Private island dreams do come true

Photo of Angie Tomlinson

Thanda Island is what tropical island fantasies are all about.

Dreaming of a tropical island getaway? It doesn’t get much better than Thanda Island in southern Tanzania, where you can hire the entire private island, its team of staff and delight in exclusive access to the marine reserve.

Located in the Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve, the island is the beach residence of Swedish entrepreneurs and philanthropists Christin and Dan Olofsson.

The off-grid, solar-powered island is just eight hectares in size, with a little over 1km of coastline encircled by a pristine white sand beach.

The private marine reserve ranges 1km in all directions except south of the island, and can be enjoyed on a sole-use basis.  

All this natural beauty and the luxurious accommodation comes, of course, at a price.

Exclusive use of Thanda Island costs $US10,000 ($13,121) per night, with a minimum stay of three to seven nights, depending on the season.

The all-inclusive rate includes accommodation, the team of staff, boat transfers from Mafia Island, all island activities, all meals and drinks including a selection of wine and champagne.

Thanda Island’s five-bedroom villa sleeps 10 adults with additional children in fan-cooled, air-conditioned suites styled with designer furniture and artwork. Additional guests can be accommodated in two traditional Tanzanian bandas on the island.

Then there’s the impressive glass rim-flow swimming pool, which overlooks the sea.

For some quiet reading time take your pick from the library, or relax at the outdoor cocktail bar.

The biggest draw card, though, is the range of aquatic pursuits. The coral reef can be explored with snorkel and mask straight from the beach.

Close by are five main dive sites, including Sponge City and Coral Gardens, which can be explored with a Thanda aquatic guide. The sites are on average 3m deep.

There are further marine reserves to explore off the coast of neighbouring Nyororo and the world-class dive sites of Chole Bay off nearby Mafia Island.

There's also the “sunken city”. Located between Thanda and Mafia, it was recently discovered and is still under research, with speculation the site was anything from the ruins of a small Portuguese port to remnants of the ancient city of Rhapta.

For time on the water, the island’s boathouse offers sailboats, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks.

To the south, a powerboat zone outside the island’s marine reserve is perfect for water skiing, jet-skiing, wake-boarding and tubing.

Big-game fishing from a reef runner cat is available off the coast of Mafia Island. A James-Bond-style mahogany speedboat makes for a stylish sundower cruise ship.

In the right season, guests may be able to watch green and hawksbill turtles nesting and their eggs hatching, and enjoy swimming with whale sharks or the spotting the endangered dugong when diving.

Thanda Island can be accessed via boat from Mafia Island or helicopter directly from Dar es Salaam International Airport.

See for more information.


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