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“Chumbe Island - Best part of Zanzibar” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Chumbe Island Coral Park

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Chumbe Island Coral Park
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3.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Chumbe Island, Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 141 hotels in Zanzibar
Woreta, Ethiopia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Chumbe Island - Best part of Zanzibar”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2013

A bit pricey, but everything is provided - gourmet meals, snorkeling, intertidal walks, forest tour, drinks (not alcohol) - the staff is very helpful, accommodating, and makes the stay that more enjoyable. I loved the island, the eco-friendly bungalows, the marine protected area and the goals of Chumbe Island. Wish there were more places like this!!!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Melbourne, Australia
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2013

Staying at Chumbe Island is a once in a life time experience and I felt very privileged to be able to stay on the Island. It is a primitive and simple resort that makes you feel relaxed as soon as you arrive. The food was fresh and tasty (I loved the freshly baked bread) and the staff went out of their way to make us feel at home.
Staying at Chumbe Is isn't cheap but it is well worth the expense to experience time on such a beautiful Island.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Copenhagen, Denmark
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2013

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to stay at Chumbe for 3 nights - it was not nearly enough!!!
Next time i wanna stay for minimum 5, and better yet - 7 nights!

I love this place!
It is SO amazing, awesome and totally out of this world!
And the people too ♥
Don't like to call them staff - a lot of them felt like friends and i felt like being embraced by a family.

So when former guests to this island complain about it being too expensive, not being luxurious enough/or at all - i can only say, that this is not neither the staff's or the island's fault!
It is your own expentations and lack of research of the place - or maybe people just do not realize, when reading reviews, that what is luxury for one person, can be something completely different to another!

This was to me, one of the most valuable, memorable, amazing and luxurios experiences of my entire life!
I am still so excited and feel SO priviledged and grateful that I have had the opportunity to experience this beautiful, marvellous, endearing, captivating island, with it's warm, friendly, joyful, caring people.

People who is working their buts of and goes out of their way to meet and suit your needs!
People who has a true love and devotion for this island, and it's survival.

So before judging it whether it's 'luxurious' enough to meet your your standards - do your research properly and take a good look at pics and check their website - and get to know yourself and what you need and like.

I would choose this place again and again and again, over a 5 star hotel with spa and fancy food and/or whatever makes it "luxurious" to some people (i would call it boring - get my point!) - this place is amazing simply because it is what it is - and upon all, it's uniqe and the only one of it's kind throuhout the entire world!

So if you go to Chumbe - please do your research, and show respect to the island and the hardworking people.

Guys at Chumbe - you do put in an impressive amount of work and effort, you have my deepest respect and i will treasure this wonderful stay and you all, in my heart forever ♥

Tena asante sana - tuta onana mwaka ujao! (hopefully)

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2013

We spent two nights here in early Sept and loved it of course (note this is way above our budget and we contemplated it a lot)! The place is really nicely set up, true paradise and we have spent a lot of time in such places when travelling, albeit usually bringing our tent and camping stove. Very romantic, even with 4 kids in tow, amazing food, although it surprised us how spending $770 (slightly reduced resident rate) a night here can be even remotely justified. The bungalows are simple and exactly how we'd have done it (some of it is jading a bit), we love the 'eco' aspects, but none of this is expensive, the food is truly superb but again how much can this really cost - and bringing 600 kids a year to learn about reefs is of course commendable but again, what can this cost....? I really think that such places could be made accessible to families hoping that the kids will get inspired and see eco-tourism in action - not out of reach. Re the eco-technology we didn't get many answersrto our questions and this wasreally a highlight for us (we're engineering academics). Please do more to inspire your neighbours to adopt 'eco' Zanzibar needs it. An easy way to make Chumbe more accessible is to offer the available beds last minute for half price rather than to day visitors. We felt that kids are unusual on the island, in fact we battled initially that <2yr olds were not allowed (probably because they might disturb others), and that's a shame. For those who can't afford it - travel to Mbudya and Bongoyo island from Dar and you get it all minus the reef & luxury but the island isolation & vegetation is much the same and it is possible to stay there (I'd recommend bringing your own tent and some culinary treats). What we thought odd is that service staff came to clean twice on the day we were there, it really disturbed us and it can only be worse for honeymooners!

