Zanzibar’s most romantic island, Nakupenda Island simply can’t be missed. If you’re looking for quiet beaches, crystal clear waters, pristine white sands, and calming waves, this is the place for you! If you time it right, it’s almost like have a private island all to yourself.
Nakupenda “I Love You” Island
The day is extremely hot, like all of the days in Zanzibar. The sun shines painfully bright and forceful on your skin. All you can think of is going swimming in the ocean. But, Stone Town‘s beaches are a little too busy for you and not as clear and pristine as you were hoping.
Just a 20 minute boat ride away, you can swim on a “private” little oasis of white sands and snorkel-worthy waters. No one really knows if it should be called an island or just a bank of sand, but Nakupenda is one of the loveliest beaches in all of Zanzibar.
In Swahili (the local language) Nakupenda means “I Love You”. So you are literally taking a day trip to I Love You Island. Who wouldn’t want to go?
When to Visit
The timing of when to visit Nakupenda is extremely important. If you want a private island feel, then you have to go in the morning! Around 12 pm masses of people ride up to the island’s shores, pitch their tents, and start to enjoy the fresh food and mini pop-up market set up by locals.
Although it is certainly a fun experience for lunch, if you want some privacy, the early morning hours will be a different experience entirely. Most people visit Nakupenda after a trip to Prison Island (just a short boat ride away), which is why it becomes extremely packed. Consider switching up the order if you want to explore the islands alone.
In the evening, due to the tides, Nakupenda can literally disappear. If the tides are strong, the small white sand bank will be covered until the morning. The island shrinks more and more as it gets later in the day!
So in short, the best time to visit Nakupenda is in the morning! Less crowds, more island, and a truly much more private experience. Our guide/boat driver was the first one to set up a little tent of shade in the sands, and there were maybe four other people on the island with us. By the time we left, there were literally hundreds. It hardly even felt like the same place.
Snorkeling at Nakupenda
According to the locals, Nakupenda also offers some great snorkeling opportunities, so be sure to bring along some snorkeling equipment if you are planning to spend the day there. When we went to visit, however, the waves were much too strong to be able to pleasantly snorkel, so we sadly missed out on some amazing sea life. Come prepared, but also be aware that the waves may make the snorkeling difficult at times.
Tips for Visiting Nakupenda
- NO SHADE. Nakupenda is really just a bank of sand that appear for the beginning half of the day. That means that there is literally no shade on the entire island. The sun is super strong so be sure to come prepared. Our guide/boat driver brought the equipment to set up a lovely shady spot for us, which really saved the day.
- BUSY. Be careful with the time of day that you go! It gets quite busy in the afternoon. The island is really quite small so it’s much less enjoyable when the crowds appear.
- COMBINE it with a trip to the famous Prison Island, just a stone’s throw away. Although it will certainly be quite busy (it’s one of Zanzibar’s most famous attractions) you can definitely do both islands in one day.
- BRING lots of sunscreen. Even if you are fortunate enough to have some shade while visiting, the reflection of the white sands, the water, and the proximity to the equator can almost guarantee you a pretty little sunburn
Looking for other amazing things to do in Zanzibar? Check out 18 AMAZING THINGS YOU CAN’T MISS ON YOUR TRIP TO ZANZIBAR | THINGS TO DO
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters