Rating: Mid-range Price from: £220 pp sharing, full board
Open: Open all year, except for the rainy months of April and May.
Location: Fanjove Island is a tiny private (now uninhabited) island in the Indian Ocean, east of Kilwa. You get to it via another small island called Songo Songo Island, which is a 20 minute flight south of Mafia Island. There is then a boat trip from here to Fanjove. Fanjove is just 1km long and averages 300m wide. It has 11kms of reef on one side.
Rooms: There are just 6 beach bandas. They are all the same and the all face the sea, but in different directions. The makuti thatch roofs are in the shape of a dhow sail. They are large with wide-open frontage (which you can close). Windows are triangular openings with shutters. There is a double bed with mozzy net around. (If you want twins, they will put a single bed in the room). In the back of the banda, separated from the bedroom by a low wall, is the flush loo and shower (hot, but please use water sparingly here) and hand basin. At the front is a mezzanine level which gives you great views over the sea.
Activities: You basically come here to chill out on the beach and/or to enjoy the Indian Ocean waters. All activities are payable locally (please ask for prices). You can do good snorkelling and diving, with plenty of sites on option due to the huge nearby reef. They have sea canoes too, so it's fun to explore the island caves either with or without a guide. This is also a superb kitesurfing spot - but they don't have equipment for this, and it's only recommended for experts. Giorgia, one of the current manager's (as at June 2013) can offer yoga and pilates. There is a sandbank about 20 mins boat away – and this is great fun for a cook-out and a different place to sit on the beach. (Only available at low tide about 10 days per month). You can take a sundowner dhow trip with drinks and nibbles. Rockpooling is also fun here, as there are great rockpools on one side of island where tide goes out a long way. Wildlife found here includes coconut crabs, birds such as grey herons and oystercatchers.
Facilities: There is one main structure on the beach which houses the sandy-floored lounge and bar, and the neighbouring wooden-floored dining room. There is a toilet near this main building, and there are sun shades and loungers here too. Other than this, that is basically all there is. This is the simple life.
Dining: Due to the remote island location it will probably not come as a shock to find that most meals are based on locally-caught seafood and fish, plus vegetables and fruit. Meat is rare here (in fact you'll basically only get it if you really insist, and then only if some is available on Songo Songo), and the managers prefer not to offer much in the way of dairy because of the difficulty in keeping it really fresh.The food is however really excellent. From tasty fish soups with an Indonesia touch, to octopus salads in a poppadom basket, as well as simple fish and rice with vegetables.
Children: Children aged 6 years and older are very welcome here. An extra bed can be put in the rooms. There is a 50% discount for children between 6 and 16 years.
Health: This is a malarial area.
Communication: There is a good mobile signal here. No Wifi.
Spend a week on a tropical Indian Ocean island. Submit to the gentle rhythm of life, easy and unhurried.
This is a very ecofriendly island escape, yet doesn't lack creatures comforts. The buildings are done sensitively to the environment, and waste and usage of natural resources is kept to a minimum. Fanjove also benefits the local community of Songo Songo who worked with the owners to set up the island for visitors, and the lodges helps protect the beautiful coral reef next to their shores.
"What can I say? A ride across turquoise waters brings you to a Robinson Crusoe island, dominated by the ruins of a Victorian light house. This is Boys' Own adventure stuff, but with really good food and great internal design! The Italian couple who manage the island are wonderful - and so passionate about nature and sustainability."
Tribes Travel, The Old Dairy, Wood Farm, Ipswich Road,
Otley, Suffolk, IP6 9JW.
Office hours: Monday - Friday: 9am to 5.30pm
Telephone: 01473 890499