Life on Paje Beach..
“Pole pole!” This phrase became my go to saying in Paje. Everywhere in Paje, the standard response is this Swahili phrase meaning “slowly, slowly” and this is definitely the pace of life here in Paje…
Travelling solo and cautious of my budget I wanted a reasonably priced, chilled destination. Not the luxury honeymoon resort akin to parts of Zanzibar, but something on the backpackery side. Paje a small beach village on the East, popular with kite surfers fit my criteria perfectly…
Arriving at Paje I was truly in awe of the stunning clear turquoise waters. I couldn’t stop smiling as I gazed around. I knew I’d made the right choice in coming here as I stepped onto the powdery sand overlooking the stunning waters. It ranks highly up there with my favourite beaches of all time.
Kite Surfing in Paje…
Paje is famous for its kite surfing. I thought I might try it while here, but the Gods were against me as there wasn’t enough wind most days.
It didn’t affect my holiday as it meant more time to relax, but I did feel bad for those who came specifically to kite surf. So be aware the wind isn’t guaranteed.
I really enjoyed sitting on the beach and watching the kite surfers out in the waves when the winds were strong enough. The colourful kites made a pretty scene…
There are plenty of places along the beach to book lessons or rent gear and get out in the waves…
1. Watch the sunrise. Paje being on the East Coast doesn’t get the sunset over the sea, but it does get the beautiful sunrise. There’s something special about watching the new day emerge.
I was out at 6.15am to see the pink skies, the fishermen going out to sea and the joggers on the beach. It was worth the early 6am get up, honestly!
2. Chill at Mr Kahawas. This laid back cafe is the holy grail in Paje. Head there barefoot and order an iced coffee. Plonk yourself down on a beanbag or a hammock and watch the waves (and when the conditions are right the kite surfers doing their thing) in the waves directly in front of the beachside cafe. Perfect.
The only problem is it doesn’t do alcohol. But don’t worry (hakuna matata), as plenty of other places do!
3. Go for a long beach walk. I really enjoyed my beach walks in Paje, just not near midday- the sun is incredibly strong. Pretty much every Westerner has patches of lobster red sunburn! Early morning or late afternoon is best for walking.
4. Eat fresh seafood. Seafood in Paje is freshly caught each day. All menus have great seafood options, from coconut crusted fish, to fish fingers to fish curries.
Every evening from 7pm near Mr Kahawas there’s a seafood barbecue on the beach. For fifteen dollars it’s an all you can eat feast of lobster, shrimp, tuna, octopus and squid.
Someone told me they beat the Octopus to death on the beach otherwise he’d run away… After hearing that I avoided eating the poor beaten to death Octopus.
5. Go shell collecting on the beach. This turned out to be my favourite activity! I was blown away by the number of beautiful pink, purple and green shells on the sand.
I collected a bagful on my first day! Just hope I’m allowed to take them back to Dubai.
6. Chat to the Maasai. The Maasai tribe, a nomadic tribe from Tanzania and Kenya come to Paje to sell their goods to tourists.
They are friendly and don’t mind chatting about their life. They seemed very amused that we don’t have elephants in England!
7. Party in Paje! Every night there’s something going on in Paje, whether it’s chilled live music at one of the beachfront bars or something a little more crazy.
I didn’t party too much, but I did enjoy sipping on cocktails and relaxing to live music.
The next village along- Jambiani has a place called the Red Monkey which is a hostel and bar and has nights of live local music. I headed there one night and it was a great place to visit. The music finished at midnight although the party continued nearby. I was too tired and was happy to leave at midnight.
Ask around at the bars, the locals and your hotel/hostel to find out what’s happening each night.
The women make natural soaps, oils and body scrubs from natural ingredients including seaweed from the beach!
