Fanjove Island, Tanzania
Fanjove Island has long been an exceptional jewel in East Africa's Indian Ocean crown. Exquisitely located in the little-known Songo Songo archipelago off the eastern coast of Tanzania, Fanjove epitomises Robinson Crusoe desert island seclusion. Palm-fringed, powder-soft white sands, shimmering azure waters, the call of birdsong and an island almost entirely to yourselves (save a few other lucky guests), an abundance of marine life and of course, Fanjove's fabulous team of staff. This is tropical paradise in its purest form.
Still very much as nature intended, the island's virgin coral reef spans for miles, with an abundant array of wildlife including spinner dolphins, green turtles and humpback whales. On Fanjove, time seems to have stood still, with only the 19th-century lighthouse and some architectural remnants of a former fishing village settlement giving any hint of previous human interference. Above all else, Fanjove's commitment to the sustainability, understatement and respect of the island’s natural environment remains firmly at its heart.
Fanjove Island Highlights
Six A-frame eco-bandas (banda is hut in Swahili), shaped to resemble the iconic African dhow sail, are interspersed between the palms on Fanjove’s southern fringe, designed in complete harmony with the surrounding environment. Island living is simple here: your air-conditioning is the cool ocean breeze, your water is heated by the sun and your electricity is solar-powered. There’s no need for a hairdryer, no TV to turn on and no fridge to fill. Filtered water is provided in the rooms and all other drinks can be enjoyed from the main bar. A colourful kikoy towel, sun hat and palm basket welcome you on arrival and, really, nothing else is needed. The banda frames are entirely wooden, with traditional makuti-thatched roofs, each with an open-plan bathroom and upstairs day-bed balcony. Outside, a few sandy steps lead to your private sun loungers and a driftwood shelter provides some welcome shade from the midday sun. All the bandas on Fanjove are beachfront and ocean-facing. Sleep with the front shutter open and wake to a sunrise view from the comfort of your four-poster bed.
For such a remote island outpost, the food at Fanjove rivals that of any five-star lodge. It is truly outstanding and mealtimes are sure to be greatly looked forward to by all who visit. From ocean to plate and soil to fork, expect fresh fish and seafood aplenty, paired with locally grown vegetables. The menu changes daily, incorporating a rainbow of flavours, colours and cuisines, perfectly representing the multicultural heritage of the island and archipelago. From Swahili fish kebabs and coconut calamari curries, to seafood paella and crayfish dim sum, chef Isa and his team have put Fanjove Island firmly on the foodie map. All guests stay on a full-board basis, excluding drinks, although there is a drinks package available to pre-book if you so wish. Breakfast and lunch are served in the main lodge area and, weather dependent, dinner is set up under the stars, toes in the sand, with the warm glow of lanterns and candles to dine by.
The island and its surrounding ocean are your playground at Fanjove. If it’s a post-safari sojourn, perhaps you’ll choose to do very little, although there’s no shortage of things to do for those who want to be a little more active. Hakim, Abdullah and the activities team will tailor your stay entirely. Divers of all abilities will be overwhelmed by the reef encircling Fanjove, aglow with coral and bursting with marine life. With very limited boat traffic and strict fishing laws, it is one of the healthiest and unspoilt reefs in East Africa. From the beach, you can snorkel in every direction, kayak around the island, paddleboard at high tide and walk out onto the sparkling white sandbanks at low tide. The Maisha path takes you around the island, which is less than a mile long and less than half a mile wide. Each month, the new moon leads to huge tidal ranges, uncovering stunningly white sandbanks for private beach picnics and romantic sundowner dhow cruises. Sailing, fishing and dolphin safaris are also available, as well as grey and humpback whale watching at certain times of year.
Where is Fanjove Island?
Fanjove Island Offers
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