“A sybaritic Indian Ocean hideaway, perfect for lotus-eaters, beachcombers and honeymooners”
This is a place for really kicking back, one where the pleasure lies in doing very little. The airy main lodge has an intimate vibe with cushion-strewn chill out areas and a sundowner bar hoisted above the dining area: you quickly get on intimate terms with other guests. The craftsmanship of the lodge is faultless, the food fabulous and the beachside bandas as beautiful as any we've come across.
- An Eden-esque setting on a remote, virgin, 5-mile beach
- The architecture of the main lodge and the guest bandas has been beautifully conceived and crafted
- Great food and easy, good-natured service from Ras Mbisi's staff
- Beachfront massages and on-site non-motorised watersports
- A top eco-brief
- Some folk might get itchy feet after a few days
- When we visited, overcast weather meant that hot water was sporadic, but in the tropical heat this was hardly a problem
- If you're coming for Mafia's world-class diving, bear in mind it's an hour's drive to the Marine Park and dive schools
- Getting there is quite an adventure
- In windy weather, the pool water can get a bit murky
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Beach Resort
- All meals included
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
- Snorkelling equipment
The design of the ocean-side bandas was, we thought, simply perfect. Staggered in amongst tall coconut palms, each is linked to the main lodge by a narrow path of the purest white sand which cuts in from the beach. Like the main lodge, the polished decks, low walls and furnishings have been crafted entirely of coconut wood from the surrounding groves. Roofs of makuti thatch drop down low on either side: your intimacy is all your own even though each banda is open on 3 sides to the ocean breezes. At night the bandas are closed up by dropping down screens of white cotton: you can choose to leave them open to the ocean and the night sky.
A big deck with Planter-style chairs and deck chairs leads through to your sleeping space. This has a kingsize four-poster bed, bench seat with silk cushions, writing desk and chair, a big lockable trunk and a simple A-frame hanging rack for clothes. At the back of the banda is an airy bathroom with a rain shower, white ceramic sinks, a big mirror and plenty of surface space for spreading your toiletries around. Soap is made from virgin coconut oil and is on sale at the lodge: we returned home with masses of it for friends and family.
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
In keeping with the guiding eco-ethic of Ras Mbisi, a great deal of what graces your table is grown in situ or will have been locally sourced. Private dining on the beach can be arranged, too, just ask.
Breakfast gets going early: you naturally tend to slip into an 'early to bed, early rise' routine. Expect a lavish spread of fresh juice and fruit salad, homemade Greek-style yoghurt and freshly baked bread and Danish pastries, pancakes with maple syrup and cereals, as well as a full cooked breakfast. Eggs come fresh from the lodge's own hens.
After such a huge breakfast, lunches follow a light formula: some kind of seafood salad or a light pasta or noodle dish followed by fruit salad and homemade cake.
Both the dinners we had were simply excellent. You'll probably first gravitate to the sundowner bar where snacks and a range of exotic cocktails are on offer. Our first meal began with really scrummy crab samosas which were followed by mchuzi, a Swahili fish stew made with coconut and tomato. The following night our starter was a homemade liver paté and our main course an excellent seafood lasagne. Deserts were memorable, too: an Eton Mess variant made with passion fruit, and a wicked chocolate pudding cake which was served with a mango coulis. There’s a smallish, really generously priced wine menu, too.
- All meals included
- Children meals
- Organic produce
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Go snorkelling straight from the beach or explore the dive sites of nearby Chole Bay through the hotel's watersports centre - the island's Marine Park has some of the best dive sites in the world
- Borrow the hotel's fishing equipment and cast off from the beach or take a deep-sea fishing trip in Ras Mbisi's dhow. This is also a popular place to fly fish for bone fish, but you'll need to bring your own equipment
- Take a jeep trip up to the north of the island and a visit a remote lighthouse, a remarkable twisted palm tree, the German ruins and another fabulous beach at Kanga
- Kayak in the sea and watch the local women catch and carry home their clams
- Find time to visit Kilondoni's colourful market and perhaps have lunch at one of its ocean-facing restaurants
- In springtime take a trip in the dhow - it has an outboard as well as sails - to watch for humpback whales or swim with whale sharks
- Sign up for an overnight camping trip to watch turtles hatching
- Sit and watch the sun set, with a cocktail in-hand
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Scuba diving
- Scuba diving courses
- Shopping / markets
The lodge has been created as a place for families to feel utterly at home. The big bench seats in the bandas can be made up as single beds, and there's a family banda, too.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby listening/monitors are available on request
Baby cots are available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The chef is happy to whip up child-friendly meals on request
Kids Activities nearby:
- Mafia Island Marine Park
- Snorkelling from the beach