Day 185 - 189 Zanzibar Island : Nungwi Beach

With Sonja's 9th birthday fast approaching on Friday, Jimmy set off first thing this morning to hunt out some candles for her cake.  We ate breakfast on the sun-drenched roof terrace again and waited for the dullah-dullah (a minibus that Jimmy, bless him, had arranged) to arrive to take us from Stonetown to Nungwi Beach on the northern tip of the island for some serious R&R and scuba diving.  At TSH60000 (£30) for all 8 of us and our gear, it was a much better deal than the US$50 for a 4 person taxi that we had been told to expect.

An hour and 40 minutes later we arrived at Nungwi Beach.  As we hadn't booked any accommodation, we needed to search some out.  We left our gear at East Africa Diving (Delene and Michael run the centre and as a 5 star PADI resort is a great centre to dive with and they are a mine of useful information about the island) and went off to find somewhere to sleep.  We weren't prepared to pay the huge prices that we had read about in the Lonely Planet and wanted something around the US$30-US$40 mark for a room with breakfast.  The first bandas we looked at were okay but small and cramped so we went off to meet Mustafah who manages a house called Casa Umoja just along the beach that rents out each room on an individual basis but with the added advantage of having a kitchen for use.  It was perfectDSCN0438 DSCN0439 .  The rooms were big and cool, the beds kingsize 4 posters with mozzie nets, the bathrooms with fresh hot water showers and best of all a generator to support the ceiling fans during power outages.  At US$40 per room with breakfast included we took them immediately.  On the website the rooms are priced at over US$100 per room with breakfast but it just goes to show that everything is negotiable if they want to fill the rooms!

We got settled in and went back to the dive centre to sort out our dive gear for the following day.  We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach, sipping cold sodas, swimming and soaking up some sun on the tropical paradise beachDSCN0431 .  After a rest and a shower we went back to the beach to find that the Union Bar had set the tables on the beach DSCN0443 and a fish braai was underway. Yum, yum freshly braaied calamari, tuna, dorado, chips and salad was on the menuDSCN0440 DSCN0442.

We were up early again the next morning in anticipation of our day's diving ahead of us.  We met Carlos our DM, gathered together our gear and set off on the dhow for a 30 minute motor sail to the dive site.  The visibility was not as good as we were expecting but it was a respectable 10m.  On the spur of the moment yesterday, Kate had decided that she was going to do her Advanced Open Water.  She had planned to do it in Mozambique but after discussing it with Delene and Carlos was keen to do it right away.

Trevor skipped his 2nd dive as he wasn't feeling well at all but by the time we got back to land, he was feeling much better so it was back to the Union Bar for supper on the beach and another early night.

The next day was a rest day for us whilst Kate continued with her course but it was also a most important day - Sonja's birthday.  Yesterday we had bought a CD for her with the song "Jambo Jambo" on it that we had been singing for days and that the girls loved.  We wrapped the CD in leaves and flowers and had it ready for her when she came down to breakfast.  Evidently Natasha had been so excited at the prospect of Sonja's birthday that she had woken up at 2:30am to celebrate it.  Needless to sat, she had to wait until a little later before she was allowed up!  After the celebration, we lazed on the beach beds outside the Union Bar and passed the time by going for a snorkel in the rocks close to the beach.  We had an incredible time as the rocks and reef despite being in only 50cm of water were teeming with fish and plant life.  Dickie took the girls out a little later than us when the water had receded a bit more and their adventure was nicknamed a workel (a cross between a walk and a snorkel because they didn't actually swim but were able to walk out and use the masks to look under the water at the life swimming around them).  Earlier in the day Dickie and Claire had managed to source a bakery that would make a chocolate birthday cake and this, along with the candles, was presented to Sonja for her birthday.  Chocolate cake was enjoyed by all!  What an incredible way to spend a birthday.

For a change we went for a stroll further down the beach and what a surprise.  Where we were staying the pace was slow and relaxed and the accommodation discrete and affordable (and good!) but further down the beach resorts proliferated with accompanying loud music, TVs blaring international football and expensive restaurants. We stopped at the one of them opposite Amaan Resort for supper.  Do yourselves a favour and skip this one out, it's expensive and the food and service is crap.  We decided that we'd stick to the Union Bar in future.

Our second day of diving took us to the Mnemba Atoll.  This time it was a 20 minute RIB ride to the site.  We passed the Mnemba Island where we were told that the cost of 1 night's accommodation there is a minimum of US$5000 - Madonna and Bill Gates regularly holiday there.  Too exclusive for our tastes.... although.... maybe one day.....

We dropped into the water for our first dive and drifted along the wall with the gentle current.  The visibility was around 10m again so not brilliant but good enough for a couple of nice dives and back to the dive centre to sort out or kit for the end of our holiday and our return to the mainland.  Supper again at the Union Bar to say goodbye to chef and the manager and an early night after a tiring day of diving.

Kate finished her course on Monday morning with an early dive and at 10:30am we set off for Stonetown (in another dullah-dullah arranged by Jimmy) and our ferry trip back to Dar-es-Salaam.

When we got back to Mikadi Resort, the cars were safe and had been well looked after.  Brian and Carol, a really nice Aussie couple travelling north, had moved onto the campsite with their LandCruiser and I developed some serious envy looking at their setup - they had a flatbed conversion with a dismountable unit on the back that opened up into a large double bed, kitchen and storage.  Amazing and so roomy and comfortable.  And we are learning more and more at just how small the world is.  Kate introduced herself to them and turns out they have mutual close family friends back in Oz.

Turns out, just that day the campsite had had a power failure and the generator normally taking the load had failed to kick in so Dickie and Claire's freezer had defrosted.  With fillet steaks, boerewors and sausages still cold but defrosted and needing cooking and consuming, we were a willing audience.  Accompanied by a green and potato salad we ate like kings on the rare steak that Dickie cooked to perfection - a welcome break to 6 days of eating fish.

#1 gary on 10.26.2009 at 9:59 AM

Talking of birthday cakes, its grandpas birthday today.

But that area looks great, especially the beach, since it looks particularly empty, having a whole beach like that to yourselves must have been nice.

You poor things, having to eat all that steak and boerewors, I don't know how you coped with that.

It sounds like you're still having a great time, so keep on trekking


Gary and Teresa

#2 wendy on 10.27.2009 at 11:39 AM

Hi guys 10m vis ,I would die just to taste saltwater again, reading about the sea and hot weather as I look across waterlogged fields I wish I was there. All are well here,had my mom visit for 2 weeks and waved goodbye Saturday,Wendy then wanted wine lots of it. My buddy Brett and Karin send their regards and hope you are having a great time. Things have not changed up here so far but we live in hope. We will be spending Christmas day with Dave and Leanne and Leanne's brother and family so it looks like we will get some kind of party started,though in moderation this time.(I can just picture you saying "Yeah Right")

Keep on keeping on and stay safe.


#3 Deborah & Darren on 10.31.2009 at 1:19 PM

Hi Guys, Just popped in to see how your getting on, wow ive had a lot to catch up on, some stunning pics!!! glad your both well, take care. x

P.S Cant believe its been almost a year!!!


Hiya both, lovely to hear from you again.  Hope eveything is going ok in the neighbourhood and that Cameron is behaving himself!! :-)  I hear that the weather is changing and turning a little cold.  We are still loving the travel and at the moment we're in Malawi heading off in Mozambique ready to spend christmas with Trevor's family in Durban.  Take care and keep in touch.  Jan & Trevor

#4 Amy on 11.08.2009 at 4:56 PM

So pleased you went with EAD - we thought they were fab!