We all dream of the classic desert island, where life is simple, quiet and fun. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to wander along a coral beach where the only footprints in the sand are your own, then Thanda Island is the place to consider that possibility. Such contemplation is all the more pleasurable if done with a glass of chilled Heidseick in hand and fresh oysters nearby. Being miles away from everything helps, too.
Thanda is a wonderfully picturesque coral island tucked away in a quiet corner of the Indian Ocean just south of Zanzibar. It’s one of those classic palm-fringed gateways where the sky is cobalt blue, the sea is turquoise and the sand is picture-perfect pale yellow. Facing out to the sea, there is a sumptuous beachfront residence that looks as though it’s been imported plank by plank from the Hamptons. There are rustic bandas, a dinning terrace (Thanda claims to have ‘the best chef in Africa’) and Moroccan tent pitched in the sand, plus a cocktail bar, tropical gardens and a helipad. If you don’t arrive by private helicopter, you’ll enjoy a transfer from nearby Mafia Island in a distinctly James Bond-esque mahogany speedboat – called Mkora (‘bandit’ in Swahili) – that’s also used for marine excursions during your stay. If it all sounds a bit too good to be true, it’s because the guys at Thanda have done everything right. Nothing is forgotten and everything is understated beach chic.
The risk that goes with conventional paradise, of course, is that after a while you might run out of things to do. If you are looking for desert island action, at Thanda it’s all about getting stuck into the fun (with the qualifying rubric that you don’t have to feel obliged if the infinity pool and the equatorial sunshine are more your speed).
The well-stocked boathouse is packed with state-of-the-art gear that will keep you jet-skiing and diving all day. For the less adventurous, there’s beach volleyball and yoga. To satisfy the explorer in you, there is the chance to sail out in Mkora to the sunken lost city of Rhapta, documented by Greek writer Ptolemy and barely seen for centuries. Everything at Thanda seems to come with tailor-made bragging rights.
Then there is the wildlife. Lots of it. Close to home, whale sharks migrate through the marine reserve that surrounds the island, while turtles nest and hatch on the beach. Out diving you might even see dugongs. Take a half-day trip to nearby Chole Island (where you won’t see anything more modern that traditional dhow building) and you’ll come across colonies of fruit bats. There are cassiopea (better known as ‘upside down jellyfish’), hippos and a wealth of birdlife. Further afield, the fabled Ngorongoro Crater on mainland Tanzania is within reach, where there are elephants, lions and zebra in their thousands.
But the most important thing about Thanda is the privacy and exclusivity. The residence’s five suits can take parties of up to ten adults, and children can also be made comfortable in the bandas. A full concierge service provides just about anything you can think of in pursuit of your detoxification from the ‘real world’.