You will be welcomed by friendly Zanzibari staff on arrival.
Pongwe Beach Hotel: Our full report
Nestled between two outcrops of coral rock and on a secluded stretch of white-powdery beach, Pongwe Beach Hotel is a quiet, simple and great value little lodge. Its sheltered cove is dotted with palm trees, hammocks and sun loungers and at high tide the water cuts Pongwe's stretch of beach off from the rest of the island. Then at low tide you can walk round to nearby coves. The result is a relaxed and peaceful beach getaway at a very good price.
A brilliant infinity pool surrounded by wooden decking is a welcome addition in the past few years, and is great for relaxing around to catch some sun and enjoy the stunning views.
The main communal area at Pongwe Beach Lodge is not overly exciting - the open-sided thatched room is large, and since the hotel only has 16 rooms, it can feel a bit cavernous and lacks some of the atmosphere you may find in other lodges. That said, it is cool and breezy during the day which is a welcome relief from the sun.
Although we didn't get to sample the food on our last visit to Pongwe in December 2009, it is known for being excellent. On first glance the menu can look slightly limited, but they are very flexible and if you have particular preferences or dislikes they will try to cater for you.
Pongwe's 16 whitewash bungalows are all simple and bright - nothing over the top, but comfortable and airy. The facilities and interiors in all of the rooms are the same - with a large Zanzibari bed draped in mosquito netting, ceiling fan, a wardrobe (made from palm-rope and wooden poles), a table and some chairs. Towels, kangas and drinking water are provided and little touches such as fresh flowers make the rooms really welcoming. Outside your room there are a few loungers or a hammock in the shade of your veranda. All of the rooms can be made into doubles and triples.
However, the distance from the sea does differ slightly. The Beachfront rooms are much closer to the sea and have a slightly higher price tag. The Garden rooms are nestled further back in Pongwe's tropical gardens, and don't have a seaview.
There is also a family bungalow which has two interlinking rooms. On with two single beds and the other with a double bed, both sharing one bathroom.
The bathrooms in all of the rooms are clean and functional with a hot and cold shower, flush toilet and a sink, but they're not particularly stylish. There is always hot-water available and although it is filtered, it can be slightly brackish.
Our viewPongwe Beach Hotel is a simple lodge, which is not overly luxurious and offers no frills. However it is great value due to its excellent location, beautiful beach, friendly service and good food.
Ideal length of stay: 4 nights – or even longer if you love relaxing on a beautiful beach
Directions: It takes around 35 minutes to fly to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, and then then it is a further one hour by car to Pongwe.
Owner: Independent / Owner Run
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: Breakfast is served at Pongwe Beach Hotel from around 7.30 until 10.30 and usually consists of locally grown fresh fruit and a cooked breakfast with eggs of your choice.
An a la carte menu, which changes daily, is available for lunch and is served between 12.30 and 3pm. This normally has two choices for the starter and main courses.
Then dinner is a 3-course set menu, being served from around 8.00 until 9.30pm. Specials often include a seafood platter, based on the catch of the day or fresh Kenyan steaks. They put up the dinner menu at 9am each morning so if you have any special requests about the meal or don't like it, they will endeavor to be as flexible as possible.
When we last visited Pongwe Beach Hotel we didn't get a chance to sample the food, however, in the past the food has always been excellent. This is in part due to the fact that whenever possible, Pongwe uses fresh and delicious locally sourced ingredients. Though in 2005 a chef who trained in top London kitchens, including the Dorchester Hotel, spent time here and left a well trained team behind him.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included. You can expect to pay around US$3 for a beer, US$2 for a Coke and US$30 for a bottle of wine.
Family holidays: Pongwe is a good hotel for families, though better for independent, yet younger, children who do not require much more than a bucket and spade on the beach for entertainment.See more ideas for Family holidays in Zanzibar
Honeymoons: A popular spot for honeymooners who want a simple, laid-back atmosphere beside a quiet Zanzibari beach.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zanzibar
Beach holidays: The beach at Pongwe is one of the best we have visited on Zanzibar. When the tide is high Pongwe sits in a private little cove and then when it goes out, a wonderful stretch of inter-tidal zone is revealed for walking and exploring. Pongwe is a simple place which is perfect for pure relaxation.See more ideas for Beach holidays in Zanzibar
Attitude towards children: Pongwe Beach Hotel happily welcomes children
Equipment: There are cots and highchairs at Pongwe Beach Hotel.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Children are warmly welcome at Pongwe Beach Hotel – there are cots and highchairs readily available and great children's discounts. However parents should be aware that children are their responsibility for the duration of their stay.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Pongwe Beach Hotel has a laptop at reception that guests can use to connect to the internet; this costs $5 per half hour. There is also WiFi here, which guests can use free of charge if they have their own laptops.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at this quiet beachside lodge.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: For minor illnesses and injuries there is a first-aid kit at Pongwe Beach Hotel, though for more serious cases there is a South African doctor based at a nearby resort who can be called out.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Pongwe is gated with an askari on duty; there is also security around Pongwe throughout the day and night. There is a safe in the office for any valuables.
Fire safety: Pongwe Beach Hotel has fire extinguishers in the kitchen and reception. Fire extinguishers are also located between the adjacent rooms.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: There is an extra charge for the laundry – around US$1-2 per item.
Money: There are no currency exchange facilities at Pongwe Beach Hotel