Ever since we visited Phinda, I have fallen in love with this luxury travel company – And Beyond. So when I stumbled upon this little piece of heaven, I was thrilled that it was an And Beyond property. After two years of looking at this island, we finally made our way to Mnemba.
Many have asked me why I have taken so long to complete my blog post on this place, my answer is simple: it’s not easy putting into words how I feel about this island. Saying that it holds a special place in my heart, is an understatement. I have been to Mnemba on 2 occasions, at different times of the year.
It’s quite a sight approaching the ocean with fishermen sitting around, traditional fishing boats floating in the water and there in the distance lies Mnemba.
Within minutes, we were whisked away to Zanibar’s private gem and warmly welcomed by the GM, our butler, and a few other members of their team with cool towels and cocktails. I was hesitant to let my shoes go, but it was the best thing ever! This is truly a barefoot paradise. Mike, the GM showed us around & finally to our banda. (the individual rooms are called bandas) On our first trip during August we stayed in banda 11 on the furthest point of the island with the most magnificent sunrise view. This time, during January we stayed in banda 4 which was wonderful for that time of year as it is quite windy.
The banda takes some getting used to as it has a indoor-outdoor feel, but is private. Each banda is very secluded and don’t worry, you won’t be caught walking around naked, if you choose to. The only time our butler would visit (without us asking for his assistance) is to bring us coffee in the morning at a desired time, which we would give him the night before. We had Rajab and Christopher as our butlers, both made us feel at home.
Almost everything in the room is natural and blends in perfectly with the surroundings. There is no television or telephone available – but there is Wi-Fi. I don’t need to say much about the bandas, its perfect and the pictures speak for themselves.
The resort doesn’t have a gym, but you are provided with a gym in a bag. Honestly speaking, who needs that when you’re on a private island? A therapist who is also a yoga master is on hand to offer you treatments in the comfort of your banda.
Breakfast and Lunch is served at the dining area – whenever you wish to eat, with a different menu each day. The chef is very flexible, if there is something you would like to eat or change on their menu, they are ready to oblige.
Let’s talk food – absolutely DELICIOUS to say the least. Chefs Ishan and Jaco come out each morning to give you the run down of the menu for the day and that’s when you have an opportunity to alter anything you wish to. The menu is predominantly seafood, and you cannot get anything fresher! The best fish I’ve eaten, was at Mnemba.
Each evening at sunset, sun chairs are set outside the Banda facing the sunset and your butler brings you a cocktail or drink of your choice. Absolute bliss!
Dinner is usually on the beach – but if the timing of your stay is good, you will get to experience a beach barbeque (Braai). The pre dinner drinks on the beach, lit up by candles and lamps is so inviting! You will also get to experience the Calamari Brothers, a singing duo – Mike the GM and Jaco, the head chef. The two came together by chance and ended up getting a name!
Sitting by the beach, listening to music with drink in hand under moonlight in good company is just perfect. Drinks usually start in the bar from about 7pm and dinner is served at 8. This is when you get to meet other guests and the hosts (Members of their team), are always there to engage you. There are only 12 bandas, so there will be a maximum of 24 guests – most of the time we felt like we were on our very own island.
It is by far one of the most romantic places I have ever visited. There aren’t too many activities on offer – but you can snorkel, dive and swim with the dolphins and it’s all included in the rate. I went on some amazing snorkeling expeditions with Matt. We would go out on our own and explore. Mnemba has some of the most beautiful, untouched reefs I have ever seen. My husband completed his open water dive course with Marie and he could not have had a better teacher. The island also has its own house reef, so you can swim out and snorkel on your own.
Mnemba is small – you can walk around it in about 25min and I loved taking daily walks exploring on my own. On one side of the island, during low tide, the sea would recede up to 200m! The natural beauty of this island is unmatched.
As you walk around you may notice signboards in the sand with dates on it. One of And Beyond Safari’s priorities is conservation and Mnemba is one of only two protected nesting sites in Zanzibar for the endangered green turtle. If you are lucky enough, you will witness the hatching process and their mini voyage to the ocean. It was such a beautiful experience, the turtles can barely see, but can sense the sea. It’s incredible how they gravitate toward the ocean! It’s best not touch them if you are not wearing gloves as our bacteria can cause them illnesses. We did meet a little guy with a leg that wasn’t fully formed, but that didn’t stop him, he took longer than everyone else, but he made it!
As you explore the island you will also meet little deer-like animals, the suni and ader dyker, both species of antelope. Being some of the rarest in Africa, they are protected on the island and allowed to breed. I was hoping to catch sight of the coconut crab but I don’t think he wanted to see me.
The island seemed to have a micro climate. Mnemba had clear skies everyday, while the main island of Zanzibar, just across from us, would be cloudy and rainy, it was very strange but very special!
I can say so much more, but it would never do justice. Hopefully my pictures show you the true magic of this island. I can’t wait to return! So long Mnemba, till we meet again.