19 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
"Everything has already been said about this place... how beautiful it is, how nice people are, how great the food is and how pristine the water is...
all that is true... This place is a mini paradise, 40 minutes from the main island in Zanzibar...
This is your chance to experience the Robinson Crusoe life coupled with one of the best service we had in Tanzania...
Of course, you gotta like the concept itself... this is not a hotel... there are no doors, no A/C, the toilet is a toilet compost, the shower is basic and yes... you can get unexpected visitors in your room (check the picture of the blue coconut crab next to our bed)... so if you prefer more classic luxury resorts, you are up for major disapointment...
But if you care about environment and always look for something different... you MUST go there... this is the smartest concept I have ever seen in my life... and they really went the whole way in ensuring that nothing is impacting the island...
Finally, the water is the clearest I have seen and you can snorkel on the coral reef which is maybe 50-100 meters from the shore and is between 1 to 3m deep...
My only disapointment about our stay there is that we could not manage to see a turtle... and believe me, we tried :-)
Besides that, I would go back tomorrow... We spent 4 days there to conclude our honeymoon after hiking Kilimanjaro... and we enjoyed every minute.... resting, reading, eating, swimming... relaxing...
Long life to Chumbe... to its people and to its animals, above and below the surface !!"
- Travel date: Mon 3rd of December 2007
Totally Incredible!! Paradise on earth!
"This is one of the, if not THE very best place, that I have ever been to. I am a greenie, so the eco-appeal is what brought me here. However, this is luxury green at it's best. There are only 14 people allowed on the island at any time, even during the day. The 2 story houses (bandas) are all totally open-air and made of local, sustainably harvested materials. The views speak for themselves. Clear water for as far as the eye can see. Banda's 6 and 7 are the best due to their proximity to the ocean and stunning views. The people at Chumbe have thought of everything, and manager Godfrey really knows what he's doing. From the minute you get on the boat (they have people waiting to carry your luggage through the shallow water onto the boat) and offer you water shoes for the wet walk to the minute you leave and they offer their goodbyes, they will make sure that you have everything you need. They have thatched huts on the beach with swinging beds inside to keep you relaxed and shaded while staring out at the sea, incredible food (best we had in Africa), and little details everywhere that will ensure you are always comfortable. The food, water and soft drinks are all-inclusive, and this place could really charge whatever they wanted to charge for beer and wine but they keep their prices very low for some very good bottles. Have a second bottle....the money all goes to preserve the coral park!
Be sure to put your tips in the tip box in the main area at the end of your stay...there are many people here behind the scenes that are working very hard and the tip box is shared at the end of every month by all of the employees...so even the dishwashers and furniture makers will get something. Tip GENEROUSLY, these folks really deserve it!!"
- Travel date: Mon 29th of October 2007
Heaven on Earth!
"My daughter and I recently went to Chumbe after ending Ramadan in Stonetown, Zanzibar. It was the most beautiful, incredible, Robinson Crusoe treat one could ever experience. Magical is the word! From the pristine white beaches and tidepools filled with sea life, to the bandas made from thatch and the cross breezes flowing through the huts, to the incredible staff and excellent food, this is by far one the worlds finest paradises. The best part is, it can never become a tourist trap, as they only allow 14 guests per day on the island, and EVERYTHING is recycled. If you are the fussy type and must have a flush toilet, don;t go, but you will miss the very best of Africa."
- Travel date: Sun 28th of October 2007
One of my favorite places on Earth!
"This is really one of my favorite places I've been!!!
I loved my stay at Chumbe and wish I could have stayed longer. The lodgings are private 2 story cabana structures with a living room and bathroom on the bottom floor and a bedroom on the top. The cabanas face an amazing unspoiled beach that you share with the eight or so other guests on the island.
These structures are completely open, so you have to be comfortable with nature and basically sleeping under the stars!
The accomodations are full board and the food is some of the best I had in Africa -- fresh catches from the sea, fruit and vegetables with some excellent wine!
There's not much to really do on the island other then lounge around the beach, snorkle, take hikes, read and dream. That's in fact part of the appeal. That said I probably would not recommend staying for more than 5 days depending on how much beach you like.
This is the perfect place for a honeymoon, a romantic getaway or even a family vacation. We were on the island with a french family with 2 small kids that seemed to be having a wonderful time as well.
We liked it much better than any other part of Zanzibar we visited."
- Travel date: Tue 23rd of October 2007
"The whole trip to chumbe and the stay was magical. You don't have to be an enviro nut to enjoy this place, but if you are it helps.
