Fanjove Private Island
Fanjove Private Island: Our View
The approach to Fanjove Private Island is by boat across the calm, glittering, sometimes azure, sometimes turquoise Indian Ocean. For us the approach was by Dhow, the sails above us creaking gently as we were swept along by the warm trade wind that the Tanzanian Coast enjoys. Fanjove Private Island appeared on the horizon dazzling bright, its white sand beach running up to an old German lighthouse reflecting brilliantly in the sunshine.
Fanjove Private Island is a special place. From the smiling entourage that greeted us as we waded ashore - to the perfectly positioned and completely secluded guest Bandas on the beach - as well as the old lighthouse, jungle, and mangrove swamps to explore, Fanjove Private Island is a real Robinson Crusoe Desert Island experience.
With only six secluded Bandas we felt as if we were the only people on the island most of the time. How blissful it was to doze in the hammock just outside our Banda, enjoy a hot or cold shower in our unique bathroom, laze on the four poster bed or on the balcony, both overlooking the brilliant Indian Ocean, or indeed to float or swim completely alone in the warm sea just below us.
Time seemed to stand still. We strolled around the island (take a hat, water and sunblock) in an hour or two, enjoyed excellent and imaginative fresh, mostly seafood based meals at the restaurant at the main lodge, scuba dived off the coral reef after motoring through pods of dolphins, and enjoyed sundowners at the top of the old colonial lighthouse.
Fanjove Private Island is an upmarket, exclusive lodge, yet boasts rates that are very reasonable, especially when compared to Safari Lodge rates and rates of other private islands off the coast of Tanzania. We found the scuba diving to be good although the equipment was a little dated. The coral reefs seemed in pristine condition, boasting a colourful array of hard and soft corals. The privacy and seclusion at our private Banda was unparalleled. Management was enthusiastic and friendly. Activities are varied, including kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, dolphin excursions, Dhow sailing, and sand bank excursions. Birding is excellent too. Sea Turtles come here to nest! We explored the caves in the cliffs at low tide and much of the rest of the small island, including the mangrove swamp, at our leisure.
Fanjove Private Island: Quick Facts
- About 40 minutes by small plane from Dar es Salaam to Songo Songo, then an hour by Dhow (or 20 min by speedboat) to Fanjove Private Island
- Private, secluded, perfect for honeymooners, children that don’t require too much supervision, and anyone who wants some peace and quiet in an idyllic environment
- Eco accommodation in 6 large, comfortable, unique Bandas
- Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, Dhow sailing, birding, sand bank excursions, fishing
- Delicious cuisine with a seafood theme
- Cell Phone Reception, No WiFi
- Very private
- Secure - private security Askaris patrol the beach
- Excellent value for a Private Island
Fanjove Private Island: The Details
We took a morning flight from Dar es Salaam, stopped off at Mafia Island to drop off passengers, then flew on to Songo Songo Island. At Songo Songo airport after marveling at the Baobab trees that grow along the runway we were quickly processed and collected by Fanjove Private Island staff before taking a motorized wagon down to the harbour where our Dhow and cool drinks awaited us. From Songo Songo harbor we enjoyed a relaxing, refreshing Dhow passage across to Fanjove Private Island. We enjoyed every second of the Dhow passage. It felt as if we had been thrown back in time to the age of creaking wooden sail boats. And of course we had been in a way, although we had comms and life jackets now!
As we approached Fanjove Private Island over the impossibly turquoise, crystal clear water, we could make out an old lighthouse, a glittering white beach, and an entourage waiting to greet us. There is no harbor or jetty at Fanjove Private Island so once the Dhow had anchored offshore we clambered over the side and waded through the shallow, warm water up to the island. We were greeted with super refreshing coconut drinks by the management and staff of the island, enjoyed under their shady main Boma on the beach. Fanjove really is a Robinson Crusoe island. No permanent inhabitants, no local source of water (!), jungle and mangrove swamps on the island proper, and kilometers of sandy beach and warm sea surrounding it.
Being keen divers we decided to scuba dive on the reef off the Eastern side of the island. The reef is reached by motor boat - which gave us our best experience on this island - hundreds of dolphins flocked to the boat and cavorted in huge pods along with us as we motored around the island to the reef. We had never seen so many dolphins, all frolicking silently right next to us, silently bar the occasional excited whistle. Another highlight of our stay on the island was climbing the winding steps of the old German lighthouse where sundowners and snacks had been set up for us high above the island. A fisherman anchored off the beach and staggered up to the lodge with a huge tuna fish for the chef to use in preparing the next meal. Walking back to our Banda that night in the darkness under the spectacular stars, we followed the phosphorescence trail along the water’s edge to where we eventually found a thoughtful night watchman indicating the position of our Banda by the light of his torch.
This review would not be complete without mentioning the sea swimming experience. The Indian Ocean water is clear and warm. Depending on where you swim it can be “warm refreshing” to really rather “bathwater warm”! It was so delightful to just float alone next to the beach, being swept gently up and down by the tide. We could have stayed in for hours but the sun was really quite strong. Walking around the island was another experience that space doesn’t allow us to describe here. Discovery after discovery. And of course just lying on the bed at our private Banda gazing out over the Indian Ocean. Talk about a room with a view! Absolutely blissful.
Fanjove Private Island doesn't have any large mammals but the abundance of sea and bird life more than makes up for that. Management have produced a fascinating booklet about the fauna and flora of the island, which booklet can be found at reception. When we rate this island for "game viewing" we are consequently rating it for bird and marine life.
Our feeling is - go and visit this island before it becomes more popular and the price rockets to that of other Private Islands off the coast of Tanzania.