Thanda Island

Mafia Archipelago, Tanzania
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Thanda Island

Mafia Archipelago, Tanzania

A unique and exclusive-use private island paradise at the centre of East Africa’s largest protected underwater marine reserve, a stay at Thanda Island guarantees unparalleled seclusion, absolute luxury and total relaxation along with every possible kind of maritime adventure above and below the waves.

Thanda Island Villa accommodates up to 10 guests in 5 bedroom suites.  Additional accommodation for up to 8 guests is available in the luxury Tanzanian Bandas.

Thanda Island has been voted The World’s Leading Exclusive Private Island at the World Travel Awards every year from 2016-2022

It all started with a Swedish family’s search for a small, remote and uninhabited Indian Ocean island where they could fulfil their long-held dream of building the ultimate in eco-friendly beach houses.   

In time their fantasy became a wonderful and extraordinary reality. Today Thanda Island is their precious personal home-from-home, one of the world’s most luxurious and enchanting private islands, the world’s only exclusive-use marine reserve, and an idyllic retreat for guests to enjoy in absolute seclusion with family and friends.

Stylish and striking Thanda Villa accommodates up to 10 guests in 5 light and spacious sea-view suites – all are air-conditioned and have private patios and outdoor baths.  Expansive living areas lead onto wrap-around verandas and the incredibly inviting glass-rim, cerulean-blue infinity pool.

The villa’s cool, calm and airy interiors are a chic modern take on traditional colonial style – with wooden floorboards, soaring white rafters, breezy terraces, bird’s nest lamps and rattan furniture – all coloured in soothing neutrals, blues and whites with splashes of brightly-patterned African fabric.

Thanda Island offers the ultimate escape from the distractions and pressures of the outside world. Every possible luxury and amenity is on hand for guests – and every exceptional experience is expertly orchestrated by a team of staff whose warmth, charm and enthusiasm are infectious.

On and off the island, there’s plenty to keep even the most energetic guests busy and enthralled. A huge range of water sports and aquatic activities include speedboating, dhow sailing, jet-skiing, big-game fishing, snorkelling with whale shark and underwater scuba tours of the thriving coral gardens. 

Pristine and intimate, surrounded by crystal-clear waters and 1100 metres of deserted white-sand beach, Thanda Island is set 16 nautical miles off the Tanzanian coast in the lee of nearby Mafia Island – a charming and sleepy outpost of traditional coastal Swahili culture.

Thanda’s sustainability programmes are as ambitious and impressive as its design. The island runs off-grid on solar power, relies on desalinated, recycled and rain-captured water, and its in-house marine biologist has implemented conservation projects to protect coral reefs, sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins and other threatened species.

“Friendly whale sharks circle the waters and turtles nest on the beaches of this remarkable island and private marine reserve. The luxury villa comes with a Steiner piano, cigar humidor, wine collection, and indoor aquarium. Guests can loll in a copper bath tub on the beach, take a boat in search of elusive dugongs or take part in conservation tasks such as turtle tagging.”

The World of Thanda Island

Everything you could possibly ever want or expect from a tropical beach house can found inside Thanda Villa, the delightfully comfortable, welcoming and well-equipped contemporary centrepiece of the island’s extensive guest accommodation.

Designed, decorated and furnished in a fresh Scandinavia-meets-Cape Cod style, its roomy and inviting central living and dining room exudes hospitality and charm. Its desert island luxuries include an aquarium filled with colourful fish, a grand piano, a collection of guitars and other musical instruments, a selection of wonderful wines and a cigar humidor. Upstairs the relaxing Sea View Room library includes an extensive Ernest Hemingway book collection.

Thanda’s talented kitchen team can conjure up whatever delicious dishes their guests’ hearts and tastebuds desire, and every dietary requirement can be catered for. Seafood platters are out of this world, with fresh fish, prawns and crayfish plucked straight from the ocean. Children love helping to create a pizza at the outside oven, while couples can enjoy a romantic dinner beneath a canopy of stars.

