Fundu Lagoon

Fundu Lagoon: Our full report

Rooms
18 rooms and suites
Traveller's rating
Good (80%) From 4 reviews
Children
Best for aged 12+
Open
June to mid April

Fundu Lagoon is a beautiful and peaceful beach lodge, set into a tropical forest on the west side of Pemba Island. Part of the Zanzibar archipelago, the rural island of Pemba is one of Zanzibar Island's close neighbours, yet in comparison it sees very little tourism. As a result, it is relatively untouched and offers the visitor a more remote beach experience.

To reach Fundu Lagoon, you first drive about 60 minutes from Pemba's airport, then you hop aboard a boat for a further 30 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 a quick tour and shown to your room.

The rooms at Fundu Lagoon vary in size and category – from 12 standard rooms to two suites and two ‘superior’ suites – but all share very similar features. All are large walk-in tents set on wooden decks, with a veranda, small lounge area and en-suite bathroom. The dark wooden floors, huge bed and crisp cotton sheets make the rooms feel stylish and comfortable, reminiscent of a tented safari lodge. Yet canvas walls add a rustic feel, resulting in a cosy room that has character and comfort rather than luxury.

Sandy paths and wooden walkways lead through Fundu's tropical forest, linking the rooms to the various parts of the lodge, where there are plenty of places to relax, all – like the rooms – with views out to sea.

The main bar and lounge is set slightly above the beach on a wooden deck, under a high thatched roof. Natural fabrics and wicker furniture add to the rustic style – Fundu feels very in keeping with its surroundings. This is often a sociable and friendly spot before dinner, and can become quite lively at times. The managers and dive team are usually around to chat with guests in the evenings and to discuss activities for the following day.

Part way along the jetty, and hovering out over the sea, is Fundu’s open-sided jetty bar. In the evenings it's a great place to watch the sunset over the sea – while enjoying one of the house cocktails.

The beach at Fundu isn't a perfect white beach, like the postcards of east coast Zanzibar, but – typical of beaches in this part of Pemba or, indeed, of any island fringed by mangroves – is lined with vegetation and changes with the winds and tides. Thus – as one of Expert Africa's team found when she lived on a nearby beach for four months while doing marine research – on one day, you'll find pristine white sand and turquoise waters, whereas on the next the sand will be dotted with natural flotsam and jetsam and the water clarity will be gone. Either way, though, it is very quiet, has loungers set out on it daily, and has plenty of space for guests to relax in privacy.

Set high above the beach, up a number of steps, is a split level infinity pool, with fantastic views across the sea. The broad open pool deck is dotted with loungers and shade umbrellas, while just behind is the pool bar – a jaunty, open-sided wooden structure painted vibrant orange and red – and again, looking out to sea.

The adjacent spa offers pedicures and manicures, plus a variety of massage treatments. These cost around US$30–60, depending on the treatment.

Quite a number of Fundu's team come from the nearby village, and will take guests to meet people from the community: a complementary and memorable cultural experience. Travellers are made to feel very welcome –.greeting children at the local school, or sharing a conversation with your guide’s family. Fundu Lagoon is heavily involved with the community; they support a local vegetable farm and a chicken farm, and help fund a school that has 400 pupils; more recently they have also opened a pharmacy, providing vital medical supplies.

On the activities front, Fundu Lagoon specialises in diving and snorkelling. Qualified staff from their fully equipped PADI dive center lead daily dives to sites in the Pemba Channel and around Misali Island. The reefs around Pemba have a steep drop off, and conditions can be quite challenging, with some sites prone to strong currents. For experienced divers the diving can be very good, and large pelagic species such as barracuda and hammerhead shark can sometimes be seen. Misali Island, however, is a protected conservation area, and the shallower waters provide some excellent snorkelling opportunities.

Travellers should note that the diving at Fundu is quite costly, at around US$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.

After a morning of snorkelling and diving we’d recommend exploring Misali Island itself. The beach here is beautiful, and because the island is uninhabited you will have it to yourself. Depending on the time of year you can sometimes find green and hawksbill turtles nesting on the shores, and vervet monkeys can be seen. Misali Island has important cultural significance, too; you can take a short walk to a cave in the interior of the island, which was reputedly used for voodoo.

