Private Paradises: Southern Revival

  • Bill Whitman

Every few days, a handful of travelers gather on an isolated stretch of beach on Zanzibar, doff their shoes, and wade out to a launch bound for Africa’s premier private island resort, Mnemba Island Lodge.
 
Once visited only by shipwrecked fishermen, Mnemba was more or less a wasteland when Johannesburg-based CC Africa purchased the 35-acre property in 1996. The travel outfitter, which manages resorts throughout southern Africa, began Mnemba’s transformation by restoring its beaches, forest, and offshore coral reefs, habitat that the Zanzibar government now protects as a marine conservation area. CC Africa then built a village of teak and woven-palm-frond bandas, or bungalows, which the company updated and expanded last year.
 
A day for Mnemba guests, of which there are never more than 20, may consist of a morning dive to explore the reefs, lunch on the beach, and a walk through the forest in search of tiny Suni deer, one of several species that thrive on and around this African isle.

 Location
A three-mile, 20-minute boat trip from a beach located a one-hour drive from Zanzibar’s airport.

 

Accommodations
The resort recently upgraded and expanded its 10 secluded beachfront bandas.

Recreation
The surrounding Indian Ocean is
ideal for water sports, including diving, deep-sea fishing, and windsurfing.

Dining
Meals on Mnemba are served at tables on the beach and consist of fresh fish, risottos, and local fruits, all accompanied by fine South African vintages.

Worthy Diversion
Walk along the beaches in search of nesting green turtles, or fish for marlin in a traditional dhow.
 
Rates
From $525 to $575 per person, per night. Mnemba is closed during the monsoon season, April 1 through May 31.
 
888.88AFRICA, www.ccafrica.com

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