Zanzibar Hotels

Kendwa Rocks

Kendwa Rocks is a large resort-come-hostel located on the north-west coast of Zanzibar catering for those on a tighter budget and used to more economy, no-frills accommodation. The resort is particularly popular among younger backpackers who enjoy the party vibe at Kendwa. The average guest age is mid-twenties.

However, the hostel offers a wide variety of lodgings including rooms advertised for families and couples. The resort offers access to unspoilt beaches, ideal for bathing and water sports as well as wonderful ocean views. It is important that travellers considering Kendwa know what to expect. Those in search of a tranquil and pampered escape may wish to consider other options.

Accommodation at Kendwa varies. On higher ground, set back from the beach are the North and South Wings. These house rooms and suites of various sizes. They are more comfortable and modern than the range of bungalows nearer the beach. There are Coral Stone Bungalows on slightly higher ground, Coconut Wood Bungalows right on the beach and Palmwood Bandas (also beachside). The Bandas are renowned for offering hostel style accommodation in an idyllic location and cannot be booked in high season. The Bandas are single, double, triple or quadruple with shared bathroom facilities and somewhat unreliable AC. The Bandas represent very basic accommodation. The bungalows are more comfortable, though many of the beds advertised as doubles are between 140cm and 150cm in width so do not expect luxury. Accommodation is clean and well kept (for cleaning one must hand one’s key back at reception). But, being made of natural and local materials and situated on the sea-front the bungalows and bandas can suffer from an inevitable smell of damp.

The party feel at Kendwa is largely the result of its reputed Full Moon parties. These normally occur on the Saturday night nearest to full-moon each month (the hostel publishes a calendar online). The parties go on until the early hours of the morning with loud dance music, fire eaters and acrobats, and a flock of locals, guests and tourists from as far as Dar Es Saleem. The parties are very memorable and a great way to meet people. But for families travelling with young children, or couples heading to the beach for a secluded getaway, it might be best to book elsewhere as there tends to be some sort of party at least once a week at Kendwa.

The restaurant and bars at Kendwa offer a variety of dishes and drinks. Food and drinks must be purchased using a charge-card (to be bought on arrival). This system ensures you do not need to carry large amounts of cash. Be careful to check your bills thoroughly as the charge system is not always reliable. Also, beware that money left on the charge-card at the end of your stay is usually non-redeemable.

Staff are friendly and relaxed. The service is neither impeccable nor pandering. If you are looking for meticulous and expert service then Kendwa is not the best choice to make. However, there is a certain charm to be found in the younger and more laid back approach to running a hotel, restaurant and bars. Staff are likely to chat to you at any time of day or night.

One can sunbathe, swim, relax and play football or volleyball on the beach at Kendwa. Snorkelling is popular and diving trips can be arranged. Short boat trips are also possible. Dolphin tours and sunset cruises can be organised. One can also make excursions to Stone Town and other cultural sites. Hostel managers are able to advise on or organise many activities.

Getting to Kendwa Rocks

Kendwa is located an hours drive north of Stone Town and Zanzibar Airport, through Kendwa Village. This is done easily by taxi, alternatively the hotel operates a minibus service to and from Stone Town daily, or one can take a number 116 daladala (this takes around two hours and is not recommended for the faint of heart or stomach). The drive winds through poor parts of Zanzibar and can be disheartening to tourists, especially considering the almost hypocritical luxury on offer at many of Zanzibar’s resorts. It is important to remember that this country is still developing and that some uncomfortable scenes may be expected.

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