Family of four. Kids 7 and 9. We stayed at Waikiki for a couple weeks.
The hotel staff were great. Some befriended our children and helped them out from time to time. We all felt very welcomed. The manager, Alberto was extremely friendly and helpful. Flavio and Sarah, the owners, were delightful. They are doing a great job with training their staff.
The beach is wonderful. When the tide is up enough there is a Kite boarding school right there in the resort. If you are planning to take kite lessons, make sure you do your research. The season wasn't quite getting started when I was there. So you need to plan your trip during the big wind seasons (there's two of them). The seasons also shift a bit, so it's maybe worth checking with the school if the wind is consistently good. I was able to do some lessons regardless, but there wasn't quite a enough wind to get up on a board while I was there. With the wind being finicky, it was nice staying at the same place as the school so I was always ready to go.
When the the tide is out it essentially transforms into the world's biggest wading pool. Our kids loved the beach if the tide was in or out. Check the tides though. It's seasonal as to what time of day you get your high and low tides. You might want to make sure you are visiting when there is water during the hottest part of the day. Even so, we didn't find the lack of pool to be an issue at all even though it was something we were considering when shopping for a place. While walking the beach, it looks like the beach near Waikiki is as good or better than the other spots nearby. Particularly the deeper swimming area and the large island at lower tides.
Ya, the beach boys are pretty obnoxious on the entire island. I talked to the ones near our beach the first day and said I would be there for a while but want to be left alone. I told them I was unwilling to shop until my last day. I didn't find them to be too much of a bother. I live in East Africa, so maybe I have a little more comfort in dealing with that sort of thing.
The food was okay. Certainly enough choices for a few day stay. Definitely would have liked to have more options nearby since we were there for two weeks. The Polish place next door was pretty good eating, but they require shillings, so I would bring some with you if you want to have another option (turns out the airport rate is actually pretty competitive). I learned of a local places to eat in the little town near the end but never made it out there. Depending on what kind of traveler you are, it's probably worth exploring that option as well.
Yes, there is a big party one night a week. For some that's a good thing, but I've got kids so its not really our cup of tea. We all stayed in that night and watched movies. It was noisy for sure, but it wasn't a huge deal to us. Obviously some folks in the other reviews are pretty put off by that sort of thing, so just something to be aware of. If you aren't into parties and not tolerant of noise one night, either pick the days for your stay carefully or maybe look for a different place that night.
We were pleased with our room. Though not terribly large, it was big enough. Definitely go for the rooms with air conditioning as Zanzibar is HOT and pretty humid. The only real criticism of the room is the bathroom had a glass door which is odd even for couples, but pretty unfortunate for families sharing a room. We usually just hung our towels there. They turn down the room as normal in the morning and clean it top-to-bottom (which is very welcomed when there's so much sand from a family of four). Before the evening, they return to the room to put the nets down and spray. The spray is a bit strong, but you get used to it and the lack of mosquitos is totally worth it.
There's tons of outfits to take you snorkeling and whatnot. There's a group that sells excursions in the hotel itself. They are sort-of the lower rent excursions. They give a very similar experience but maybe a little rough around the edges. But it's pretty cheap (they never charged for our children). Definitely do the Safari Blue (they call it this, but from what I can tell its the generic version of the official Safari Blue). For a total of about $120 it was an all day affair for all four of us. You get to go snorkeling, a dhow ride, and they serve you soooo much seafood. Pretty much all you can eat of calamari, cicala, lobster, octopus, tuna, and more. The snorkeling at the island off Mtemwe is maybe a little better but if you are only going to do one and like seafood, do Safari Blue. We stayed in Stone Town the last couple days of our trip, so we paid them for a spice tour on our last day. It cost almost the same as a taxi ride and they dropped us at the door of our next hotel.
At night, the kids LOVED hunting for hermit crabs. We would all follow their circuitous tracks with a flashlight until we came upon them waddling along in their shells. One night, one of the beach guards helped the kids catch a giant sand crab and made a leash for it out of a large blade of grass. Too funny. Hunting critters was always a nice way to finish our day.
On the whole, the experience is far different than you would get at one of the mega-resorts (like the Neptune just to the south), but for me, it's a better one. It's far less crowded and "touristy" at a place like Waikiki and we found the value for money to be excellent and will definitely consider returning.
Definitely go for a room with AC.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.