Put simply, here at Tailormade Africa, we love The Manta Resort and the Manta 'family'.
Now the first and important thing to point out with Pemba Island is that it is remote and a far cry from the busier areas on Zanzibar Island and the cities of Tanzania , which in our opinion is its real draw! It is just fantastic to be away from any hustle and bustle and lots of people. Going to Pemba is not about walking out down the beach to restaurants and bars, or about larger resorts with lots of facilities and all the five-star touches.
Pemba is remote, quiet and full of beautiful beaches, forests and friendly people. Saying that Pemba and The Manta Resort is not for everyone - it is not five-star luxury, it is all about relaxing and taking in the whole island experience, with its vast array of natural riches. They really encourage you to switch off and enjoy the sunshine (hopefully!), fresh air, natural food, comfortable surroundings and friendly company. Bliss!
Manta itself is a real family environment and you will be welcomed into the family straight away. Be prepared to take in and immerse yourself into all the resort has to offer - whether that be simply relaxing, going out on their all day 'island safari' - seeing spice farms, fish market, 18th century ruins, the endemic flying foxes and the bustling capital Chake-Chake, visiting the local school, fishing, heading out on kayaks or chilling out on the sandbank.
There really is a lot to do on Pemba and lots to keep you busy if you do not fancy just relaxing on the beach. And of course, if you are into your marine life then the diving and snorkelling here are world class!!
Another good part of staying at Manta, is that it is 'fully inclusive', they will not ask for a bill at the end of your stay - so no surprises, the only extras are island excursions and diving - these are additional costs.
We must also mention the Underwater Room! Manta has been getting quite a bit of media coverage in the last few years as they have built a room for overnight stays literally underwater! A private floating island with a bedroom four metres below the surface. Sunbathing, stargaze and dine on the deck there surrounded by the marine environment. More info below on this feature.
We do feel Manta is a great place for our clients and it is hard to beat in terms of an off the beaten track island experience. Also, a massive plus for us is the formalising now of years of work in the officially registered NGO - the 'Kwanini Foundation' - where there are now many ongoing projects with the local communities.
This is something vital to us here at Tailormade Africa, in that lodges/camps we work with engage and involve the local community, and that by people staying on the island it benefits all involved.
Again we must stress that Manta is not for everyone, and it is not a five-star luxury. But for the right people - of which hopefully lots of clients are - you will get a hell of a lot out of staying there. All our clients who have stayed to date have loved it and we love staying there ourselves - to relax in beautiful surroundings, but also to take in all of what the island has to offer and get so much out of seeing this remote island and the community there.
Not only is Manta a great experience, but it also compliments time on safari so well with it's friendly and welcoming 'camp' feel, which is so common on safari.
Many parts of Pemba island are not easily accessible, as there is only one tarred road. The rest are often dead-end dirt roads. Saying that, while exploring them on your own you might very well find that hidden-away beach you have always dreamt about. The only sensible way to visit Pemba is with the scheduled charter flights.
Pemba Island is accessed through most airports in East Africa via Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam. Pemba island can also be accessed with direct local flights with several charter airlines that operate smaller aircraft. The most frequent route is Zanzibar – Pemba and is serviced by airlines Coastal Aviation and Auric Air.
The transport from Chake Chake Airport to the resort takes around an hour and a half and be prepared for a bumpy ride towards the end of the journey as you make your way through the forest. It’s totally worth it though when you arrive at beautiful Manta!
The Manta Resort is located very close to the equator resulting in the temperature and climate being very stable. The western Indian Ocean is dominated by two monsoon winds. The KazKazi comes southwards from December till April and then the Kusi arrives in April and blows back north till October.
There are also two mini-seasons between these monsoons when the wind blows very gently as the seasons change. The beginning of each new season brings rains.
The light rains are in November but usually are brief showers between long stretches of sunshine. The heavy rains fall between late April and early June.
The hottest season is January to March but there is normally a refreshing sea breeze. Daytime temperatures usually vary between 26 and 32 degrees centigrade.
6 x Seafront Villas
These villas have open plan makuti thatched roofs and are spacious and private. The ‘evening breeze’ air conditioning system around your bed is delightful! The rooms have a king size bed and large en-suite bathroom. The ‘open’ windows face a spectacular ocean view and stunning sunset. Our choice for our clients if you can afford it.
4 x Superior Garden Rooms
Two pairs make up the four Superior Garden Rooms with views of the sea between the garden foliage. One of the two pairs has an interconnecting door which makes it a good choice for families or friends. The Superior Garden Rooms are air-conditioned with a king size four poster bed and private makuti thatch covered terrace.
6 x Standard Garden Rooms
The standard rooms are open plan makuti thatched rooms situated further back in the gardens. They all feature a king size bed covered by a mosquito net, open plan en-suite bathroom, and a comfortable verandah to relax on. These rooms offer great value for those on more of a budget. They are not air-conditioned but do have a fan above the bed.