Other activities at Fundu Lagoon range from village tours to kayaking through the mangrove forest, deep-sea fishing and sunset boat trips. On our most recent visit in 2017 we went on a dolphin-watching trip where we joined a resident pod of spinner dolphins; the pod made a beeline for the small boat and took great pleasure in riding the bow wave and leaping out of the water.

Our view

Fundu Lagoon has a reputation as a honeymoon destination. The location is romantic and its atmosphere fun; whenever we have visited, the majority of guests have, indeed, been young couples on honeymoon. Despite this, a stay at Fundu is very sociable, and non-honeymooners will certainly not feel left out. After sharing activities during the day, most guests end up chatting at the bar before dinner.

Geographics

Location: Pemba Island, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: At least four nights, whether you want to take part in a range of activities or simply to lounge around on a tropical island.

Directions: It takes about an hour and thirty minutes to reach Fundu Lagoon from Pemba's airport. A 26km drive along good roads brings you to the port of Mkwoani, where you take a boat to Fundu Lagoon.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we last stayed at Fundu, in July 2017, the food was one of the stand-out features, with as many ingredients as possible bought from local farmers. The menu features international-style cuisine, often with a Swahili twist, and there is always plenty of fresh seafood on offer as well as vegetarian dishes.

There are a few options at each meal, listed on a chalkboard by the entrance to the dining area. A waiter will ask for your choice as you enter the restaurant and this will be served to your table.

For breakfast, served between 7.30am and 10.00am, there is a buffet with a variety of fresh fruits, cereals and yoghurt, and home-baked sweet bread. There is also the choice of a cooked breakfast. We particularly enjoyed the French toast, and the sweetcorn fritters.

Lunch consists of two courses. We went for a salad starter followed by a ‘Fundu basket' of prawns, calamari, deep-fried snapper and chips. There was also a heavier pasta option, and a light seasonal salad. Lunchtime 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 occasion 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. We enjoyed carpaccio of beef to start, followed by rock lobster and roast potatoes – which was delicious! Once a week guests experience a Swahili night, with traditional dishes being served. Then weather permitting, there is also a very atmospheric weekly beach barbecue. A large table with storm lanterns is set out on the beach, and a variety of barbecued 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. Bottled water is supplied in all rooms.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Honeymoons: Fundu Lagoon is a perfect destination for a Tanzania honeymoon. It has a fun, social atmosphere and is particularly popular with young honeymooners, while the staff try hard to make you feel spoilt and special.

See more ideas for Honeymoons in Tanzania

Beach holidays: Fundu Lagoon organises day trips by boat to Misali Island, which has some of the best beaches around Tanzania's Pemba Island. You can scuba dive here, snorkel, or just relax and enjoy a great beach holiday.

See more ideas for Beach holidays in Tanzania

Diving & snorkelling: For diving off the coast of Tanzania, Fundu Lagoon offers plenty of choice. The Pemba Channel offers some extremely challenging drift dives and the chance to see the larger pelagic fish, while for gentler dives and snorkelling there are the reefs around Misali Island.

See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Tanzania

Children

Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 years are welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age of 12

Special activities & services: No

Equipment: No

Notes: There is the potential for strong currents around Pemba, and some locations are not suitable for a weak or inexperienced swimmer.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: There is 24-hour electricity and European 3-pin style plugs in all of the rooms.

Communications: There is intermittent cellphone reception, and free Wifi in the main area.

TV & radio: There is a small TV room with a satellite TV and library.

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: All rooms are plumbed and have hot running water.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Fundu Lagoon has a comprehensive first-aid box and every head of department is first-aid trained, as are staff members at the dive centre. There is a doctor in Mkwoani.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: Askaris (traditional guards) are posted around Fundu both day and night. Fundu is also guarded by police officers, and there is a fence around the lodge for added security.

Fire safety: There are large and small fire extinguishers placed around the lodge, and these are checked twice a year.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Included

Money: There are lockboxes in all rooms, and a safe in the manager’s office. Small amounts of cash can be exchanged.

Accepted payment on location: You can settle your bill for extras using cash (British pounds, US dollars, euros or Tanzanian shillings) or credit card. Mastercard, Visa and American Express are accepted, though there is a 6% charge for this.

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