Room Tip: They are all really great!
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
kevinZanzibar, General Manager at Chumbe Island Coral Park, responded to this review, September 27, 2013
Dear Andreas,

Thank you for staying with us at Chumbe and for your review. We are very happy to hear that you enjoyed the island, the food and the hospitality. It is great to have eco minded individuals like yourself on the island.

We appreciate the points that you brought up and would like to take the opportunity to answer some of the points were made.

Chumbe Island is the first private marine park in the world and operates on a not for profit basis. The only way that we could decrease our rates is by significantly increasing the number of bungalows on the island which would:

A) Have an adverse effect on the protected coral reef due to increased activity. We have a strict limit on the number of guests snorkeling on the reef at any given time. Our qualified guiding rangers take our guests on each snorkeling trip ensuring both their safety and the safety of the reef. As can be seen in many shallow coral reefs, there are times when divers and snorkelers can get too close to or even walk on the reef and stress the marine life or crush and break corals. If the number of guests increased it would make it difficult to monitor the guests' and corals' safety.

There have also been reports that sunscreen can trigger viral infections in zooxanthellae, triggering coral bleaching. An increased number of snorkelers means an increased amount of sunscreen that the reef is exposed to. It has been reported that this is especially true for suncreens that contain the following problematic ingredients—namely, oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-MBC, and the common preservative butylparaben. A prominent study by Roberto Danovaro and his colleagues at the Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy revealed that : Each year between 4000-6000 metric tons (4400-6600 US tons) of sunscreen washes off swimmers and snorkelers into coral reef environments. Danovaro R, Bongiorni L, Corinaldesi C, Giovannelli D, Damiani E, Astolfi P, et al. 2008. Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections. Environ Health Perspect 116:441-447.
This has also been reported in National Geographic News, please see the following link: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/01/080129-sunscreen-coral.html

B) Take away one of the many things that is truly special about Chumbe- feeling like you have a private island to yourself. This is one of the key things that draws people to Chumbe and provides for a very personalized family like experience on the island without hordes of tourist. This is a point mentioned over and over again on trip advisor

Operating any business in Zanzibar is not cheap. Chumbe pays all Taxes, licenses, insurance, leases etc in accordance with the law and it is not an insignificant expense. Zanzibar is an island but due to heightened demand and overfishing, sea food is not cheap by any means and our food expenses as well as others are significant.
When you enter any protected area or national park there is a charge for entrance. In larger terrestrial National Parks such as the Serengeti, there are a high volume of guests passing through every day. We have a very limited number of guests entering this pristine, protected environment and patrol rangers on the island full time and the reef is patrolled day and night. Our patrolling expenses alone with all things considered account for over 15% of our revenues. Our reef is monitored for key indicators on a daily basis, namely by our head ranger Omari, who has been with Chumbe for 20 years and knows the reef like the back of his hand. We also have as part of our team a Marine Biologist who carries out frequent analysis of the reef monitoring, sea grass monitoring etc.

We have 44 team members to make this project work and our expenses in terms on Conservation and Education and Community Outreach are significant. According to an IFC study this is three times the international staff-room ratio of ecolodges, Please feel free to take a look at our facebook page to see our many community based activities :

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chumbe-Island-Coral-Park/119009334818409?ref=hl

And our annual status report:

http://www.chumbeisland.com/fileadmin/downloads/pdf/Status_report_2010.pdf

As you correctly mentioned we have an education program where over 600 students of all ages are brought to Chumbe to experience the coral reef and coral rag forest. For most of them it is the first time to see a coral reef or even to swim. The Chumbe Education Program is a vital component that sponsors local school visits to the island, prepared through professional in-service teacher training workshops and the development of teaching aids. For each school trip to the island there is a pre and a post visit by our Education team to both town and rural areas. Students then participate in an activity called Chumbe Challenge which encourages them to establish environmental clubs within their schools and undertake a sustainable project for which there is an annual award. We also bring a significant number teachers, fisherman, community leaders and ferry captains to Chumbe every year. All at Chumbe’s expense.