Everybody loves a mouth-watering Swahili or Arabian feast and the Thanda team will serve their tasty meals absolutely anywhere that guests request – at the indoor dining table or on the covered verandah, on the beach under a traditional Bedouin tent, nestled under the palm trees in the fresh air, or as a picnic out on a nearby sandbank.

There’s plenty to explore in and around the island’s eight hectares of bush and woodland and surrounding beaches. Take a guided nature walk through the centre of the island, discover roosting white, grey and black Egrets and Reef Herons or watch turtles nest and hatch on the sands under the moonlight.

An additional 8 guests can be accommodated in the two Tanzanian beachfront bandas on the eastern shore of the island. A luxurious and beautifully put-together take on traditional coastal homes, each double-storey, makuti-thatched banda houses a spacious double and a spacious twin bedroom. All have ensuite bathrooms and plenty of indoor and outdoor living and lounging space.

From luxury speedboat to cabin cruiser to catamaran to SUP, Thanda Island’s extensive fleet and experienced captains and crew are always at guests’ exclusive disposal.  Set sail in a traditional Arab dhow, put out to sea in a dinghy or kayak or by paddle board – or expend some adrenaline jet-skiing, wake boarding or water skiing.

SCUBA dive or take an underwater course with an instructor, snorkel the seven coral reefs with the resident guide or catch your lunch from the deep-sea fishing boat.  Venture further afield with an expert guide and explore historic Zanzibar, discover the mangrove forests and birdlife of Juani Island, meet the boat-building craftsmen of Mafia and visit the remote Swahili communities of Chole Island.

Relaxing and keeping fit on the island couldn’t be easier or more fun. Enjoy games of tennis and volleyball on the island’s flood-lit Astroturf court – partners and opponents are available if required.  Work out in the spacious air-conditioned gym – it’s very well-equipped with a wide range of equipment from running and cycling machines to weight training and boxing equipment.

Enjoy a massage or spa treatment or relax in a therapeutic copper bath on the beach. Take part in yoga, reiki and meditation sessions in the peaceful and private yoga pavilion overlooking the ocean. For a tranquil and restorative health and wellness experience, Thanda has its own personal wellbeing specialist.

‘Over The Rainbow of London’ is a historic, elegant and luxurious 115-foot motor yacht available for Indian Ocean charters between December and March.  She accommodates up to ten guests in four cabins.  A cruise aboard is a wonderful way to discover and explore the islands of Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba and the surrounding archipelagos.  

The modern 82-foot superyacht ‘Sea Leopard’ and her captain and crew are also available for charter from Thanda Island.  She sleeps up to 8 guests in four cabins and can be used as additional accommodation for larger parties staying on the island. Maximum cruising speed is 28 knots.


The Shungi Mbili Marine Reserve


Considered a ‘marine life nursery’ and the largest marine protected area in the Indian Ocean, Shungi Mbili Marine Reserve is blessed with extraordinary biodiversity. It hosts an outstanding mosaic of tropical marine habitats that are still in pristine condition – including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove swamps and intertidal flats.

Rich and diverse coral reefs teem with over 400 species of tropical fish and scores of sea turtles. The reserve provides a home for dolphins and endangered whale sharks and dugongs. Conservation and Community are driving forces behind Thanda Island which has become one of the region’s leading centres of ocean regeneration and marine protection.

Thanda’s owners are deeply committed to the long-term conservation of the island and the surrounding marine environment and have pledged to do all they can to protect the area. The island provides a base for Mafia Island’s Marine Park Rangers to patrol the western part of the archipelago, helping to stop illegal fishing and combat marine degradation.

Thanda Island partners with the Tanzanian Marine Parks and with leading NGO Sea Sense on a range of marine conservation and education programmes.  These include research and conservation projects on the sea turtles, dolphins, whale sharks, coral reefs and the underwater environment.

