What would’ve taken about an hour and 15 minutes to the village of Kendwa on the northeast coast of Zanzibar, took us almost 3 hours, after being held captive in the streets of Stone Town for so long! The main roads between towns is well-paved for the most part. Chinese-owned companies are working to fix the roads that are not. Once you exit the main highway, the dirt roads through the villages are pitted with holes from the recent rains. However, I was told that they would be graded to smooth them out for the peak season.
Arriving at Kilindi, was a welcome retreat from the busy streets of Stone Town. As with African hospitality, I was greeted with a cold towel and refreshing fruit juice. I was escorted down several steps, through lush gardens to the main area, however, was told that there is a driveway down, for those who can’t manage so many steps. To describe Kilindi in one word? Zen! The cool and open dining/bar area, with a waterfall as the backdrop, overlooks the inviting pool. I was introduced to my butler who showed me to my villa – one of 15 villas in this intimate setting. I was blown away as I passed through the wooden door that revealed the private lush gardens and open-concept villa. To the right, an open veranda with day beds and table and chairs for private dining, opened up to a plunge pool flanked by more lush gardens, with enough break in the foliage to expose the ocean beyond. Up a flight of steps and I was in the cool bedroom with large shutters which open up to a second plunge pool. Up another flight of steps to a spacious, open-air bathroom with views of the ocean, now at low tide and turning orange and pink with the glow of the sunset. I chose to dine in the main area of the lodge and was treated to an incredibly delicious meal of fresh fish in a candlelit setting with soft music playing in the background.
Eager to get up before sunrise, I headed down to the beach, where sun-loungers and umbrellas adorn the white sand, and kayaks and paddleboards stand at attention, waiting for guests to venture out. I wanted to check out Kendwa village, which supposedly is alive with holiday makers during the peak season. I gingerly stepped over tethers, anchoring the dhow fishing boats to the beach, as fisherman were laying out their nets after returning with the catch of the day. Walking along the white sand beach, as the gentle waves lapped at my feet, I approached the expansive, main beach area of Kendwa, lined with small shacks (which I assumed were souvenir shops), watersports centers, open-air restaurants, and more hotels and villas. I could only imagine how this place comes alive in the busy season, so for someone who would like the option to join a lively atmosphere, but return to the respite of a secluded, intimate villa, Kilindi is an incredible choice!
After a delectable breakfast on my private verandah, of eggs benedict, recommended by the chef, I continued on my way to Zuri Zanzibar, located about 5 minutes from Kilindi. It wasn’t until I reached there, that I realized I had literally walked along the beach in front of it during my morning exploration. Zuri Zanzibar opened last year. 55 bungalows set in gardens, some with full ocean view, some with partial, and some with garden views. The rooms are of a cozy, standard size, with all the comfortable amenities, including both indoor and outdoor showers, and a small deck from which to enjoy the views. Family villas are two side-by-side suites interlinked by a common living area and with a private plunge pool. Suites are the same, with the 2nd room a living area, rather than a bedroom. Suites and villas have access to a private beach, while standard rooms only have access to the public beach in front of the hotel. The hotel does offer loungers and umbrellas for guests. The hotel has a couple of restaurants and bars dotted around the property, a spa and open-air gym, and a little spice garden where they offer cooking classes for $65 a person. You also have access to other restaurants on the Kendwa beach in front of the hotel.