As a not for profit organization, we do not have dividends that are paid out to shareholders at the end of the year. Any additional income goes directly back in to our conservation and education efforts. Furthermore, we do need to keep a financial buffer, as tourism arrivals are at risk to be affected by political turmoil, perceived security risks of the destination and financial crisis in source markets.

I appreciate your suggestion to give discounts for last minute bookings. This is unfortunately not something that is possible as we are taxed 18% of our advertised rate regardless if we give a discount. We typically keep bungalow 3- our one story bungalow open for people with disabilities, problems with walking up the stairs or single travelers. This is also the bungalow we keep available for day trips when there is availability as often the other bungalows are full.

I apologize about the inconvenience caused with the housekeeping team coming to the bungalows twice daily. We do this routinely in the afternoons to refill the compost basket for the composting toilet- add compost to the toilet, refill the water bottles and put down the mosquito net as well as general cleaning. During the day many guests appreciate being able to lie on the bed and enjoy the view without the mosquito net in the way. If it had been communicated to the island manager that this was an inconvenience we would have been happy to work out another solution.

Chumbe is family friendly, we do have many families visiting and the children usually have a blast. We have found through experience that for children under 2 years old, families have often found that because of the island geography and eco facilities it requires a lot of work on their part. We do have lovely team members who are more than happy to babysit however. With the bungalows being an open design and not a very far distance from each other it is true that if a baby is crying through the night it does affect the experience of the other guests who would like to only hear the waves and natural sounds - we have had this situation before and with all things considered we have decided that Chumbe is not ideal for children under the age of two.

As you mentioned, there are cheaper options such as “ Mbudya and Bongoyo island from Dar and you get it all minus the reef & luxury”. The protection of Chumbe's pristine reef and forest ecology is our “raison d’etre” and at the core of what we do. Without it Chumbe would not exist and protecting this fragile and diverse environment comes at a cost.

Our mission is- “To manage, for conservation and education purposes, the Chumbe Island Reef sanctuary and the Forest reserve. This is also supported by ecotourism activities which are directly related to the non- consumptive use of natural resources”

Thanks again for staying with us at Chumbe and we wish you the best in future endeavours,

Kevin MacDonald,

Project Manager
Chumbe Island Coral Park
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kingsbridge, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

Anyone scrolling down this page further please ignore the review from Raf V who clearly has no idea what Chumbe is about. I recommend he try a luxury cruise next year where I am sure he will find all the modern conveniences, air conditioned suites and other kindred spirits that his Chumbe experience lacked. That will leave more spaces for those of us who were blown away by the island, the hospitality and simply how well Chumbe does 'eco'. Great staff, great food and unbelievable snorkelling. We loved our lodge, particularly listening to the early morning rainstorm while lying in bed. Hopefully we will be back one day.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

This was the only lodge we picked against ATR's recommendations at the end of our safari on the mainland. We initially booked our stay at Breezes, but decided to change our reservation on our own to Chumbe after reviewing all the comments on tripadvisor. We've been to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Bora Bora and Bali, so we wanted to experience something other than a tried and true Western type of resort, so Chumbe fit the bill. We hired a private boat ride to the island because our plane from Seronera arrived after the usual boat trip scheduled to leave Mbweni Ruins Hotel at 10AM everyday. We waded about 50m in the warm Indian ocean water which reached our upper thighs in low tide to get on the boat, so bring sandals with you. Porter from the hotel will help you carry your luggage onto the boat. The boat ride lasts 45min, and again, you wade in the shallow water for a short distance before reaching the lodge. Omar, aka Omie aka Five, was a friendly ranger who explained to us the activities and gave us a tour of our lodge. Much has been written about the compost toilet, and all of it is true. The smell will bother sensitive noses, and I would suggest using the public outhouse which is better ventilated if you can't stand the odor which is imperceptible with the lid closed. I was more bothered by the dark colors of the floor and upholster which, in combination, with the solar powered lighting, made the place a little gloomy even during the day. The beach is small but then again, you are only sharing it with twelve other guests, and most of the time, there were only two or four other people there since the lodges are so close to the water anyway.
The snorkeling is conveniently located 10 mins offshore. We snorkeled for one hour each day and saw angelfish, wrasses, batfish, anemone fish, goatfish, damselfish, starfish, sea urchins, one Moray eel, a pufferfish, parrotfish, Moorish idols, and tons of healthy corals. We did not see any lobster, stingrays or turtles. The short tour of the island is informative in this unique ecosystem built on fossilized corals instead of soil and rock. The lighthouse built in 1904 by the Oman is still active and offers outstanding sunset views of the island and beyond. The food is especially good and perhaps the best I've had during our entire safari trip, especially for a seafood lover like myself. After dinner, the rangers will take interested guests to view the nocturnal giant coconut crabs.
Special thanks to Hassan, the manager, who was superfriendly and personifies the word "Karibu".
Overall, this is a great place to relax and live better than Robinson Crusoe on your nearly private island.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

