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“A high risk destination”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Thonga Beach Lodge

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Thonga Beach Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Cirencester, UK
Level Contributor
15 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“A high risk destination”
Reviewed March 9, 2009

What's good:
-it really is in the middle of nowhere and very wild and beautiful
-staff were excellent -friendly, helpful etc. Check that Kevin and Bev are still running it before booking
-room was great and well equipped
-food was first class (NB chef is leaving in 6 months and cooking in this remote location where the food arrives once a week from Durban is not for your average chef!)

What's not good:
-getting there. It takes hours by car from anywhere but the worst bit is the last hour plus being bumped around in the back of an old pick up truck (200,000 km on the clock!) from the car drop off

-the sea is often quite rough (with a dangerous undertow and rip tide). We could neither swim or snorkel (or dive if we wanted to) and it had been like this for at least 8 days! And there is not much else to do! Rough seas are particularly common at equinoxes.

-contrary to the website there is no proper swimming pool only a plunge pool (the photo is misleading). So for us no swimming in either ocean or pool!

-unless you have a seaview room, you have no view! Literally you look straight into a dense forest a couple of metres from the balcony

So the key question is, given the possibility of rough seas and its remoteness (you need at least 3 nights there for it to be worthwhile), is it worth the risk? Do your homework before booking as this place could go downhill very easily.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank elfandsafety
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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346 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (72)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
327 reviews
301 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 491 helpful votes
Reviewed January 25, 2009

This is the perfect place to unwind and relax. A vast beach without a building in sight. Lovely accommodation, good food, friendly staff and plenty of activities to do.
The beach is absolutely fantastic, the sea surprisingly warm but with quite a strong current. From the beach it is almost impossible to see the Lodge which has been built very sympathetically towards the environment.
The rooms are very comfortable and equipped with every modern luxury including AC, a fridge, a fantastic bath and panoramic windows.
The staff is excellent, many from the local villages and some from further afield. Every one of them seem to go out of their way to make sure you have a good stay. The food was delicious - the chef being fairly new and perhaps something which has been criticized in previous reviews.
For the active there is diving, snorkelling, whale-watching, turtle tracking, sundowner trips and plenty more on offer. For the less active a spa and the chance to sunbathe on such a fantastically beautiful beach.
Thonga Beach exceeded our expectations and we would certainly return.

  • Liked — Remote, understated luxury. Staff. Supports the local economy. Peaceful
  • Disliked — Cannot think of anything
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank heb999
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Level Contributor
138 reviews
110 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
Reviewed December 7, 2008

A jewel on the beach, with a mere 20 guest (they have around 12 luxury bungalows hidden amongst the dune vegetation) for some 30 km of white sand beach and noone else there.

As soon as you start the sand road off the main tar road, just enjoy relax, nature and seaside. The place is beautiful, the staff is all yours to ensure you have a beautiful stay. Cuisine is just excellent.

Do not miss the turtle tour at night, it is amazing to watch those animals (we both saw a loggerhead and a leatherback turtle) amongst the oldest ones on earth, making their way on the beach and laying their eggs before going back to the ocean.

This is the best seaside lodge I have ever experienced.

  • Stayed November 2007, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Pippononlosa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
41 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed December 3, 2008

From the minute we parked out car in the Cashew nut farm we knew Thonga would be a great place to stay. Spotted our first whales off the beach as we were being shown round the facilities and enjoyed every minute of our stay.
The food was superb, atmosphere relaxed and friendly.
Highlight was seeing a giant leatherback turtle making its way up the beach.
Room was very comfortable though I would recommend stretching to a sea view one if you can afford it.

  • Liked — The stone bath
  • Disliked — The home made biscuits left with the tea making equipment were too tempting
  • Stayed November 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Platy6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Europe
Level Contributor
277 reviews
107 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 180 helpful votes
Reviewed December 1, 2008

As you drive down the final steep hill the rounded end of the bay is glimpsed through the trees and you somehow feel that you've come to the right place. As the lodge is really in the middle of nowhere, the beach is beautiful, long and empty. Food during our stay was excellent, staff friendly and attentive and wines remarkably reasonably priced. Atmosphere was successfully relaxed, not that "forced" relaxation that you sometimes find. Given the location, the chef (recently arrived) perfomed wonders. We stayed here the last three nights of our stay in Kwazulu Natal and most other guests seemed to be doing the same; it's certainly a fitting way to end a super holiday. Full marks, by the way, to Chris, who managed during our stay and was always affable and attentive but discreet.

  • Liked — so close to beach but blended into the natural surroundings
  • Disliked — liked it all
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank cliffordchambers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
montreal
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed May 23, 2008

Martin and Carla, Montreal, Canada

We got married at Thonga. We had a amazing experience as everything, and we mean everything, was picture perfect.

From all the staff, to the location (2 hours away in a natural reserve), to lodging, food, activities, the beach and even the weather was picture perfect.

Don't expect to be staying in at the Hilton in Hawaii (it's secluded) but if that's what you are looking for you shouldn't be disapointed. In order to give you an idea the morning of our wedding we went kayaking in lake Sibaya with crocks and hippos.

The online pictures you can see don't really make it make it up to the beauty of the location. Naturally it's a little pricy but we expect to pay more for luxury in remote areas.

Overall, we appreaciate ALL the staff above everything else as everyone went above and beyond to make our (too) short stay an amazing memory.

We will be back.

  • Liked — Everything!
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank marthud
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
london
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed February 20, 2008

We sought refuge at Thonga Beach after a horrendous 30 hour stay in Rocktail Bay and the whole experience could not have been better.

to start, all of the staff were exceptional. they genuinely cared about our previous problems and did everything in their power to assist, and to try and put the rocktail nightmare behind us. This included everyone at the resort - not just Kevin, Bev, and the other managers - but right down to the bar staff and the maids.
they salvaged our honeymoon (and the marriage?!) and have left us with a fantastic memory of south africa.

the food was excellent, especially (unfortunately for my waist) the afternoon cakes and desserts - had it not been my honeymoon I would have been tempted to elope with the lady responsible for these culinary delights.

the activities were very well organised, with all staff very knowledgeable and keen to assist - even on occasions when we were the only ones partaking.

The lodge has wonderfully relaxed feel where you can do as much or as little as you desire, where you can wile away the hours on the deserted beach, take to a kayak on th nearby lake to look for hippos or dive into the sea for snorkelling or diving. yes the water can be a little rough, but that is the nature of this part of the world! but it is around 24C.

And the best bit was the night turtle drives, 3 loggerheads and a 170cm leatherback all laying their eggs on the beach - a truly amazing experience.

I cannot thank the guys at Thonga enough for their hospitality, or recommend their resort with the gusto that I believe it deserves. Thanks for a truly glorious stay.

(p.s. whilst you are there, make sure you have a bottle of KanonKop...)

  • Stayed January 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank sjm23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Thonga Beach Lodge

Property: Thonga Beach Lodge
Address: In Isimangaliso World Heritage Wetland Park | Mabibi, iSimangaliso Wetland Park 4399, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Thonga Beach Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This intimate, luxury lodge is nestled on the pristine coast of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, within the Isimangaliso World Heritage Park. Its clear, warm waters offer superb snorkeling and unspoiled off-shore scuba diving, arguably the best in South Africa. Air conditioned suites, mouth-watering cuisine, romantic candlelight dinners on the beach and relaxing Sea Spa treatments. Guided forest walks, kayaking, sundowners and seasonal turtle tracking. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Thonga Beach Hotel Mabibi
Thonga Beach Lodge KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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