The whale shark, which breeds just south of the island, is the largest fish in the world. Its great size, gentle nature and tendency to swim at the surface in known sites makes it a focus for marine tourism.  Tanzania’s waters are home to five species of marine turtle, all categorized as endangered.  Green and Hawksbill turtles recently returned to nest on Thanda and the very first turtle nest hatched 110 babies.

Thanda Island is pledged to the protection and regeneration of coral reefs. Resident full-time marine biologist Rianne Laan is the brain behind several conservation projects including the underwater coral nursery where she grows and rehabilitates coral fragments. These are ‘transplanted’ back into the reef – stimulating recovery both of the reefs and the marine species that depend on them.

Thanda Island is deeply committed to the education and wellbeing of the young people on nearby Mafia Island and supports programmes on sustainable fishing and marine conservation and the development of healthy sporting activities.  Thanda employs members of the community on the island and offers high-end hospitality skills development and employment advancement.

Through training, education and employment, many coastal communities are now participating in marine conservation initiatives. The Star for Life program provides children at six schools across Tanzania with a three-year Life Skills course and the Entrepreneur Development Initiative helps local people to set up their own businesses.

In Detail

(Click on any of the headings below for full information)

Accommodation and Facilities

Main Villa

  • Accommodates up to 10 guests
  • 5 bedroom suites with King-size beds and sitting areas
  • Additional beds for children on request
  • All bedrooms are air-conditioned and have mosquito nets, fans and mini-safes
  • Each bedroom has a private outdoor patio with sitting area
  • Each bathroom features twin basins, indoor and outdoor showers and an outdoor bathtub
  • Dining Room and Lounge – featuring
  • Grand piano and guitars
  • Cigar humidor
  • Wine collection
  • Sea fish aquarium
  • Bose music amplifier
  • First Floor Sea View Room – sitting room with library and sea-view veranda
  • Outside verandas and terraces with sitting and dining areas

 Tanzanian Bandas

  • Accommodate up to 8 guests
  • Two traditionally-built and spacious double-storey bandas
  • Each banda has one King ensuite and one twin ensuite bedroom
  • Additional beds for children on request
  • Each bedroom has mosquito net, mini-bar and mini-safe
  • Each bathroom has twin basins and an inside shower

Outside Spaces and Places

  • 1,100 metres of private beach
  • 5.5 hectares of island to explore
  • Offshore coral reef
  • Glass rim-flow swimming pool
  • Swimming pool shower
  • Poolside loungers
  • Air-conditioned gym – with free and tethered weights and cardio-vascular machines
  • Boathouse and pavilion
  • Spa, massage and beauty treatments
  • Al-fresco barbecue and cocktail bar
  • Outside breakfast boma dining area
  • Outside dining pavilions
  • Traditional pizza oven
  • Copper beach baths
  • Arabian Bedouin tent and furnishings
  • Tennis & volleyball court – astro-turf, floodlit, racquets and balls supplied
  • Table tennis
  • Yoga pavilion – yoga and meditiation
  • Bonfire pits
  • Beach volleyball
  • Outdoor and indoor games for children
  • Bird walk through the island
  • Helipad

Property plan


Vessels in the Thanda fleet include

  • 36-foot adventure yacht ‘Sazi’
  • 28-foot deep-sea fishing catamaran ‘Real Magic’
  • 34-foot Cobalt motor cruiser ‘Island Princess’
  • Jet skis
  • Sailing boats
  • Traditional Arab dhow
  • Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards

Maritime activities include

  • Sailing
  • Island-hopping cruises
  • Snorkelling
  • Scuba diving – courses and instruction available
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Sunset cruises
  • Jet-skiing
  • Water-skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Swimming with whale-sharks (October to March)
  • Kayaking
  • SUP
  • Excursions
  • Mafia Island
  • Zanzibar Town and Island
  • Mbarakuni Island
  • Cruising around the archipelago

Additional vessels available for charter

‘Sea Leopard’ Superyacht

The 82-foot Sea Leopard and her captain and crew are available for charter from Thanda Island.  She accommodates up to 8 guests in four cabins.  Maximum cruising speed is 28 knots.

