All-inclusive resorts. Whether you love them or hate them, there may be a time in your time when you end up at one.
Personally, I love visiting an all-inclusive resort for a relaxing holiday. There is someone to cook your meals, make your bed, wash your towels and straighten your room.
That is a vacation in my books.
My North American readers may be familiar with the Riu brand.
With resorts in multiple locations in the Caribbean, Riu is known to be a reliable and reasonably-priced luxury brand. They are known for good food and a quality experience. In the Northern Hemisphere, there are locations in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Aruba, and Panama.
This is why, upon our visit to East Africa, we decided to stay at Riu Palace Zanzibar. We had confidence in the brand that they would deliver a phenomenal experience in Africa as well and we were not disappointed.
Riu Palance is located on the northwest side of the island of Zanzibar, just off the coast of mainland Tanzania. Zanzibar is not considered an autonomous country, but an archipelago of Tanzania with its own government.
Zanzibar is composed of multiple islands but the main island (Unguja) is informally referred to as ‘Zanzibar.’
Riu Palace is located about an hour and a half drive from both the airport and the ferry terminal just south of Zanzibar City, so you will likely have to arrange a transfer. Our transportation was provided by Exotic Tours and Safaris, and they were waiting promptly upon our arrival at the airport for us.
Zanzibar offers many interesting sights and day trips all around the island, including Stonetown, Prison Island, Jozani Forest, and Mnemba Atoll. We used Riu Palace as our “home base” as we traveled around the island of Zanzibar. Keep in mind that most of these tours are located on the south end of the island, which is about an hour and a half drive away.
This is what ultimately sold us on Riu Palace Zanzibar, and somehow it still managed to exceed our expectations.
The beach at Riu Palace is located on the nicest stretch of beach on Zanzibar, and I would argue that at low tide, it is the nicest beach on the island.
It is technically Nungwi Beach, but the locals consider it part of Kendwa Beach. Both are stunning, calm, and nice for swimming.
If you are in search of the clearest waters and the nicest sand, you have got to visit this beach at Riu Palace. Nungwi/Kendwa is now one of my TOP FIVE beaches in the WORLD to visit.
Food & Entertainment
Food is always a make-it or break-it item – if the food is amazing then it puts the whole experience over the top.
There are three restaurant options for dinner: the buffet, a carnivorous (meat) restaurant, and an Asian fusion. Reservations are required at two of the restaurants, which can be made at the front desk.
There was always a good selection comprising of a variety of local dishes (curries, fish, rice, seafood) as well as more European dishes (pasta, pizza, and sandwiches).
For me, the most important part was that I had confidence that all food had been appropriately prepared – washed and cleaned in freshwater. Neither of us got sick.
I struggle with bacterial levels in my gut, so when in Africa, if it can’t be peeled or cooked, I am not eating it as I do not want to end up sick on vacation. I had accidentally eaten raw tomato at the resort and I was fine.
Did Riu Palace deliver in the food department? I enjoyed my Ferrero Rocher Nutella on toast and my husband enjoyed fish and rice every night. There was truly something for everyone.
Special dinners occur twice a week and these were the BEST nights.
Tuesday was African Night where we had a big buffet with traditional dances on the beach. The food was delicious and we greatly enjoyed the atmosphere and the cultural
For extra luxury, you also have the option to book a private dinner for 2 right on the beach.
Rooms and Property
From what we saw, every room is a good room. All are nice, clean, and large with a balcony facing west to watch the sunset.
At present time Riu is undergoing construction to add another 100 rooms to the property. This is an addition that they have chosen to do since acquiring the property from Hideaway Nungwi.
New rooms do not look like they have ocean views but they will be new and modern. Be sure to confirm your preferences before booking to ensure that you reserve what you want.
My personal favourite about the property was the beautiful gardens that were constantly being maintained.
Worth a Mention – Public Bathrooms
Not usually something that I would comment on, but the shared washroom facilities by the pool, lobby, and restaurants were GREAT.
The staff ensured that there were always fresh flowers, soap and body lotion, real towels to dry your hands and wax warming over a candle to cover any unpleasant smells that may be lurking.
On the counter, there were even fresh slowers spelling out Welcome Riu. This has been the only time that I can say I have been in a public restroom and it smells NICE.