Thanda Island is one of the world’s most exclusive island getaways, a paradise for you to enjoy in complete privacy with family and friends.
It has taken us ten years to discover and develop this remarkably uncommon destination as a very special, totally private island getaway that we now invite you to experience. Thanda Island is a tropical island with a single luxurious villa in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Tanzania.
Situated in its own marine reserve, you can bathe in blue heaven with the gentlest giant of the ocean, the whale shark, and watch sea turtles nesting. Here, you can rest, rejuvenate, enjoy adventure sports and explore your pristine playground, where shades of turquoise infuse your days and tropical spices your nights.
The One Private Villa can accommodate 10 adults as well as 9 additional children sharing with the adults. On request there is an option to accommodate an additional 16 guests in banda style beach huts located on the other side of the island.
Beach house romance, nostalgia and East African elegance personify the villa on Thanda Island, designed for a perfect summer in coastal whites, greens and blues. The owners of Thanda Island, Christin and Dan Olofsson of Sweden, built the villa as their own discreet, sumptuous retreat and private playground. It offers an expansive living area featuring everything you would want from an extravagant beach house, including an indoor aquarium, Steinway grand piano, wine collection, cigar humidor, glass rim-flow swimming pool and wrap-around dining area with its 180-degree view of the ocean. The Olofssons have included personal touches such as romantic copper beach baths as well as an al fresco/outdoor BBQ, cocktail bar and pizza oven. Whilst off-grid and 100% self-sufficient, the villa has Wifi Internet access and mobile phone reception.
Five air-conditioned bedroom suites with comfortable king-sized beds lead directly onto the beach with its silken white sands. If required, further beds for additional children can be set up in the bedroom suites.
In addition, Thanda Island has two charming ‘Bandas’ built in traditional Tanzanian style. Each of them has a master king-sized bedroom on the first floor and a king-sized bedroom on the ground floor with the possibility of adding two extra single beds.
Looking after your every need on Thanda Island is a select team dedicated entirely to you, including your own Executive Chef, Hostess, Housekeeper and Boatman. It’s your Private Island, Coral Reef and Villa.
Al Fresco/Outdoor BBQ & Cocktail Bar
Breakfast Boma (outside area)
Glass Rim-Flow Pool
Outdoor Baths & Showers
Copper Beach Baths
Treatment Spa Beds
Sea Fish Aquarium
Steinway Grand Piano & Guitars
Bose Music Amplifier (wireless to your phone)
Extensive Ernest Hemingway Book Collection
Mobile Phone Network
Air-conditioned Gym including Table Tennis
Tennis Court (also for evening play)
Snorkelling Equipment (scuba diving on request)
Deep Sea Fishing Boat
Kayaks / Stand-up Pedal Boards
Wakeboards / Tubes / Water Skis
Beach Volleyball Equipment
Outdoor and Indoor Games for Children
Party Pavilion Tent
Many of us find it difficult to relax, but the beauty of Thanda Island is that it relaxes you. You’ll find yourself spontaneously relaxing while you restore your vital force in a serene but adventure-filled environment where time dissolves. The Island invites you to enjoy simple, exquisite pleasures… strolling along your own private 1,1km beach or exploring the 8ha Island where the only sign of human habitation is the occasional, traditional fishing dhow in the distance.
You have exclusive use of the Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve surrounding Thanda Island and a superb choice of water and marine activities. A boathouse full of equipment is yours to enjoy, and a boatman is dedicated to you as your personal guide.
We have a fully equipped 28-foot reef runner cat, deep-sea boat if you would like to do some big game fishing nearby Mafia Island. Catch and release iconic species or bring home the catch of the day for the chef to prepare for your lunch or dinner.
If you enjoy scuba diving at any level or you would like to learn to scuba dive, we will arrange this for you with our accredited dive partners at Chole Bay, Mafia Island. We’ll take you there by boat for an incredible diving experience in the Mafia Island Marine Park, which is widely regarded as having the most spectacular reefs for diving and snorkelling in sub-Saharan Africa. As the largest marine protected area in the Indian Ocean, it includes an intriguing diversity of coral reefs, five species of turtles and 400 species of enchanting reef fish. It is a rich breeding ground for pelagic fish such as the baracuda, stingray, napoleon wrasse and large grouper. Hopefully you will also see sea turtles, whale sharks and dugongs during your dive. Outside of Chole Bay a choice of equally exciting dives are available, including eleven reefs within reach of Ras Mbisi, Mafia Island. The beauty of Chole Bay is that because it is a well protected bay, you can dive here all year round.
