This is a well-run hotel that delivers everything it claims on its web site. There are some minor drawbacks, but those should not put you off this delightful luxurious sanctuary in northern Zanzibar.
The journey from the airport is about 1.5 hours, but the roads are smoothly metalled until about 400m from the hotel gates. Your transfer will probably be included in your package, and is likely to be a comfortable air conditioned people carrier. The north end of the island doesn't really have any tourist attractions except the turtle sanctuary (a 20-minute walk along the beach from Ras Nungwi) and several dive centres in and around Nungwi. The village of Nungwi itself is a $7 taxi ride away or 20-minute walk at low tide, and is an authentic Zanzibari fishing village, which presents an embarrassingly stark contrast in life style to the opulence of the resorts. There is a beach cafe, Cholo's, that offers late night disco and live music, which is pretty popular by all accounts, although we didn't have a great experience there.
The resort is completely self-contained, with pool, tennis court (we didn't indulge), good restaurant (of which more to come), games room, TV room (for those who need their fix), bar and lots of chill-out areas with soft seating. You'll get a tour on arrival. The place is pristinely maintained by a friendly staff, and is secure for those who worry about the reputation for petty crime that the guide books ascribe to Zanzibar (we saw no evidence of that).
I always worry about repetitive boring food in half-board packages in self-contained resorts, and usually avoid them. However, the Ras Nungwi offers superb food with a rich variety, and, frankly, more available than you could possibly eat. Breakfast is a comprehensive buffet, lunch is a set a la carte menu with daily specials, and dinner is different every day with at least three options on offer. If there isn't something on the set or a la carte menu that you fancy, they seem very happy to prepare an alternative. Beers and spirits are reasonably priced, whereas wines are imported and on the expensive side ($30 upwards a bottle). Half Board does not include drinks. There are other eating options in Nungwi itself, but we were disappointed when we tried that and therefore reverted to eating in the resort.
This is a small resort with 30-odd rooms, so it never feels busy. The rooms are, except the Ocean Suite, located in semi-attached bungalows, or terraces; the more you pay, the closer you are to the ocean. (If you're a light sleeper, the crashing waves may keep you awake if you're on the sea front!)
The rooms are very similar in spec, with location being the main difference. We had a superior deluxe on the beachfront; about 25 paces to the beach. As I type this, I am sat on the veranda watching the waves roll in.
Bathrooms are well appointed with plenty of products, including insect repellent and regularly refreshed towels. They have deluge showers with hand attachments.
The beds are huge, with good mosquito nets, and you have mosquito netting on the windows too. There's air conditioning, hair dryer, room safe, and lots of three-pin UK-style plug sockets. Electricity is pretty reliable with a back-up generator when the grid fails (once every couple of days or so).
The beach has soft white sand, but is not usable at high tide. The hotel has therefore constructed its own elevated beach that is unaffected by the sea. The sea is lively with rollers coming in from the Indian Ocean, that break over a reef about 200m offshore. most guests don't go in the sea as there's a lovely fresh water pool (0.5 to 2.2m deep). if you do go in the sea, there is nothing really to see fish-wise until the reef 200m out; the only ones dedicated enough to go that far are the local spear fishermen! Within the resort there are lots of sun beds and hammocks, and there were always some free - no early starts needed to secure a decent position!
There is a fully equipped PADI dive centre with a couple of instructors and a few divemasters. I'll write a separate review of that, but, for completeness here, it offers what most divers need, with appropriate safety and expertise.
Watersports can be booked through the dive centre (parasailing, jet skis, etc.), but they are off the resort and I didn't try them. I saw one kite-surfer only throughout the week; the water sports are low key - it's nice not to be disturbed by hooligans on jet skis!
Now the things it is missing. A gym is the main omission, although at low tide you can run for several kilometres along the beach in either direction. I ran for 30 minutes out and 30 back, in bare feet on the sand and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd suggest that they are missing an opportunity to offer morning yoga or pilates classes for those guests looking to restore body as well as spirit.
WiFi is slightly unreliable and only in the bar and lounge area, this could be extended. And finally, reception wasn't able to offer any meaningful money changing facilities. (Everything on the island can be bought in Tanzanian Shillings or US Dollars, but things are about 10% cheaper if you pay in Shillings.)
Honestly , there's not really much that I'd want to change here; it's close to perfection for a quiet luxury resort.
Go to the Ras Nungwi expecting tranquility, comfort, good food, surgical cleanliness, excellent service and a true getaway - you will leave having been fulfilled.
A post script about the staff. They are plentiful, and, without exception, friendly, helpful and dedicated to providing good service. Most seem to speak several languages at least in basic form (there is an international clientele - Australian, Brits, German, French, Italian, Dutch, American, Canadian, South African, Polish were encountered in our week).
the more you pay, the closer you are to the sea.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.