We took a walk today down to Kendwa Beach, one of the “gems” of the Nungwi area according to the Lonely Planet. Kendwa is only two kilometers south of our hotel, but the journey is much longer than it should be due to a few obstacles.
The first obstacle is the tides. Most of Zanzibar has very “tide-dependent” beaches. While Kendwa is renowned for being the only beach on Zanzibar unaffected by tidal shifts, the same cannot be said for the northern waterfront approach, which would require a full-on swim at high tide. We headed to Kendwa during low tide, which was a pleasant walk along the beach until we reached an outcropping whose beach is only accessible during the lowest of tides.
Obstacle number two: the “Royal Zanzibar” hotel, which blocks your path and is built on top of the aforementioned rock outcropping. The @$$holes who run the Royal Zanzibar do not let non-guests walk across their property, even though they completely block the north-south coastal path. To enforce their policy, the beachfront entrance to the hotel is manned by Maasai warriors who don’t speak a word of English. They simply shake their sticks at you and yell at you in Kiswahili until you go away. It’s an extra two kilometer detour around the hotel that involves walking inland to the main road and then down a sketchy dirt path through the bush that is infamous for muggings.
On the plus side, you are amply rewarded when you arrive. Kendwa has a beautiful, long stretch of white sand with calm, very swimmable (though not particularly warm) water. The area is sparsely developed and has minimal touts. We spent most of the morning on the more remote southern end of the beach, which we had completely to ourselves. The weather today was variable, with on and off showers, but that also made for some very dramatic landscapes.
After a delicious lunch at White Sands Beach Hotel and more swimming, it was time for us to head back to Nungwi. At this point it was high tide, and when we reached the Plan Hotel at the northern end of Kendwa, one of the security guards flagged us down and told us that three men would escort us along the path back to Nungwi. We were completely sketched out by this. One of the men showed us his police officer badge, but we were still skeptical. We had no choice but to follow along, keeping a little distance and hoping that we would simply have to pay a bribe and wouldn’t get mugged, maimed, or worse. As we entered the main road and civilization, we got more comfortable and the man who had flashed his badge engaged us in conversation. Turns out that the men were all special investigators who were in the area specifically to address recent concerns about tourist muggings (whew).
Overall Kendwa is a beautiful and relaxing beach, though quite a challenge to visit on foot.