Three of the reefs you can explore in Chole Bay include:
Kinasi Pass – a 5-star rates dive at the mouth of Chole Bay where the sheltered bay meets the open ocean. A gradual slope through a narrow channel of coral then drops off into a wall, plummeting to almost 30m. Experience reef rays, giant gropers, large Napolean wrasse and amazing shoals of sweetlips, barracuda, trevally and the occasional shark. This dive favours the more experienced diver but novice dives can be undertaken when the current is calmer. Average depth: 17m
Maximum depth: 27m
Average visibility: 15m
Milimani Coral Gardens – Milimani is extremely picturesque with unusual coral formations that are home to rich, colourful shoals of small and medium-sized tropical fish. The site is suitable for divers at all levels and ideal for night diving.
Average depth: 11m
Maximum depth: 18m
Average visibility: 15m
Chole Wall – Chole Wall is a westward extension of Kinasi Pass, known for turtles, stingrays and many colourful reef fish. Average depth: 15m
Maximum depth: 18m
Average visibility: 15m
Swim in the translucent, tropical waters and seek out oysters for your lunch or dinner. Enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of an up-close encounter with the gentlest giant of the ocean, the whale shark, south of Thanda Island.
Explore the reefs around your island in a kayak, sailboat or on your stand-up paddle board. We can also organise a sailing trip on a traditional Arabian fishing dhow.
Diving, snorkelling, swimming, sailing and fishing is good all year around. The spectacular, friendly whale sharks are in our waters from October to March and can be experienced from our boat or by snorkelling or diving alongside them. Marine turtles lay their eggs on Thanda Island’s beaches at night during the month of May, and the newborn turtles hatch from their eggs in August when they make a dash for the ocean. Whales can be seen in our waters during August and September. All these experiences are extremely moving, inspiring and special. They will remain with you forever.
As an add-on option we can arrange game-viewing safaris in Africa’s largest wildlife reserve: the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania.
From ancient times, cloves, peppers, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg from India, Indonesia and Malaysia were brought to Zanzibar by wooden dhows sailing the monsoon winds. Spice farming is the mainstay of Zanzibar today. Experience a spice tour and the mystique of the old city of Stone Town. We can arrange a helicopter or fixed-wing charter plane visit or an overnight stay on Zanzibar.
Explore Tanzania’s thriving harbour capital of Dar es Salaam, or ‘Dar’ as it is called, with its colourful mix of African, Arabic, Indian, British and German architecture and culture. Experience the fishermen bringing in their daily catch and shop for intriguing African fabrics and artefacts in the markets. We can arrange a helicopter visit or an overnight stay in Dar.
Mafia Island is the closest island to Thanda Island. We can sail you over to Mafia for a day’s exploration of the Eleventh Century ruins, visits to the village communities and traditional boat-building craftsmen who use hand tools and hand-forged nails. Road safaris around Mafia in the island’s legendary Landrover taxis are another option. Visit villages famous for their clay pots, ukili mats and coconut plantations.
Thanda Island’s cuisine is fresh, delicious and customized to your palate. Our chef will contact you ahead of your visit to discuss the menu of your choice. It can include ocean-fresh fish and seafood, vegetarian dishes, beef, game and poultry; crisp seasonal vegetables and tropical fruits, and a choice of divine desserts. An offering of delicious local dishes is available if you would like to experience Tanzanian cuisine. From breakfasts on the beach to romantic dinners and bonfires to picnics on a sandbank in the ocean – whatever you desire, we’ll deliver.
Our massage specialists have created a suite of special Thanda Island massages, facials and body treatments that can be booked according to your needs. The therapists are brought in from nearby Mafia Island. They use an exquisite range of non-allergic products to pamper your body to the full. Bearing in mind the absolute privacy you enjoy on the Island, your treatments can be done on the beach, in the privacy of your suite, wherever you choose.
On the coast of East Africa, cooled by the trade winds, lies Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam, or “Dar” as it is called. Arabic for “Haven of Peace”, its economy is reflected in the sea craft crowding its harbour. Here, traditional wooden dhows glide between ferries, cruise liners and cargo ships. Trade in Dar revolves around the sea, as it has for centuries. The business district fans out from the harbour in an architectural tiara reflecting the African, Arabic, Indian, British and German influences on the city’s present and past.
Tanzania and its islands speak of the region’s rich history, including the legendary Spice Island of Zanzibar. From ancient times, cloves, peppers, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg from India, Indonesia and Malaysia were brought to Zanzibar by wooden dhows sailing the monsoon winds.
The first Sultan of Zanzibar who governed here from the early 18th century realized the potential of spice farming here and transformed it into a spice island. Zanzibar during this era was the centre of overseas commerce on the East African coast. Merchant ships from Europe and America came here to trade in the great markets, where they picked up cargoes of copal, coconuts, spices, red pepper, ivory, hides, tortoise-shell, ambergris, beeswax, hippopotamus teeth, rhinoceros horn and cowrie shells and slaves.
