Mnemba Island

Outside Magazine, February 1999

Mnemba Island
If ever you find yourself in Zanzibar, chances are you'll be feeling a distinct disassociation from your prudent, quotidian self. Perhaps it's the way the East African island's moniker zings exotically over the tongue. Or the ancient mysticism so palpable in the labyrinthine alleyways of Stone Town. In any case, if you're in the neighborhood and experiencing an uncontrollable frisson of carpe diem, you're lucky: The perfect place for day-seizing, and for spending the ungodly pile of cash that such endeavors usually demand, is just five miles offshore at Mnemba Island Lodge.

Occupying an entire coral-ringed atoll, this newly opened eco-resort is just what you'd expect for $500 per night: luxurious and exclusive (no more than 20 guests roam the 35-acre property at any given time). And you certainly get your half-a-g's worth, starting with your "banda," a breezy, thatch-roofed bungalow with an enormous netting-draped bed and a veranda fronting the lagoon's coral sands. Also included are unlimited diving and snorkeling on virgin reefs; superb candlelit dinners on the beach, complete with vintage South African wines and lobster delivered daily by fishermen in graceful wooden dhows; and, perhaps the best amenity of all, the complete absence of TVs, phones, and E-mail. Deep-sea fishing charters and diving-certification courses cost extra, but who's counting? Certainly not one recent guest, a bespectacled Seattle software mogul whose company's name rhymes with, uh, Bicrosoft.

Mnemba is open year-round except for the April-May monsoon season. For more information, call 305-221-2906, or save a few bucks - you'll need them later - by paying a visit via the Internet (

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