Where to eat and drink
Nearly all the hotels and guesthouses in Nungwi have attached restaurants, many of which are open to guests and non-guests alike (see the where to stay section for more details of these). Along South Beach a multitude of little local-style cafés and bars serve seafood dishes for around US$3, and snacks and burgers for around US$2, all washed down with fresh fruit juices, milkshakes, ubiquitous Coca-Cola and African beer. Between South and West beaches, a continuous band of more structured restaurants perch on the coral cliff above the sea. All have similar menus of fresh seafood, oven-fired pizzas and local curries, most are home to ever-hungry stray cats, and many do happy hours and backpacker meal-and-beer specials. For a more grassroots flavour, deep in the village you are likely to find cheap local fare from around US$1, though venues are highly changeable.
With little building regulation apparent, beachfront bars, restaurants and guesthouses tend to close and spring up again virtually overnight. Set up a barbecue beside a few chairs, tables or logs on the sand, and you're in business: only the names change. For this reason, we've only listed some of the more reliable, long-running eateries, notably between South and West beaches, and you should accept that you're quite likely to find many more newcomers on arrival.
Bwana Will's Bar
(WILBAR 5º43.825'S; 39º17.48'E). At the northern end of South Beach, raised up on the coral cliff, overlooking the sand and out to sea, Bwana Will's – named after its English owner William – attracts a trendy, young backpacker crowd. Drawn to fruit cocktails sipped at swinging bar seats and beer over leisurely games of bao, this they find a friendly, relaxed place to escape the afternoon sun.
Blue Sea Restaurant
(BLUESE 5º43.803'S; 39º17.48'E). Approached from South Beach, this is the first of this coast's clutch of raised seafront restaurants. Recommended by many for its seafood, its barbecued fish, octopus, barracuda and tuna are all popular (US$5.50–8), along with fresh fish kebabs with 'pineat butter' or hot sauce. Crab and lobster are reasonably priced at US$10 and US$19 respectively, whilst those tired of fish can sample delights from the pizza oven (US$4.50–6.00), or taste local curries (US$5.50– 2.00). A high proportion of dishes boast 'Julian' vegetables. Cocktails (US$2.50–4.00) accompany most meals here with the 'Nungwi Mama' – dark rum, Kahlua and pineapple juice – a house special.
Fat Fish Restaurant & Bar
(FATFIS 5º43.773'S; 39º17.485'E). Fat Fish is a wonderfully relaxed hangout. The expansive mangrove-pole terrace is cantilevered over the beach, affording diners uninterrupted views out to sea and a welcome breeze. The local fishermen's daily catch determines the extensive menu, and is served freshly grilled or in spicy curries. Sunset drinks are equally popular and there's also a satellite TV for catching up on international sporting events.
Upper Deck Restaurant and Bar
Next door to Fat Fish, Upper Deck serves similar fare and operates a well-stocked bar, so is worth popping into for afterdinner drinks.
(NAMAST 5º43.795'S; 39º17.489'E). Opposite Sensation Divers, this relaxed coffee shop is something of a haven. Run by the wife of Sandro from Fat Fish, this is a calm, restful escape from the music and games of the beach. In spite of bordering Amaan Bungalows car park and the village throughroad, the outside terrace is perfectly pleasant. It is comfortable inside, and the coffee's pretty good too!
For all-day drinking and wild nights, Cholo's is a perennial favourite. Tucked under palms at the back of West Beach, this eccentric establishment is well known for its 24hr pumping music, cool crowd of local Rastas and backpackers, and free-flowing alcohol. Beach bonfires are an evening attraction along with ad hoc barbecues.
Water, water all around…
There's ocean on both sides, but Nungwi often suffers shortages of fresh water. Nearby wells are shallow, and, as an increasing number of tourist developments tap into the natural water table, the local people fear their supply will run dry. For many existing guesthouses, the flow is already erratic, and at some larger hotels the water has to be trucked in for bathroom and kitchen use. For drinking, you can buy bottled water. Nevertheless, Nungwi is a place to watch your water consumption – that is, go easy on the showers, not the rehydration!