Pongwe, Zanzibar

Photo: Tulia Zanzibar
Photo: Tulia Zanzibar

There’s nothing like staying at a brand new resort. The designers just put the finishing touches on what they hope will be a successful hotel. Everything is new and sparkling without the fingerprints of others. While its secret amenities and romantic quiet spots have yet to be splashed across Instagram pages. It’s time to check out the new Tulia Zanzibar.

Tulia Zanzibar is in Pongwe, a small town on the east coast that’s less than 30 kilometers from Stone Town. It’s known for having one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Pongwe Beach, with its sparkling white sand, sits on a vast, shallow lagoon facing the Indian Ocean. Dhows bob in the water around a long coral reef. A grove of coconut palms seems endless. While red colobus monkeys live in a forest reserve slightly inland.

The resort, which opened at the very end of last year, is a gorgeous beachfront property. Seventeen freestanding bungalows, made of local stone and wood, are surrounded by gardens of indigenous plants. With so much flora, including clusters of ripening bananas, each bungalow feels private and secluded. But they are by no means small. Your Seafront Junior Suite has a platform bed, a living area atop a hardwood floor, and a modern bathroom. The front entrance leads to another living area and sun loungers on the waterfront terrace. Below you, small waves gently crash against a stone wall.

Photo: Tulia Zanzibar
Photo: Tulia Zanzibar

Though your suite is enough to convince you that you’ll be more than comfortable at Tulia Zanzibar, you should probably check out the rest of the resort as well. Two pools wind through the property. They’re surrounded by fat rattan chairs and white umbrellas. Two waterslides—the only ones on the island—empty into the turquoise water. Normally, such a sight would send you running, but there are no children to be seen. Instead, a wooden bridge crosses the calm pool to the pool bar. The open-air restaurant sits atop stone steps behind you. While the clear-blue Indian Ocean and that stunning beach spread out ahead of you.

Now you just have to try everything out. Go dolphin spotting early in the morning when the water is still calm. See locals fishing and seaweed farming as you walk along the lagoon’s exposed floor during low tide. Follow the paths through the Kiwengwa/Pongwe Forest Reserve to find those monkeys among the thick shrub. Return to the resort for canapés during cocktail hour. Then listen to the powerful high-tide waves as you eat grilled lobster with parsley and garlic butter in the thatched-roof dining room. Tulia Zanzibar has officially received your stamp of approval.

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