The bandas were 100% ecologically sound, the dining areas overlooking the beach were divine, the food heavenly. The snorkelling trip was the best thing ever - only beaten by the Great Barrier Reef.
As I say, eco heaven - quite faultless. It is very expensive however, but then it is a charity and such a special place. They only fill the small number of bandas and don't allow anyone else on the island. Everything so tasteful and thoughfully done. Watch out for the bright green tree snakes in your banda - they are harmless but we only knew that after we scurried out for help!"
- Travel date: Sat 21st of July 2007
A real gift and like expected, luxury at its most simple
"Stayed there with my wife two days as a gift for my 50th anniversary
in shortened statements some more information :
- was really phantastic , all like also mainly mentioned by the
- weather was also excellent (only 1/2 an hour rain), even when it
was 25th of March
- nights are pretty hot, even when the "windows" were open
- high tec "robinson crusoe" bungalows were really super
shower, toilet, hammoks, living room..
- we had bungalow 7 , "the best"
; direct at the beach and at at the forest
this included also a green snake (60 cm) passing our
sleeping room ("should not be dangerous")
and also : wave noises of the sea cause short nights
combined with hot - sleeping room..
- 2 nights are ok, must not be longer , but could ..
- snorkelling : very good , but nevertheless expectations were
even higher ("only one" sea turtle while the stay , was my
expected and realised dream )
- food and beakfast good, but do not expect "gourmet niveau" (all
in menue form; "a little bit all inclusive atmosphere"
- the architecure of the central house, restaurant and the relevant
views very absolutely top...
- prices for alcoholic drinks : very reasonable (beer 2.5$, bottle
of wine 20$)
- people all very nice like mentioned and the atmosphere very
calme ; you feel like you are nearly alone in paradise
to mention also some negative impressions
- the famous coral parc is only at one side of the island ;
the other side is public and destroyed
- natural forest was not really "full of live"; like a jungle, but few
population : mainly some -very interesting - crabs..
I expected more ..
- food like mentioned good , but I expected also a liitle bit a
higher individual standard by taken into account the price
niveau (But this is maybe my problem, and does not fit to the
concept, which is all -local food and cooking-)."
- Travel date: Sat 31st of March 2007
"Both my husband and I thought that Chumbe is really one of the most exclusive places on Earth. We thought so because of the island itself - it is very beautiful, which sandy beaches and rocks, thick forest and coconub crabs. There is so much to see underwater as well - it really is an amazing coral park. Snorkelling is the best activity you can have there - it is very well run, as there is always a few guards around and a boat, this snorkelling is really safe. We saw turtles, lobsters, flying fish and much more (I am not very good at remembering names of species, unfortunately). I also liked that they had load of educational materials and you could easily find a fish you saw today and read about it.
Then goes the hotel itself, how they built it and how they run it. Bungalows are a real "wow", they really are, it is a unique chance for people spoilt by modern facilities to feel what is is like to live in a natural environment and use only what nature gives us.
Service is on a very high level - every member of staff is really there for a customer and you feel that when you address someone with a question, etc.
Food is great - not much choice, but everything is cooked really "professionally", if you can say so.
I highly recommend Chumbe - it is an exclusive experience."
- Travel date: Thu 29th of March 2007
"Great place to stop off after a safari in Kenya. The casas are very interesting and unique. Don't expect luxury beds - they are functional. Casas right on the water are beautiful, but the crashing waves can be loud at night.
We stayed for three days - perfect amount of time.
Great snorkeling, good food, fabulous atmosphere, wonderful staff.
Try and take the boat on their schedule, otherwise you are subject to big waves and 45 minutes in an old boat.
Highly recommended, a unique and memorable experience."
- Travel date: Fri 16th of February 2007
Fantastic Eco-Tourism Experience
"We recently returned from a trip to Zanizbar, and during this vacation had the good fortune to spend 5 days on Chumbe Island Coral Park. As nearly everyone else who has reviewed before us, we cannot use enough superlatives about Chumbe. The staff are friendly, committed, and intelligent people who seem to truly care about the work they are doing and the cause to which they are contributing.
This was a true eco-tourism experience and in the midst of the fantastic scenery, great food, wonderful snorkeling and exclusivity of being among only 14 people on the island we enjoyed knowing we were having "zero impact" on the environment.
Food was wonderful and after 4+ days of eating and drinking we never got bored with the menu - which is a wonderful mix of Swahili and European cuisine. It inspired us so much that we bought the Chumbe Island Cookbook to take home.