Anchored in an ocean floor anomaly, the floating underwater room tops almost anything you’ll see worldwide in terms of a unique accommodation experience! All within a turquoise blue bubble, watching shoals of reef fish swim by - sometimes in three or four layers of different species, this is a truly heart-stopping, yet awakening, experience. The floating structure, Swedish engineered, provides three levels, those above the water clad in local hardwood. Each one worthy of its own story.
The landing deck, at sea level, has a lounge area and bathroom facility. A ladder leads up to the roof which has a lounging area – for sun worshipping by day and stargazing at night all seen without any light pollution. You can sleep happily under the stars to the sounds of the ocean or underwater in your spectacular windowed room!
Descending the ladder to the bedroom below you are given the amazing feeling of lying on a soft kingsize bed surrounded by panes of glass affording almost 360 degrees viewing of the ocean. Situated on the reef, in the middle of a conservation area, shoals of reef fish and exquisite, often rarely seen nature will often visiting your windows. Some have taken up residence around the room, which provides them with some protection from predators.
At night, the underwater spotlights on all sides of the room often attract the shyer and more unusual, for instance, squid. Coral has established itself on the anchoring lines and around the underwater structure. Octopus and even Spanish dancers have been seen attaching themselves to the glass panes. The reef inhabitants can simply not resist attraction, which makes for exciting watching and a truly unique experience!
The room lies approximately 250m from the shore, in the crystal clear waters of the marine conservation area. The Underwater Room at Manta is a short boat ride of around 5 minutes from the beach. On arrival at the room, along with your service fundi and boat captain, you will get shown around and made familiar with the ins and outs of your private floating island.
You will then be left alone to enjoy your new surroundings. The underwater room lies in what Manta call the blue hole, which has some fantastic coral heads and an abundance of marine life. A kayak, snorkel and fins will be provided for you to use.
After having sundowners on the lower or upper deck, dinner will be served at a pre-arranged time decided by you and your service fundi. After dinner, you will be left to yourselves. Breakfast will be served at a pre-arranged time. Check in time is 14h00 for the Underwater and check out time from the room is at 11h00.
The Underwater room security guard will be anchored to a buoy not far off from the room. The bathroom facilities include an open-air fresh water shower, a fully-functioning advanced marine toilet system that is eco-friendly, and a small hand-wash basin. Manta provides all the necessary environmentally friendly, biodegradable shower products. A fully-stocked bar fridge is there for your convenience and a mobile phone will be provided with the contact numbers required should you need assistance with anything.
The Underwater room is - $ 1 700 / double room / night.
The diving around Pemba is nothing else but breathtaking. The untouched coral reef surrounding the entire island makes Pemba one of the top dive sites in the world. Pemba is home to one of the healthiest coral reef in the Indian Ocean, a water temperature of 26°C, and the best visibility in East Africa of 30 - 40 meters in the summertime. In combination with these great water conditions Dive 360 Pemba Dive Centre at Manta has everything you will need, including a great training pool in two levels and friendly professional dive instructors.
Some of the dive sites around Pemba are spectacular by any standards. Diving in this region is characterized by exceptionally clear, blue water drop-offs and vibrantly healthy shallow reefs. Hard and soft coral gardens support a proliferation of reef and pelagic fish and other marine life. The deep Pemba channel rises dramatically towards the island’s west coast in near vertical walls along many of the reefs.
There is plenty to do at The Manta Resort and across Pemba Island. Any excursion can be arranged the day before with your service fundi and paid at the resort, whichever excursion you choose.
The sandbank trip - At low tide, a sandbank protrudes for you to take a walk on the purest white coral sand. It is the perfect beach to relax on, surrounded by azure blue waters. This excursion relies heavily on the tides, currents, and weather conditions and is not always possible, so it does require some planning between you and the Manta team.
A cooler box of snacks, fruits and refreshments comes with you on the trip too of course. It is a 15-minute boat ride from Manta on the most northern point of Pemba Island.
Ngalawa sunset cruise - An Ngalawa is the traditional sailing vessel used by fishermen on Pemba island. Leaving from the beach at around 17h00, you will cruise along the shoreline over the reefs enjoying the sunset and of course a cold beer or wine!
Snorkelling for conservation - The house reef, directly in front of the Manta resort, lies within the marine conservation area. Hundreds of species of marine life and crystal clear tropical waters make this a must for all nature lovers.
This trip leaves Manta every morning by Ngalawa at 07h00. All the revenues are donated to the local Marine Conservation Area Committee and wardens and of course further donations are very welcome and appreciated.
The conservation boxes can be found at the diving centre and main lounge area at Manta. We always recommend supporting this project.
Snorkelling trip – You can also experience the vast numbers of marine life and reefs through the clear blue waters of Pemba Island in chosen snorkelling spots. You will be taken out with a guide and shown the colourful, vibrant life, lying just under the surface.
Kayak safari - Discover the remote mangrove wilderness and network by kayak safari. The guides at Manta will take you and kayak on a sail south along the coastline. Once you reach the mangroves at Njao Gap, your kayak adventure begins along the thick mangrove forests and inlets.
Discover this unique mangrove environment, habitat to exotic bird and marine life. You’ll enjoy a bountiful picnic, on a secluded beach and if you are lucky you may even bump into a pod of spinner dolphin on the way. This 3-4 hour excursion is tide and weather dependent.
