Sunshine Marine Lodge

Sunshine Marine Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
24 rooms
Traveller's rating
Good (88%) From 5 reviews
Children
Fine for all ages.
Open
All year

Opened in 2013, Sunshine Marine Lodge is to the north of Matemwe, on Zanzibar’s east coast. Built on a cliff top, with stunning views across to Mnemba Island, the lodge has a lively, bright atmosphere that makes it popular with younger travellers and anyone who has an interest in diving.

Sunshine Marine Lodge is similar in style to its older, slightly smaller, sister Sunshine Hotel. There are 24 en-suite rooms all built under a high makuti thatch roofs. These are designed to make the most of the cool sea breeze that is blown across the Indian ocean, so there is no air conditioning - although there are three fans in each room. All the rooms contain: a queen-sized bed complete with a mosquito net, an electronic safe, an en-suite bathroom with a shower, basin and toilet, tea and coffee making facilities and either a veranda or a balcony. All the rooms have bright pastel colours, which are used throughout the lodge – light blues, oranges and sunny yellows.

There are four categories of rooms at Sunshine Marine Lodge:

  • There are 15 Sunshine Suites in four bandas. These blocks spread down the hill, from the main reception area at the back of the property down to the main restaurant and pool area at the sea front. All these suites are connected by a path that runs through the rock garden – this has been left to look as wild and natural as possible. Three of these bandas have two rooms on the first floor, and two on the ground floor – and the fourth has three rooms. All the suites have a view of the ocean, although some views are better than others - the best views tend to be on the first floor.

  • Also on the sea-ward side of the property, there are 4 Blue Wave Suites, which are identical in size and decor to the Sunshine Suites but they are located on the sea front and have better views as a result.

  • The 2 Blue Breeze Suites are also located on the ocean front. These rooms are more spacious than the other suites, with larger bathrooms – otherwise all the amenities are the same.

  • Finally there are 3 Panoramic Suites, each of which occupies the complete first floor of a banda (with two standard suites below). These Panoramic Suites are the most spacious rooms at Sunshine Marine Lodge and can happily accommodate families. They are set further back, but have breathtaking views across to the Mnemba Atoll.
The main area has a small pool and a larger infinity pool, surrounded by sun loungers, hammocks and comfortable cushions in keeping with the colour scheme of the lodge. Behind the infinity pool is the lively bar and restaurant which is based on an old dhow. There is also an upstairs area here that looks out over the pool and across the Indian Ocean. This is a great place to escape the mid day heat, or to have a private dinner.

Because Sunshine Marine Lodge is slightly raised on a cliff, it does not have direct beach access. To make up for this they have built a pier that extends into the Indian Ocean so that guests can swim during high tide. The 90-metre Muyuni Beach is a 15-minute walk or free boat ride from the lodge, with beautiful white sands. Sunshine Marine Lodge is one of the few properties in the area, and besides a few local fishermen guests are likely to have the beach more or less to themselves. The lodge have constructed a nice beach bar serving beers and cold drinks; currently there is no restaurant on the beach, however guests can order hot food from the main lodge which will then be brought over ether by vehicle or boat. The few people who go there can swim in the sea at any time of the day – almost unique on the east coast of Zanzibar.

Sunshine Marine Lodge offers many of the same activities as other lodges in Zanzibar: snorkelling, reef walks, sailing, fishing, complementary kayak and bicycle loan, and island excursions such as spice tours and Stone Town trips. But what sets it apart is its own dive centre located at the back of the property, called Dive Point, which is well stocked with dive equipment. There's a classroom with a TV and a specially designed training pool for refresher dives and PADI training. The Polish instructor speaks excellent English and is a very good photographer. Being the northern-most dive centre on the east coast and directly opposite the Mnemba Atoll means they have one of the best locations on Zanzibar for diving.

Our view

True to its name, Sunshine Marine Lodge is a friendly, vibrant hotel. It offers great value and suits travellers who want a relaxed but lively beach experience. The best features are its location and excellent dive centre: they have access to some of the best diving in Zanzibar and magnificent views of Mnemba island.

Geographics

Location: East Coast Zanzibar, Zanzibar

Ideal length of stay: We would recommend a stay of at least three nights.

Directions: It takes around 35 minutes to fly to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, then it’s a further hour and a half by road to sunshine Marine Lodge.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Polish-Dutch ownership

Staff: The manager is Jacek Otffinowski. Victoria is the very helpful on-site marketing and guest relations manager.

Food & drink

Usual board basis: B&B

Food quality: Sunshine Marine Lodge is working hard to improve the standard of their food. We have been told that they are bringing a new European chef who will be revamping the menu and we look forward to trying their new dishes. On our last visit in July 2017 did find that the service was a bit hit and miss, with meals taking a while to materialise.

Breakfast is served between 7.30 and 10.00. There is a choice of bread, fruit, jams and spreads, as well as the option to have a cooked breakfast, with tea, coffee and a selection of juices.

Lunch, is very relaxed and usually served between 12.30 and 3.00 ordered from the poolside bar. There is a snack menu and a specials board, which is not to be missed – this usually depends on what the local fisherman have caught that morning. On our last visit we enjoyed barracuda cooked in garlic butter and chips, followed by a passion fruit mouse – it was delicious. The pasta here is home-made, which is a treat.

Dinner, is served from 6.30-9pm, it is a set menu that changes daily (although this can be flexible), with a choice of main course which is usually either a seafood dish or a chicken dish as well as the chef's specials of the day. The lodge prides itself on having a very good pastry chef and so dessert is something to look forward to. The Italian restaurant manager is also experienced, having been on Zanzibar for ten years.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £10-15

Drinks included: Not included: Beers are around $3.50 and a glass of wine is roughly $4.00

Special interests

Family holidays: With a lively vibe and very relaxed atmosphere, Sunshine Marine Lodge is great fun during family beach holidays in Zanzibar with older children. Teenagers can for example go mountain biking or participate in activities organised by the lodge’s state-of-the-art dive centre.

See more ideas for Family holidays in Zanzibar

Diving & snorkelling: Sunshine Marine Lodge is in a great location to explore the Mnemba Atoll. Whether it’s your first time diving or you’re very experienced, the brand new dive centre with their state of the art equipment will be able to accommodate you.

See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Zanzibar

Children

Attitude towards children: Sunshine Marine Lodge welcomes children of all ages. They have varied their policy on this since first opening in 2013, when they started with a no-under-10s policy.

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: We always advise to keep children under constant supervision.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: There is also a back-up generator.

Communications: WiFi is available throughout the lodge and is free of charge. Cellphone signal can be intermittent.

TV & radio: There is a satellite TV in the dive centre.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: The well water used for most purposes is very clean. Bottled drinking water is provided in the rooms.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Three members of staff who have first aid training will be at the lodge at all times. The hotel also has affiliations with a local doctor and there is a decompression chamber 8km away at the Fairmont (however that was closed when we last checked in 2016).

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: Sunshine Marine Lodge is gated and has guards. There are also Maasai guards on the beach.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are available in the main areas. The hotel also has a pump that takes water from the swimming pool that can be used in an emergency.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is available for an extra charge.

Money: The hotel accepts Tanzanian shillings, US dollars, GB pounds and euros, and will offer an exchange service if they have enough cash.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard, Visa and American Express are accepted here but a 5% commission will be added. They also accept cash payments in either US dollars or Tanzanian shillings.

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