We chose this resort as part of our honeymoon on Zanzibar. We stayed in Chumbe Island (amazing), Stonetown (worth a night stopover) and Nungwe (Langi Langi hotel). Of these, Pongwe had the best beach and just a wonderful air of relaxation about it. From the moment you arrive you realise that you are somewhere special. The staff are lovely, the food really good and the beach - stunning. We were worried about the sea and the tide going out for long periods of the day. It does indeed go right back to the reef (probably over half a mile out) but we needn't have worried. Taking a stroll out in the pools that the sea leaves behind in the amazing sand, decorated with the occasional coral was simply wonderful. You will need soled footwear of some kind - beach shoes or diving shoes are perfect, as the sea floor is full of razor clams which could hurt you if you walked unprotected. I have never seen such amazing starfish and sea urchins as those that lie in wait for strollers on Pongwe Beach.
We asked for a remote room and we got the one right on the edge of the resort. This was our only mistake as the room didn't have any glass in the windows and when the tide comes in you are only a few feet from the rocks. This sounds very romantic but if there is any wind at all, you will get waves breaking on the rocks and this kept us awake for long periods. Unfortunately it was quite windy during our stay which meant a very noisy night, every night. I would appeal to the owners to glaze the two rooms by the sea front. The views are amazing and you simply stroll out of your room, down some steps and onto a wonderful beach. If we had had a good nights sleep there then our stay would have been perfect.
The staff are lovely, we had some fun with them and if you chat to them and take an interest your stay will be all the more interesting.
We were invited to feed the bushbaby that comes into the bar most nights - a great experience. We took some banana and waited up outside our room to see another bush baby jump down in front of us and take the food. I should point out that whilst they are lovely to watch, they make a loud noise like a child being strangled so be prepared to be woken up if you do as we did and put food down for them at night time.
One of the reasons Pongwe is so nice is that at times you can feel that you are the only person there. The beach is sparsely populated with sun beds but there are more than enough to go round for the guests staying there. You never need to go near anyone else on the beach as it stretches a long way and there is no-one there to hassle you. For honeymoon relaxation this is perfect.
Pongwe is mid priced and I would say that is about right. The hotel is laid back and pleasant rather than luxurious and amazing but the beach pulls it up a notch or two. The water supply is salty but this isn't a problem and only really affects showering.
I would point out that for the price you pay for these African resorts it is disappointing to discover that the staff aren't particularly well paid and that they appear to rely on tips to top up their income. Given how much you pay for a room in a hotel like this, it feels wrong (although I obviously don't know the full picture of the hotels overheads).
This is a good hotel with nice staff, good food and a fantastic beach, we certainly preferred to see several parts of the Island rather than just stay in one place and we were certainly glad we went to Pongwe, despite our noisy nights.
- 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 4 Sea View Suites, 13 traditional Beach Villas as well as 3 Garden Rooms 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
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- Also Known As:
- Pongwe Beach Hotel Zanzibar Island