Mnemba Island Lodge

Mnemba Island Lodge: Our full report

11 beachfront chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (97%) From 7 reviews
21 May to 7 April

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 view

There's nowhere we know of that's quite like Mnemba. If you're looking for a top-end destination for a super beach holiday in an exclusive setting, then it’s hard to beat. The service is first-rate, the food exquisite and everything runs like clockwork. There are very few places in East Africa where you can enjoy your own private island, with such stunning beaches and pristine marine life.


Location: East Coast Zanzibar, Zanzibar

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

Special interests

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.

See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Zanzibar


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

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