Thanda Island, a distant, uninhabited teardrop of sand, within the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Tanzania, is 20 acres of secluded paradise. One of many world’s most unique personal island getaways, that is the proper sanctuary to take pleasure in time with household.
Thanda was designed with households in thoughts. The house owners needed to create a paradise island the place generations of households may come collectively, to reconnect and bond, away from the distractions and pressures of the surface world, and that’s precisely what we bought to do throughout our latest keep…
Our Thanda Island Reunion Story
Zambia, within the coronary heart of Africa, has been my residence for greater than 25 years. When COVID abruptly shut the world down almost 3 years in the past, my eldest son was coaching on the navy academy in Australia, and my second son was learning at college within the UK. My household was scattered throughout the globe, and I had no thought once we would all be collectively once more. International locations opened and closed borders like cuckoo clocks. Journey guidelines and laws chopped and adjusted. Nobody knew, from in the future to the following, what the state of affairs actually was. May we journey? Ought to we keep residence? What have been the foundations? We booked flights, solely to have them canceled. We bought our hopes up, simply to have them dashed as lockdowns have been prolonged.
However lastly, right here we have been greater than 2 years later, ready on the airport in Zambia, able to welcome our eldest son residence for the vacations. Tears (largely mine!) have been flowing as he walked by means of the arrivals gate, and even my husband, normally stoic, turned away to surreptitiously wipe his eyes as we headed for the automotive and the drive residence. Our youngest son, who had managed to return from England a number of weeks earlier, was awaiting our return. A month collectively lay forward of us, and I used to be decided to make it particular.
Residing in a landlocked nation as we do, neighboring Tanzania and its heat ocean and sandy seashores have been the vacation spot of many a household vacation when our boys have been rising up; it was excellent for swimming, sandcastle constructing, gathering shells, and extra. I felt one other Tanzanian seaside vacation was simply what my household wanted, however provided that my boys have been now of their 20s and sandcastles and shells had maybe misplaced a few of their attraction, I made a decision Thanda Non-public Island can be the proper selection.
Tanzania is a vibrant and delightful nation, blessed with the profitable mixture of excellent massive game-viewing areas and gorgeous tropical seashores. Tanzania’s seashores, particularly these on its islands, are spectacular. Whereas Zanzibar might be the most well-liked and well-known island in East Africa, tiny Thanda Island, simply 100 miles to its south, stays just about unknown.
The 20-acre Tanda Island sits 30 miles from Tanzania’s mainland. It’s set within the Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve — a marine protected space located between the Tanzanian mainland and the Mafia Island archipelago — and reverse Africa’s largest sport reserve, Selous. Thanda is just one,148 toes vast and a bit over half a mile in circumference — it takes lower than quarter-hour to stroll round!
The shark fin-shaped triangle of sand is surrounded by coral reefs that shield it from stormy seas, and apart out of your fellow company and island workers, the one signal of human life is the occasional conventional fishing dhow on the horizon. That is Robinson Crusoe territory, however with all the luxurious one may want and Tanzania’s vibrant largest metropolis, Dar es Salaam, only a 35-minute helicopter flight away.
Professional Tip: Thanda Island solely rents on an “unique use” foundation; company have the complete island to themselves at some point of their keep.
On the coronary heart of the island is a sublime beach-house villa. Extra Hamptons or Cape Cod design than typical Tanzanian seaside type, 5 double-bedroom suites all lead on to the seaside, and there’s an expansive dwelling space with a personal library, grand piano, wine assortment, cigar humidor, and an indoor aquarium crammed with tropical fish. Outdoor is a eating space with 180-degree views over the ocean and a glass infinity pool.
Additional lodging is obtainable on the opposite aspect of the island, in two double-story thatched chalets constructed with native supplies — excellent for members of your group who desire a bit extra seclusion.
Good To Know: All this consolation doesn’t come at the price of the surroundings — air-conditioning and contemporary water are offered by energy from the lodge’s personal photo voltaic farm (the second largest in Tanzania).
Thanda Island delicacies is contemporary and scrumptious: fish, prawns, freshly caught lobster and mangrove crab, beef, sport, poultry, vegetarian dishes, seasonal greens, and tropical fruits. From the villa’s magnificent eating desk to alfresco eating on the seaside below a cover of stars, take pleasure in wood-fired pizzas, sandbank picnics, breakfasts on the seaside, and Swahili feasts devoted to the flavors, spices, and aromas of Tanzania — should you can dream it, Thanda’s cooks can produce it!
