Paradise Found| Medjumbe Island - Sail+Leisure
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Paradise Found| Medjumbe Island

by Ingrid Hale
After a busy deadline schedule, I was overdue for a much needed get away. I needed a  place where I could switch off from the relentless world that is media.
Just once in your life you may be lucky enough to experience a place that is so unique and exclusive, with such raw, natural beauty that it takes your breath away. The Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort is one such place.

The Long Road Travelled

To get to Medjumbe Island is a bit of a trip – it’s a three hour flight from Johannesburg to Pemba. I flew with Airlink, which was reliable and comfortable, albeit a small plane. Airlink connects travellers to more than 55 routes within southern Africa and St Helena island with direct scheduled flights from Johannesburg to Pemba, Mozambique. Airlink is a member of South African Airways Loyalty programme -Voyager.
To get to the island itself one then needs to take a charter flight from Pemba, which is arranged by the resort and is included in the rate. My incoming flight missed the connection with the flight going to Medjumbe so I had to overnight at the Avini Pemba Beach Hotel, which as the name suggests is right on the beach.
I was treated to a stunning suite with a private balcony and a wide view of the ocean. This hotel has grand old-world charm of days gone by, with beautiful, Moorish influences everywhere: – arches, rattan screens, mosaic tiles in shades of blues and turquoise, and wide open verandas.
I enjoyed an excellent massage at the Avini Spa- I can honestly say that this was the best massage I have ever had. Mercy, my gentle and small, but strong masseuse worked wonders on my stressed and tired body. The Avini Spa has a stunning relaxation area overlooking the ocean. There are no windows, just large, arched openings that allow the soft Indian ocean breezes to blow in. There is also a water sports facility with state of the art gear, but I wasn’t feeling energetic enough to take up any of the activities on offer.
All in all this is great stopover en route to Medjumbe Island, it allowed me to just take a breath and reboot after my long travels.
Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort
The transfer flight to the island is breathtaking. The flight path takes the Cessna over islets set in turquoise waters and dense, bright green mangrove swamps with winding rivers that look like snakes from the air. You can also see the shiny white sails of the dhows below. And then, ahead, all of a sudden you see a strip of sand in the middle of the azure ocean.
Set in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Medjumbe Island is just 10km long in. The archipelago is made up of just 38 islands.
Medjumbe was badly hit by cyclone Idai in March and the resort has only recently completed the repairs. When you see how remote this place is, you can only marvel at how they even managed to do this. The logistics must have been incredibly difficult to manage.

Attention to Detail

Private beach pool villas at Medjumbe Island Resort

The Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort is well-positioned for relaxation and romantic get-aways. 12 private beach pool villas nestle in the natural vegetation. Spotless and with a great bungalow feel, they are decorated in cool, crisp, island colours.  Each villa overlooks the ocean with a private verandah and swimming pool, a large hammock, a beach gazebo and a secluded, outside shower. A private butler is allocated to your villa. My friendly guy was called Abu, and nothing was too much trouble for him. He greeted me every day with a wide smile and a willingness to help.
Little touches were left in my bathroom like a wooden comb, an emory board, dental and razor kits, ginger flower soap and a large loofah for the bath.
I was pleased to see a yoga mat (although I had packed my own travel mat), a skipping rope and dumbbells. I practised yoga on my private deck listening to the sound of the water lapping against the sand and watching the dhows sail by after their night of fishing while birds dropped by to swim in the pool.
Medjumbe prides itself on being as eco friendly as is possible in such a remote place. They make use of solar power, switching over to a generator at 8pm every night. A desalinator provides fresh water and a sewerage processing plant manages the waste. Recyclables are sent to Pemba via dhow.
Remember my great masseuse Mercy in Pemba? Well, she trained the ever delightful Elsa at Medjumbe and I was treated to another incredible massage. Once again her expertise worked wonders on my tired body. The Spa is set up in one of the chalets, which is set closer to the beach than any other chalet so you feel like you are in the water.

Exclusive Dining Experiences

‘Exclusive’ is the key word here. The resort hosts a maximum of 22 guests so the guest to staff ratio is very low. You can tailor make your stay to suit your needs. It’s all about doing what you feel like doing when you feel like doing it. You never eat a meal in the same area of the resort and it is set up that you and your partner always dine alone. You really do feel like you are the only people on the planet.

The staff rotate the experiences for guests so that everyone gets a turn to experience something different. Dinner can be served on your private balcony or on the beach, breakfast can be served under an umbrella in a rock pool or under your private gazebo. I enjoyed fresh pasteis de nata served with a hot coffee while seated under an umbrella at a perfectly set table in a rock pool with my feet in the cool water. Heaven!

On their first night guests are served a seafood platter, which includes delicious lobster, prawns, calamari and fish. I enjoyed my seafood platter on the beach under the most magnificent, starry sky.
27 little lights danced on the horizon that night. I asked the friendly server, Abdul what those lights were, ‘Fishermen,’ he said. ‘They sail for 4 hours from Pemba every day to fish and then they sail back in the morning.’

Delicious food served at Medjumbe Island Resort

My first breakfast was served on the open library deck overlooking the sand banks and turquoise waters in the far distance. The sand banks are 200m’s wide when the tide goes out.
I enjoyed an Island Benedict breakfast, a twist on the traditional eggs Benedict served with lobster.
Azarias, the Head Chef came to my table to take my order for lunch and dinner.

Signature Experiences

I was treated to a special outing to Quissanga Island, which is situated just off Medjumbe Island. After snorkelling on the nearby reef with my able guide, Shorty, I enjoyed a delicious lunch under the palms at a beautifully set table.
Soon this little island will offer the signature Star Bed Experience. Guests at the resort have the opportunity to be whisked away to this uninhabited, private island for sunset, dinner and to overnight for the ultimate sleepover escape. Blending a Robinson Crusoe-style adventure with Anantara’s authentic luxuries, the romantic escapade begins with a 15-minute voyage on a traditional dhow boat on the Indian Ocean. Arriving at Quissanga Island, couples are left alone to admire a magical sunset. Dinner under the stars on a deserted beach offers the choice of a formal table setting or relaxed on cushions. A gourmet picnic hamper can be left for the couple to savour in a world of their own. Those who prefer a stargazing island BBQ can request a personal chef (at an extra charge) to prepare a mouth-watering feast. Left alone in blissful solitude, couples retire to their luxurious four-poster bed dressed in the finest linens to sleep al fresco on the beach under a galaxy of stars – cocooned by a warm tropical night and the sound of waves gently lapping the shore. With no fresh water on the island there are no mosquitoes, allowing guests to reconnect with nature and each other, completely undisturbed in absolute comfort.
There is an activity centre for the active minded: SUP’s, scuba diving and snorkelling,  but I was happy with long walks on the beach with the Turns and crabs, lost in my thoughts.
This was truly an unforgettable experience, one I won’t forget easily!

The Star Bed Experience – Medjumbe Island Resort

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