The staff at Kinasi lodge are warm and welcoming.
Kinasi Lodge: Our full report
Kinasi opened its doors in 1996 onto a beach that is still quiet, on Mafia Island overlooking Chole Bay, within the Mafia Island Marine Park. Its main lounge, bar and dining area, as well as the cottages for it guests, all sit on a steep hillside over looking the sea. Meandering sandy paths lead between the different parts of the lodge, through immaculately-maintained gardens, and steps eventually take you down to the pool and the beach.
On arrival at Kinasi, you are usually greeted with a refreshing drink in the reception area, which is furnished with comfortable chairs – and home to the internet, a pool table and a satellite television. It's a great spot to keep older children entertained in the evenings.
Through Kinasi's reception – the lodge opens out to reveal the main bar and dining area, shop and lounge. The swimming pool is down a flight of steps, and the beach is beyond that.
The main bar area is in a spacious, open-sided thatched building – with plenty of sofas and chairs – which joins onto the dining area. Both share the same elements of Swahili/Arab design, including a bright colour scheme and lots of handmade dark-wood furniture. That said, the terracotta tiles on the floors are slightly reminiscent of a villa in Italy.
The rooms at Kinasi are mostly very similar in build and style: all are brightly painted detatched cottages, with stone floors and high thatch roofs. There are variations in layout and design, however this has little impact on the feel of the rooms. It simply means that some are better than others for converting into triples; ask us for details. In all of them, expect both Africa and Moroccan influences – with bright colours, Swahili furniture and high thatched roofs.
One key difference between the cottages at Kinasi is that not all have a view of the sea: the 'Garden view suites' are set slightly back, and look out onto the short, green lawns and gardens – whilst the 'Sea-front rooms' have a direct view of the sea, and are usually slightly nearer to the water. There is a small differential in the cost between these rooms.
Although Kinasi is fairly small and personal, with only 14 rooms, it has the facilities that you might expect of a larger place. There is a large swimming pool with plenty of loungers dotted around the side; a well-equipped water-sports centre, with windsurfs and kayaks; a full PADI accredited dive-centre; and a spectacular spa, with two professional Thai therapists.
You can borrow kayaks and windsurfers free of charge from the water-sports centre, down on the beach, and there is a rate-sheet for any other activities. (Note that Kinasi does not include the free daily dhow trips that are often so much a part of the day at both Chole Mjini and Pole Pole.)
Kinasi's PADI dive centre is managed by a South African man, named Audie. He has been diving at Kinasi for around eight years, and has a fantastic knowledge of the various sites. That said, he also has a very strong character, that some might find abrasive. If you do find that there's a personality clash whilst staying here, then there is another excellent diving and water-sports centre which is a 10-minute walk down the beach. It's the one that travellers staying at the nearby Pole Pole use!
Arguably one of Kinasi's most spectacular features is the spa. This is beautiful and tranquil place is run by two professional therapists from Thailand. It includes a number of different treatment rooms, as well as a vast Turkish bath – all of which has been carefully tiled and decorated. There is quite an array of treatments on offer here, making it easy to while away the hours indulging yourself.
That said, it would be a shame not to spend at least some time heading out to explore something of Mafia Island - as it can be charming and is very un-spoilt. You can go out on a village walk, or perhaps borrow a mountain bike to head out to meet the people in the neighboring villages.
Before you leave, don't forget that Kinasi has a large and well-stocked curio shop – with a variety of carvings, jewelry and clothing!
Kinasi feels like a combination of a small lodge with a resort. It only has 14 rooms and strives to maintain a personal feel, yet it has a very large pool, a serious spa and gardens.
Ideal length of stay: We'd recommend three nights or more
Directions: 14 kms from the airport – this is about a 45-minute drive
Owner: Independent / Owner Run
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we were last there the food at Kinasi was tasty and fresh – incorporating lots of spices and flavour to a variety of dishes. Expect plenty of seafood and fresh fish, as well as meat and vegetarian dishes – and plenty of it. Vegetarians and children can be catered for with prior notice.
Breakfast is a relaxed affair – and timings are flexible. Though generally breakfast is served between 7.30 and 10am. There is usually a buffet with fresh bread, cereals and fruit – as well as a cooked breakfast on request.
Lunch is then served between midday and 2.30pm – often down by the swimming pool, although if it is windy it will probably be in the main restaurant. You will usually find a number of international style dishes on offer to chose from, ranging from lighter salads to a heavier main dish.
Dinner is usually at 7.30 in the evening – though timings for this are flexible. It's a slightly more formal affair than lunch, and usually in the main restaurant, consisting of three courses, followed by coffee or tea.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: No - $18 for a bottle of wine $2.5 for a beer Kinasi has a fully stocked wine cellar
Diving & snorkelling: Within the Mafia Island Marine Park – Kinasi offers great diving and snorkelling. Snorkelling trips inside Chole Bay usually cost $25, and take you out to a quiet and sheltered reef with an abundance of coral and fish. Diving can either be inside or outside of the bay, and is some of the best in East Africa.See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Tanzania
Wellbeing: For a small beach lodge, Kinasi has an impressive spa, run by two professional therapists from Thailand. In here are several different treatment rooms and a vast, tiled Turkish. Many treatments on offer!See more ideas for Wellbeing in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Kinasi welcome children of all ages
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Kinasi
Special activities & services: Kinsai can organize babysitting on request – though they will need a bit of notice to provide this. Note that baby-sitters are likely to be willing staff, and not child-minders trained to European or American standards.
Equipment: Cots in rooms
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: family rooms - two bedrooms sharing a bathroom - are available here.
Communications: Kinasi has intermittent mobile phone reception around the lodge and there is also free internet available.
TV & radio: There is DSTV available in the main reception
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The water sports team are trained in first aid – for more serious cases Kinasi would call upon the flying-doctor.
Security measures: Guards night and day around Kinasi
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is an extra Charge – usually between $1 – 4 per item
Money: Kinasi cannot offer any currency exchange facilities.
Accepted payment on location: You can settle your account with Kinasi using cash in most major currencies. Visa or Mastercard command a 5% charge; travellers' cheques attract a substantial 9% charge. They don't accept Amex or Diner's card at all!