The slave trade was eventually abolished and wildlife conservation areas declared, which is why Tanzania today is home to some of the greatest wildlife populations in Africa, with the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania and Africa’s largest wildlife Reserve, the Selous Game Reserve, in southern Tanzania.
If you would like to visit Zanzibar, the wildlife reserves or other parts of Tanzania, we can help you arrange this.
For more information about Tanzania, and how to get here, visit the following websites:
Standing on the ocean’s edge looking from the mainland of Tanzania towards its islands of Zanzibar, Mafia and Thanda Island, you can smell Zanzibar’s legendary tropical spices on the trade winds and hear the ancient voices of the people of Tanzania singing their haunting, part African, part Arabic songs. Their songs recall a time of slavery and their fight for freedom; their songs speak of life’s difficulties and dangers, and of its briefness and beauty.
Tanzania’s culture is layered with the history of many centuries and as many cultural influences, with 120 different ethnic groups in the country. The main languages spoken today are Swahili, Arabic and English, and trade between the Arab traders and the coastal Tanzanians dates back to the first century BC.
The Swahili people’s love affair with the ocean is reflected in the traditional fishing dhows with their iconic triangular sails, which have been around for over 2000 years and are still widely used. Another intoxicating living tradition in Tanzania is that of the Maasai – a clan of statuesque, regal people clad in traditional red cloth and adornments, whose wealth is their cattle. Then there are the architectural statements from past times, including the exquisite Zanzibari doors with Arabic-Indian influences dating back centuries. In days gone by, the door would be the first part of the house to be erected; the richer the owner the more ornate the door.
Thanda Island, leased by Thanda Tanzania Limited, is deeply committed to the conservation of the region’s sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins and whale sharks, as well as the preservation and rehabilitation of the Shungi Mbili coral reef. Thanda Island is situated within the Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve, and Thanda’s team is partnering with the Tanzanian Marine Parks and the leading NGO, Sea Sense, on a range of marine conservation and education programmes in the region. These include research and conservation projects on the sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins, whale sharks, coral reefs and marine reserves.
Five species of marine turtles occur in Tanzania’s waters. These include green, hawksbill, loggerhead, olive ridley and leatherback turtles. Two species – green and hawksbill – have recently returned to nest on the Island. All are categorised by the IUCN as endangered or critically endangered species.
The whale shark, which breeds just south of Thanda Island, is the largest fish in the world. Its size, gentle nature and tendency to swim at the surface in known sites makes it a focal species for marine tourism. Whale sharks are categorised by the IUCN as vulnerable to extinction.
To meet the low-carbon footprint requirements of today’s earth-conscious traveller, Thanda Island is powered by solar energy, while rainwater tanks maximise water storage and use of this precious natural resource. An on-site desalination plant provides water for the entire Island, including water for the rehabilitation of the Island’s vegetation.
Thanda Island is more than an incredible destination. It is under-pinned by a sincere and far-reaching commitment to the Tanzanian people. The Thanda Tanzania team is participating in a range of social upliftment programmes on Mafia Island, which has approximately 60 000 people.
The closest community village on Mafia Island is Ras Mbisi, 8 nautical miles from Thanda Island, and we are committed to the education of young people concerning sustainable resource utilisation and fish harvesting, as well as education in marine conservation and the development of healthy, sporting activities, such as football.
One of our community partners, Sea Sense, works closely with coastal communities in Tanzania to conserve and protect endangered marine species. Through training, education and employment, many coastal communities are now participating in marine conservation initiatives.
Community commitment is part of Thanda Tanzania’s DNA, and we will be as engaged with Tanzania’s people, as we are with the Zulu people in the communities neighbouring our other property, Thanda Safari, in Northern Zululand, South Africa.
Nestling within Tanzania’s Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve, Thanda Island is 8ha in size, 1,1km in circumference and 350m wide. Thanda Island is 16 nautical miles or 30km east of the mainland of Tanzania, opposite the Rufiji River Delta. It is accessible by boat or helicopter.
The Island is in the East African Time Zone, which is one to two hours ahead of the Central European Time Zone. It is 7 degrees south of the equator.
Thanda Island is located between the mainland of Tanzania and Mafia Island. It is surrounded by coral reefs, which protect Thanda Island from massive waves and heavy seas. This adds to the Island’s suitability for children. (The name ‘Mafia’ is derived from the Arabic morfiyeh, meaning group or archipelago, and from the Swahili mahali pa afya, meaning a healthy dwelling-place.)
More than a luxury lodge, more than a dream safari destination, more than an African escape… Thanda Safari offers an authentically South African wildlife experience, matched with sincere commitment to the Zulu culture and passionate conservation of the environment. Meaning ‘love’ in isiZulu, Thanda is a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World and multiple winner of World’s Leading Luxury Lodge. It is known for meaningful safari experiences and exclusive close-up encounters with Africa’s magnificent Big Five.
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