Kinasi Lodge: Our full report
Kinasi opened its doors in 1996 on a quiet beach on Mafia Island overlooking Chole Bay, within the Mafia ...... Island Marine Park. The lodge is named after the Kinasi Pass, which is the main channel leading out of Chole Bay into the Indian Ocean.
On arrival at Kinasi, you are usually greeted with a drink in the reception. This area, which is furnished with comfortable chairs, is also where you'll find the best Wi-fi, and a satellite TV usually on a sports channel. It's a great spot to keep older children entertained in the evenings.
Beyond Kinasi's reception, concrete paths lead through immaculately maintained gardens, to the main bar and dining area, shop and lounge. The modest-sized 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 14 rooms at Kinasi are mostly very similar in build and style: they are all named after countries involved in Indian Ocean trade, and are brightly painted detatched cottages, with stone floors and high, thatched 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. Two of them are family rooms: one with two doubles sharing a bathroom and one with space for 5 or 6 people in two-storey se-tup. In all of them, you'll find bright colours, Swahili furniture and high, thatched roofs. There's no air-conditioning at Kinasi, but the location catches the breeze, and all the rooms have fans.
One key variation in 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 – while the Sea-front rooms have a direct view of the sea, and are usually closer to it. 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. As well as the pool, there's a well-equipped water-sports centre, with windsurfs and kayaks and a full PADI-accredited dive-centre.
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. Kinasi has its own PADI dive centre, or if you fancy a 10-minute walk down the beach there is also another water-sports centre nearby. The lodge owns a game-fishing boat and two other boats.
One of Kinasi's most spectacular features is the spa. This beautiful and tranquil place is run by a professional therapists from Thailand. It includes a number of different treatment rooms, as well as a large Turkish bath – all of it carefully tiled and decorated. There is quite an array of treatments on offer here, making it easy to while away the hours indulging yourself.
If you have the energy, it's well worthwhile heading out to explore something of Mafia Island, as it can be charming and is very unspoilt. You can go out on a village walk, or borrow a mountain bike to meet the people in the neighbouring villages.
Kinasi also has a large and well-stocked gift shop, with a variety of carvings, jewellery and clothing.
Kinasi's atmosphere hovers between small lodge and resort. With only 14 rooms it strives to maintain a personal feel, yet it has a very large pool, a serious spa and extensive gardens. Having such close access to Chole Bay is another big plus and it’s one of the more cost-effective options in this area. However, Kinasi's surprising lack of interest in reducing its environmental footprint is disappointing.
- Mafia Island, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- We'd recommend three nights or more but many guests stay longer.
- 14 kms from the airport – this is about a 15-minute drive.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- When we were last there in 2016 we found 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. The last time that we stayed we enjoyed an avocado and prawn salad, followed by fish pie with a coconut and spinach stir-fry, and tiramisu to finish.
- 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 the bay.
- See ideas for Diving & snorkelling
- For a small beach lodge, Kinasi has an impressive spa, run by two professional therapists from Thailand. There are several different treatment rooms and a large, tiled Turkish Bath.
- See ideas for Wellbeing
- 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.
- There are baby cots available.
- Generally recommended for children
- Yes, but the atmosphere here is generally adult-oriented, so screaming isn't appreciated.
- Family rooms are available here.
- Power supply notes
- There's a backup generator and British style 3-pin sockets in all the rooms.
- Kinasi has intermittent mobile phone reception around the lodge and there is also Wi-Fi in the main central areas.
- TV & radio
- There is DSTV available in the main reception.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Bottled water is supplied.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The water sports team are trained in first aid – for more serious cases Kinasi would call upon the flying doctor.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There are guards night and day around Kinasi
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in the main areas and some of the staff are fire-trained.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is an extra Charge – usually between $1 – 4 per item. It's hand washed and machine-dried.
- Kinasi cannot offer any currency exchange facilities. There are lock boxes in each room.
- Accepted payment on location
- You can settle your account with Kinasi using cash in most major currencies. Visa, Amex or Mastercard have a 5% surcharge if you want a cash advance.
Room types at Kinasi Lodge
Kinasi's suites are all very similar in build and style – they are all brightly painted detached cottages, with stone floors and high thatch roofs. There are some slight variations in layout and design, however this has little impact on the feel of the room. It simply means that some are better than others for converting into triples – ask us for details.
The key difference to the rooms at Kinasi is that not all have sea-view – some are set slightly back and look into an immaculately kept garden. Generally we recommend the 'Sea-front rooms', but if these aren't available then console yourself with the observation that the 'Garden view suites' really are just as lovely! All the cottages here are large with polished stone floors, white-washed walls and a big verandah at the front
All have a spacious veranda at the front, with a coffee table and comfortable lounging chairs. Behind this, large French-shutter doors open up into a large room with a polished stone floor and white-washed walls. Sumptuous fabrics cover the large comfortable beds, and mosquito nets hang from the ceilings. There are fans above the beds in the rooms – but Kinasi does not have air-conditioning.
All of the rooms are provided with drinking water, and there is a secure Zanzibari chest for locking away any valuables. In each room you will also find a thoughtful booklet explaining some of the history of the island and the lodge, and a listing all of the activities on offer with their prices.
At the back of the room, the en-suite bathroom is not vast, but relatively spacious. This is decorated with white-washed walls and rustic stone tiles – which makes them feel slightly kitsch, but adds quite a charming character.
Here you will find a sink, hot and cold shower and flush-toilet, as well as silk dressing gowns!
The water from the tap has been filtered and chlorinated – so is fine for brushing your teeth. But generally we would advise you to only drink bottled water in Africa, and this is provided in the bedroom.
Other lodges in Mafia Island
Alternative places to stay in this same area.