Ushongo -- If The Tides is beyond your means, take a look at nearby Emayani Beach Lodge (tel. 027/264-0755 or 078/430-5797; www.emayanilodge.com), a simple and laid-back collection of 12 spacious makuti-topped bandas spread along the beach amid the coco palms. Makuti is used extensively in half the cottages -- the floors, the walls, and roll-down "windows" are all created from interwoven palm leaves, and the resulting rusticity is quite charming. In fact, there's massive emphasis on using renewable local materials in the construction, and it's just about only the bathrooms (Western in style and with solar-heated water) where you'll see some concrete. Beds are large, linens white, furnishings more than adequate, and the sense of freedom to relax infinite. If you're here primarily to dive, this will be your first choice; at $160 double, including two meals a day, it's a very decent value, and the dive school is right on your doorstep. The same young Dutch couple who own and run Emayani also have the nearby Tulia Beach Lodge (tel. 027/264-0680 or 027/250-1741; www.tuliabeachlodge.com), which isn't quite as smart but has much the same facilities and comes in at $110 double (with breakfast and dinner).
Pangani -- There are no recommendable accommodations in Pangani itself, but some 4km (2 1/2 miles) north of the town (or 45km/28 miles south of Tanga) is the lovely Mkoma Bay (tel. 078/643-4001 or 027/263-0000; www.mkomabay.com), where efforts have been made to capture the mood of a bush safari (there are seven thatch-covered luxury en suite tents set among the trees; $180-$190 double, with breakfast and dinner), but with all the benefits of being at the coast, including direct access to the beach, a pool, and the usual water activities, such as diving and snorkeling off Maziwe Island. There's also a big four-bedroom, Swahili-style house that caters well to families ($75-$90 per person, half board) and a few budget bungalows ($105 double).
Tanga -- If for some reason you find yourself stuck in Tanga and are forced to overnight there, there's only one viable option: Mkonge Hotel (tel. 027/264-2440 or 075/324-8611; www.mkongehotel.com). The saving grace here is the sense of space and relative tranquillity once you step out onto the vast manicured lawn that spreads from the hotel toward the edge of the harbor. Sadly, they've put a huge ugly fence right in front of the view, but there's still a decent, slightly old-world atmosphere as you sip your evening gin and tonic while listening to the call to prayer from the nearby mosque. At $75 to $80 double (with breakfast), accommodations are merely adequate -- parquet floors, king-size beds, a TV, and a tiny balcony -- but be prepared for mosquitoes (I found lots of them hovering in the room), painfully cramped bathrooms, and indifferent staff.
You might also want to skip the restaurant at Mkonge and instead go across the road for Tanga's best dining experience at Pizzeria D'Amore Restaurant & Bar (tel. 078/439-5391 or 071/539-5391; Tues-Sun 11:30am-2pm and 6:30-11pm; main courses Tsh7,500-Tsh20,000), which serves wood-fired pizza as well as other comfort foods -- pasta, prawn curry and rice, succulent chicken, stuffed squid, and grilled jumbo prawns -- in a relaxed garden setting. The vivacious owner, Jenny Graber, who came to Tanga from Mozambique, regularly puts together special menus and goes out of her way to charm her guests, who turn out to be a crazy mix of locals, expatriates, travelers, and NGO workers.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.