Our Rating
9.1
Overall

Fanjove Island

Zanzibar & Tanzania, Fanjove Island
7 Nights from

R 108775 per person sharing

Our Rating
9.1
Overall

Fanjove Island

Zanzibar & Tanzania, Fanjove Island
7 Nights from

R 108775 per person sharing

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Our Verdict

Act out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies on this stunning island with some of the best beaches we've ever seen - apart from your fellow guests at this lodge with its 10 superbly stylish yet eco-friendly bungalows, the island is home only to thousands of sea birds, nesting turtles and coconut crabs!

Our Ratings

9.1
Overall
8.5
Luxury & Style
9.0
Setting
7.5
Activities
9.5
Chill-Out Factor

Our Ratings

9.1
Overall
8.5
Luxury & Style
9.0
Setting
7.5
Activities
9.5
Chill-Out Factor

What's Hot

  • Quite simply some of the most stunning sandy beaches we've yet had the pleasure of enjoying - a long strip of soft white coral sand fringed by achingly aquamarine seas perfect for swimming!
  • The 10 eco-bungalows are wonderfully stylish and very comfortable and spacious - we love the open fronts which allow cooling sea breezes to enter and give superb uninterrupted views over the beach (and the rooms are spaced far apart to ensure privacy too)
  • We loved the experience of swimming inside a massive cloud of tiny bait fish literally metres from the shore! (and watching the game fish and herons feeding on them at sunset was an awesome sight too!)
  • If you can't chill out here, we seriously doubt you could chill out anywhere! There's a wonderfully relaxed ambience at Fanjove with no distraction from mod-cons like TV - just relax and soak up the pristine seclusion
  • Explore the area with a sandbank picnic, go kayaking around the island, snorkel, SUP, go fishing - but scuba divers will be happiest of all with every dive on the 11 km of reef virtually a virgin dive site never explored before!
  • Relax on the beach at night with a cold drink in your hand and soak up the sensational view of the night skies with just the light of a bonfire to distract you

What's Not

  • The stylishly rustic lodge on Fanjove will definitely not appeal to fans of modern luxury and contemporary decor and features - if you can't do without air-con, TV, swimming pools etc then this isn't the island for you
  • Whilst there are various activities available (diving, snorkelling, kayaking etc) if you're easily bored and need loads of distractions then Fanjove may be just too quiet
Fanjove Island

Fanjove Islandthe previously very simple accommodation has been upgraded into something altogether more luxurious and stylish, whilst retaining a feeling of authenticity - in fact, it's the closest thing to the famous Mnemba Island that we've yet seen (without the price tag!)

Lodge Profile

Act out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies on this stunning island with some of the best beaches we've ever seen - apart from your fellow guests at this lodge with its 10 superbly stylish yet eco-friendly bungalows, the island is home only to thousands of sea birds, nesting turtles and coconut crabs!

Quick Overview

Rooms
10 Eco-Bungalows
Distance to Beach
5 - 10 m
Air Conditioning
No
Pool
No
Recommended Stay
4 - 7 nights

We absolutely love “one island, one lodge” destinations as there really is nothing like the feeling of being on your own private Robinson Crusoe paradise far from the hordes of tourists. Some, like Mnemba Island off Zanzibar or a variety of island lodges in the Seychelles like North Island, unfortunately also carry such astronomical price tags that they are all but unaffordable.

Whilst Fanjove Island with its 10 stunning eco-bungalows is hardly cheap, it is certainly far more accessibly priced, particularly if you take into consideration just how exclusive and unspoiled Fanjove is. It's a wonderful tropical island which forms part of the Songo Songo Archipeligo off the southern coast of Tanzania, where there are no literally other tourists in sight. And whilst the focus here is firmly on the gorgeous island and its unspoiled beaches and wildlife, the new owners (Selous Safari Company, operators of some of the most stylish safari lodges in Tanzania's southern reserves) have upgraded the previously extremely simple accommodation into something altogether more luxurious and stylish, whilst retaining that feeling of authenticity - in fact, it's the closest thing to the famous Mnemba Island that we've yet seen (without the price tag!)

