tired in 10 minutes, so be aware of sun burning!) If you want to make serious trip, you can rent a bike, scooter or motorcycle - rental offices are in many resorts or ask touts (locals who enjoy offering any service, from luggage transport through fishing trips to snorkeling and dolphin safaris - as their only knowledge is poor English, but as long as they gain your interest, they "subcontract" other local people to these services for modest budget with large profit).
A traditional dancing performance is held at the Cristal Resort most Tuesday nights. Ndame Beach Lodge has a Masai show every Friday night. Booking is essential.
Learn kiteboarding at one of the 7 kiteboarding schools - compare prices, all schools are less than 1 km apart from each other.
Swim in the lukewarm water when the tide is in, or walk to the coral reef (be careful of incoming tide, watch locals for right timing)
Scuba diving is also possible in Paje - try Buccaneer Diving.
Make a trip to the famous The Rock restaurant in Michamvi (~Tsh 40,000 return taxi trip, or rent a Vespa for US$25/day). Best combined with Blue Lagoon Snorkelling trip.
In the middle of the beach is stalls selling paintings by local artists.
Near the main T-junction is a shop (Supa Duka) selling a small selection of wine and food. Contrary to all the signs, they do not accept credit cards.
There are a number of hotels and restaurants with decent meals starting at US$7. Local food starting at US$5, pasta and pizza US$5-10, but local restaurants tend to prepare all meals in less European and more African way
Generally, tourists are advised to taste local Zanzibarian meals, as these are usually much more tasty and price is lower than for "European" meals.
Zanzibar cuisine is one of the best in the whole African territory. You can trace Indian, Arabic and African roots in most dishes. Most meals are prepared with dozens of local spices, but the results are not too spicy and therefore suitable also for small children or people with health issues.
In most hotels you can find small restaurants, with almost the same offer consisting of seafood, local dishes, but always including "tourist menu", pasta, pizza, chicken or lamb dishes. Special daily menu (mostly fish) is written on the chalkboards in front of them and prepared for budget price. Spectrum of these meals depend on what fishermen have caught on that day.
If you prefer traditional European meals, you should expect a little different taste, as local cooks had never tasted these meals as prepared from European cooks.
- 1 Utalli Restaurant, Main Road (opposite Shirin Supermarket and next to the three storey restaurant, a simple building painted blue). A good priced local place. TSh 4000 gets you rice or ugali with spinach, beans and potato sauces on the side and it comes usually within a few minutes unlike most other "pole pole" places. You might have to wait longer if you want fish which will cost you an extra 10,000 Shilling, but the servings of king-fish could easily be shared between two if you are not a big eater. Some people ordered 1 kg of prawns by arranging this the previous day and the price seemed much, much less than at other restaurants. TSh 4,000-15,000.
If you walk down the beach (north to south, from Paje to Jambiani), you can find many small bars, starting with Twisted Palms, Ndame Beach Lodge, Jambo Beach Bungalows, Dhow Inn, Paje by Night, Teddys Place, Kilima Kidogo, etc.
Local bars are open usually 10AM-10PM. During night parties, sleepy bars change to noisy places crowded with tourist. Ones friendly refreshing facility can change to disturbing problems (Teddy's place holds a party most Wednesday nights. Unfortunately the loud music may keep guests of nearby lodges awake.)
- Sundays at Vuvuzela
- Wednesdays at New Teddy's Place
- Thursdays at Demani Lodge
- Fridays at Jambo Beach Bungalows
- monthly themed parties at Paje by Night
These bars offer African beer (mostly Kilimanjaro or Safari, the latter is stronger and the former weaker), some wine and variety of local and imported distillates (whisky, vodka, rum, etc.) Prices are not high (TSh 4000-5000 for a beer). Alcoholic beverages can cause serious problems when combined with direct sun and high temperatures so it is advised to drink also a lot of non-alcoholic drinks.
Freshly squeeze juices are a must. Pineapple, orange or papaya juices are hundred times better than the best juice in Europe or the USA. After your first couple of drinks, you will never drink juice in your country without remembering what you drank in Zanzibar!
- Summer Dream Lodge. Check-out: 11:30AM. This Dutch-owned hotel is about 2 minutes off of the beach and is a good choice if you are looking for a cheaper, quieter hotel. You can walk to the kite schools in about 20 minutes. Rooms are pretty basic (nets & fan) but the beds are enormous. Owner is very helpful. Restaurant and rooms are a good value - the rates in low season with negotiation: TSh 10,000-16,000 for a meal, rooms around US$25 incl Wi-Fi and breakfast (dorms also available)
- White Beach Hotel Zanzibar, Bwejuu (East Coast Bwejuu), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: Any time, check-out: 10AM. 6 bungalows near the beach. The place is very relaxed and comfortable. US$25 per person, including breakfast and taxes.
- Ndame Beach Lodge (Paje Ndame Village), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: anytime, check-out: 10AM. 14 bungalows with 31 rooms within a tropical garden. Different rooms (single, twin, double, triple, family). Breakfast included in rate, as is free coffee and tea all day long and Wifi. US$40-50 per person.
- Hakuna Majiwe Beach Lodge Zanzibar, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The hotel consists of 20 rooms in beach bungalows, facing the ocean. The restaurant, facing the ocean, is situated under a large thatched roof which also houses the lounge and bar. Cuisine is a blend of Italian and African food. $250+.
- 1 The Residence Zanzibar by Cenizaro, Mchamgamle, Kizimkazi, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Starting from US$280.