The seaside at Thanda Island is all the things you could possibly want. White sand stretches across the edges of the island, fringed by glittering water in shades of turquoise. This can be a seaside excellent for sunbathing or shell-collecting walks. At evening, seaside dinners or just sitting round a crackling seaside bonfire are a beautiful finish to the day.
The Marine Reserve
Step off the shimmering sand and into the waters off Thanda Island and also you’ll end up in Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve, the biggest marine protected reserve within the Indian Ocean and the one personal marine reserve alongside the complete East African coast. The marine reserve is crammed with extraordinary marine biodiversity — coral reefs,, dugongs, dolphins, 5 species of sea turtles, and extra.
Thanda employs an in-house marine biologist who paperwork native sightings, guides company on dives and snorkeling expeditions, nurtures the Thanda Island reef restoration mission, and works intently with NGO Sea Sense to guard the endangered sea turtles who nest on Thanda’s shores.
For me, the spotlight of the waters round Thanda was the gentlest large of the ocean, the whale shark. Swimming with whale sharks is without doubt one of the most wonderful ocean experiences you may have. Being up shut with these creatures, who can develop to an astonishing 40 toes (in regards to the dimension of a college bus!), is an unbelievable a part of the Thanda Island expertise. Regardless of their title, whale sharks are innocent, feasting solely on plankton (identical to whales). Because of their mild nature, you may truly swim proper alongside them.
Professional Tip: Whale sharks, the biggest fish on the planet, are discovered simply south of the island from October to March.
Water Sports activities
Being located inside a marine reserve makes Thanda Island completely situated for water sports activities. The reefs across the island supply fantastic snorkeling, and the resident snorkeling information can present you blue-spotted stingrays, trumpet fish, cornet fish, jewel damselfish, and numerous different colourful tropical fish. If you happen to don’t fancy or want a information, you may merely don a masks and fins and dive into the water to have a look for your self.
Scuba diving is one other favourite exercise. The waters round Thanda teem with distinctive marine life, together with a various vary of coral reefs and over 400 species of fish. If you happen to aren’t a diver and wish to study, this can be organized at Mafia Island Diving on close by Mafia Island. Dives are achieved from conventional Arab dhows within the Mafia Island Marine Park, which has among the most spectacular diving off the East African Coast.
Relying on the season, company can watch turtles nesting, and for these on the lookout for one thing above the water, a boathouse full of apparatus has all the things you want for crusing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. Adrenaline junkies can strive their hand at water snowboarding and tubing — a really affected person boatman spent hours serving to my youngest grasp wakeboarding. Deep-sea fishing is obtainable too, and the island is outfitted with all of the tools you want, together with a 28-foot reef runner cat to reel in tuna, kingfish, and extra. For individuals who desire a extra sedate tempo, a cruise on a conventional dhow is an effective choice.
Professional Tip: Youngsters are welcome to fish — or discover ways to — and the fishing season is from September to March, with sailfish from November to January.
Different Island Actions
I beloved the white, grey, and black egrets that nest on the island. That is the proper surroundings for them and so they breed very efficiently right here, judging by noisy interactions between dad and mom and hatchlings.
For the extra sports-minded, there’s a full tennis court docket, volleyball court docket, yoga classes, and a totally geared up health club.
Wellness and happiness sum up Thanda’s ethos, and the island’s magnificence and therapeutic massage specialists have created a full vary of particular massages, facials, and physique remedies that can have you ever feeling rejuvenated and relaxed very quickly in any respect — I visited the spa each day!
The Neighboring Islands
As fantastic as Thanda Island is, you could want to discover among the neighboring islands. A 30-minute boat journey away is Mafia Island with mangrove thickets, historic baobabs, and the picturesque Chunguruma forest to discover, in addition to hippos, flying foxes, and bush infants. You may go to a neighborhood fishing village and see how conventional dhow crusing boats are constructed. The islands of the Mafia Archipelago are additionally residence to antiquities courting again to the 11th century, and varied ruins may be visited, together with a lovely, barrel-vaulted mosque from the 15th century and plenty of well-preserved buildings from the latter half of the 18th century.
Somewhat additional afield is Dar es Salaam — a thriving harbor metropolis on the mainland with a colourful mixture of African, Arabic, Indian, British, and German structure and tradition — and the place you may store the markets for colourful African textiles and souvenirs. Alternatively, a go to to Zanzibar, the legendary spice island, is an alternative choice. The historic heart, Stone City, is an interesting place to discover and a spice tour is a good exercise to join. For these excursions, a helicopter flight from the island may be organized.