Luxurious island hideaway with modern design elements and architecture set amidst beautiful nature at Constance Aiyana in Pemba Island, Zanzibar.
After a very exciting and eventful time in Tanzania searching for lions and cheetahs, all I wanted to do was relax on a beautiful beach to unwind. I chose to go to Pemba because of its close proximity to the mainland while being the perfect blend of adventure, African culture and stunning nature. I had seen photos of the island’s turquoise seas and white sand beaches, and knew I needed to experience it for myself!
On the northernmost tip of Pemba Island is this private beach retreat that’s surrounded by Zanzibar’s signature turquoise waters and white sand beaches. Pemba, located north of Unguja (the largest and most populated island of Zanzibar), is home to less than 400,000 people. Made up of mostly fishermen and farmers that depend on the fertile land for their livelihood, the island feels a million miles from modern civilization. To get to the resort requires off-roading through a jungle terrain and then villages for the last 30 minutes before arriving in paradise.
There are many activities to do at Constance Aiyana that range from relaxing to adventurous. Some of my favorites include:
Sand Bank Experience: Only 20 minutes by boat from the hotel is a beautiful sand bank. We arrived in the morning to the whitest sand and within a few hours the entire area was under water again. Even better was having a private lunch on the mini island.
Dhow Sunset Cruise: We enjoyed riding on a traditional Zanzibarian boat while viewing the sunset with a glass of wine and snacks. We went out just before the sun set and were able to catch the prettiest skies!
Makangale Village Tour: Visiting this close-by village is the perfect way to see how people live in Zanzibar and experience local life. We rode our mountain bikes from the resort to the village and passed people working in the fields and walking on the rode. We stopped by and learned about sweet potato farming from some women that were working and they invited us to come visit their home the next day.
On our way back we got stuck in a rainstorm and had to take cover with a local family. They warmly welcomed us under their porch and said to stay as long as we needed. Everyone was so kind and friendly!
Cooking Class of Traditional Swahili Cuisine: I always take a cooking class whenever I visit a new place because I believe food is integral to learning about any culture or group of people. Swahili food is not something I had prior to visiting Zanzibar and with it being the Spice Island, I was not only curious but had high expectations for my meal afterward! The class started with a coconut milk demonstration, showing us how to make it from traditional tools. Then the chef introduced the array of spices and made a few different dishes, which we were able to enjoy afterward. I bought a few spices and can’t wait to make some on my own!
Maji Spa: Walking into the spa, there’s an immediate sense of relaxation being surrounded by running water, flowers and greenery. It feels very lush and there’s even an outdoor sitting area to relax in afterward while sipping on tea.
Other activities include diving, fishing trips, snorkeling, spice farm visits, Ngezi Rainforest eco-tour, sea kayaking and discovering mangroves by boat.
Rooms and Suites
I loved everything about my villa and wish I could’ve moved in! My first impression were the high ceilings and understated, chic design of the room. Everything is made from local materials and originally built by the staff. They do a great job blending the indoor/outdoor spaces and I spent many evenings enjoying the sunset from my private deck overlooking the sea.
The property includes 30 villas that vary in size and styles. They’re all designed with African architecture and locally sourced materials with views of the Indian Ocean. They range from one-bedroom villas that offer direct beach access to the Royal Villa with three bedrooms and a private infinity pool.
In addition, the bathrooms are beautifully designed with standalone bathtubs, outdoor showers and local soap products by Inaya Zanzibar, a luxurious and natural beauty product line made from African oils and butters.
Food and Dining
I was very impressed with all my meals at Constance Aiyana. The Swahili and international flavors were wonderfully balanced with creative and beautiful presentations. With influences from Arab, Portuguese, Indian, British and Chinese cultures, I was never bored. I enjoyed the fresh seafood the most. Even with my gluten and dairy allergies, I never felt deprived and appreciated the chef going out of his way to ensure I always had a special tasty desert or fresh bread. These little details always go a long way, especially when you’re away from home!
There is a main restaurant that looks out over the ocean serving all three meals of the day, but they also have special nights with dinner on the beach. It’s possible to set up a special private lunch on the beach, candlelit dinner in your villa or private dinner on the beach.
My favorite meal was the private dinner on the beach. The entire setting was something out of a dream—everything from the table setting, the hanging lights, star-filled sky, sound of the waves to the delicious food were all perfect.
How to Get There
To get to Constance Aiyana, you will need to get a 30-minute flight from Zanzibar Airport to Pemba Airport near Chake Chake. Then about a 1.5 hour road transfer to the hotel with the last 30 minutes on a dirt road through the forest and village communities.
Tripindigo is a flight search engine and the main airlines are ZanAir, Coastal Aviation, Auric Air and As Salaam Air. I took ZanAir, which has a small propeller planes that fit around 12 people and As Salaam Air, which was a larger plane and seemed to cater more for locals. Also keep in mind there’s a local and tourist price for the tickets.
Pemba Island, Zanzibar
Tel: (255) 776 912 800
Thank you Constance Aiyana for a beautiful stay in your turquoise escape. All opinions and photos are my own.