Beachfront Lodge Near Quiet Fishing Village on African Island
Given its warm tropical climate and palm-studded coastline, it’s no wonder that the East African island of Zanzibar attracts a lot of resort activity, especially in the southern part. Things are a little different in the north, where you can still find quiet fishing villages and a slower pace. This is where Matemwe Lodge is located, sitting on a low coral cliff next to an expanse of white-sand shoreline. The property shares the beach with local fishermen, who set out into the Indian Ocean each morning in their billowing dhows. You can watch them cast off while you lounge in a hammock on a private veranda (standard features in all of the lodge's suites), and later on you can sample the day’s catch at the onsite restaurant.
To get a feel for the culture, guests are welcome to go fishing with the locals or take guided excursions to the village of Matemwe. Other activities at the lodge make the most of its oceanfront location. Offerings include snorkeling and diving trips along Mnemba Atoll—known as “the tropical fish capital”—located opposite the hotel. You’ll get an up-close look at the colorful marine life of a coral reef and you may see dolphins and turtles, which breed on the island.
Guest rooms are housed in 12 thatched-roof, stone bungalows standing amid the lodge's lush gardens. At breakfast and lunch, the open-air, beachfront restaurant serves a mix of African and European cuisines at the buffet counter; à la carte dinners center on seafood bought daily at nearby markets. The lodge's bar, made from a repurposed dhow, can be found on the lower portion of the multilevel pool. The upper deck features lounge chairs and sweeping views of the ocean.
Zanzibar, East Africa: Tropical Island with Offshore Reefs, Spice Plantations, and Exotic Wildlife
A tropical island off the east coast of mainland Africa, Zanzibar is famous for its white-sand beaches and boldly colored coral reefs. Travel + Leisure named it one of the World’s Most Romantic Islands, attributing its charm to a landscape of coconut groves, relaxed fishing villages, and forests inhabited by endangered leopards. Before Zanzibar became a haven for honeymooners, however, it was known for its spices, which brought tremendous wealth to the sultans of Oman in the 1800s. You can still visit some of the spice plantations today and watch the harvesting of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Other bits of history lie in the ruins of ancient palaces and slave chambers that are spread across the island.
Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its complex cultural makeup. On a stroll through the historic neighborhood, you'll see architecture borrowed from Arab, Persian, Indian, and European traditions. The famed House of Wonders, built in 1883 by the second sultan of Zanzibar, features a museum of permanent exhibits relating to Swahili and Zanzibari culture.
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