The other highlight of the experience was the snorkeling, twice daily. One of us doesn't swim well and we initially thought this would mean he would have to forego the snorkeling. But the resourceful staff think of everything and they have a huge inner tube at the ready for those who are less than confident about swimming. In fact, the diver/guide pulls the tube along while searching for amazing things to show us in the coral and the not-confident swimmer just has to hold on to the inner tube handles and be pulled along. This experience was nothing less than magical and opened our appreciation of life under the sea and what a wonderful eco-system it is.
Other things to do on the island include an island walk and climbing up inside the light house for a panoramic view of the island and Unguja (Zanzibar Island) 10miles to the north. We also met a number of really interesting people among the other guests; everyone was friendly and engaging and yet we all found ways to make the island "our own and private".
The lodging is alot of fun and one really feels like it is "Robinson Crusoe Light"; though in the long term it might prove a challenge. The only drawback is the occasionally pungent long-drop toilet; but this is alleviated with the use of the compost provided.
When we arrived we initially thought we'd get bored over 5 days, but the time flew by and we found ourselves relishing every minute. It makes one appreciate nature in such an intimate and meaningful way.
A few things to remember about Chumbe: first, it is NOT luxury in the Western sense of a beach holiday. It is a true eco-tourism experience and the luxury comes from the priviledge of being on the island in such seclusion, being around people who care about the environment, in being in the amazingly beautiful setting, and knowing that it is not hurting the earth. If this is not luxury, nothing is."
- Travel date: Thu 18th of January 2007
Ecotourism doesn't get any better
"We stayed at Chumbe for six nights in early November 2006, and I can say without hesitation that Chumbe represents the finest quality ecotourism resort you'll find.
By now you know the lengths Chumbe's management have gone to in order to exact as little impact on the environment as they can, so I'll focus on the service and amenities. The food was all top-notch and hearty, with a quite Indian influence. Most meals are served buffet-style, with a variety of dishes to choose. On our stay, the staff arranged a surprise dinner in the beachside cabana, with table service and wine and champagne. If you can arrange it, this service is a great treat, especially for a honeymoon.
All of the staff are wonderful and pleasant, always with a smile. One of our fondest memories is when one of the maintenance staff sat down with us for a couple of hours before dinner to teach us Bao, a traditional board game. I doubt the staff at a luxury hotel in the city would do the same.
The beach is not very large, but neither is the resort, so we never felt crowded. When the weather turns rainy there's always the hammock in your bungalow to relax. Be sure to climb the lighthouse and take part in as many of the excursions (forest walks, tide walks, and snorkeling are daily occurrences) as you can.
The only drawback I can report is that Bungalows 6-7 (we were in 6) are a little closer to the water and more exposed to the weather. The floor can become a little slippery as the mist comes in during rain or wind.
Above all, come just to relax. Our first day we wondered if we'd be bored, as the pace of life slows way down after city life and airports. We adjusted fine and we'll remember our stay fondly."
- Travel date: Tue 5th of December 2006
Incredibly special place
"I can't really add much to the other reviews here, except to echo what they say. We were lucky enough to spend 5 nights on Chumbe and can also say that it is one of, if not THE, most special place we've ever stayed. Don't go if you're expcting five-star luxury and lots of facilities - you will be disappointed. However, if you want to stay somewhere where you can just wallow in the breathtaking surroundings and nature, this place is a must-see.
The staff are totally dedicated to the eco issues they are promoting and were never short of a huge smile or a fascinating piece of information. After five nights we were on first name terms with almost everyone and felt like part of the furniture by the time we left.
The level of service and friendliness of the staff, together with the standard of food and drink that's provided it outstanding. They would be well justified in charging silly prices for alcohol as this is not included in the full board rate, but even this is ridiculously low priced.
The only downside to our trip was the allergic reaction my partner had to the tiny jelly fish bites that were abundant on the snorkelling trips. We were surprised though at how little of a problem the mosquitoes were in general and came away with very few bites at all.
If you can spare a night or two to spend on Chumbe - you won't regret it."
- Travel date: Tue 14th of November 2006
"We went to Chumbe for our honeymoon last January 06 and was totally enamored by the place. The island is beautiful and well taken cared of by the non-profit org that manages it. The staff was really great and hospitable, they remembered that my husband was allerigic to shellfish so we always had two sets of meals which got us so excited because the food was really simple but so fantastic, from breakfast, lunch to dinner.
The eco-bungalow was impressive also, in that it was very bare bones but intelligently functional but still romantic in a way. an open plan, with a great view of the sea. very idyllic.
The best part was our last night, they surprised us with a candlelit dinner in a gazebo near the water. the path was candlelit all the way to the beach front, the stars were out, and the moon was full. wow!"
- Travel date: Mon 16th of October 2006