Now don’t expect a luxurious 6 Star designer lodge – if you’re wanting rim-flow plunge pools, television and air-conditioning then you’ve most definitely come to the wrong place! Instead the 10 wonderfully attractive bungalows, amply spaced along the gorgeous beach to ensure absolute privacy, are the epitome of rustic Robinson Crusoe style with a designer twist. Built almost entirely totally of eco-friendly materials such as sustainable wood and makuti thatch and woven mats, authentic style is added by the Zanzibar carved doors and the use of shells in a variety of decorative elements. The bungalows are designed to be completely open at the front to take full advantage of the cooling sea breezes as well as provide excellent views over the beach! Massive king-size beds boast fine linen bedding under romantic mosquito netting whilst there's ample space to relax in the overstuffed sofa or sprawl in your hammock in the spacious lounge area. At the back of each bungalow is an airy bathroom with open shower and double vanities. The overall effect is charming and you have the further feel-good factor of knowing that it’s all solar powered and environmentally friendly.

To get the island is actually fairly simple given its isolation – you take a short 40 minute flight down from Dar es Salaam to Songo Songo island and there you’re picked up for a short boat transfer to Fanjove (perhaps accompanied by a pod of dolphins if you’re lucky!) The old German-built lighthouse is the first thing that you see upon approaching the island, followed by the sight of palm trees above blindingly white coral sand beaches fringing by aquamarine waters.

First port of call upon alighting on the beach will no doubt be the very attractive open thatch main lounge and bar area with its inviting sandy floors or wooden decks and comfy furniture perfect for simply chilling away the hours with a cold drink in hand! The restaurant is now housed on a newly constructed shaded deck area located at the base of the lighthouse, giving stunning views out over the beach! The food is excellent, with freshly caught fish featuring prominently on a menu which blends of Swahili and Western style with a definite Italian influence. Service is wonderfully friendly as is usual in East Africa. There really is little to beat eating delicious fresh fish by romantic lamplight under the vast night skies with your toes in the sand of the beach!

The beaches at Fanjove are a definite highlight of a stay here – they're absolutely superb with wonderful white coral sand fringed by aquamarine seas and some of the best we’ve yet seen on our extensive travels! As in common with most of the East African coast, the tidal range is significant and at spring low tides you may have to go out a couple of hundred metres to get to the water.  The swimming here is exceptional though, and we have fantastic memories of swimming through massive clouds of tiny silver bait fish shoaling literally within a couple of metres of the beach!

This isn’t a large resort with a big water-sports centre so activities are relatively limited. As mentioned the waters off Fanjove are a delight for swimming and there are also SUP boards and kayaks if you feel more active. There are a few coral bommies off the beach in front of the bar that you can enjoy snorkelling around or you can go by boat to some ideal spots. At low tide the lodge can take you to a secluded sand bank that offers snorkeling and chance to have a local lunch with grilled fish prepared privately right in front of you. Here you can relax in the shade and wait for dolphins to come by, or jump in the water to cool off, until the sand bank disappears underwater with the incoming tides. Another great option is to soak up the sunset and views of Fanjove from a traditional East African dhow with a sunset dhow cruise enjoying a sundowner while experiencing the timeless beauty of these wooden vessels.

Perhaps the highlight though has to be the very rare opportunity to explore virtually virgin scuba diving sites - the coral reef extends for 11km, which is mostly unexplored as almost nobody has dived in the area. With a share of the lodge income donated to the community living on the main island of the archipelago of Songo Songo for their social development, in exchange the community has agreed not to fish on half of the 11 km of Fanjove coral reef as well as to only use sustainable fishing methods. Each dive is likely to be at a completely new dive site with sightings of new fish, shark, mammal and invertebrate species on nearly every dive. Varied marine landscapes such as underwater pinnacles and gardens of cabbage coral with 20+ metre visibility make for a rare chance to experience an area that no one has ever explored before.

Back on the island what struck us was the richness of the birdlife with Fanjove being home to literally thousands of sea birds that make for an awesome spectacle. We have great memories of standing at the main beach with sundowners in hand at sunset, watching as large game fish attacked the shoals of bait fish just off the beach with herons standing poised to snap up any fishy morsel that jumped on the sand in their futile attempt to escape! That’s not where it ends though, with turtles coming regularly to lay their eggs on the island’s beaches and rare coconut crabs (the largest land crab in the world) also spotted, as are occasional pods of dolphins passing by!

Pricing

per person sharing

More Information

Booking Notes

  • Please note that the package prices you see including return flights from Johannesburg, accommodation and transfers are INDICATIVE prices based on mid-season airfares and mid-season room rates - these fluctuate throughout the year as do exchange rates, so please enquire with us for an accurate price based on your specific dates of travel

Child Policy

  • Children of all ages are welcome