Chumbe Island

private island eco lodge

Chumbe Island Coral Park is a unique and private nature reserve situated off the west coast of Zanzibar. It is a rare example of a pristine coral island ecosystem and includes a reef sanctuary and a forest reserve.

Accommodation on Chumbe Island is rustic, but really special. It’s what Robinson Crusoe could only have dreamt about!

Property Type
private island eco lodge
7 bungalows
kids welcome
dive centre

A unique 'Robinson Crusoe' island experience

Chumbe is fully eco friendly and off the grid

A spectacular snorkeling experience and underwater world, accessible from the beach

An untouched nature experience, with fascinating forest walks

Chumbe might be too isolated and rustic for those who like their modern cons

The beaches are small

All 7 bungalows on Chumbe Island are brilliantly designed to provide both privacy and a sense of living in the open. Most clients find these bungalows exceptionally romantic (honeymooners love them), but any individual with a passion for natural beauty will find them especially captivating!

All bungalows overlook the sea and it takes just 30 seconds to stroll from the comfort of your hammock to feel the warm tropical ocean lapping at your feet.

All bungalows are equipped with:

  • double or twin beds in the sleeping area under the palm thatched roof
  • self-contained bathrooms with hot and cold shower
  • large living rooms, equipped with handmade furniture and decorated with African art and colourful fabrics… and very comfortable hammocks!

Since there are only 7 bungalows, Chumbe Island never feels crowded, even when the lodge is fully booked. This also ensures that Chumbe’s team is able to give you all the service and attention that you deserve…

Rates on Chumbe Island include everything except alcoholic drinks. All food, soft drinks, snacks, park fees, park ranger services like forest walks, guided snorkeling on the reef (all equipment provided), scheduled boat transfers back and forth to the island, etc… and if you’re not quite sure about your snorkeling skills, the experienced rangers are happy to provide excellent tuition!

Dining takes place under the impressive roof of the visitor’s centre, which overlooks the sea towards mainland Tanzania. Chumbe Island’s chefs provide an abundant supply of delicious dishes that are a mixture of Zanzibari, Arabic, Indian and African tastes – and satisfy both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

There are many activities waiting for you on and around Chumbe Island. (Make sure you bring enough time with you!)

The whole of Chumbe Island is a nature reserve and you can explore it’s beauties either under the competent guidance of its park rangers or at your leisure.

Snorkel through the unique shallow water Reef Sanctuary, or explore the Forest Reserve and historical monuments.

Enjoy Scuba diving on the nearby reefs, or perhaps just allow yourself a lazy day watching dhows and outrigger boats go sailing by…


Scuba diving to neighbouring reefs can easily be arranged. A day excursion with two dives, all equipment and lunch, costs: US$125 per person, with a minimum of 2 qualified divers required.

The reef crest, encompassing a spectacular array of hard corals, is shallow (between 1 – 3m depending on the tides). Snorkelers can therefore see all those wonders of the underwater world normally only accessible to scuba divers only. If you swim up to the reef ridge the view opens up to a world of breathtaking sights. Shoals of barracuda take advantage of the abundant prey living on the reef, and as you glide by you may get a chance to see the playful dolphins cruising in and out of the abyss.

Each snorkeling excursion provides new discoveries for guests and with each visit you are unlikely to be disappointed!

When the tide is very low it’s possible to walk right around Chumbe Island, exploring the rock pools where juvenile fish and a myriad of crabs, shellfish, starfish, oysters and other invertebrates exist in the ever-changing environment of the intertidal zone.

At spring tides, upon reaching the north point of the island, take the time to bask on the exposed sandbar that provides over a kilometer of pristine beach (but don’t forget to turn back before the tide changes and the sandbar is absorbed back into the ocean!)

At the south point you can discover the amazing variety of starfish and explore the small islets where you may be fortunate enough to find Roseate Terns nesting, and Fish Eagles battling each other for territory.

Discover the footpath leading down into a large intertidal pool overgrown with mangroves and shaded by huge baobab trees, where the seawater rises and falls with the tides and where you can observe many creatures adapted to live in these conditions.

Forest Reserve

A network of nature trails criss-cross the southern part of the virgin coral rag forest that covers about 90% of Chumbe Island.

The bedrock of the island is made up of fossilized coral, where you can still see the skeletal structures of corals and giant clams – giving one a gentle reminder of the passage of time.

Even more amazing is the coral-rag forest. You would be forgiven for thinking it a rainforest at first glance – before closer inspection reveals that on Chumbe Island a highly specialised plant community has developed that survives without any groundwater. Instead, some of these remarkably adapted trees depend on capturing sufficient moisture from the humidity in the air, while others are able to store away several months’ supply of water during the rainy season. You will notice leaves that are either fleshy and waxy, or fold up during the heat of the day to reduce transpiration, and spiky euphorbia thrusts forth wherever it can get a stronghold. The dense canopy keeps the scorching sun out of the forest, where aerial roots tangle and compete to form the incredibly dense matrix of this special forest habitat.

You can climb the 131 steps to the top of the Chumbe Island Lighthouse, built in 1904 by the Sultan of Zanzibar and the British. From the top you’ll enjoy the breathtaking view of the turquoise seas towards mainland Tanzania, still plied by dhows that have remained unchanged for a thousand years.

For early risers, reaching the top of the lighthouse at sunrise is a spectacular way to start the day, as the sun appears over the land mass of Zanzibar (Unguja) island, turning the ocean a deep orange and flecking the scenery with spectacular hues. In the morning the breeze picks up as if on cue, to billow the sails of the flotilla of dhows departing from their village moorings to set sail for the working day.

After a day of exploration and discovery, dine under the huge palm thatched roof, stretching over the ruins of the historical lighthouse keeper’s house that has been converted into a visitors’ centre. This spectacular structure has kept the enclosed ruins intact, and offers great views across the ocean. Next door nestles a beautifully elaborate little mosque, built for the lighthouse keepers nearly 100 years ago. The mosque is one of the only Indian-style mosques in Zanzibar, and it is still in use today by the team on the island.

Map & Location

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