I forgot my shower gel and so instead of buying a plastic bottle of shower gel I headed here to pick up some soaps which are really nice and smell amazing. I got a lime soap, a ylang ylang soap and a coconut oil body scrub. The soaps were 4 US dollars each. Mr Kahawa also sells them but they are a bit more expensive at 6 dollars for a smaller soap. I’m actually trying to use bars of soap instead of shower gel to reduce my plastic consumption. You can get lovely soaps many of which are sulphate free and organic.
You can do a tour with the Women’s seaweed centre for ten dollars where you go out and collect the seaweed and watch the women make the products from scratch. I didn’t do this but it sounds an interesting tour.
10. Have a walk around the local village and see the local side of Paje.. I didn’t take many photos because I wasn’t sure if that’s a bit offensive, poverty tourism and all that, but I couldn’t resist this one…
In general Paje really is the perfect destination to relax and enjoy the simple life.
There are various other tours you can do and places to see…
Bear in mind I really don’t like tours and try to always do things independently which is why I decided to opt out of doing any, but here’s a range of things to do in and around Paje…
Things to do and see in and around Paje…
The Rock Restaurant. This is a famous. Restaurant positioned erm yep you guessed it on a rock out in the Ocean. You can only access it by boat. A bit too romantic and expensive for little old me – a solo budget traveller, but as a couple or group it would be a great choice. It’s maybe a 15 minute drive and then boat trip away from Paje.
Dolphin tours. I didn’t hear great things about these. Basically a load of boats chase the dolphins and a bunch of tourists jump in the water and try to get as close as possible. Not my cup of tea.
Snorkelling. There are various snorkelling tours but again none of them really appealed to me. I was here to relax and not spend a lot of dollar. I heard mixed reviews.
Joziani forest- Home to the red colobus monkey, it is the only national park in Zanzibar. I fancied going but you need a guide (money making exercise), and I really just wanted to wander alone. Ah well I saw the monkeys in the trees on my drive to Paje anyway.
Where to stay:
I stayed at New Teddy’s Place which was perfect. They have dorms but I stayed in my own little hut which has sand on the floor- very cute! The sheets are changed daily and you get a fan to cool you down. Sometimes the simple life is the best!
Plus I got pancakes and fresh passion fruit juice every day for breakfast…
New Teddy’s has its own bar and chill out areas. It’s a great place to meet other travellers from those who are staying there for months, to those staying a few days to recuperate after climbing Mount Kili..
Will I like Paje?
If you’re after a few days of relaxation at a low key beach then yes.
However, it’s not a family place. Its main draw is its kite surfing, attracting young 20-30 something’s. But it’s not a crazy party island, it’s definitely not the next Ko Phangan. Well, I hope not anyway.
If you’re looking for a beautiful, quiet beach resort for families or couples the resorts in the North such as Nungwi are probably more your cup of tea. The tides and wind mean it’s not an ideal sea for swimming in, so keep that in mind.
Paje is the perfect destination for solo travellers, kite surfers and those wanting a relaxed time. It is more budget friendly than the fancier resorts although it has fancy resorts too just not as many of them. It’s accommodation is mainly beach huts and small guest houses and a few low key hotels.
Is Paje safe?
I felt 100% safe. I did however get warned that there had been muggings on the beach between Paje and Jambiani, when ago mentioned wanting to walk there.
Also just before I arrived there was a guy who had apparently fallen asleep on the beach drunk at night and got his wallet stolen.
Is it safe for women?
Yes I felt very safe, although like anywhere take basic safety precautions. Don’t go out alone at night outside of the tourist areas. Don’t get so drunk you can’t say your own name. Blah, blah. The usual.
As Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim the local women cover up, with headscarves and some cover their faces.
Wearing bikinis on the beach is fine but when you go in the village or walk around outside of the beaches it’s sensible to cover legs, shoulders and chest.
Hi, I live and work in Dubai. I enjoy getting out and about and seeing what Dubai has to offer, travelling in my holidays and spare time – prepare for blog posts about this, and cooking vegetarian recipes. I am passionate about travel and animals.