Thirty kilometres off mainland Tanzania, Thanda was an uninhabited blip in the ocean when the Olofsson family took it over on a long lease a decade ago. They had scoured the Indian Ocean looking for an island playground for their children and grandchildren, and also somewhere to complement their South African safari lodge, Thanda Private Game Reserve. The sprawling, solar-powered villa the family built has been designed in plantation-house style, with deep, wraparound verandas and five beautiful air-conditioned bedrooms, each with a four-poster bed. The two open-sided beach bandas make great hangouts for teenagers and the boat house is crammed with SUP boards, kayaks, banana boats, wake boards, snorkelling gear and even a pair of shiny new jet skis.
Diving trips off nearby Mafia Island are easy to arrange, kite- surfing or yoga instructors can be fIown in on request, and there’s also a floodlit tennis court. The seafood is spectacular, too, with fresh lobster, grilled tiger prawns as big as langoustines, red-snap per ceviche and seared tuna on the menu. The chefs are happy to prepare a Swahili feast of samosas, prawn and coconut curry, and mini doughnuts drenched in a spicy syrup served with milky chai tea. Getting to Thanda involves a 30-minute flight from Dar es Salaam to Mafia Island, then a 45-minute boat trip. You could chartera helicopter, but that would mean forfeiting that classic beach landing of everyone’s dreams.