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Paje is now firmly on the map as a destination for sun-blond kiters seeking a cheap getaway in warm, tropical waters with reliable conditions.
Woman working on a seaweed farm in Paje © Ann Taylor, Shutterstock
Once a small fishing village, straggled along the coast, Paje is centred on the junction of the tar road from Zanzibar Town with the main east coast road between Michamvi and Makunduchi. This prime location has always made it the easiest place on the east coast to reach by public transport and certainly contributed to its early success as the backpackers’ choice location. After an initial peak, Paje’s visitors declined as Nungwi claimed the crown for budget beach action, but the north is pulling upmarket again these days, and the backpacker pendulum is currently swinging back to the east coast.
Recent years have also seen a veritable boom in Zanzibar kitesurfing, and the village is now firmly on the map as a destination for sun-blond kiters seeking a cheap getaway in warm, tropical waters with reliable conditions. More lodges have sprung up, old ones have expanded, cafés have opened, a basic curio street now stretches back from the beach, and everywhere along this stretch, kites fill the sky. During peak season, the beach is pretty hectic with people and fluttering silk, and swimming is an absolute non-starter.
The kitesurfing community – both professional centres and visitors – are generally fairly laidback and responsible, but the sheer numbers of visitors here have attracted some associated troubles: a rise in beach boys permanently lingering on the sand, some beach robbery and reports of increasing problems with drugs. By and large, the area surrounding the village remains a quiet spot for an idyllic beach break, but it’s worth taking sensible precautions when wandering around.