If you are staying at Manta you are also welcome to make use of the kayaks on the beach at your own leisure to venture out and enjoy reefs and vibrant marine life below. Paddles can be found in the dive centre.
Fishing - Enjoy a big day out with a deep sea fishing experience you will never forget. The Manta boat, Lunatic is a 34-foot sport fishing boat. Captain Bob will take you out to the fishing grounds, where a wide range of game fish species awaits under the clear blue waters. You will enjoy refreshments throughout the day. Up to four people can enjoy this excursion at once.
Quarter-day (approximately 3h): $500
Half-day (approximately 5h): $770
Full-day (approximately 9h): $1050
An hourly rate, if not in conjunction with half-day or full-day fishing trip, will be charged at $295 (first hour) and $145 for every hour thereafter, for up to 8 hours. Additional hours on any regular trip is $145 per hour. The fishing charters must be arranged before arrival and paid at the Manta resort. All the fishing is catch and release.
There are also more casual fishing options where you can enjoy a casual cruise along the reef line in the dive boat while trawling lines and hoping for a strike. If you happen to catch a tuna, dorado, kingfish or wahoo this will be cooked up for dinner.
This 2-3 hour excursion is tide and weather dependent, charge at $50 per hour, with max 8 persons per boat.
You can also try local Ngalawa hand line fishing; a fishing tradition that runs deep to the roots of Pemba’s culture. Not only will you enjoy sailing the Ngalawa, but you will also learn how to fish with the local experts. This 2-3 hour excursion is tide and weather dependent, charge at $25 per person with max 3 persons per boat.
Spice Farm and Rainforest Tour - A visit to the spice farm will have you experiencing the true tastes and smells of Pemba Island. The Zanzibar islands are known as the 'spice islands', with 70% of the world’s cloves coming from Pemba. This trip is followed by a walk through the Ngezi Rainforest for about 45 minutes.
This is a protected reserve home to endemic bird species, vervet and black colobus monkeys, the forest ranger will also point out all the protected fauna and flora.
Lighthouse Walk - This walk takes approx 20 mins and is well worth doing. You will be accompanied by your service-fundi who will introduce you to the lighthouse keeper who will take you up the structure. The views from the top are spectacular! There is no charge, except for a $5 dollar entrance if you wish to climb the lighthouse and get the tour by the Lighthouse keeper in charge.
The Manta Resort offers special packages for honeymooners that includes a free private sunset cruise with a bottle of bubbly, a free private sandbank trip and a romantic beach dinner.
There is also a 'free nights' offer available to everyone - stay for 7 nights, pay for 5 and also a stay for 4 nights, pay for 3.
Another plus to Manta is that it is FULLY inclusive. You will not receive a bill when they leave, except for any additional excursions or diving activities that you may have taken part in.
Included in the fully inclusive plan is all of the below:
The Kwanini CSR Initiatives' aim is to supply the local community with the tools they need to create their own future – on their terms. The program is striving to support, help educate their young and help the local people to preserve this unique place for future generations. The initiatives started as a project from local people living near The Manta Resort. Besides the support of The Manta Resort, the project has been supported by Kwanini Africa, Resort Investors and Dive360Pemba.
Kwanini Initiatives is a tool to start creating the link and co-operation between the local community on Pemba Island and the new tourist sector. It is important once more to point out that the Kwanini Initiatives are projects, on the local’s terms.
The Shamba - These farmers have been given land to cultivate and harvest fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables for The Manta Resort and in time to be sold at the local market for additional income. The farm has enabled us to employ five local farmers. They have watermelon, sweet potato, tomatoes, peas, spinach, pumpkin, baby marrow, and a selection of herbs planted. While at Manta feel free to wander through and perhaps even pick some veggies for the kitchen.
Sele's school - The village, just outside Manta’s gates is very far from the town schools in Chake Chake, and so many children simply do not attend school, unfortunately. Sele is one of the managers at Manta, who has now started a school room in the village for children to learn mainly English and Maths.
This has inspired both Manta, and The Manta family guests to get involved in building a school in the village. Please do take a walk to meet the children and see the progress of the school during your visit. It will be well worth your time.
We encourage people to ask us pre-departure if they are keen to see the school as we encourage guests to take supplies to the school. We will speak to Sele pre your departure to ascertain what is needed
The Manta Resort Curio Shop - A small curio shop in the lounge area of Manta, has handmade products, by the ladies of the local village, on display and for sale. From hand woven ‘makeke’ bags, to hand carved 'Ungalawa' dhows to decorative hanging ornaments for the garden, this is now their own business. The ladies would be very happy to meet you during your stay at Manta to share their new business ideas with you.
Kwanini Manta Football Club - The Small Manta is a football club that has its training field close to The Manta Resort. A lot of the staff from the resort are active members of the team and if they are not working would love a kick about with guests!
If you want something special to rejuvenate the soul and feel part of a wonderful community and family at the same time then The Manta Resort is the place to visit. Chat with us about visiting The Manta.