Wonderfully relaxing beach paradise. If you like falling of the map then this is for you. People told us Pemba was a must-go whilst visiting Zanzibar and they were not wrong. It is another world.
We spent 2 nights at Chumbe afterwards (it must be said that the bungalows there are very special & probably the best part of that experience) but Pemba Lodge then went up in our estimation compared to this renowned & highly rated island.
Pemba Lodge is not wildly luxurious or five star and this is reflected in the price which seems very fair for what you get. Everything is well done. Think natural, simple, authentic. At the moment it does not get too busy and there were only a few other guests during our stay. On New Year’s Eve we had the whole place to ourselves. They served us dinner by the ocean under a star-filled sky and made palm-leaf bowers for our room and beach bed to celebrate the New Year. Very nice attention.
We kept on laughing out loud at having the whole beach and all the staff just for us – it seemed so crazy and lucky.
You are on a small island inhabited by fishermen/sharecropping farmers so you will meet the locals as they go about their business on the beach and in the sea.
Everyone is very friendly and slightly surprised to see strangers – especially the kids who go all goofy (a bit scared/a bit showing off).
The beach is to die for. The finest sand we have ever come across - it’s like talcum powder & goes to a soft seductive fudge texture when it is wet. It is very tidal (as I believe all the beaches in the Zanzibar archipelago are) so you can only really swim at high tide and even then it is quite shallow. Turtle beach is a 15 minute walk away and this gets a bit deeper with some surf – you can watch the sunset from there. If you like birdlife there is an abundance, so bring your binoculars, we saw something new every day.
The food is good – not exactly amazing but very good - and mainly about the daily catch. Highlights were the fantastic fruit plate at breakfast, an unctuous braised octopus, a nicely cooked white snapper, and a great grilled whole fish for new year. A couple of minor criticisms (management please note): the fish with very little natural fat such as tuna was overcooked and dry, and the use of either rice or chips with the main dish was a bit boring after a day or two. You have a good chef who makes tasty food so we feel you could extend the repertoire of side dishes and accompaniments & this would enhance the food experience a lot.
Go local, not international. You are very nearly there!
All the staff were great. Ali was running the place during our 5-night stay and he really looked after us. A star. Seeing him in action on the breezy dhow trip was amazing.
All in all, very special. The resort experience trimmed back to something truer and more rewarding. Get there before the rest of the world finds out.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Pemba Lodge, situated on the remote and beautiful Shamiani Island off Pemba, Zanzibar’s sister island.It is Pemba’s first true eco-lodge ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Pemba Lodge Ltd. Pemba Island, Tanzania