After finishing an incredible Northern Circuit safari in Tanzania, I made my way to Pemba Island off the Tanzania coast in the Indian Ocean. Pemba is part of the Zanzibar Archipelago and is known for excellent diving, beautiful reefs, abundant marine life and clove farms. I arrived at The Manta Resort in time for sunset and it was a picture-perfect welcome to the island. The Manta Resort is a stunning place. The beach has soft white sand, the views across the Indian Ocean are incredible and there are colorful flowers and tropical plants at every turn.
The Manta Resort is most famously known for its Underwater Room. I have seen pictures of the room for years on my social feeds and have heard stories from colleagues about how incredible it is. To be honest, I was expecting to be a bit disappointed because it’s so hyped up and I had such high expectations. But I had the opposite experience – I thought it was amazing and special!
“The Underwater Room is as amazing as you think it’s going to be. Spending the night with incredible marine life swimming around you is a bucket list experience for sure. It’s a night I’ll never forget!” - Beth
The Underwater Room is actually three levels. Starting at the top there is an open-air deck with a large bed, perfect for sunset views across the ocean and stargazing at night. Moving down a level is the middle level with a lounge area, bathroom, outdoor shower to rinse off from the ocean and a mini fridge and snack area.
But the real star is the lower level. Descending down by ladder you spot a large bed with windows on all sides to see the marine life swimming around you. The wildlife viewing is stunning in the underwater room. Different species rotate through at different times of day and night, so you see a lot of variety. I was worried I wouldn’t sleep at all being mesmerized by the marine life, but it’s very comfortable and watching them swim lulled me to sleep.
“I’ve stayed in a lot of amazing places in my life, but nothing beats the Underwater Room.” - Beth
While the Underwater Room deserves the accolades it’s given, the resort offers so many more wonderful experiences. In addition to my night in the ocean, I stayed a couple nights in one of the on-shore rooms. There is no shortage of things to do on this island paradise. While everyone should slow down and enjoy lounging on the pristine beach with a drink from the beach bar in hand, there are many other activities on offer. Pemba Island is a scuba-lovers dream. I don’t dive, but took advantage of the snorkeling and saw more marine wildlife than ever before.
“My guided snorkeling trip was incredible. Our guide had no shortage of wildlife to point out, from tropical fish to a huge sea turtle to multiple octopuses. I couldn’t believe how much we saw in a short amount of time.” - Beth
In addition to scuba and snorkeling, the resort offers various beach and cultural experiences, such as a sandbank excursion, sunset dhow cruise, spice farm tour, rainforest walk, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and spa services.
I especially loved my kayaking experience with a clear kayak. With a see-through boat, I essentially had a snorkel experience without getting in the water. The snorkeling is exceptional just off the beach, so I didn’t have to paddle far to find schools of fish. The water is a stunning shade of blue and the water is so peaceful. If I didn’t have a complimentary massage appointment to get to, I could’ve stayed out for hours more. The perfect beach destination ‘problem’ to have!
I had a wonderful and relaxing few days here. After the fast-paced nature of my safari, Pemba Island was a great place to relax, enjoy delicious food and have fun with a variety of activities. I can’t wait to return!
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Photos courtesy AAC Marketing Director Beth McCabe