My husband, I and a friend couple had planned our trip to Africa for about a year in advance through a travel agent. We wanted to tag a couple of days on the beach to our safari trip and I found out about Chumbe through Tripadvisor. I was really looking forward to our visit to the island, and for the most part, was pleasantly surprised.

The good:

* The location: Seriously, how many times do you get to sleep in a tropical bungalow in the cool breeze and under the calming sound of waves, with no TV and no loud neighbors? That is my recipe for relaxation and Chumbe is it. During the day, there are very few people around, so there's always a cabana or a lounge chair available, unlike a lot of the bigger resorts where people wake up early to "claim" a cabana. Did I mention the tropical crystal clear blue-green waters and the white sand?

* The people: The staff at Chumbe is amazing. They are friendly, happy, helpful, knowledgeable and very professional. There are also few of them, so you get to know most everyone by name by the time you leave. Also, the place seems to attract the type of traveler who's slightly different from the "loud safari Joe" we came across during our safari portion. Everyone was quiet and respectful of other visitors and the environment. There were no loud noises or conversations, which really added to the intimate feeling of the place.

* The food: The chef, John King, really spoiled us. He whips amazing local dishes with local ingredients and tasty fish and meats on the grill. He's very skillful at keeping the grill meats, calamari, octopus and fish moist while cooking them thoroughly on slow coals. The food is served in authentic local clay pots over embers and is a family-style buffet. Everything is lit with candles and lanterns, making for a very cozy ambiance at night, right by the ocean. Every day we were looking forward to our meals!

* The eco-mission: It felt good to be funding an ecological conservation with our vacation dollars! Especially since we saw it in action - the guides are very knowledgeable and lead education efforts with the community children and fishermen. The exhibits in the main hall/ lounge area are very telling - the guides take local kids and fishermen out to learn about the reef. Uli, an oceanographer from Austria and one of the resident researchers, was also very informative and was available to the guests who had questions about the island and the habitat. She also made hand-made coconut shell candles for people to bring home as souvenirs.

* The guided walks: The guides lead amazing walks. There is a night walk, about 20-30 minutes that's just steps away from the main building. You see these huge coconut crabs, the largest crabs ever. They are very shy but the guides know where to find them. I also highly recommend the walk around the island. It is available only seasonally, during the couple of days around the full moon because that's when the tide draws out sufficiently to be able to walk "around" the island. Our guide showed us so many creatures - from clams, to oysters, to all kinds of crabs and starfish that are literally hiding in the exposed reef. The whole exposed reef is so beautiful and so amazing once you realize how teeming with life it is.

* Hermit crabs: Seriously, the cutest things ever. Each exotic shell is taken up by one of these creatures who crawl on the sand, mostly at night. In the mornings, you see their tracks criss-crossing the sand paths. Very cute and very shy.

* Amazing snorkeling: I've snorkeled off of the coast of Koh Tao in Thailand and on the Big Island in Hawaii, so I have high expectations for my snorkeling. The snorkeling at Chumbe is superb - the reef is beautiful and in addition to all kinds of fish, you can spot some sting rays as well.

