Zanzibar Hotels

Pongwe Beach Resort

This small hotel is ideal for those who want the comfort and luxury of a resort, but not the anonymity and size. Situated on the east-coast of Zanzibar (renowned for its wonderful white sandy beaches), the resort offers only 16 cottages all with ocean view. Security is strict around the hotel, only diners and guests can enter the hotel’s grounds. This ensures that Pongwe’s private beach never becomes crowded. Half-board and bed and breakfast options are available.

Accommodation at Pongwe Beach Resort

All rooms feature en suites with traditional walk-in showers as well as private verandas on which guests can take breakfast. The rooms are decorated simply but in traditional Zanzibari style. Rooms are very well cared for and clean. Both beach and bath towels are provided as well as mineral water for drinking and brushing teeth (tap water is very brackish in this region. Indeed, we are advised that some guests have arrived here with unrealistic expectations and have been surprised and disappointed that the hotel - like most of the hotels in the region - uses sea water for ablutions. Guests who expect to shower with fresh water, which has to be trucked in to the area at considerable expense, should be aware of this). Hairdryers are available on request. Though accommodation is simple it is perfectly comfortable.

Food and Drink at Pongwe Beach Resort

The hotel’s restaurant comes highly recommended. Guests are required to book dinner when ordering lunch. This is common in smaller hotels that offer al a carte dining. The menu is varied and fresh. Local fish, meat, vegetables, fruits and spices are used. There are also top quality wines and spirits on offer as well as local beers, juices and soft drinks at the hotel bar. Food and drinks are quite reasonably priced, but do be sure to check your bills as the hotel’s system is not totally reliable—guests are undercharged as often as they are over-charged however! You may share the bar with the bush-babies who come scavenging for fruit.

What’s on offer at Pongwe Beach Resort?

The resort has a reasonable size pool which serves nicely. The local beach is good for both swimming and exploring on foot. Kayaks can be hired for free from the hotel as can snorkelling gear. The hotel has its own long-boat on which guests can join game-fishing trips (costs extra). Dolphins and sharks are often to be spotted on such trips. The hotel can arrange excursions, including scuba diving and spice tours for an extra charge. Though such trips do add up, they are well worth the cost and are similarly expensive wherever you stay on the island.

Staff at Pongwe are very friendly and relaxed - indeed, probably the very friendliest that we have encountered throughout Zanzibar. The more intimate service offered by the hotel lends it a unique feel. If on the beach, simply pitch a flag in the sand and a member of hotel staff should be with you in minutes. This attitude and level of attention makes Pongwe an ideal place to chill and take in the quiet. It is not a good resort for young children and teenagers however, most guests are couples and many are honeymooners.

WiFi access is available and free from the hotel’s roof terrace, and the hotel has a laptop which guests can borrow during their stay. The hotel also offers a local and international telephone service at reception. Other services include jeep and motorbike hire (USD 60 / 30 per day) and airport transfers (around USD 50). The hotel accepts credit cards (5% fee) and traveller’s cheques (10% fee)

How to get to Pongwe Beach Resort

The hotel is very difficult to reach by any method of public transport so by far the best options for arriving here are hire-car, taxi or airport transfer (all around USD 50). The hotel is 46 km from Stone Town (slightly less from the airport) and takes just under an hour to reach from either. For the most part the drive is over tarmac, but may get rougher on the last stretch.

Much of the east-coast around these parts has been developed to reflect the luxury requirements of western travellers. However, the surrounding villages and the roads reflect the poverty of Tanzania. Hotel websites may advertise local villages as ‘charming and traditional’ but they may not appear that way.

Although the tourist industry has proved a destructive force in many parts of the country, it is also useful to bear in mind that many resorts and hotels are now contributing to funds to support locals in their regions and that eco-tourism projects are advancing throughout Zanzibar.

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