Fundu Lagoon

Wambaa Gulf, Pemba Island, Tanzania Book from

This stylish little beach lodge on Pemba Island offers some of the best diving in Zanzibar
Swop the jet set for a jetty settee: an armchair on the central pier of this Pemba Island hideaway has to be one of the world's coolest places to unwind. Wonderfully remote, we arrived via speedboat to be greeted by manager Hannes Wolters, an ex-London fashionista who moved to Fundu Lagoon over a decade ago. And who could blame him? The fabulous combination of island simplicity and supreme style had us tempted to stay forever, too. There are 18 tented rooms with sun-warmed showers and comfy beds looking out to the blue waters of the Wambaa gulf. Sandy pathways lead past thatched sitting-areas to a long palm-fringed beach, which bristles with weird crabs and wonderful shells. And, at low tide, the stream of brightly-dressed local women walking along the beach to market beats any fashion parade.

But it’s for the diving and water sports that most guests come here: a seascape of deep inlets, mangrove coasts, coral islands and fringing reefs is a short boat-ride away. Non-divers can enjoy dhow cruises, canoeing safaris, game-fishing, intertidal coast walks or, better still, take a PADI course with the resident dive instructors - there’s no better place to learn.

Highs

  • World-class diving: pristine reefs and walls
  • Being so remote has allowed Pemba Island to remain relatively unknown in terms of tourism
  • The sunset boat trip in the sailing dhow was a highlight of our 2013 revisit
  • Comfortable tented rooms by the beach and a stunning hillside infinity pool overlooking the ocean
  • Warm, friendly atmosphere created by the excellent staff

Lows

  • Getting there takes a while (but what fun!)
  • Rates are not cheap (but they're full board and include various activities)
  • The beach is quite narrow, especially at high tide
  • Security is carefully ensured, but we had absolutely no concerns during our stay and felt very relaxed

Best time to go

All year except mid-April to mid-June, when it is closed for the long rains. Late October, November and early December can bring short rains, which are heavy at times. Visibility is often reduced at these times, but otherwise diving and snorkelling are good year-round.

Our top tips

If you're coming for the diving, you can pre-book anything from a 1-day introduction to a multi-day Advanced, Rescue or Divemaster course. The most popular for novices is the PADI Discover Scuba Diving course: a 2-3 hour introduction to equipment and theory, followed by some basic skills and a shallow dive on a coral reef. The classic 4-day PADI Open Water Course also gets rave reviews.

There's tremendous variety in the underwater scenery too: lush coral gardens in the shallows around Pemba, drop offs plummeting to 800m, and frequent 30- to 40-metre visibility. Hawskbill and green turtles often swim and rest on the reefs, while in deeper waters you might meet the large Napoleon Wrasse, giant groupers (up to 2m), pelagic game fish (tuna, jacks, wahoo, big shoals of barracuda), manta and eagle rays and even various species of shark.

Great for...

Beach
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Resort
  • 18
  • Full-board
  • Over 12s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Beach
  • Games room
  • Watersports
Room:

Rooms

There are 18 tented rooms set at intervals in the woods behind the beach; all are connected by sandy pathways lined by the lush jungle. Rooms on the hillside have a broader view and get a cooling breeze - there’s a sense of being in a jungle treehouse here - whereas the beachfront rooms are within a stone’s throw of the water.

Standard rooms have a wooden extended terrace ensuring privacy with sun chairs and steps leading up to the zippable, lockable canvas door. Inside is a wide double bed (or twin beds if you prefer) enveloped in a mosquito net, with a small electric fan on the inside. Alongside is a small sofa and table, a minibar (rare in Zanzibar), a simple wardrobe and a safe-box, to which only you have the key (don’t lose it!). Behind is a small bathroom with a sun-warmed shower and a nice supply of excellent organic shampoos and gels. Fluffy towels and light kimonos are provided. A thatched roof covers the whole room, while the floor is made from wooden slats.

There are 2 Suites - one by the beach, the other a minute's walk away in the jungle - these are larger with a thatched 'chill-out area' and a small plunge pool. Best of all are the 4 Superior Suites. They're all right on the beachfront, with even larger decks, plunge pools and open-plan lounges. Interiors are what you might call shabby Afro-chic - simple but elegant, with furniture from Malawi and local pieces. Bathrooms in aqua and white have a double shower and basins.

Wherever you stay, do bear in mind that you are in the jungle. You may come across a crab waving his pincers at you outside your room, or an unwanted insect inside; but, then again, you get to sleep in one of the softest, widest beds imaginable. Altogether this is camping made very comfortable.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Meals are served in an open-sided, palm-thatched dining area with views over the woods and the sea. The cuisine, which varies daily, is mainly international in style, but there tends to be a one or two Swahili dishes on the menu each day and the chefs use local ingredients.

Breakfast is a buffet spread with an excellent array of cakes, biscuits, croissants, fruit, fresh juices, teas and coffee, plus cereals and yoghurt. A cooked breakfast can be ordered, including a full English, eggs, omelettes and delicious pancakes.

For lunch and dinner, there is a choice of 3 or 4 dishes for each of the 3 courses, with a vegetarian option always available. Dinner might include a sushi starter, followed by a seafood platter with rice, and a fruit salad to finish off. We particularly enjoyed the ‘Beach BBQ’ evening during which we feasted on lobster, sailfish and spicy roasted vegetable skewers. At lunchtime we dipped into a light salad with strips of tomato, pepper, onion and roast beef, and a chocolate-covered pancake for the sweet-tooth.

Fresh passion- and mango-juice make an abstemious alternative to the (mostly South African) wines - especially if you’ve indulged on the pre-dinner cocktails served at the jetty bar during sunset.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Diving: pristine reefs, plunging walls, drift dives and a stunning wreck are the venues for bright tropical reef-fish, crustaceans and starfish; and, going deeper, tuna, barracuda, giant groupers, manta and eagle rays, hawksbill and green turtles. Fundu Lagoon is PADI 5-Star Golden Palm resort and resident instructors come round before dinner to run through the next day’s dives - usually 1 per day, using fast speedboats to reach the best dive spots around the island
  • Snorkelling: even if you don’t dive, borrow a mask, snorkel and fins to explore the shallow reefs nearby
  • Sailing and fishing: there are 3 game-fishing boats (holding 2, 4 or 6 guests), which can also be chartered to explore the surrounding islands
  • The marine sanctuary of Misali Island is a favourite day-trip for snorkelling and picnicking; rangers can show you to its sea-caves and turtle-nesting beaches
  • Kayaking along the mangrove-lined coast in flatwater canoes, passing (or being passed by) locals in their dugouts and dhows, is a great way to get a feel for this sea-based community
  • Walking along the beach at low tide, marvelling at the shells (but not taking any home!), and looking out for herons, ibis, egrets, parrots, and the ubiquitous ghost crab. Or, exploring the little-trodden interior of Pemba, including the Ngezi forest trail in the north
  • Cruising in the resort’s dhow (traditional wooden sailboat) at sunset
  • Swimming: the infinity pool is an idyllic place to hang out, with sun loungers, parasols and sea views; and the sandy beach is only a short barefoot stroll away (high tide only)
  • Relaxing in the resort's newly refurbished treatment room which offers a variety of beauty and massage therapies including reflexology, head massages, facials and manicures

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Kayaking
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Scuba diving courses
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Windsurfing
  • Kids

    Not set up for kids, but over 12s are welcome.

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    10/
    Food
    10/
    Service
    10/
    Value
    10/
    Overall

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