Mnemba Island is an award-winning barefoot beach paradise just off the northeast coast of Zanzibar. Ten beachside bandas overlook the Mnemba atoll (a scuba diver’s delight) at this romantic, private hideaway. From snorkelling, swimming and kayaking to massages on the beach and simply doing nothing at all, Mnemba has something for everyone.
Set on a private island off the north eastern tip of Zanzibar, &Beyond Mnemba Island Lodge is a barefoot paradise where just ten simple palm-frond bandas lie hidden in a tropical beach forest on a white beach. Sea breezes waft through high palm-frond roofs and large open windows. Overhead fans in spacious bedrooms filled with natural fabrics and traditional woodcarvings cool down the tropical nights. A corridor of woven palm leaves leads to a shuttered bathroom with a massive stone shower behind a glass beaded curtain. Midway between the banda and the Indian Oceanare shaded traditional Zanzibari ‘beach’ beds. Meals are served on wooden carved platters in the open-sided dining room or directly on the beach, while island crabs scuttle across the sand at guests’ feet.
With a dive school and two dive boats for just 20 guests, they can enjoy exclusive diving on the magnificent coral reef or indulge in a selection of other water activities.
Over a thousand years ago, when Arab traders sailed their three-cornered dhows across the Indian Ocean to the eastern shore of Africa, they happened upon an island of such exquisite beauty that they dedicated entire manuscripts to its description. This scented land of coconuts and spices was so idyllic that the Sultan of Oman decided to move the seat of his empire to its shores, which he named Zayn Zal Barr, meaning “fair is the island”.
Today, the Zanzibar Archipelago is still bathed in the heady scents of cloves and cinnamon and traditional dhows still drift across the horizon. Off its north eastern tip lies the private &Beyond Mnemba Island. Just 1.5 km in circumference, Mnemba is surrounded by an atoll of breathtaking coral reefs and boasts some of Africa’s most magnificent dive sites. The calm, azure seas surrounding Mnemba offer irresistible snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, fly fishing, windsurfing and year-round swimming. Turtle season occurs between April and August, when these prehistoric creatures can be seen laying their eggs on the beaches and, within weeks, the beaches are filled with tiny turtle hatchlings.
&Beyond Mnemba Island Lodge picks up guests directly from Zanzibar International Airport or Stone Town. From there, guests are driven approximately 1½ hours to the coast, followed by a 10 to 15 minute transfer in an open ski boat. As there are no jetties, departures and landings are directly to and from the beach and involve a little wading.
Weather & climate
Average daytime temperatures are in the region of 26°C from June to October and about 28°C from December to February. While the weather can be humid, sea breezes bring cooler air and provide relief from the hot, humid weather. Average water temperature from July to March is between 20°C and 25°C. The rainy season is divided into two monsoon seasons, one in April or May and the other in November.
The currency is the Tanzanian shilling, however, most tourist destinations will require non-Tanzanian residents to pay in US dollars. It is difficult to exchange South African rand, so it is a good idea to obtain your foreign exchange in advance. Please note that dollar bills printed between 1996 and 1999 are not accepted in Kenya or Tanzania, as the illegal processing of bills was rife in East Africa during that time.
Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express are accepted by most restaurants, shops and hotels, but proof of identity may be requested.
Visas and documents
Although visa requirements change often, South Africans travelling to Tanzania currently require a visa. While it is a good idea to obtain a visa before leaving South Africa, visas can also be obtained at the airport on arrival. If you are planning to get your visa at the airport, please note that you will need to pay for this in US dollars. Make sure you have enough cash available and try to have smaller denominations, as you may not be able to obtain change at the visa counter.
Travellers to Tanzania must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months from date of travel and should have at least two blank pages available in their passport.