Kono Kono Beach Villas: Our full report
Kono Kono is a newly refurbished beach resort located on the western tip of the Michamvi peninsula, on the ...... east coast of Zanzibar. It has been built in a tropical forest overlooking Chwaka Bay - which is now a protected conservation area, making it very quiet and remote. It is one of the only lodges on the east coast of Zanzibar where guests can sit at the bar and watch the sun set directly over the white-powdery beach in front.
Kono Kono first opened in 2010 as a small beach resort with just 11 villas. They struggled at first and after a year and a half it closed. The Kono Kono team spent the following two years extending and upgrading the property to a higher standard. All of the existing villas have been renovated and 13 new villas have been added to the back of the property. They have also completely rebuilt the main restaurant, lounge and pool area as well as the spa. Kono Kono reopened with a new modern look In 2013.
The main reception consists of a small thatched building, with a simple red stone paved floor and authentic wooden furniture. It is set at the back of the property (furthest from the ocean) and leads out onto a concrete path which meanders 300 meters through the lush gardens, past all of the 24 villas to the main focal point at the front - the swimming pool, restaurant and pristine white beach.
At 900m2 the main area is absolutely vast; it has a laminate wooden floor which gives the restaurant and bar area a modern feel, and its huge thatch roof provides welcome shade! It is perched up on top of a cliff, so guests can enjoy stunning views across Michamvi bay. In front of the bar is a brand new infinity pool which is as contemporary and chic as its surroundings (take care when using the pool as there are no depth markings). From the white sun loungers to the marble bar surface - everything about the main area at Kono Kono is minimalist, modern, bright and stylish.
The real attraction of Kono Kono has to be the enormous pristine white beach. In front of the swimming pool the white coral sand stretches out seemingly endlessly down to the blue waters of the Indian ocean. The area is not quite as tidal as much of the east coast, which means that the beach at Kono Kono is one of the only beaches in Zanzibar that is swimmable all day. There is also a volleyball net, and for those who want to keep out of the sun there are also sun loungers sporadically dotted along the beach underneath a number of small thatch huts and a cool beach bar which serves up cocktails and light lunches.
There are four different villa types at Kono Kono: sea view, garden view, pavilions and family villas. All of these categories have the exact same amenities – air conditioning, fans, minibar, safe, LCD TV, tea and coffee facilities and most importantly a plunge pool! The villas are all huge – 135m2; of which 85m2 is internal and the private garden and plunge pool make up the remaining 50m2. The design and layout of the villas does however differ slightly between the older and newer villas.
The 11 villas closest to the beach are the older villas. They have beige stone floors, dark wood beams and authentic furniture. They are extremely spacious and bright, and despite being open plan they still feel very cosy. The four sea view villas are all in this style and have fantastic views over the bay – they also get a lovely sunset which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own deck chair, beside the private plunge pool.
Seven of the 18 garden view villas are old villas and are therefore in the same style as described above, the only difference being that they have a garden view rather than a sea view; the other 11 villas (nearest reception) are all newly built. They all have lovely views of the garden and the thick foliage keeps each villa separated and private. These new villas are just as spacious and bright as the old ones, but they have been decorated and designed with a modern Italian influence and feel less authentic than the older villas as a result. The floors are identical to the main area (wooden laminate) and the furniture is simple, square and plain. One of the few interesting features in the new villas is a Swahili style chest; however these are also found in the old villas. Despite being the same size as the old villas, the new villas utilise the space very differently, with walls dividing the bedroom from the lounge and bathroom area. The rooms are spacious and comfortable but they also lack a degree of character.
There are two new pavilions which are located right on the beach front. These were both occupied on our previous visit, and so we were unable to view them at this time; however we understand that they are of a much higher quality than either the sea view or the garden view villas. We are told that they are light and airy, with a king-size bed and a large en-suite bathroom. Each pavilion has a veranda which opens on to the white sandy beach; here you can find a couple of sun loungers and also your own private plunge pool.
There are two family villas at Kono Kono that can sleep up to four people. Both of these family villas are newly built, have garden views and are similar to the new garden villas in most respects. The only difference is that there are two twin beds as well as a double in the family villas.
When we last visited Kono Kono in June 2016, they were still in the process of building their new spa; which we understand has now been finished. As such we did not get to see what the finished product looks like, however we did get to see its location. It is built on a platform amongst the trees in a secluded part of the resort and we expect it to be a lovely place to relax.
Kono Kono has the potential to be one of the best resorts in Zanzibar. Its location is fantastic - it is secluded, has access to an amazing beach and gets magnificent views of the sunset. The refurbishment of the existing villas and main area has been a massive improvement. Although there is nothing wrong with the new villas, given the choice, we’d rather stay in the old style villas because they have a bit more charm. Kono Kono is certainly best suited for younger couples who want to relax in privacy. However we have not seen the finished product or stayed there ourselves yet - so we therefore cannot vouch for the quality of the service or food, but the property itself looks great and we have high expectations for the future.
Country manager: Zanzibar
- Michamvi Peninsula, Zanzibar
- Ideal length of stay
- 3 or 4 nights
- It is a 20 minutes flight from Dar es Salaam and then about a one hour drive to the lodge.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- On our visit to Kono Kono we did not get the opportunity to try any of the food. However, we do know that the head chef and two sous chefs are all local to Zanzibar. There has been a conscious decision to keep the cuisine as traditional as possible and once a week there is a purely Swahili dinner.
Breakfast consists of a buffet with a selection of fruit, cereal, cold meats, cheese, pastries and a full English for those who want it.
There is a varied snack menu for Lunch - this can be ordered from the beach bar.
The starter and desert courses at Dinner are buffet style. There is a set menu for main course with a vegetarian, fish and meat dish to choose from. Guests can also choose from the a la carte menu, however there is an additional cost for this.
We expect the wine to be very good too. One of the managers is a sommelier and unlike most lodges in Zanzibar they import international wines from Argentina, France, Italy and Spain rather than from just South Africa.
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome at Kono Kono – Children under the age of 3 can stay free of charge.
- Special activities & services
- There are no special activities or services for children
- Kono Kono can provide cots and a highchairs.
- Kono Kono is suitable for children, however please note that the pool is deep and there are no depth markings.
- Power supply notes
- There is 24 hour electricity and European 3 pin plugs in all of the rooms.
- There is free Wi-fi in the main areas and sporadic mobile phone reception.
- TV & radio
- There is a 16 channel DSTV in every room.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- bottled water is supplied.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- All of the managers have first aid training, there is a medical kit at reception and the nearest hospital is in Stone Town which is less than an hour away.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There is a security gate and masaai guards 24 hours a day.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers strategically placed around the property.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is available at an extra cost
- There is an electronic safe in all of the rooms.
- Accepted payment on location
- Kono Kono will accept cash in US dollars and Tanzanian shillings. Visa and MasterCard is also accepted (there is a 5% surcharge).
Other lodges in Michamvi Peninsula
Alternative places to stay in this same area.