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“Experience of a lifetime”

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Chumbe Island Coral Park
Ranked #8 of 168 Hotels in Zanzibar Island
Certificate of Excellence
Cheltenham
Level Contributor
40 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Experience of a lifetime”
Reviewed November 1, 2012

There are two places I have visited that have really exceeded my expectations in a truly awesome way. Anjajavy in Madagascar and Chumbe Island in Zanzibar.

What you get here is so out of the ordinary it's hard to compare with others. 7 rooms populate this tiny island 45 mins boat trip from Zanzibar.

A true 'eco' reserve, it's certainly not 5* in the classic sense - stay away if you want luxury and room service, but the experience for real travellers is 5* and beyond. (towels are provided btw!)

Everything (except alcohol) is included - inc several snorkelling trips a day and the food is exceptional being made fresh by John the chef.

Snorkelling was great - all the usual fish, Turtles and even (harmless) reef sharks came up to the beach one lunch time. The coral gardens are wonderful to see.

The lodges are basic but wonderful, close to the beach and you are sent asleep every night by the waves and awoken looking to the empty beach from your bed. No doors, no windows, but somehow it just felt like the most comfy place ever.

If you are planning a trip to Zanzibar, forget the spice tours, make sure you visit Chumbe - but book early - there's only 7 rooms. (no I don't work for them!)

Room Tip: All face the sea. We had Rm1, but they all look great!
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank Terry D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Kampala
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed October 25, 2012

We decided to go on a day trip to Chumbe Island on the last day of our ten-day stay on Zanzibar. Zanzibar is beautiful, but Chumbe Island is even more beautiful. The boat ride there wasn't my favourite part of the day, the sea was a bit rough, but we arrived to the island and were welcomed by the friendly staff. The walk through the coral rag forest was interesting, thanks to the many explanations given by the knowledgeable guide. We then had some time to relax before lunch. Lunch buffet was delicious. After that, we went snorkeling. There was a proper briefing before going (which wasn't the case for the other snorkeling we did on Zanzibar the days before), and although the visibility was a bit limited at first (there were some waves moving up sand), it improved later and the underwater world was simply amazing. I am not a coral reef or snorkeling expert, but I do know I enjoyed it a lot and that it was much more impressive than the other snorkeling we did on Zanzibar. Also, we were given a lot of time to snorkel, more than two hours. After that, we enjoyed a shower, and climbed the stairs of the lighthouse to see the small island from up there, before taking the boat back to Zanzibar Island.
The day trip was great and well organised, and I really appreciated the fact that they did not treat day visitors as some kind of "second class" visitors in comparison to the people spending the night there. Day guests were also given an eco-bungalow for the day to leave their things and take a shower after snorkeling, something I thought was very nice.
Chumbe Island has made a real effort in developing ecological tourism on the island while at the same time protecting it as a nature reserve. I also appreciate the fact that the money generated by tourism on the island is used to protect the exceptional coral reef and to sensitise both school children and fishermen on the importance of the reef.
I am not sure, though, whether spending a night at Chumbe Island is worth 260 to 280 USD. I guess it all depends on your budget, but I find it quite expensive. The day trip, however, is worth 90 USD and it is a perfect activity to end your holidays on Zanzibar with!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Ekeni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NJ
Level Contributor
39 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed October 24, 2012

We stayed here in Sept for two nights. The boat ride out takes 30-40 mins but beware that you may have to walk through knee-high water to get to the boat depending on the tide. They have staff who will carry your luggage. We left most of our luggage back at our hotel in Stone Town where it was stored until we returned back to Stone Town. I would highly recommend trying to do this if you are not traveling lightly (which we weren't). I am glad we didn't try to move all our luggage out to the island with us. My suggestion would be to pack a small to medium duffel with what you need for a few days, and store the rest.

Once out to the island we had a warm greeting and then a discussion of the day's activities. On most days, snorkeling and a forest tour are offered as well as a tidal walk. The times change each day, however, based on the tidal times. So, be prepared to change fast and get ready to go snorkeling perhaps.

