After a short boat ride you will arrive at Fundu Lagoon on Pemba Island...
Fundu Lagoon: Our full report
The rural island of Pemba is one of Zanzibar's close neighbours, and in comparison it sees very little tourism. As a result, it is relatively untouched. Fundu Lagoon is a beautiful and peaceful beach lodge on west side of the island.
To reach Fundu Lagoon, you first journey by car from Pemba's airport. Then you hop aboard a boat for around 45 minutes until you reach the jetty of Fundu. Walking down the jetty gives you a wonderful panoramic view of the lodge, with all of the rooms discretely tucked into lush tropical greenery. Stop at the jetty bar for a drink and an introduction to Fundu Lagoon, before being given quick tour and shown to your room.
Sandy paths and wooden walkways lead through Fundu's tropical gardens to the various parts of the lodge. The main dining and lounge area is set slightly above the beach on a wooden deck and is housed under a high thatched roof. Natural fabrics and wicker furniture add to the natural and rustic style – Fundu feels very in keeping with its surroundings.
The rooms at Fundu Lagoon vary in size and category – but all share very similar features. All are large walk-in tents set on wooden decks, with a verandah, small lounge area and en-suite bathroom. The dark wooden floors, huge bed and crisp cotton sheets mean that the rooms feel stylish and comfortable, reminiscent of a tented safari lodge. Yet the canvas walls also add a rustic feel to the room, the end result is a cosy room that has character and comfort rather than luxury. (Read more about the Standard Rooms, Suites and Superior Suites at Fundu.)
Fundu has a variety of activities on offer, including a lovely cultural experience with the friendly people of Pemba. With a guide you can head up into the nearby village, with whom Fundu Lagoon has an excellent relationship with. In fact quite a number of Fundu's team come from the local village. The trips are complementary and travellers are always made to feel very welcome – it is a memorable experience.
There is also a fully equipped PADI dive centre at Fundu Lagoon which leads daily dives around various sites in the Pemba Channel and around Mesali Island. The diving here is very good, though the conditions can occasionally be quite challenging. This is an area best suited to already qualified divers. Travellers should also note that the diving at Fundu is quite costly, at around $75 per dive. For those wanting to do a lot of diving it is worth considering one of the lodges on Mafia Island – which all offer great diving at a much more reasonable cost.
One of Expert Africa's team lived on a nearby Pemba beach for four months – whilst doing marine research. The beach at Fundu is typical of beaches in this part of Pemba or, indeed, of any island fringed by mangroves – in that it is quite a 'wild' beach, lined by vegetation, and the sand is white and quite fine. Like many natural island things, the beach changes with cycles in the winds and tides. On one day, you'll find pristine white sand and turquoise waters; on the next the beach is dotted with natural flotsam and jetsam and the water clarity has gone.
Fundu Lagoon has a reputation as a honeymoon destination. Fundu's location and atmosphere are romantic, and whenever we have visited in recent years (our latest visit was June 2007), we have noted that the majority of guests are, indeed, young couples on honeymoon. Despite this, a stay at Fundu can be quite sociable. After sharing activities during the day, most guests end up chatting before dinner at the central bar and sunset bar.
Ideal length of stay: Four nights or more if you like lounging around on a tropical island.
Directions: It takes about one hour and fifteen minutes to reach Fundu Lagoon once you have landed at Pemba's airport. You need to drive for 26km along good roads until you reach the port of Mkwoani. There you get on a boat which will drive you round to Fundu Lagoon
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Fundu is very good – as much of it as possible is bought from local farmers and it involves lots of herbs and spices. It is international-style cuisine, often with a Zanzibari twist, and there is always plenty of seafood on offer.
Each meal usually has a few options to choose from, which are listed on a chalk-board by the entrance to the dining area. A waiter will ask for your choice as you enter the restaurant and then this will be served to your table.
Breakfast is a continental buffet and usually consists of a variety of fresh fruits, cereals and yoghurt, and home-baked sweet bread. There is also the choice of a cooked breakfast as well.
Lunch also has a number of options to choose from and is a light two-course affair. When we were last there, there was a salad starter and a delicious hot quiche. There was also a heavier pasta option for those with more of an appetite. Lunch time is generally quite flexible and for those heading out on a day trip – a delicious (and huge) packed lunch will be provided with a variety of salads and cold meats.
Dinner is a slightly more formal affair with a fantastic three-course meal served to your table. Guests generally congregate around the bar for a few drinks and then slowly head to their table when they are ready. Every week guests will also be able to experience a Swahili night, with traditional dishes being served. Then weather permitting, there is also a very atmospheric beach barbeque. A large table is set out on the beach with storm lanterns for lighting, and a variety of barbequed meat and fish is served. On this occasion the guests will often dine together as though they were at a dinner party.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included – except for premium branded spirits, wines and champagne.
Honeymoons: Fundu Lagoon tryies hard to make honeymooners feel spoiled – and they have had plenty of practice; it's popular with young honeymooners. It's also fairly unusual in being a beach lodge where honeymooners mix with each other – so often has a fun, social atmosphere. (Ask us about our 'Honeymoon Special' deal, with a discount for the bride.)See more ideas for Honeymoons in Tanzania
Beach holidays: Although you can't usually swim from Fundu Lagoon's own beach, the day-trips which it organises to Misali Island are an enjoyable chance to spend a day on a really lovely beach.See more ideas for Beach holidays in Tanzania
Diving & snorkelling: The diving around Pemba is arguably some of the best diving off the coast of Tanzania. The Pemba Channel has some extremely challenging drift dives and is a great place to see some of the larger pelagic fish. The reefs around Mesali Island, just off Pemba, are also fantastic – if a little more gentle.See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children who are over the age of 12 years – are welcomed
Generally recommended for children: No
Communications: There is intermittent mobile phone reception, there is also internet access in the shop. It is $5 to send an international fax and you can use the lodges phone as well – though there will be a charge for this.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The dive centre has three staff members that are fully trained in first aid; every head of department is also first aid trained. Fundu Lagoon has a comprehensive fist aid box and for serious cases there is a doctor in Mkwoani.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are lock-boxes in all of the rooms. There are six askaris around Fundu during the day, and twelve at night. Two police also guard Fundu, and there is a fence around the lodge for added security.
Fire safety: There are 30 small fire-extinguishers and 6 large ones around the lodge – these are checked twice a year.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Included
Money: Fundu Lagoon can do cash-back from your card or travellers' cheques - $50 or equivalent in shillings is fine. For cash - small amounts can be exchanged