Private island delights guests with new airport VIP lounge, transfers in private helicopter, exclusive use 82-foot motor yacht, refurbished Beach Chalets, doggy daycare, and Open Sky Movie Lounge
With its distinctive sense of barefoot luxury and inviting warmth, Thanda Island has matured into a luxury cocoon in the middle of the Indian Ocean off the coast of mainland Tanzania. Now, five years after the private island destination named for the Zulu word for “love” debuted amid the clear waters of the Shungimbili Marine Reserve, there is even more as Thanda Island relaunches for 2021 with new services to ensure safe and secure bubble-to-bubble travel. New services and bespoke experiences heighten a private island vacation with guaranteed exclusive access to its own marine reserve that can’t be found anywhere else.
The enhanced Thanda Island experience begins upon arrival at the international airport in Dar es Salaam on mainland Tanzania, where newly built Terminal 3, completed for $110 million, opened on August 1, 2020. Thanda Island has access to a private VIP Lounge within Terminal 3 to lavish its guests in comfort and now offers convenient helicopter transfer direct from the airport to the island’s own pad. Flight time is 35 minutes, and guests arrive relaxed and ready to enjoy.
On-island facilities remain as vibrant and inviting as the day Thanda Island opened. The main five-bedroom villa is arrayed to soothe with soft, natural hues and sumptuous fabrics, handpicked furniture and artwork, a sizable indoor aquarium swimming with sea life, and an impressive glass rim-flow swimming pool. The villa can host up to 10 adults and additional children in five suites, with direct access to white-sand beaches where, with snorkels and masks, they can explore the island’s private coral reefs mere strokes from shore.
Refurbished Beach Chalets
Up to 8 additional guests can be accommodated in 2 traditional double-story Tanzanian Beach Bandas, also known as Beach Chalets. Both Bandas have been completely refurbished as part of the relaunch, creating cocoons on the beach with a new teak-shell, bamboo lining and large windows, boho-chic-interiors, including four-poster beds, lounges, air-conditioning, and completely refurbished bathrooms.
Thanda Island has also upgraded its watersports offerings. New eco-friendly rash vests fashioned by OceanR from recycled plastic waste offer protection and comfort for guests. The island has grown its fleet of watercraft with the addition of a partnership with the owner of the superyacht Sea Leopard, an 82-foot motor yacht that is now available at guests’ disposal for day trips to neighboring islands, dive excursions, or relaxed cruising around the protected waters of the Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve as well as off Mafia Island, home to gentle whale sharks, sea turtles, humpback whales, and dolphins. The yacht can accommodate up to 8 guests in four suites, comprising two master doubles and two twin cabins for overnight options if desired. Cruising at maximum speeds of 28 knots, the Sea Leopard can indulge whims from sunset cruising to a trip to enjoy a spice tour of Zanzibar, with its own captain and crew of three ready to serve indulgent meals or drinks at a moments’ notice. The island host team can also arrange helicopter trips with the island’s own aircraft to neighboring islands.
Back on land, an additional generator to complement the solar energy power plant has upgraded auxiliary power throughout Thanda Island, and a new dog daycare service takes the destination’s pet-friendliness to new heights, with staff available to frolic with pooches on the beach or in the forest. Professional dog training and complete grooming services are also on hand, and special dietary requirements can be accommodated in a snap.
Bespoke On-Island Experiences
The island’s General Manager, often referred to as the “Head of Magic,” Antigone Meda, supported by the talented Hospitality Manager, Francesca Battocchi, and the team of amazing local Swahili staff, have expanded onsite customized experiences with everything from elaborate treasure hunts to visits to the underwater coral nursery in the company of Thanda Island’s resident marine biologist Rianne Laan to delight guests and deepen their understanding of the fragile yet healthy Shungimbili Marine Reserve. A new Open Sky Beach Movie Lounge offers movie nights in an authentic Swahili setting on the beach, with dark skies glimmering with stars and no light pollution to minimize views. Lunches and spa treatments can also be arranged on sandbanks in the middle of the Indian Ocean or on a neighboring uninhabited Island – an unforgettable experience.
