Paje Beach: Breathtaking Nature at Its Finest
The feeling of that white floury sand underneath your toes, the way that warm turquoise water hugs every inch of your body and the quietness that surrounds you as the sun comes up… Man, I’m getting all the feels just thinking about it!
Just like I said before, I knew I wanted to stay in Paje from the very beginning. And oh, boy! was I right making that decision! Nothing could have been more perfect than this beach.
Warning! Just a quick heads up, there will be A LOT of photo spam in this post. #sorrynotsorry
Paje beach at sunrise
Those of you who are early birds are going to be in for quite a spectacle, even when it’s cloudy. As the sun rises, it mirrors into the perfectly still surface of the water. There is so much calm and stillness around that the world just seems to stop for a second.
As most people are not early birds, I got to enjoy all of this by myself. Swimming in that water every morning was just priceless. It was so warm and so still, it felt like I was in a heated pool. For me it was magical – I just sat there smiling and teary-eyed at the same time, staring in awe at all the beauty that surrounded me.
Slowly, everything would start to come back to life, the fishermen would jump in their boats, disrupting the stillness of the water, the sun would rise up higher and higher and the world would start moving again.
If by this point my sentimentalism is making you slightly nauseated, no need to worry, my creative flow stopped right about now. Next up, some very pragmatic info on tide times!
I’m sure you all know what tides are, have seen their effect when you’ve been to the seaside and surely you think it must be the same in Zanzibar. Well, you’re partly right, Zanzibar does have tides, but they’re nothing similar to the ones in Europe.
I’m not gonna lie and say I know exactly why this happens – it’s something about the coral reef, I think – but in Zanzibar, at low-tide, the water goes down. And no, it doesn’t go down by a meter or two, it goes down by one or two KILOMETRES!
This apparently doesn’t happen on all sides of the islands, or at least it’s not so dramatic. On the northern beaches, the water doesn’t go down that much because *insert something about the reefs*.
Why do tide times matter?
Now, why is this important to you? Well, because low-tide happens twice a day – and if one of those times is at noon, there will be no water to swim in for the rest of the day. So if being able to swim all day is important to you, be sure to check the tide times before planning your trip. You can do that here.
I didn’t check it before going, so most of the days low-tide was at noon, but I didn’t mind it very much as it was too hot to be anywhere else than in the shade during the day. Besides, the scenery is absolutely amazing when the water goes down and had I not burnt myself from day 1, I could’ve walked all the way down to the coral reef.
But me being me, I was red as a beet from the second day, so I just walked around the stranded boats every now and then, covered head to toes in scarfs and towels (yes, there is photographic evidence of that and no, it will never be made public!).
As the water makes its way back up, it goes through hundreds of shades of blue and turquoise, each one spectacular in its own way. This was one of my favorite parts – every time I looked, the water had a different color, equally beautiful to the one before. How amazing is that?
As it usually happens with all the beautiful places, the photos are just to make an idea – you have to actually be there to grasp how wonderful everything is.
Life on Paje beach
The beach does get pretty animated during the day, but it’s big enough so as to not feel crowded at any moment. There’s locals and tourists alike, kitesurfers, beach vendors, the ubiquitous Maasai and lots of children.
Along the beachfront, there are cafes, restaurants, kitesurfing schools, shops and even their very own H&M Zanzibar. Not sure H&M knows about this though…
Paje beach is very famous amongst kitesurfers, so you’ll see plenty of those. On days when the wind is good there are hundreds of them on the water. I don’t understand how they don’t kill each other with those ropes flying in every direction… It seems like they know what they’re doing though, as no one got hurt. And all those colorful kites look pretty cool in the background.
There are a lot of schools on the beach, so you can take lessons. If I remember correctly, you can buy something like a starter pack for around 300 USD, but I’m not sure how many hours are included. I promised myself that next time I’ll take some lessons, though I’m not sure the beach would be so safe anymore…
Beach vendors and Maasai
This is a topic that I could dive deep into, but I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. For me, this was one of the most annoying things in Zanzibar. People trying to sell you something ALL.THE.TIME!
Fruits, souvenirs, bracelets, coconuts, scarves, sexual services, you name it, they’ll sell it to you! I know, it’s Africa, they need to earn a living somehow, but still, it gets pretty irritating after a while.
Now, regarding the famous Maasai: the Maasai are an ethnic group from Kenya and Northern Tanzania, they’re nomads, warriors etc. That doesn’t really matter here, because the ones in Zanzibar are not actually that. What they are unfortunately is male prostitutes.
You can find them everywhere, there’s hundreds of them and you can easily recognize them by the red dresses they all wear. They start talking to you, tell you all the fake Maasai story, ask you your name, where are you from and then they’ll invite you to see their “shop” in the village.
My understanding is that there actually are a lot of ladies who come to the island just for their services. The best advice I could give you is to just avoid eye contact and don’t engage with them unless you actually want to… go see their “shop”.
I saved the best for last – I have to admit that these children really impressed me (and everyone who knows me knows I’m not the biggest fan of children). They are so kind and so supportive of one another, it’s really heartwarming to see.
They’ll come talk to you, with the little English they know and ask for a “dolla”, but they’ll be just as happy if you offer to buy them some fruit or give them some candy. I had done my research before so we came prepared with plenty of candy.
One day these two came to us, we were sitting on the swing, and just wanted to hang out. The little boy wanted to try on my glasses and take a selfie with my phone.
We remembered we still had a bag of candy left, so I brought it to them. They immediately called over some other kids that were on the beach and, I kid you not, they shared every single piece of candy in that bag equally. They even shared each little Haribo gummy bear.
At some point, the wind blew the bag out of their hand and one of the girls ran after it and put it in the bin!
I don’t know if that was just a one-time thing, but I don’t think it was. You could see that for them sharing was just something so NORMAL.
Now, I dare you to think: How often do you see a scene like this in the “civilized” world?