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“Great way to end a safari”

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Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel
Ranked #6 of 17 Hotels in Nungwi
Certificate of Excellence
Hopewell Junction, New York, United States
2 reviews
“Great way to end a safari”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 2, 2013

After a two-week wildlife safari, we spent a few days here in order to ease our way back into civilization, and it turned out to be a great choice. The food was fantastic -- incredibly fresh fish, and dishes that were both creative and delicious. The morning breakfast had plenty of variety, and the made-to-order omelettes were done to perfection. Loved the variety of juices and the lemongrass water.

The dive shop had superb service as well as a great selection of dive sites. The dive master was knowledgeable and the entire staff made the dive more fun and less work.

The pool was a little small, but we only went in it briefly to refresh ourselves after a hot afternoon in the salt water, so it was perfect for what we wanted. I can't comment on the price because the hotel was part of the safari package, and it wasn't broken out separately.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mark B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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620 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 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
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
41 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 2, 2013

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).

Room Tip: the more you pay, the closer you are to the sea.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank JimClose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brent Knoll, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
41 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 1, 2013

Warning long review, but please stick with it.

Our son has just graduated, and we stole a couple of weeks to have a quick safari and then get in some diving with him, his girlfriend and our daughter, before he started full time work.
Possibly our last holiday with the whole family, we decided to really go for it.

Ras Nungwi really didn't let us down.
Our flights (through the recently burnt down Nairobi Airport) was delayed, so we arrived at the hotel really late.
The welcome was exceptionally warm and we were shown to our rooms where they had provided sandwiches and plates of fruit.

After a good nights sleep, we went for breakfast and were welcomed by the very engaging Head Chef Samir, who explained how the breakfast buffet worked and checked if we had any special needs.
After breakfast the Assistant manager Sean showed us around the hotel and was extremely helpful.
When we had chilled out a bit and checked in at the dive centre with David, we started to plan our time.
Diving
=====
David, Cholo, Spider and all of the others at the dive centre could not have been more friendly and helpful. We had some great relaxing dives - our son's girlfriend did the Discover Scuba Diving course and dived for the first time at Mnemba where the ones of us that were already qualified also enjoyed two dives so much that we returned a few days later. These and the local dives were among the best that we have had, not quite as good as the Maldives but close, and enhanced by the dive masters making it all a very relaxed and enjoyable time.
We used the Kayaks at low tide when it was calm inside the reef.
David helped us to arrange some Kite surfing lessons, which worked out in the end because David didn't give up despite the difficulties.
David also tried to arrange a Jet Ski safari for us with the external company who offer this, but despite being incredibly expensive, could only muster one Jet Ski, which would be no good for the five of us.
Tours
====
We wanted to do a Stone town tour with a guide, but after the journey from the airport in the dark we were keen to minimise the number of trips we had to make on that road. Sean helped us to arrange the tour on our last day, on the way to our evening flight. We had mixed feelings about the tour, but all finished it having really enjoyed ourselves and wishing that we had longer there. The guide really brought it alive for us, and although we felt that we could have walked around on our own (there were the expected cries and demonstrations from stallholders and shopkeepers, but they accepted "no" and walking away) , we were really pleased to have the guides excellent explanations.
Spice tour
========
I was a little worried about this tour when Samir (the chef) explained that there were no longer any commercial spice farms on the island, and that the tour was at a small community farm run for tourists. My fears were completely unfounded. Our guide spoke excellent English, as well as French to some passers by, was engaging and fun. It was an informative and enjoyable trip out.
Nungwi turtle sanctuary
==================
Both Samir and Sean recommended that we walk to the village to visit the Turtle sanctuary. On the day that we chose, the tides made it difficult, so we got a taxi there, which was really interesting as we got to see the village as we drove through. I am not sure if I would have felt welcome just walking through, although people told us it would be safe. The turtle sanctuary was basic but interesting, and I was glad to support it with the entrance fee.
Then we walked down the beach to the "strip" of hotels bars and cafes. The Dhow building was interesting to see, the beach boys a nuisance, but not as hard to put off as I have found in other parts of the world. The result was to make me glad that we were staying at the Ras Nungwi rather than at any of the other hotels we saw.
We walked back along the beach to the hotel which was OK and felt safe.
Sunset cruise
===========
Sean was kind enough to offer us this for free. The tide was in when we started, so we got quite wet getting into the boat, but as divers swimmers and snorkellers this was fine. I can see some people getting upset by this, but please just chill out. We had a great time, motoring down to Kendwa where we snorkelled and then sailing back as the sun set and we drank beer and wine and eat Pringles.

The food was all excellent, with the barbecue nights a favourite. The kids are a little fussy about what they eat, so some slightly plainer choices on the menu would have been appreciated, but they never went hungry. When Samir noticed our daughter walking away from the sweet choices on Barbecue night he offered her Ice cream, and then dropped by the table to apologise for the delay as they were making the chocolate sauce fresh for her!
I am Type 2 diabetic so requested diet coke for the room fridge, which arrived and I felt a little guilty about how little I drank, because the bar was so friendly a space.

To the people who complain of tiredness, cleanliness and other things about the Ras Nungwi, I have to say that your expectations are completely unreasonable. Just take a look at the rest of the island, and the other hotels and you will see how superb the Ras Nungwi actually is.

If I had to find some negatives, I would mention that our daughter had a bad experience with one of the Spa staff. Our group had two other treatments at the Spa and had no problems, so I have to put this down to a staff problem - she was rude and used inappropriate behaviour even though the treatment was OK. When I mentioned this to the reception staff, and it was taken very seriously. We were refunded and given a free bottle of wine, which I think was too much, but it showed me that it is not the hotels fault.

