Most people visit Pongwe Beach Hotel for a couple of days tacked on to a long safari holiday. My husband and I went for two weeks after a brief safari and were so happy we did! The unspoilt setting is incredible - sand like velvet, the most beautiful turquoise sea that was so warm we never got that 'ooh!' moment when it hit our stomachs, lovely hammocks and no watersports cluttering the sea, no massive resorts surrounding us or traders hassling us on the beach. Just relaxation and sunshine. We were there when the hotel was nearly full (it can take up to 40 guests) and also much emptier, yet our experience didn't change - it was so quiet and relaxing that often we felt like we had the beach to ourselves. The food was delicious and we soon discovered that we could diverge from the set menu if there wasn't anything that appealed (which happened very rarely). We enjoyed the Swahili dinners and music on Saturday and even a roast dinner on Sunday (the owner is British, so the food is a really delicious fusion of fresh Zanzibar ingredients cooked in quite a European way). I'd read a bunch of reviews about bad service in the restaurant and cannot stress enough how out of date those are, as our experience for the full fortnight was of very attentive waiting staff and excellently-paced service - we were never left waiting for any course and can only assume that the management took previous criticisms to heart as we had absolutely no complaints about the service or quality of food at all. All the Pongwe staff were really friendly and helpful, we felt incredibly safe all the time, our room was cleaned very well and a tap at the foot of the path to our cottage helped us keep sandy feet out of the room. Fresh fruit hour at 4pm was a delight - having pineapple, watermelon or coconut delivered to us wherever we were on the beach, by the pool or on the sunbeds outside our room. Ignore what people say about the brackish shower water - though it is brackish, I didn't spot any difference with regular water and felt nice and clean after a day on the beach / in the ocean, before heading to supper. Budget for bottled water - a 1.5 bottle is $1.50 - and be sure to stock up on things like suncream before you get there, as there is no hotel shop or shops nearby at which to buy necessities. The hotel provides shower gel, shampoo, soap and body moisturiser in the room. The lovely relaxing quietness and stunning beauty of the remote location means that excursions are pretty expensive as everywhere is quite far away - Stone Town is a $100 roundtrip in a taxi - but that didn't bother us too much as we just loved hanging out at the beach. Electricity stayed on 24 hrs a day and the backup generator kicked in immediately whenever there was a glitch in the supply, so we had no problems at all. Beach dining was lovely, the pool (saltwater) is gorgeous and the internet in the lobby was pretty reliable. We enjoyed kayaking off the beach in the free hotel kayaks but would recommend anyone hoping to snorkel to take your own mask and snorkel, as the hotel equipment is a bit ropey. We did one $15 snorkel trip off the beach, in the hotel's little boat, but didn't see too much (and had leaking masks). Instead, we were really glad that we invested in the $60 snorkel trips to the Mnemba Atoll offered by the One Ocean dive centre at a massive resort about 10 mins' drive away (you get a free ride there and back if there are at least two of you) - it's a half day trip with amazing equipment, INCREDIBLE coral and fish, terrific guides and delicious snacks halfway through the trip. Highly recommended. We really cannot fault Pongwe and, most unusually, will definitely be going back, as it is literally paradise in every possible way - the photos do not lie!
- Also Known As:
- Pongwe Beach Hotel Zanzibar
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated on what could perhaps be described as the best beach in Zanzibar, Pongwe Beach Hotel is a tranquil place where one can escape the hustle and bustle of modern day life. It is modestly sized, with ten traditional sea view cottages and has an intimate, personal atmosphere. Set within a secluded bay on the east coast of Zanzibar, Pongwe Beach is a true paradise retreat. ... more less