* The toilets are compost, which is not bad at all, since there is a basket of fresh dirt by the toilet and it gets refilled daily. Just put some dirt on it, and the smell is gone. So that was a lot better than other compost toilets I've experienced.


I wouldn't call it "the bad", but some things to keep in mind:

* If you want to stay right on the beach or if you're traveling with another couple, ask for bungalows 6 and 7. They are a little bit separate from the rest, are located at the end and share a small private sandy area. They are also the closest to the beach. Given that we had reserved well over a year in advance and were traveling with another couple, we fully expected to be accommodated next to each other and have similar bungalows. However, another visiting couple was given bungalow 7 and our friends and I were given a choice of bungalows 5 or 6. The problem was that bungalow 5 is quite a walk from bungalow 6 and we wanted to be close together. Also, bungalow 6 is so much better than bungalow 5 - it is bigger, sits right on the beach, has a bigger and nicer bathroom, and it has a sea view, which bungalow 5 doesn't. On top of that, when we checked in, it was hot, and bungalow 5 felt oppressively stuffy behind its wall of bush. I figured out quickly that the guests in bungalow 7 would leave after 2 nights and asked to be switched from 5 to 7 for the remaining 2 nights so we can share the private sandy area with our friends. The manager called the main office in Zanzibar, only to be told that they didn't want to switch arrangements. Luckily, my travel agent got involved and managed to get us next to our friends, in the better bungalow for the last two nights of our stay. But the first day, my husband and I were pretty bummed since we had just completed 36 hours of travel from California, had been looking forward to a bungalow on the beach for over a year and instead got a bungalow "in the bush".

* Be aware that during low tides (around full moon), you will need to walk quite a bit to the boat to get to Chumbe and back from Chumbe. The hotel provides walking rubber shoes but you need to keep in mind that walking to the boat adds a good 15-20 minutes to the 45 minute trip on each end - embarking and disembarking. Luckily, the staff takes that into account when planning your arrival and departure. In fact, everything on the island runs according to the tide - snorkeling, breakfast, lunch, island walks, etc.

* If you're staying on Chumbe and not staying in Zanzibar at all, you may want to do a day trip to see Stone Town. I would recommend you get a morning boat and then pay for a boat to bring you back for lunch. Stone Town can be seen in a few hours and is quite dirty and depressing in comparison to Chumbe. We couldn't wait to get out of Stone Town when we visited. The second recommendation is - HIRE A GUIDE, you will feel safer. You see, normally tourists hire guides from the hotels in Zanzibar where they are staying. Ask at the Mbweni Ruins Hotel (the point of departure for Chumbe) for a guide, even if it's just for a few hours. We made the mistake of not hiring a guide since we were told we can just walk by ourselves. Even though we were dressed very appropriately - long pants, long sleeves and even covered heads for the women, we got accosted everywhere by people wanting to sell us something or take us somewhere. On top of it, we started noticing the same people passing us by and circling around us on foot or on a bicycle. We were being stared at everywhere and felt uncomfortable and unsafe. We heard from other tourists that they'd had a great time with a walking guide and had been left alone. So hire a guide if you go for a day trip to Zanzibar from Chumbe.

Room Tip: Bungalows 6 and 7 are closest to the beach and share a private beachy area.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chumbe Island Coral Park

Address: Chumbe Island, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Zanzibar
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Zanzibar
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Chumbe Island Coral Park 3*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Award-winning exclusive private island, fully managed nature reserve and marine park. Guided tours included through spectacular coral reef, forest and mangrove nature trails, historic lighthouse and visitors' centre. State-of-the-art zero-footprint eco-architecture (photovoltaic energy, rainwater harvesting, solar water heating, composting toilets). Free environmental education programs for local schools. Winner of British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow award 1999, UNEP Global500 award 2000, National Geographic Geotourism Challenge award 2008, finalist Aga Khan award for architecture. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Chumbe Island Coral Park Hotel Zanzibar
Chumbe Island Coral Park Zanzibar

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