Medjumbe Private Island is situated privately on the Quirimbas Archipelago.
Medjumbe Private Island: Our full report
In 2004 and 2005, two sister-resorts opened in the Quirimbas Archipelago - each on its own island. The first was Matemo, and the second was Medjumbe Private Island − which was originally named 'Medjumbe Island Resort'. This is the smaller and more exclusive of the two − and in many ways it's the flagship of Rani Resorts in Mozambique. The island of Medjumbe lies about 130km north of Pemba, and perhaps 40km north of Matemo.
It's a tiny speck of an island, hardly visible on most maps – including our own satellite map of the archipelago. It is less than a kilometer long and maybe 350m wide. In essence, it's little more than a large sand-bar – notable for a lighthouse and little else. The beach and sea here are absolutely stunning!
The bar and dining area sits above the beach in a large open-sided building that looks out over the sea. Dark wooden floors and high thatch ceilings offer a rustic feel, which suits the beach-side location and concept of barefoot luxury. The interior décor is mostly Arab-Swahili in style – with lovely brass lamps hanging from the ceiling, dark-wood Swahili furniture and Persian rugs on the floor. However some of the soft furnishings don't match the over all style very well – the chairs in the dining area are deckchair material and intermixed with heavy wooden furniture are wicker chairs. We assume that it was meant to look like a colonial mix of styles, but instead the overall look seemed a bit haphazard to us.
Below the bar is a large stone terrace with a swimming pool, sun loungers and shady parasols. It is a lovely place to relax and there are some tables and chairs where you can enjoy a drink – it is a great place to have a sundowner whilst watching the sun set over the ocean.
Medjumbe Private Island has just 13 chalets, all of which are spread along the beach and have wooden slatted walls and thatched roofs. Steps lead up from the sandy beach to a small shaded veranda where you have the choice of a hammock or a wooden chair to relax in. There is also a broad outside deck with a private plunge pool and comfortable sun loungers.
Each chalet comes complete with an impressive range of mod-cons, including air conditioning, ceiling fans, mosquito screens, hair driers, a fridge/mini-bar, an electronic safe, satellite TV and tea-/coffee-making facilities.
As with the main areas, Medjumbe's rooms have an unusual combination of styles, from Persian rugs on the floor, to stripped 'deckchair' material curtains. The wooden walls are painted cream and so the inside looks a little like a luxury beach hut, which matches the striped curtains but not the Arabian brass lamps.
The en-suite bathroom was spacious, nicely tiled and bright. You have a choice of a bath, an inside or an outside shower. There is a single sink and a separate toilet, toiletries are also provided.
There are lots of water based activities on offer at Medjumbe Private Island. Non-motorized activities such as sailing, kayaking and windsurfing are all included in the rates.
Other activities – such as scuba-diving with the PADI dive centre, snorkelling, fishing and water-skiing – all command an extra cost. The lodge will also organize periodic sunset cruises, and there's beach volleyball equipment available. Between August and October you can also head out to watch the humpback whales, as they migrate southwards past these islands.
As with other parts of the Quirimbas Archipelago, the marine life around Medjumbe is fantastic, and so the diving and snorkeling is very good. When we were last here, in October 2008, we were impressed by the few dives that we did. We saw a huge variety of fish, from large pelagics to several species of ray, and particularly enjoyed the bright, undamaged corals.
Our viewWe though the island of Medjumbe was stunning – the beach was a pristine powdery white and the sea a perfect turquoise blue. We loved the fact that Medjumbe Private Island is so small, as it makes it feel really exclusive. In regards to the location and surroundings it is probably our favourite island in the Quirimbas.
That said, although the island is very beautiful ... the lodge itself is slightly less memorable. The rooms are quite close together and there is a lack of coherency in the furnishings. But if you can live with the slight disappointment of the lodge on Medjumbe, and especially its rooms, then the island is well worth a visit.
Ideal length of stay: Spend at least 5-6 nights at Medjumbe Private Island, unless combined with another island in this archipelago
Directions: Medjumbe is a relatively short 30-minute flight from Pemba.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast is a buffet which is served from 7 – 10am. Cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt and home made breads and pastries are laid out for you to help yourself to. Then a waiter will come and take your order for a cooked breakfast if you want. Tea, coffee and fresh fruit juice is also available.
For lunch there is a light a la carte menu, which you could order from between 10:30 and 17:00. During our last visit to Medjumbe, light meals such as a chicken salad, Cesar salad, lamb and hummus sandwiches were on offer. Though there were also heavier meals such as burgers, spaghetti bolognaise and grilled fish and chips. The lunch menu isn't hugely imaginative, but the food is well cooked and tasty.
Depending on how full Medjumbe is, dinner will either be a buffet or a three course meal from an a la carte menu. When we were there in October 2008, the lodge was not full so we were able to choose from the a la carte menu. Starters such as lobster cocktail, minestrone soup, calamari rings, and asparagus were on offer. The main course usually included a meat option such as lamb chops, fresh fish caught that day like red snapper or crayfish thermidor in a lobster shell. Desert might be fruit salad, apple pie or chocolate mousse.
The food at Medjumbe was fine and the seafood was always correctly cooked, but it was a bit unimaginative and lacking in any real style or flair. It was also served on very cheap cutlery and crockery, which didn't add to the overall experience.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are included except for Champagne and premium imported wines and spirits.
Further dining info: Yes - generally possible.
Attitude towards children: Medjumbe's really quite an adult environment – it's not a place for young children.
Property’s age restrictions: Children under 12 are not accepted here – unless the island is booked out by one party on an 'exclusive' basis.
Special activities & services: There are no special facilities or services for children at Medjumbe Private Island
Generally recommended for children: We wouldn't recommend Medjumbe Private Island for children
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is internet free of charge - WiFi is available in the upstairs in the lounge if you have a laptop. There is no cell phone reception, but you can call internationally from your room – this is via a satellite link so costs $6 a minute.
TV & radio: There are TVs in all of the rooms with about 5 channels.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a dive centre on site where the staff are first aid trained. They also have links to flying doctors for emergencies.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: At Medjumbe Private Island there are safes in all the rooms.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the main areas and chalets, and fire hoses dotted around as well.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Included
Accepted payment on location: Medjumbe accepts payments for extras with MasterCard & Visa credit cards (there's a 3% surcharge for these), valid travellers' cheques, and cash in either US$, Euros or South African Rand.