The bungalows were awesome. Reminded me of Swiss Family Robinson. Very unique design and layout built with local materials. Comfortable sofa and hammock on the downstairs floor along with a very comfortable bathroom with toilet (eco-friendly) and a great shower with plenty of hot water. The rainwater is collected into a cistern below the unit which is then pumped up to the top each day. Upstairs was a very comfortable bed with shelves for storage as well as a hugh "picture window" which can be raised or lowered to provide for a spectacular view of the ocean. The units are relatively close so you can hear some noise from next door, but this was minimal. One suggestion for management would be to space the guests further apart when the bungalows are not fully occupied, to provide for a bit more privacy.

The "beach" area has plenty of chairs and two person covered swinging mattresses which were great to relax and read on. Don't expect a lot of sand on the beach but the views are great. The tide really rises and falls a lot, almost 4 meters each time, when we were there.

The meals were quite good, especially considering one is on an island in an eco-lodge! The staff was efficient and very friendly. Ask for a private candlelight dinner at the point if this is a romantic holiday! Guarantee you won't be disappointed.

The snorkeling was good. The second day we went the water was a bit more choppy and the visibility was not as good but there was lots to see. They do have snorkel equipment there, but you might want to consider bringing your own mask and snorkel (use their fins) and then donating them to the lodge for their use after you leave. They do have groups of local kids there at times and can use the extra gear. Besides, that makes more room in your luggage for all the souvenirs you will be picking up in Stone Town :)

The tidal walk was our favorite activity. Lots of bright red starfish and crabs. We walked all the way around the island and took tons of photos. The forest walk was also very good and climbing up the lighthouse provided for a spectacular, if windy, view.

The trail can easily be hiked on your own if you want some more quiet time.

The guides were all quite knowledgable and friendly, as were the rest of the staff for that matter. Everyone was obviously trying to make our stay there as pleasant as possible.

Ask them to take you on the trail at night to see the coconut crabs. Even though I was expecting something big, I was shocked as to how large they are. If you are brave, take a flashlight out in the evening and walk along some of the trails and look for crabs. You will see all sorts and sizes. First thing in the morning, look at all the tracks they made.

They also have daytrippers come out when the bungalows aren't all occupied.

We spent two nights here. You can spend just one but I would STRONGLY recommend two nights as a minimum. With one night, you hardly get to do all the activities and with the boat rides back and forth, you hardly get a chance to rest. If you want to relax after a busy safari, this is definitely the place but give yourself two or better yet, three nights to really enjoy the beauty and solitude this place has to offer.

Everything is included in the price including beverages with the meals and the boat out and back, as well as all activities. The only thing not included would be tips for the staff.

After two weeks on safari in Kenya, this was definitely a highlight of our trip and well worth the effort to get there. See the island of Zanzibar but don't miss out on this gem as well.

Recommended enthusiastically!!

Room Tip: Bungalows further down the path are a bit quieter.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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3 Thank LikesToHike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 21, 2012

The first 3 days of our honeymoon could not have been spent in a better way!

The island is a very special place in every way. The people are beautiful and so friendly and hospitable; the food was delicious and fresh; the coral reefs and fish are amazing; and the architecture should get awards for it's simple complexity.

Our only regret is that we were ill for a day - something we picked up on the journey - so we were 'out of action' for a day and so missed a sunset boat trip and romantic dinner for 2. But the staff looked after us and nursed us back to health within 24 hours!

Life lived according to the tides, moon and sun - who could ask for more? We will definitely go back to this excellent Eco Lodge

Room Tip: The last pair of huts (numbers 6 & 7) have the best private beach. We were in hut 1 which was a...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Sarah M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
uk
Level Contributor
66 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed October 17, 2012

If you like the extra bit of luxury for your money then this is not the place for you but if you are looking for something unique then check this place out. Your money helps fund this extraordinary location and in return you are provided with an experience to talk about for years as the process of eco tourism is developed.

