The main reason we chose to stay on Chumbe was because of its environmental credentials. We found that they fully lived up to our expectations. The main building and all the chalets are constructed from sustainable local materials, which works really well. The rooms are simple but surprisingly comfortable, with a good wide bed upstairs where the sea breezes are the best form of aircon, and a swinging day bed downstairs which is better than any hammock. The collected rainwater is wonderfully soft and well heated by solar panels for a perfectly good shower. Despite the open front, the rooms were nice and private, being set among the palms and bushes.
We thought we would have a couple of days to sunbathe and read books but actually we were occupied by snorkelling, an intertidal walk, a short forest walk (guests are only allowed on half the island to protect the rare antelope), climbing the lighthouse and an evening viewing of the amazing coconut crabs. When we did have a little time to lie in the sun, we found all the loungers occupied by day visitors to the Island, which felt a bit unfair, given the cost of staying on Chumbe. Maybe there should be a small sitting area outside each chalet.
The activities are simple but enjoyable and you can have an enthusiastic guide to show you round and spot the wildlife such as the brightly coloured starfish, octopus hiding under some shells, the crabs and a beautiful kingfisher fast asleep on a branch. The snorkelling equipment provided was very good and two of the staff came with us to help those less experienced. Unfortunately we went at very high tide so the reef was at a bit of a depth from us. Also the day was quite windy so there was a fair swell causing the visibility not to be as good as I believe it can be. Even so it was obvious that the coral is extensive, with plenty of fish, and we saw a fabulous turtle!
Meals took up another good part of the day, with breakfast and lunch in the main open building, facing the sea, and dinner on a quiet, sheltered patch of sand, romantically lit by lanterns. Torches are essential for getting between room and dining area, but there are plenty of solar powered lights in the chalets. The food was excellent, my only complaint being that there was too much! I hate having to leave food, but the lovely waiting staff kept bringing large portions. All the staff we met were very friendly and welcoming.
One word of advice: the tidal range in Zanzibar is huge. If you are unlucky enough to travel to the Island at low tide (as we were) you have to negotiate a beach on Zanzibar which has patches of mud/quicksand and plenty of black spiny sea urchins, and then wade up to knee depth to the boat. Some good rubber/plastic beach shoes (not flipflops) and shorts are essential.
We went to Chumbe after a walking safari in Zambia, thinking a couple of nights would be enough to rest and enjoy all that it had to offer. We were wrong. We should have stayed longer - to snorkel at a different time, and to bag a sun lounger! Even so, we really enjoyed the ambience of the place, and it's living up to the eco-friendly claims. I wish there were more tourist destinations like this which DO protect the natural environment.
When there are only 7 chalets, it is irrelevent.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.