Barefoot Bliss: The Manta Resort
Switch out the khakis for the kikoy
Every corner of the African continent is brimming with unique experiences. Although most are well-known, now and again, we’ll stumble across something completely new and unexpected.
This is exactly what happened on our recent visit to Tanzania, where we set foot at The Manta Resort, perched on the northern tip of Pemba Island. A place beyond superlatives, what impressed us most is the group of good people who endeavor to keep it that way.
If you’re looking for a laidback island experience you won’t have to share with many others, here’s why it’s worth adding The Manta Resort to your itinerary
The most noticeable well-I-never-expected-that-feature of The Manta Resort is its underwater floating room. Anchored on the nearby seabed, this jaw-dropping structure is like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Being self-contained, it boasts three levels with a lounge, bathroom, and bedroom with a front-row seat to underwater life. What a way to start the day – waking up to a kaleidoscope of marine creatures and little Nemos who, in turn, can also observe you!
This human-size aquarium offers a surreal and compelling experience where you can delve deeper into Davy Jones’s locker and feel what it’s like to exist beneath the waves. What’s great is that you can book it for one night during your overall stay. However, if this isn’t quite your ‘thing’, it’s still impressive to know what the Manta team has achieved within this Cruscoe-esque location
Connecting to the ocean
Once you arrive at The Manta Resort, you’re guaranteed to stand there gobsmacked at the scene before you. In all of our travels to Tanzania and her island hideaways, this is by far one of the best swimming beaches we’ve seen.
The water is gentle and gin clear, with a comfortable depth for swimming close to shore – families take note. This is just the place to trade that safari hat and sunnies for a mask and snorkel (even if you’re still new to it all). Without scores of tourists here, you may even feel confident enough to swim out just a little further. But, if you’re better suited to the wilderness than the water, opt to splash about in the pool first with an instructor.
Although snorkeling, freediving, and scuba diving are sought-after activities here, Manta offers a well-rounded approach to your experience with the ocean. If you’re not one for wiggling your toes in the sand with a cocktail, hop on a boat excursion to the nearby reef or use one of the kayaks to explore on your own steam. You could even go sailing with the locals aboard a traditional ngalawa.
Fun fact: The fine, powdery sand you see at The Manta Resort actually originates from parrotfish poop. Yes, you heard right! After scraping algae from rocks with their parrot-like beaks and feeding on dead reef material, their body digests and grinds up the inedible calcium-carbonate (made mostly of coral skeletons), and it is excreted as ‘sand’.
One of the most impressionable features of The Manta Resort is its staunch conservation and community-building efforts through The Kwanini Foundation.
With most industries in Pemba related to seaweed farming, fishing, and tourism, it has become a great necessity to protect the island’s natural resources and help care for its people. What’s clear is how the Manta team has taken on a large chunk of responsibility here. Over the years, they have pioneered a range of projects visible across the island with high consideration for what the community actually needs – be it sponsoring the local soccer team or building a police station (for general community disputes).
Another of their impressive initiatives is the establishment of the Kwanini Marine Protected Area, which you can support via donations or their Snorkelling for Conservation initiative during your stay.
During our recent visit to Manta, one aspect that stood out to us was the team on the ground. As clichéd as it sounds, they really have managed to create a genuine family, which is remarked upon fondly by previous guests. Their genuine warmth and willingness to go the extra mile for guests is something that you must experience for yourself to be believed.
At Manta Resort, we also like that upon arrival; you will receive your very own ‘service fundi’ – someone to look after you during your stay. This impressive personal service feature is something we’ve rarely experienced at this price level.
The owner, British-Zimbabwean Matt Saus, remains instrumental in the resort’s operations yet does not tend to shine the light on himself. Having abandoned a top-down management approach, he ensures that everyone is involved with everything at Manta. As he says himself:
“Empathy and communication with respect and clarity are far more important and effective tools for us to deliver our product.”
Having been in the business of African travel for well over a decade, people often ask us about our all-time favorites – this is one. Contact us here for more details on how to get there and what your stay entails.
Big Journeys Start With Small Steps
~ African Proverb