By Pierre Delvaux, CEO, Thanda Group
Once an unknown, deserted island 25 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania, Thanda Island is now celebrated as one of the most luxurious private islands in the world. Nestled within the Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve, Thanda Island is the only exclusive-use island in a marine reserve and one of the world’s most private and luxurious estates.
Because Thanda offers guests utter seclusion and perfect peace in a location off-limits to everyone except the resort staff, they can be forgiven for believing they are the only people on the planet. Providing unbeatable experiences, guests can enjoy scuba diving with the East African coast’s rich marine life, enjoy a bird’s-eye view with a tour in Thanda’s own helicopter, relax in the traditional copper bath on the most secluded part of the island, embark on a deep-sea fishing cruise or dive with whale sharks—to name only a few possibilities.
Thanda Island is available on an exclusive basis only; it is a tiny island paradise to be enjoyed in complete, luxurious privacy with family and friends. Hosting up to 18 guests, the island houses a spacious five-suite villa with a gym, patio, infinity pool and library, as well as two authentic and recently revamped beach chalets (Tanzanian bandas) a few steps away from the main villa. The island is complete with a tennis court, oceanfront yoga pavilion, helipad, helicopter, Sea Lion superyacht and fully equipped boathouse. Epicures will savour the island’s unforgettable dining experiences, such as a Swahili feast, a decadent affair that includes curries with hand-squeezed coconut milk, fresh lobster and oysters. All is prepared in traditional fashion with locally sourced ingredients by the island’s own chef. The warm community of staff will cater to any guest’s desires and arrange bespoke itineraries accordingly.
Intrepid guests may start their day with a breakfast of herbs and fruit from the island’s organic garden before heading to the boathouse for water sports. Those wishing to drift off can sign up for oceanfront yoga classes before enjoying a traditional copper bath at sunset. At lunch and dinner, guests gather on the villa’s patio or directly on the beach for themed food parties; drinks are sipped around the clock, and wine and liqueur tastings can be organised on request.
Visitors wishing to explore the culture-rich region, including nearby Zanzibar, can do so on the 82-foot M/Y Sea Leopard yacht or board the private helicopter, while treasure hunts, volleyball matches and tennis tournaments are held on the island daily.
Meaning “love” in the Zulu language, Thanda is a place where time slows, and the connection between humans and nature is reignited. Born from the desire to safeguard the species and environment of the Indian Ocean while offering a totally private and safe retreat for families and friends to enjoy, this soulful destination sets itself apart from the competition when it comes to creating shared value for the environment and the community.
Thanda Island is the epitome of how a small island can have a big impact. Swedish entrepreneurs Dan and Christine Olofsson have been involved in preservation and community projects for years. Based on its honest commitment to improving the marine reserve and bettering the lives of neighbouring Mafia Island’s inhabitants, the Tanzanian government agreed to leave this special island in their hands, which is run as a luxury five-star private hotel: Thanda Island Private Marine Reserve. An island designed with sustainability in mind, it is entirely powered by solar energy, and a desalination plant naturally purifies its water. A leading destination in ocean conservation and regeneration, Thanda Island employs a full-time marine biologist who oversees a coral nursery, where young coral is grown until it is ready to be put back into the reef.
Guests willing to learn more about marine life can book private diving sessions, with even the diving gear being eco-friendly (rash vests made from recycled plastic waste). Guests of Thanda are also encouraged to participate in the Whale Shark Citizen Science Programme, which asks the public to help collect identification data on whale sharks via underwater images. Headed by its philanthropist owners, Thanda’s team works closely with local NGO (non-governmental organisation) Sea Sense to educate the people of neighbouring Mafia Island on marine conservation and environmental concerns. The team also supports the Marine Park Rangers, who patrol the western side of Mafia Island to stop illegal fishing, by teaching the new rangers how to dive and supporting them with boat maintenance. With the support of the Olofssons’ Star for Life charity, Thanda also provides sponsorships for community initiatives, such as the purchase of medical supplies for the local hospital and schools.
Those who think it isn’t possible to combine this kind of once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list luxury with making a positive impact should take a closer look at this little corner of paradise: a tiny, unique emerald and ivory island. Thanda boasts all the quintessential elements of a tropical island getaway: impeccable service, breathtaking wildlife and pristine white-sand beaches. Yet, it’s more than just a paradise escape. This eco-conscious destination allows visitors to witness firsthand the inner workings of conservation and the flourishing underwater world.
With destinations like Thanda leading the charge, the Indian Ocean’s renaissance is on the horizon, and it’s only a matter of time before the world takes notice.
Sleeping up to 18 across the villa and bandas, an island buyout costs $45,000 (£33,000) a night with a minimum five-night stay. That includes domestic helicopter transfers, use of the 82-foot Sea Leopard yacht, all meals and drinks, unlimited spa treatments and water sports, and the conservation and marine park levies.
Visit Thanda Island Private Marine Reserve