Chapwani Private Island

near Stone Town, Stone Town & around, Tanzania Book from

A small private island just off Stone Town with 10 guest rooms, a villa, a restaurant and a long sandy beach
Stone Town is a colourful African town full of hustle and bustle. The only problem is that it doesn’t always stop hustling and bustling when you decide to go to bed. In fact people invariably bustle just outside your bedroom window till late in the night. And when they stop, a screeching owl or gobbling turkey gleefully takes up the refrain. Occasionally ‘bustle’ turns to ‘hustle’, and that's when you'll be grateful to be curled up listening to the sound of the ocean on your own private island across the bay.

Chapwani Private Island, a tiny strip of woodland and sandbanks lying a mile offshore, has a cluster of traditional bungalows and a villa lining the beach. Spend your day sightseeing in town, or shopping for fabrics, wooden crafts and spices; then jump on the shuttle boat and, 15 minutes later, you can be enjoying a sunset cocktail on your beach lounger while the kids splash in the shallows. If you’ve only got a few days on Zanzibar, it’s a great way of fitting in Stone Town and a beach holiday.

Highs

  • It makes for an idyllic romantic getaway. Watch the sun go down over the Indian Ocean with a cocktail in hand
  • It is also a perfect place to bring your family - its safe, and easy to keep an eye on the kids as they splash about in the shallows
  • The quiet sandy beach is right on your doorstep
  • The woods and groves which cover the island are full of all sorts of creatures from fruit bats to antelopes
  • You have a sense of privilege - it’s ‘your island’

Lows

  • The ocean can be too shallow to swim in at low tide, but there's a salt water pool set in a palm grove
  • The rooms are simple, but you'll be out and about all day
  • Noise can drift over from Stone Town at night
  • The courtesy shuttle-boat only goes to and from Stone Town once a day, but the resort can arrange a private transfer for you - see rates
  • Don’t be put off by armed guards at night: they are invited by the hotel as a deterrent

Best time to go

All year except April to June when it is closed for the long rains. Late October, November and early December can bring short rains, which are heavy at times. Prices are lower during the wetter periods, and higher over Christmas - New Year.

Our top tips

Borrow a canoe and paddle around the island; at low tide you can spot starfish hidden in the coral reef, and find small natural pools rich in marine life.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Resort
  • 10 bungalows + 1 villa
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Snorkelling equipment available
  • Canoes available
Room:

Rooms

There are 5 traditional Zanzibari bandas (thatched bungalows) which are split into 2 ensuite rooms. These share a terrace that overlooks the sea and have double height ceilings, wooden beams and traditional fabrics. The bedroom features a large double canopy bed - the traditional Zanzibari four-poster with a mosquito net draped over it - whose plump pillows are adorned with a freshly plucked hibiscus flower. There’s a small table and chair, a ceiling fan and simple but elegant décor. There’s just enough space for a cot or an extra bed if required, while at the back is a bathroom with a basin, shelves, an open-plan shower and a separate toilet. We suppose there’s a possibility of noise from your adjoining neighbour but we didn’t hear any. All in all, these are simple, practical, comfy beach rooms, perfect to lay yourself down in after stepping off the sand.

Outside is a shared wooden terrace with deckchairs, and just beyond that a thatched parasol with your own sunloungers. The sea is so close that at very high tides it practically laps at your terrace. It's a lovely place to watch the sunset while you sip your sundowner.

Then there's the Sunset Villa (the newest addition at Chapwani). This can be made up as a Suite with a double bedroom, a living room, 2 bathrooms (1 of which has a huge tub), a private terrace, a plunge pool and its own section of beach, making it the ultimate honeymooners’ getaway. It can also be booked as a Family Room, with the living room transformed into a second double bedroom. It’s traditional in design and decorated simply, but you’ll be gazing out at the incredible view of the Indian Ocean.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace

Eating

Sandy paths, lit by paraffin lamps, lead to the central dining and seating area; an open-sided space with a high thatched roof and views to the sea in both directions, which showcases the narrow island.

Dinner is a communal and relaxed affair which begins with a cold beer and a chat with the other guests and staff. We enjoyed baked crab served in its shell, steak and chips, and a fruit parfait served by smiling and traditionally robed young Zanzibaris. You can expect succulent seafood and spicy local delicacies, like cucumber-and-crab-paste, crab pincers cooked with ginger, fish curry with raisin-and-saffron-speckled rice, local ratatouille and, after cleansing the palate with fresh mango, flambéed bananas. Many of the ingredients are grown on the island and the fish are bought directly from the local fishermen. If you're in the Sunset Villa you can opt to eat on your terrace. On special occasions, alternative and personalised meals can be arranged and served exclusively by the pool or on your terrace.

Breakfast was a familiar (but always delicious) spread of fresh fruit, juices, hot drinks, bread, jam and eggs to order. If you're half board but decide to stay on the island for lunch, there is a comprehensive snack menu available.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Private dining available
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Swim and sunbathe by the pool or on the beach - in low tide you’ll have to walk to the end of the jetty to swim

  • Explore the rock pools and the wooded interior - being only 10 minutes from end to end, you’re unlikely to get lost

  • Spot dik-dik (miniature antelopes) and, hanging from the trees while they sleep, a colony of fruit bats

  • Look out for birds, including a pair of fish eagles and frequently-passing waders

  • Visit the graveyard of the English sailors who were killed on HMS Pegasus at the start of WW1

  • Take the hotel’s daily boat into Stone Town (there’s a free outward shuttle in the morning and return in the afternoon) to go sightseeing, shopping, or visit the spice gardens

  • Go diving with One Ocean dive centre in Stone Town

  • Take a boat trip to the adjacent islands of Bat and Changuu (Prison); you’ll probably be alone on these wooded, rocky islands unless some day trippers from Stone Town arrive

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife

Kids

Chapwani is a great place for children of all ages; with a sandy beach, unthreatening wildlife and a fascinating town on your doorstep. Under 12s stay for free in parents' rooms. Wooden Zanzibari cots and extra beds are available on request.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Each of the bungalows contain 2 double rooms which families can book together. But better still is the Sunset Villa set up as a Family Room: 2 double beds, and space for 2 rollaway beds and 2 baby cots, plus you'll have a private plunge pool and section of beach on your doorstep

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

6/
Rooms
8/
Food
8/
Service
10/
Value
8/
Overall

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Rates for Chapwani Private Island