Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Heaven on Earth

Where are you? There were some clues . . . on the menu board, and in the shape of the dhows sailing by . . .

Here is my idea of heaven on earth – Mnemba Island. You can see it in the distance, beyond the fishing boats off the northeast corner of Zanzibar. Only ten bungalows on Mnemba, a private island, maximum 20 guests; this is another CCAfrica property. About a third of the guests seem to be honeymooners, but there are also families, divers, people who want privacy and care-free time alone.

The temperature stays around 85 degrees, day and night, most of the year. The bungalows are large and luxurious, fine linens, huge bath areas, and lots of extras – a terrace with couches for lounging, snoozing, reading, keeping your diary. . . a bed swing, on which my husband frequently snoozed . . . your own basket with beach towels, flip flop sandals, sand shovels and a bucket . . . an outside sink in the ground with running water to wash the sand off your feet . . .tables and chairs where you can have dinner, write a letter, keep up your journal, an addictive African board game, and a library full of books, even an internet connection in the library if you are so addicted.

You arrive by powerboat, greeted upon arrival with a fruit drink and are told “you won’t need your shoes again until you leave the island.” It feels really funny going to the dining room barefoot, but oh! you get used to it! The sand is made of coral, and it never gets hot.

Your butler escorts you to your “bungalow” which is the size of a small house, with indoor and outdoor living areas, including a covered chaise longue area all your own, near the beach. He shows you all the features, including bathrobes, racks to dry your beach towels, locally made toiletries, etc – anything you might need, it is there. If something is not there, you have only to ask.

Meals are amazing. Lots of choice, everything fresh and freshly prepared, lots of Zanzibari grown pineapple, banana, and lots of freshly caught seafood. Breakfast when you want it, any way you want it, even brought to your bungalow. Lunch at the open air, thatched roof dining room, unless you have taken it with you on a day trip, out fishing, into Zanzibar island, out on a diving trip . . . and dinner is served on the beach sands amidst a series of hanging lanterns, tables spaced generously so that you feel intimate and private, even with other guests around.

You don’t need a lot of clothing; they do your laundry for you on a daily basis. You do need to be covered at meals, (If you are in a bathing suit, you need a T-shirt and kikoy wrap, or some other cover-up) as many of the staff are Moslem, and the resort respects their sensitivities.

*Kikoy are about 1 meter by 1.5 meters, 100% cotton in a variety of irresistable colors, available throughout Tanzania, and also in the Mnemba gift shop. You have six of them, in a variety of lovely colors, in your bungalow.

Mnemba also runs its own private diving school. Dives are included in the daily rate, dive school is not. Snorkeling equipment and diving equipment are free, and just in front of the widely spaced bungalows is a huge marine reserve with over 400 varieties of fish. Back at your bungalow are books helping you to identify the fish you’ve seen. The colors are breathtaking.

Mnemba Island reservations are so sought after that you either have to book very far in advance, or take your chances that someone has cancelled at the last minute. It took us three years to be able to get in there . . . and because I had such high expectations, I was really worried that it couldn’t possibly be as good as it looked. It was. It was even better. This place knocked my socks off.

it is the perfect transition spot from safari to going home. It is the perfect place for a three to five day getaway. It is the perfect place to hide from the world. It is perfect for a honeymoon. You can have as much or as little privacy as you want. You can be as active or as lazy as you want. And when the time comes to go – to will take Mnemba Island with you in your heart. Happy travels!

September 23, 2006 - Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Tanzania, Travel, Uncategorized, Zanzibar


  1. It sounds wonderful!!

    Comment by jewaira | September 23, 2006 | Reply

  2. i guessed somewhere on the eastern african coast on accountof the boat,….

    lol, never woulda guessed zanzibar tho 😐

    Comment by sknk | September 23, 2006 | Reply

  3. jewaira – it IS wonderful. And for us, four days was enough – I think if we stayed longer we would get bored

    sknk – the menu board started with Mnemba prawns! LOL!

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 24, 2006 | Reply

    went their 3 years ago
    and , Dieng to go there again
    wish i can do it again this year
    I NEED to be there
    been to znz and another small kinda private island , but it wasn’t mneba

    joyfull post
    thank u

    Comment by eva | September 30, 2006 | Reply

  5. Eva – I bet you were on Pemba, which is another small island off Zanzibar. Zanzibar is where I go in my mind when I need to get away, even for five minutes or an hour. Amazing fusion of Arab, Indian and African. Amazing people, fiercely independant, working out how to govern themselves in diversity.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 1, 2006 | Reply

  6. […] camps, and at the end, book ourselves into another of our favorite places, the CCAfrica lodge on Mnemba Island with more photos of Mnemba and Zanzibar […]

    Pingback by The Great Migration (1) « Here There and Everywhere | December 28, 2007 | Reply

  7. Great Blog may we use some of the pics.

    Tanzania is truly unique which everway you look at it.


    Comment by David | September 14, 2008 | Reply

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