“We’ve long embraced simplicity and let the natural wonders and beauty surrounding Thanda Island speak for themselves, all under the care of our talented and creative team who really do create magic and who now have notched up quite an impressive reputation. Now, with significant enhancements timed for our relaunch, they’re speaking louder than ever,” said Pierre Delvaux, Managing Director of Thanda Island and Thanda Group CEO. “There is a soulfulness to this island, a sense of adventure and surprise that makes anything possible.”
Investing in Local Communities
Deeply committed to making a meaningful difference and investing in local communities, Thanda Island promotes and funds educational programs amongst the youth on Mafia Island through the Star for Life Tanzania initiative, and improvement programs on Mafia Island that benefit the local community. The Island is also very involved in marine biology research within the Marine Reserve in partnership with the Tanzanian Marine Parks and Reserves Unit. Support is extended for research on sea turtles, dolphins, whale sharks, and coral reefs within the various marine reserves and the Mafia Island Park. Thanda offers career opportunities and economic upliftment programs and sporting activities to actively contribute to a brighter future for Mafia’s youngest generation.
The majority of Thanda Island’s energy is harvested from 300 solar panels, which offer a solution for all of the island’s energy needs, supported by auxiliary power when required. The additional new generator is used only when necessary to supplement the solar grid during poor weather or when the Island is fully occupied, and the power grid becomes strained, thus always ensuring continuous power supply. The predominant sustainable building material used for the Villa is timber which gave rise to the raised platforms and overall building envelope. Timber was the material of choice as masonry products would have had a higher environmental impact on the island. Furthermore, the villa structure, roof, and large shaded veranda are extensively insulated to assist with the thermal control of the buildings. All rainwater from the Villa roofs is harvested and used for the island vegetable garden, including greywater used for irrigation of the Island vegetation.
Exclusive use of Thanda Island is offered at US$45,000 per night, all-inclusive for a minimum of five nights. The Villa accommodates ten adults in five suites, with two traditional Tanzanian Bandas or double-story Beach Chalets for up to eight guests. The superyacht M/Y Sea Leopard can accommodate an additional eight guests. The rate includes the dedicated island host team, all meals, and drinks, including a handpicked selection of wines and champagnes, diving, unlimited spa treatments, swimming with whale sharks (October-March), snorkeling, sailing, and deep-sea fishing, jet skiing, kayaking, SUPs and a wide selection of boathouse toys, a floodlit tennis and volleyball court, yoga (on request), high-speed WIFI, sandbank picnics, sunset cruises on the Yacht as well as roundtrip helicopter flights from Dar Es Salaam Julius Nyerere International Airport. Upon landing, whether flying privately or commercially, the Thanda Island team will either meet the guests on the tarmac or at international arrivals and escort them to a luxury SUV that will transport them to the helicopter for their 35-minute connection to Thanda Island. Alternatively, a chartered plane for a larger group can fly to Kilindoni on Mafia Island, where they can either be ferried across to Thanda Island by helicopter, which is about 10 mins either way or by fast boat, which takes 30 to 45 mins to reach the Island.
Thanda Island is located between the mainland of Tanzania and Mafia Island. It is 16 nautical miles or 18 miles east of the mainland of Tanzania, opposite Selous National Park and the Rufiji River Delta. The Island is accessible by boat from Mafia Island or helicopter directly from Dar es Salaam International Airport or from Kilindoni on Mafia Island.
Thanda Island offers beautiful, warm, tropical weather. The rainy seasons comprise “long” rains in late April to May and “short” rains in November. Rain showers are mostly short, followed by sunshine, bringing a wonderful renewal and freshness to the environment. Thanda Island lies across the trade winds and experiences the northeast (Kaskazi) and southeast (Kusi) trade wind seasons. The Kaskazi usually starts at the end of November and lasts into February. The Kusi is from early July to mid-September.
The neighboring Mafia Island is in a low-risk malaria area with no malaria having occurred on Thanda Island. The main currency is US Dollars.