Zanzibar’s luxurious Mnemba Island Lodge stands on the private Mnemba Island...
Mnemba Island Lodge: Our full report
The term 'barefoot luxury' might have been coined for Mnemba, a formerly uninhabited island just 2.5km from the north-east coast of Zanzibar. At the centre of this 12-hectare (30-acre) private island is a tropical forest, home to nothing more dangerous than butterflies and cute, spaniel-sized suni antelope. Mnemba Island Lodge is not cheap, but with lots of space, first-rate service, and one of the best beach locations in Africa, it is very good.
The island's triangular perimeter is just a mile (1.6km) of soft, powder-white coral sand - perfect for an hour's romantic stroll. Turtles nest on the beach, subtle markers noting when guests can expect to discover the young hatchlings. Beyond the pristine beaches lies turquoise sea and some of Tanzania's best coral reefs. The island is often referred to as Mnemba Atoll, although this isn't technically correct as an atoll is a ring of old coral reefs enclosing a shallow lagoon.
Mnemba Island Lodge (formerly Mnemba Island Club) is the height of exclusivity. Eleven very private bandas, constructed from hand-woven coconut palm and local timber, overlook the beach from the forest's edge. These chalets are large, airy and very open-plan: expect to find a few crabs scuttling across the immaculate mkeka-mat floors. Furnished simply, but very tastefully, each banda has a huge bed, wooden furniture, and lots of comfortable sofas. A palm-covered walkway leads to a stylish timber and glass en-suite bathroom; showers are used to moderate the island's fresh water consumption.
Mnemba's cuisine is predictably excellent, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the flexibility to cater for individual needs exceedingly well. Candlelit dinners on the beach are the norm and fresh seafood commonly features on the menu.
There's a first-class PADI dive centre on the island and up to two dives per day are included in the cost of your stay if you are already qualified. You can of course also learn to dive here. Other activities include snorkelling, kayaking, fly-fishing, dhow cruises and windsurfing. It is worth being aware of the fact that the island's fringing reefs and coral gardens are not private, and dozens of boats from Zanzibar's east coast hotels bring their guests to these shallow seas for snorkelling and diving. Those visitors can't land on Mnemba, but their presence, sometimes close to the shore of the little island, inevitably detracts from its hideaway exclusivity.
Our viewThere's nowhere we know of that's quite like Mnemba. That said, if you're looking for a top-end destination for a super beach holiday in an exclusive setting, then you should be aware of the possibilities in northern Mozambique, the Quirimbas Archipelago. There you'll also find private islands with stunning beaches and pristine marine life, and they're also accessible from Dar es Salaam. While their service standards generally don't yet match those of Mnemba's polished and experienced team, the islands themselves are often just as pristine and remarkable as Mnemba.
Ideal length of stay: At least 4 nights - but most visitors stay longer.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Yes - all tea, coffeee, soft drinks, house wines, local spirits and local beers.
Further dining info: Yes
Honeymoons: The ultimate Zanzibar honeymoon beach retreat: a tiny, pristine, private island with superb accommodation and excellent food and service. Enjoy strolls around the island, spectacular snorkeling and sunset dhow cruises. It’s a romantic, exclusive and luxurious paradise.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zanzibar
Beach holidays: Mnemba is the ultimate remote, exclusive beach retreat. It's simple, relaxing and laid-back, with a very high quality that's delightfully understated. It is costly, but it will be one of your best beach holidays.See more ideas for Beach holidays in Zanzibar
Diving & snorkelling: Mnemba Island is surrounded by some of Zanzibar's best coral reefs. Many hotels in northern Zanzibar bring visitors here to snorkel and dive. While staying at Mnemba Island Lodge, you'll have immediate access to this spectacular reef – just step off the shore. Mnemba naturally also has a first-class dive centre and up to 2 dives per day are included in the cost of your stay.See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Zanzibar
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Children are welcome, but there's usually a limit on the number of children on the island at any one time. Unless, of course, you book the whole island...
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is some mobile phone receoption on the island, and broadband WiFi is usually available.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included