Essque Zalu Zanzibar

Essque Zalu Zanzibar: Our full report

40 suites and 8 villas.
Traveller's rating
Good (90%) From 2 reviews
Great for children of all ages.
All year

Essque Zalu Zanzibar, located in the far north of Zanzibar, not far from Nungwi Town. It is a modern, high-spec hotel with an open-plan design, lots of light, open spaces and an enormous makuti-thatch roof, reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House.

The 40 suites at Essque Zalu all have identical facilities – a spacious master bedroom and separate lounge area, plus an outside terrace or balcony. There is also an en-suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries by Inaya Zanzibar. The views, though, differ from room to room – some look over the garden, while others face the sea. Air conditioning is standard, as are a wide range of other 'extras' such as hairdryers, TVs, WiFi, a fully stocked minibar, mosquito repellent, a phone, plus an electronic safe which ingeniously incorporates a UK style socket, allowing you to recharge your phone while it is locked away.

There are also eight villas at Essque Zalu, each with either three or four bedrooms. Built over two storeys, these each have a much more spacious lounge area than the suites, as well as a private pool, in-room massage area, and kitchen facilities. The bathrooms have large freestanding baths, suited for a relaxing soak. Some villas are located on the seafront, while some face the gardens.

There are a couple of different dining options at Essque Zalu:

  • The Market Kitchen is a deli-style restaurant serving a range of tasty international dishes. It is a bright, cheerful space, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • The Jetty, appropriately at the end of the jetty, serves light lunches as well as more formal three course dinners. The menu features lots of fresh fish and seafood, all of which is beautifully cooked and presented. Next to The Jetty is a small shisha lounge where guests can relax with a drink and watch the sunset.
Essque Zalu offers guests with a choice of three well-stocked bars, too. There is a lovely pool bar which serves a wide range of classic and vintage beverages, while the Baobab Bar, built around a baobab tree, is more casual, and the Jetty bar, which is open during the day and late in to the evening, is a more relaxed and fun option.

With its multicoloured underwater lights and whirlpool, the very large infinity pool is quite an attraction at Essque Zalu. At night both the pool and central structure light up, creating quite an impressive sight.

Then there's the well-equipped spa with several different treatment rooms, providing a wide range of traditional and modern treatments, including a 'hand and foot ceremony', involving organic oils and butters. They also offer a ‘Maasai Ritual’ using traditional, locally sourced products; you will visit a series of huts where you will experience a foot massage, full body scrub and massage, and finally an African facial. Here you'll also find a fitness centre, sauna, and an aromatherapy steam room.

While you are being pampered, keep the children amused at the excellent children's club, the Tinga Club, which will look after children between four and 12 years old and keep them entertained with a variety of activities.

At low tide you can access a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach. This is one of the few places on Zanzibar where you are able to swim in the sea throughout the day, even when the tide is out. At high tide the beach is completely submerged, however there are plenty of areas where you can lounge by the pool or at one of the many bars.

More general activities on offer at Essque Zalu include fishing, visits to a turtle centre and a local village, and a beach walk at low tide. On one side of the pool is a water sports centre operated by East Africa Diving; here you can book a range of water sports, snorkelling and diving excursions. There are also a number of bicycles that guests are free to use – you can easily cycle in to the lively town of Nungwi and explore the small shops and beach bars. The hotel offers cinema nights, as well as cookery courses in the kitchen with the sous chef; on our last visit in July 2017 cookery classes cost around $35. There's also a boutique selling a range of clothes, jewellery, books and gifts, and where you can book local excursions.

Our view

Essque Zalu Zanzibar is a larger property than most in our Zanzibar portfolio. However, it offers good food, an impressive pool and an excellent kids club, making it a great option for families. The suites and villas are spacious and of a high quality. Its northerly location means that it is one of the few places in Zanzibar where you can watch both the sunrise and the sunset over the ocean.


Location: Northern Zanzibar, Zanzibar

Ideal length of stay: 5 - 7 nights

Directions: Stone Town is a 20-minute flight from Dar es Salaam. It is then about an hour’s drive from Stone Town to Essque Zalu Zanzibar.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Essque Hotels

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: Essque Zalu Zanzibar uses mostly fresh and organic produce from local growers and describes the food served in its restaurants as 'cosmopolitan'.

There are two restaurants to choose from serving a variety of food. The Market Kitchen is a deli-style restaurant serving salads, cured meat, fresh bread, and cheese. The al fresco Jetty focuses on fresh fish and seafood, although alternative options are available.

We did not eat breakfast here on our most recent visit, however on previous occasions we’ve eaten smoked swordfish, which was delicious! Essque Zalu also serves the normal range of fruit, pastries and cooked breakfasts.

Lunch can be eaten either in the Market Kitchen or at the Jetty. When we were last here in July 2017 we ate pumpkin cannelloni with pumpkin puree, this was served with roasted beetroot, carrots and green beans; it was both fresh and tasty.

For dinner we ate at the Jetty; we started with tapas dishes which included flatbread with hummus and olives and king prawns. For the main course we had ‘catch of the day’, which on this occasion was white snapper cooked in a garlic and herb sauce; this was followed by hot churros and a rich chocolate sauce.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £20-25

Drinks included: All drinks are at an extra cost.

Further dining info: Free room service is provided.

Special interests

Family holidays: Essque Zalu's suites and villas are well-designed, spacious, and feel full of light and very open. Consider staying here during your family beach holidays in Zanzibar for good food, an impressive pool and, above all, an excellent kids club with unusual activities!

See more ideas for Family holidays in Zanzibar

Wellbeing: Essque Zalu has a large spa with a number of different treatment rooms as well as a steam room, a sauna and a gym. A range of traditional and modern treatments are available, all of which use natural, locally sourced products. Essque Zalu would be great choice for an indulgent beach retreat.

See more ideas for Wellbeing in Zanzibar


Attitude towards children: Essque Zalu Zanzibar welcomes children of all ages.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Essque Zalu.

Special activities & services: There is a comprehensive children's club at Essque Zalu, offering a wide range of educational games and activities from their own room in the complex. Examples of activities include cookery, magic tricks, glitter painting, making jewellery, shell collecting and chemistry experiments.

Equipment: Cots and high chairs are available on request. Essque Zalu can also provide small beds for young children.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Adaptors are provided in all rooms.

Communications: Free WiFi is available throughout the complex, even on the jetty. There is a phone in every room.

TV & radio: TVs with DSTV (satellite channels) are in every room.

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: Two bottles of water are provided per room per day.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There are two local doctors on call, one of them European. There is a hospital in Nungwi.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The property is gated, and is guarded at all times, including on the beach.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located in all rooms.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available for an extra charge.

Money: Currency exchange is available for British pounds, euros, Tanzanian shillings and US dollars.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard, Visa and Amex are all accepted; when we last visited in July 2017 there was a 4% surcharge for card payments. Essque Zalu also accept cash payments in US dollars and Tanzanian shillings.

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