This was the first place we stayed in Zanzibar. We travelled to every major village on the Island: Kizimkazi, Jambiani, Bwejuu, Paje, Uroa, Matemwe, Kendwa, Nungwi and Stone town the capital.
From all of our experience, Jambiani was the best place to stay. It was so good that we changed our plans for our last night and went through a 4h journey in the boiling heat to reach the place of our dreams.
When we look back at our trip and all the places we saw, it might seem a bit strange to an outsider that we judge this place as the best spot. Don't expect luxury when going there: hot water is not always running; all the food on the menu is not always available and it is sometimes slow. When you go to Zanzibar you don't expect to live with the same comfort than you are used to lets say in Europe but it is exactly the way life should be experienced on the island.
First of all, the hotel is in perfect harmony with nature and the landscape. The infrastructure of the Seaview Lodge is made of palm trees, the roof being made of their leaves and the framework from the trunks of the same tree. Coconut trees give a natural symmetry, dividing the space between the rooms and the restaurant, creating a sandy alleyway beneath their shade. There are four rooms, all directly on the beach, so you are lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves and awake to see the sunrise over the ocean and the fishermen on their dhow boats, carried by the wind in their sails. You will feel that time does not exist any longer as you know it, everything is paced by sun, the moon and nature. Inside the rooms are furnished in the traditional Zanzibari fashion. We slept very comfortably, the only sound being that of the ocean. The cleaner comes several times a day to ensure everything is as clean as a whistle and to spray mosquito repellant and put the nets down in the evening...his name is Bakari, he is 16 years old and would love you to play football with him on the beach in the morning. If you brought a t-shirt from your home town as a gift for him he would be over the moon.
At the lobby you will find Suleiman, the manager of the Lodge. He has a heart of gold and will accommodate your every need, no matter what time of day or night. We saw him waking at 3am to give breakfast to people checking out early, no request having been made for this, it just being his kindness and passion in making your stay unforgettable. He has many friends in the village of Jambiani, one of them, Hassan (the Robat) can arrange many activities including fishing, snorkelling, sailing...This man was the most generous and genuine person we met. We went sailing with him and his brother on one of the traditional Dhow boats and immediately built a relationship with him. Hassan is very well known in Jambiani village, you can even ask for him 5km away from the village and people will know exactly who you are speaking of. We felt very lucky to be invited by him to his family home for dinner during Ramadan. Having a girl sitting with the guys to eat when usually all the other women sit separately with the children demonstrated his open mindedness. It was the best meal we have ever had, cooked by his wife and eaten sitting on a Kanga under the stars, dipping our hands in a common pot in near total darkness. His children were holding our hands when we arrived, lighting our path to the food that awaited us before disappearing to leave the men together. We decided to invite him for dinner the following day and asked him to pick a place he would like to go. We expected him to choose a place along the beach, where he would ordinarily not be able to afford to eat but instead he chose a small local place in the heart of the village, putting himself behind us in order that we could discover his world. We were amazed by how someone with so little could nourish and build his own happiness on genuine feelings and the happiness and enjoyment of others rather than on any material possession.
The kitchen staff at the lodge were born with a smile. The whole village of Jambiani is like a huge family, everyone helping everyone else out and the staff at the lodge are a part of that family, enjoying life together, working together, supporting each other. We never felt this so much in any of the other places we visited on the island.
If you would like to have a cocktail or a beer note that Seaview Lodge do not serve any alcohol, in keeping with the local muslim culture. Fear not...the Shadow Bar is less than five minutes walk away along the beach. Here you will be welcomed by the clone of Bob Marley and can have all that goes with this ;)
Invite me to the most luxurious hotel in Mnemba Island, Matemwe private resorts, Nungwi.....I would tell you no thank-you I am staying at Seaview lodge. Tanzania is known as the womb of humanity among many African people so surely Jambiani should be the capital of Tanzania.
Thank you for everything Suleiman, Hassan, Bakari and all the kitchen staff for making those 5 days the best moments we ever had.
Alice and Leo