The lagoon of Paje is a popular spot to learn kiteboarding, since a very consistent side-onshore wind is blowing most of the year, the lagoon is shallow during low tide and has a sandy bottom, and the reef protects the lagoon from waves.
Zanzibar – Been There

Scenes of work and pleasure in Paje

Photo by Peter Adams

Zanzibar – Been There Scenes of work and pleasure in Paje

At Paje on Zanzibar’s east coast, the bright white sun burns the eyes as it reflects off the white sand and penetrates the clear waters of the sea.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

A few ramshackle wooden fishing boats lie stranded by the tide, while others bob at anchor – moored by a line stretching ashore and another out to sea. The fragile link suggests storms are not common. The sky is bright blue, decorated by a dancing assortment of different colored kites, connected invisibly to the tiny figures on surfboards below. The skilled ones soar through the waves, tumbling gracefully as they catch the wind, while others splash into the water before picking themselves up and trying again.

As the tide goes out, brightly-garbed women dig holes in the sand to collect crabs. A group of fishermen try to move a boat stranded in deeper sand high above the water. Whether they are trying to get it further out or drag it in is unclear as competing voices shout directions and the brightly-painted boat moves around in a circle, digging its heavy stern in even deeper. Local life and tourism co-exist, each no doubt thinking the other's activities are pointless.

Fisherman Sebastián Kukuli from Zanzibar tells me they go out late in the evening and fish by the light of the moon, or a lamp, throwing nets until the early morning. During the day they repair nets which are so fine that it seems no fish could escape them. “Our fish is very famous on the mainland,” he says. “Buyers come from Congo. They come by ferry to Stone Town, then take a car here. We employ women to boil the fish in salt water, with some extra salt. Then it is dried.”

The whitebait is spread out on the beach beside us as we talk, thousands of tiny silver bodies glistening in the sun. Nearby, some tourists baste themselves with oil before turning over to tan the other side. The fishermen lounge in the shade of a tree, saving their energy for another long night at sea.

Paje is a great place for diving and taking in Zanzibari beach culture. Looking for a place to stay? Local Expert Nils recommends this Truly Wonderful hotel!

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