‘Over The Rainbow of London’

This historic, elegant and luxurious motor yacht is available for charter from Thanda Island between December and March.  She accommodates up to ten guests in four cabins.


  • 20 mbps wi-fi internet
  • 4G cellphone signal
  • Bose music amplifier
  • Solar-powered electricity
  • UK 220v sockets

Management and Staff

Thanda Island has a team of over 40 staff

Key members include –

  • Antigone Meda – General Manager
  • Rianne Laan – Marine Biologist
  • Ulrich Philander – Head Chef
  • Charles Wright  – Boat Captain
  • Leila Mussa – Spa Therapist
  • Sammy Mzee, Amini Said & Joshi
  • Jumbe – Underwater Guides
  • Athumani Bakari – Head Butler
  • Yaddash Omary – Team Leader and Barman

How to get there

To get to Thanda Island, fly directly to Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania.  Scheduled flights are available on carriers including Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Etihad Airlines or South African Airways. Swiss Air and KLM also fly into the region and use local airlines to get to Dar es Salaam.

Upon landing at Dar es Salaam, the Thanda Island team will meet guests and accompany them through customs, ensuring a smooth and quick entry into Tanzania.  From here, there are several options for the transfer to Thanda Island.

A helicopter transfer directly to the Island takes 45 minutes – various helicopters are available with a maximum capacity of 8 passengers.  A fixed-wing transfer in an 8 or 12 seat plane to Kilindoni, the main town on Mafia Island takes 30 minutes – this is followed by a transfer by private boat of approx. 30 minutes to the island.  Please contact us for further information and recommendations.


Location Map


Thanda Island – Rates

  • minimum Stay – 5 nights
  • Exclusive-use stays for up to 18 guests – $33,300 per night (includes return transfers by fixed-wing aircraft and boat from Dar Es Salaam)
  • Accommodation and helicopter transfers– 1-6 guests – $35,400
  • Accommodation and helicopter transfers – 7-12 guests – $37,500
  • Accommodation and helicopter transfers – 13-18 guests – $48,000
  • Accommodation for up to 18 guests plus use of superyacht ‘Sea Leopard’ – $40,800
  • All inclusive (Accommodation, use of superyacht and helicopter transfers) – 1-6 guests – $42,900
  • All inclusive (Accommodation, use of super yacht and helicopter transfers) – 7-12 guests – $45,000
  • All inclusive (Accommodation, use of superyacht and helicopter transfers) – 13-18 guests – $56,500
  • Conservation Levy – $120 per guest per stay
  • Marine Park Levy – $23.60 per guest per day

(An Advance Provisioning Allowance will be charged for any overnight stays aboard ‘Sea Leopard’)

Rates include

  • Exclusive use of the whole property including all amenities and facilities
  • Accommodation in the private Thanda Villa (up to 10 guests) and Bandas (up to 8 guests)
  • Transfer by fixed-wing flight from Dar es Salaam to Mafia Island – followed by a short boat transfer to the island
  • Transfer by helicopter directly to the island (if included in package),
  • Use of the superyacht M/Y Sea Leopard as required (if included in package)
  • A dedicated and talented team of staff members
  • All meals and drinks, including Thanda’s selection of wines, spirits, champagnes and cocktails
  • All activities and facilities, including 
    • Spa treatments
    • Private dive charters (outsourced)
    • Swimming with whale sharks (October – March)
    • Snorkelling and sailing
    • Jet skiing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and use of all the boathouse equipment
    • Wake-boarding, tubing and water skiing
    • Floodlit tennis court
    • Fully equipped, air-conditioned gym
    • Beach volleyball, table tennis
    • High-speed wi-fi
    • Laundry (no dry cleaning available)
    • Local VAT at 18%