An even more minor comment is that the bar area was well staffed, but that they were a little inattentive, and sometimes struggled to understand you. We just got used to waving to get attention and being very careful to make ourselves understood - After all we do not speak Swahili :-)

We had the cheaper garden rooms which were fantastic. I can see the comments of others complaining that some of the sea view rooms don't have much of a view, but how much time to you need to spend in your room when there are such exceptional spaces as the bar, pool and sun lounger areas.
I would go for the garden rooms again and be happy with the choice.

I could not be happier with the whole experience and hope that the details I have given will be helpful to others.
I make it a point to go to different places each trip, but this is one of the few places that tempts me to break that rule.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank pwarnes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
La Ciotat, France
Level Contributor
97 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 31, 2013

If It was just for food, Chef Samir would gain 5 stars for some of the most creative and interesting food I have ever eaten in Africa.

The room was a little shabby, with mould and a lack of attention to cleanliness, but the staff and friendliness made up for it.

It is a real pity that the beach has been all but washed away, with no sand at high tide.

Room Tip: ask for a water front room - but not room 1 - which has NO privacy
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank mikel58
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kelowna
Level Contributor
22 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 30, 2013

Over $7500.00 for all inclusive (no alcohol) for 7 nights which was too much money considering what you got. Staff are great but expect tips on top of the that. Place was a bit tired looking. Dive staff were wonderful. Chef was very good.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Mamabear1971
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
18 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 25, 2013

I turned up here early August with three of the toughest people on earth to please. A 16 year old son who thinks getting out of bed before midday is harsh, a 7 year old girl who wants to spend most of her day in a pool, and a 13 year old son who dreams of seeing rhino, day in, day out.
We spent 6 days here, and I can say that all 3 of those characters raved about the place. The eldest DID get out of bed, to do the Open Water PADI course, during which he started to realise that life is full of interesting people...and he was dead impressed with the dive instructors. I was told..'Karl can speak 7 languages..is only 31, and has been here, there and everywhere'. My response ? 'Cracking stuff..he'll not have achieved that by lying around in bed...'.
My daughter would get up as soon as she could...7ish..and blast along to the breakfast to engage with the lovely lady in charge of the waffle machine...and by the time I turned up 1/2 an hour or so later, she was on waffle number 3, perched on a cushion and being treated wonderfully by the attentive staff. The dining is really a major part of this place...the breakfasts are superb (I had forgotten just how wonderful banana fritters can be with a touch of lime), and are usually highly interesting due to the gentle tones of Samir the chef informing of the upcoming dinner. He is a wonderfully engaging individual, clearly in his element when describing the pleasures of creating dishes...I simply enjoyed listening to someone with so much enthusiasm. My children emerged from Ras Nungwi understanding that soup is actually something that is highly enjoyable, and not simply to be looked at and rejected with 'Ugh'. The second son developed a habit of having a second or third plate of soup in the evening. Fish (yes..FISH) was eaten by the kids. Glorious. We all enjoyed the talk Samir gave on how to use spices in cooking...conducted one afternoon on the lower area.
The hotel never felt crowded..in fact it was quite the opposite,yet was some 80% full when we were there. The pool is in a brilliant position...overlooking the ocean which has a colour that is impossibly perfect. My daughter spent a lot of time in that pool, and I also got her down onto the beach to swim in the Indian Ocean - marvellously warm...and with only a few gentle waves.
The clientele are a mixture...Germans, Dutch, South African, English, Canadian..a real mixture. In the evening, people gather in the open-air lounge area, and are all focused on their phones ipads etc..the fear of 'being out of touch'. But..go there TO ESCAPE all that..and you certainly can. You can also learn how to play Bao, without some nerdy app.
No TV in the room...great. In fact, I didn't see a TV all week..but I guess there is one somewhere....and if the wifi slows down...who cares? How often do you get a chance to see the Indian Ocean in its perfect glory, walk on wonderful sand, listen to a chef enthuse about today's tuna catch (and fetch a piece of a ray to show you how it is prepared), accept fruit offered from a waiter who pitches up at about 10:30, then afternoon biscuits at about 15:00...and so on. We went diving and saw plenty of superb stuff, but it was the sheer escapism that I enjoyed.
As for those difficult to please kids...at the end of 6 days we were all sad to leave, and went knowing it is unlikely we will ever be together in such a bubble of gentle, lazy-hazy time.

Room Tip: We had a couple of beach-facing rooms...worth paying the extra for that, I'd say.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Topofkilimanjaro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chevy Chase, Maryland
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 20, 2013

My family ended our 10 day safari trip with 3 days at Ras Nungwi. The view of the ocean from our room was breathtaking. Our 3 sons ended each night playing pool and ping pong in the game room. We even managed a game of tennis one afternoon, followed by massages at the hotel spa. The staff, including Samir the chef, were very friendly and helpful. It was a perfect end to our summer vacation.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank AandJ123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel

Property: Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel
Address: Nungwi, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Nungwi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Nungwi
#1 Romantic Hotel in Nungwi
#4 On the Beach Hotel in Nungwi
#5 Luxury Hotel in Nungwi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 32
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ras Nungwi is a small and luxurious hotel and spa situated on a breathtaking beach on Zanzibar's northern tip. The professional on-site watersports centre offers diving, fishing and other activities. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel Zanzibar Island

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