Tanzania’s top private island – Thanda Island

When the invitation for Thanda Island arrived in my inbox, it only took me one second to RSVP.

Thanda Island was voted the World’s Leading Exclusive Private Island ( by World Travel Awards 2016) and was featured on the Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot List. I was thrilled to see it first-hand.

Thanda Island

How to get to Thanda Island

After an early flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, we connected to Dar Es Salaam, which felt like another world. We were met by a team member –  a welcome sight in the chaos of Dar Es Salaam airport arrivals – and led through immigration and the domestic terminal to our private jet.

The jet took us to Mafia Island in Tanzania. Our friendly and professional pilot, Mark, welcomed us onboard for a quick 20-minute flight to Mafia Island with snacks and soft drinks.

Thanda Island

We landed at the small, rustic airport that fits perfectly into its island surrounding. Reuben and Julie, two members of the Thanda Island team, met us and drove us to the beach (a quick 5-minute drive).

The tide was low, so we took off our shoes, rolled up our trousers and waded ankle-deep into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean onto a fishing boat. It took us to the new and sleek motorboat, Island Princess.

We took in the ocean’s salty scent and 25 minutes later we reached what was to be our home for the next two nights. And, what a home it was!

Thanda Island

The island itself is breath-taking; crystal-clear water glistens in the sun.

We hopped off the boat, following the distant sound of singing to the arrival area. There the staff was singing a welcome song, dressed in turquoise sarongs and white Thanda Island shirts, welcoming us with coconut cocktails and big smiles.

thanda island

Thanda Island Accommodation

Thanda Island’s main villa has 5 bedrooms (king-size beds) with ensuite bathrooms, outdoor baths, outdoor showers and a state-of-the-art kitchen. It was always alive with exciting menus!

A large and elegant lounge, decorated with an exquisite fish tank, overlooks the serene deck.

For those looking for a rustic option, two bandas are set down the beach for a more authentic experience. There’s always a fresh breeze flowing through the bedrooms as there are no fixed windows. Designed in a traditional way, the bandas have exquisite details; wooden doors and basket weave throughout.

Thanda Island

The glass-walled pool is perfectly located with wide views of the beach; we enjoyed cooling off and floating away the minutes. With a Cape Cod style, white-clad exterior and contemporary yet homely “beachy” interior, it’s perfect for a group of friends celebrating a milestone birthday or for a large family travelling together.

The well-equipped gym and library that contains a selection of movies, and there are plenty of well-designed spaces to explore.

Thanda Island

Thanda Island Activities

Both the dining experiences and water activities available were world-class.

Alex, our experienced chef, cooked exotic seafood dishes from local lobster, crab and even created a Zanzibar-themed beach dinner. The beach was transformed; we ate chilli-infused samosas and delicious spicy curries in a traditional Zanzibar tent with carpets.

Thanda Island also offers pizza-making evenings with a wood-burning pizza oven.

Thanda Island

Thanda Island

We worked off all the delicious food by taking part in the various water sports on offer. We were carefully guided along the small reef at the end of the island and saw some colourful species of fish. We also managed to kayak, wakeboard and had huge amounts of fun tubing in the open waters.

Our day was not finished as we still had time for a bit of beach volleyball and tennis on the floodlight astro tennis court.

Thanda Island

We were treated to a relaxing spa session while listening to the waves crashing in the background. In my opinion, it’s the best way to embrace nature’s calming effect – perfect during a spa treatment.

Thanda Island Experience

What I loved most about Thanda Island was… the entire island was ours!

We could do as little or as lot as we wanted to with activities ranging from deep-sea fishing to scuba diving. Thanda literally thinks for you and nothing is too much to ask; whatever, wherever and what you want, it’s yours.

The privacy of being on your own island is seriously special; it’s there just for you and your guests. You can only book the island on an exclusive-use basis. For those wanting to celebrate in an incredibly unique and luxurious way… this is the place for you!

Thanda Island

A huge and heartfelt thank you to Thanda Island’s team: Briarley, Bronwyn, Jo, Alex, Reuben, Julie and of course “Anti” who runs an incredibly chic operation. You can be proud of what you have achieved, and we certainly have no hesitation in recommending Thanda Island to our guests!