We added 3 days here at the end of our Tanzanian and Zanzibar tour and began with the knowledgable taxi driver Salim arranged through Chumbe picking us up from our East coast hotel and taking us to the Mbweni ruins in a timely manner to pick up the boat transfer. The office allows you to leave securely bags on the mainland and we recommend using this as depending on the tides the boat transfer staff have to carry the bags a long way. The transfer back on the final morning is at 9am and drivers are available to take you onto your next destination

The activities on the inland centre around the guide rangers and their knowledge of the coral reef , the shore line and the interior including the climb up the lighthouse. We have recommended that a guide is also brought into the site for the night sky which is perfert without the light pollution of majot towns and cities.

The lodges are delightful in their robinson crusoe charm and include one lodge ( no 3) which does not include an upstairs bedroom. The sea is close and at high tides the waves can wake you up but this is part of the charm. Even the compost toilets were not a challenge!

The snorkelling is a one hour current drift down the protected reef in open seas about 200 metres from the shore although the timing and availability is dependent on the tides. We saw loads including reef sharks and a friendly large Hawksbill turtle.

thanks to all the staff that made our stay delightful and enlightening

Room Tip: book early as this will be the place to go and with only 7 rooms is often fully booked
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank steveandjenUk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aachen, Germany
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 14, 2012

When you once again want to be totally one with nature and willing to return to simple but absolut resourcing life-style then you're right on Chumbe : sleep with only the sound of the ocean, walk barefoot all day long with the warm breeze on your skin, wash your hair with soft rainwater and let it dry in the wind, walk empty beaches so soft under your feet ask fresh worked yearst dough, enjoy sun and warm temperatures, absolutely amazing swimming with countless colourful
fishes while snorkeling...enjoy the freshest delicious food with best ingredients from Zanzibar served every day for you by 2 "Mastercooks" : ) in the evening as candle light dinner under bright shining stars ! I had so much fun with the funny and also skilled staff of guardians and rangers, cooks and animal experts always present to your disposal.
It is nothing for people searching for animation, modern entertainement like discothek and so on.
I personally was looking for complete retreat from modern daily life. I met my wishes answered : silence, recentering on myself and the perfect nature wich is always there blessing you everyday with so much gifts and well-being ! Assante Sana Chumbe staff and island ! Eva

Room Tip: all bungalows are beautiful and unique !
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank Eva E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Metzingen, Germany
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed October 6, 2012

Chumbe island is something unique in the touristic sector. The basic concept bears a great attitude and you feel good to spend the money for this ecotourism. The lonesome island let you immerse in the world of Robinson Crusoe centuries ago. The chalets are equipped in Spartan fashion, however, you are not missing anything and even a feeling of pure luxury overwhelms you. The personal service is excellent, everybody is not only kindly, you realize that the people feel good in doing so/what they do. They engage their hearts so in this project, that you as a tourist feel honoured to be part of this even for few days. The snorkelling reef of Chumbe island is rich in variety and biodiversity. Being on Zanzibar it is a MUST to visit this extraordinary place. And as a honeymooner you possibly get a wonderful surprise . Dear Chumbe island team, thank you for this unique experience we went through (it was our personal highlight on our honeymoon!) and we wish you continuing success and joy with the Chumbe island project.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Damian_Germany
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chumbe Island Coral Park

Property: Chumbe Island Coral Park
Address: Chumbe Island, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Zanzibar Island
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Zanzibar Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Chumbe Island Coral Park 3*
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Award-winning exclusive private island, fully managed nature reserve and marine park. Guided tours included through spectacular coral reef, forest and mangrove nature trails, historic lighthouse and visitors' centre. State-of-the-art zero-footprint eco-architecture (photovoltaic energy, rainwater harvesting, solar water heating, composting toilets). Free environmental education programs for local schools. Winner of British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow award 1999, UNEP Global500 award 2000, National Geographic Geotourism Challenge award 2008, finalist Aga Khan award for architecture. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Chumbe Island Coral Park Hotel Zanzibar
Chumbe Island Coral Park Zanzibar

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