Chapwani Private Island: Uncover Zanzibar’s hidden gem

If you’re looking for a tiny bit of paradise, the picturesque Chapwani Private Island is so lovely you won’t believe it’s real! It’s a little coral island about a kilometer long and 100 meters broad. It’s sixteen acres in size and bordered by little coves, sandy bays, and crystal blue seas, with a lovely white sand beach along one side. You can walk around the entire island at low tide, exploring the exposed coral and little bays and inlets.

Located only fifteen minutes by boat from Zanzibar’s capital Stone Town, which is a little over a mile away, on Chapwani Private Island you are miles and miles away from its rush, activity, and scents.

Chapwani’s major selling points are high-quality services and privacy, with a maximum of twenty visitors at any given time. This practically implies that there will be no crowds! Because it’s a private island, you won’t be bothered by beach hawkers or people passing by and gazing at you. Doesn’t that sound relaxing?

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How do you get to the Chapwani Private Island Resort?

Everyone staying on Chapwani Private Island is responsible for arranging transportation. This will be from either the airport or the seaport. All guests staying on Chapwani must organize a transfer from the airport or port to Stone Town and then by boat over to the island. You may also take one of the regular boat transports, which run every day at 09.00 and 16.30. The boat comes and departs at Mercury’s Restaurant in Stonetown, which is located in front of the Old Dispensary.

Your arrival is at the island’s southern tip, where a jetty protrudes into the water.

Waterproof shoes are recommended because you will need to wade calf-deep into the ocean off the beach to board and again when you get on the island.

Why you should visit Chapwani Private Island

Chapwani’s sixteen acres are densely forested with old baobab trees, coconut palms, passion fruit, and gigantic cactus. The jetty extends into the sea towards the southern end of the island, where there are a number of little sandy coves and a massive sandbank that appears at low tide, allowing you to swim regardless of the status of the tide.

The island’s north side is mostly reef, with fossilized coral cliffs reaching 3 to 4 meters out of the ocean and bordered by flora. This side of the island has been sculpted into intriguing forms by the wave activity. At high tide, a small break in the coral allows the sea to enter and exit, creating a calm inland lagoon in which to swim.

A broad sandy beach may be seen on the southern shore. The island’s center is normally covered in deep forest, through which a network of trails winds. The dense foliage on the island may be the reason for the presence of a wayward colobus monkey. Shy and secretive, they can only be spotted hanging from one branch to another on rare occasions.

Many birds use the island as a roost, making it ideal for bird viewing. The egrets return to Chapwani in the early evening from their feeding areas on Zanzibar island. During the day, you may sit in the bar and keep an eye out for Sundevall’s blue duikers, a unique indigenous species found only on the island.

One of the trees at the southern end of the island is also home to a big flock of fruit bats (over 1,000), which sleep on the island during the day and leave in enormous swarms at dark towards the mainland, returning only soon before dawn.

The sea wall that protects the modest but remarkable British seamen’s graveyard stretches along the island’s southwest coast. This is a historically significant and beautiful monument, and the inscriptions on the tombs describe the history of tall ships, battles with Arab dows during the slave wars, and the loss of HMS Pegasus, the first shot fired in the First World War.

The tiny cemetery on the island explains the island’s English name, Grave Island. It was used by the British in the late 1800s and early 1900s to bury Royal Navy men who died at sea. It also has gravestones for the sailors of the HMS Pegasus, which was attacked in Zanzibar harbor by the German cruiser SMS Konigsberg in 1914. The cemetery hasn’t been well-kept, yet it has a particular aura and is historically significant. It’s worth taking a stroll around the grounds to read the inscriptions on the stones.

The lengthy sandy beach continues for over 500 yards from here all the way to the island’s northern point. The sand is fine and white, making it ideal for swimming eight hours out of twelve. At low tide, the coral reef that surrounds the island is exposed, showing cracks and pools in the coral that are teeming with multicolored tiny shore life. Flying fish shoals are frequently spotted off the island, and dolphins come close to the coast on a regular basis.

In the early morning, a swarm of white egrets and other sea birds congregates near the island’s northern edge. An early morning bath in this area is remarkable: the birds dive in the water all around you, completely unaware of your existence.

The island is bordered by little coves, sandy bays, and crystal blue seas, making it ideal for snorkeling, windsurfing, and diving at the island’s numerous attractive sites. The two little coves in the north of the island offer complete seclusion and must be one of the most exquisite places in Zanzibar to spend a day on the beach in utter isolation.

Moving around the island to the North Eastern shore of Chapwani Private Island, we arrive at a natural pool that is drained at low tide via a small crack in the coral but refilled with fresh seawater at high tide. This is another beautiful location for swimming and sunbathing.

The rest of the North East coast is surrounded by jagged coral, with just a few small isolated bays suitable for swimming only at high tide.

Chapwani Private Island is one of the few places in Zanzibar where you may swim all day, as far as you want from the shore, no matter what the tide is. When the water level is low, you may also stroll out onto the reef and join local fishermen in their search for starfish, sea cucumbers, and other sea creatures.

The island looks spectacular at night. Stonetown’s lights shine in the distance, and the stars overhead are spectacular.

Chapwani Private Island Resort in Zanzibar

Accommodation at the Chapwani Private Island Resort

The Seaside Rooms

You can stay in one of 10 seaside rooms spread over five thatched bandas nestled among coconut palms, mangrove trees, and baobabs. The rooms are painted with vibrant African designs and equipped with antiques from the region. However, each of them has a distinct atmosphere.

There are seaside rooms with single beds or a centered king-size bed with mosquito nets and soft cushions decorated with freshly plucked hibiscus flowers. There is only enough room for a cot or an additional bed if you’re traveling with a child.

At the back of each room, you’ll find a bathroom with a sink, shelves, and a separate toilet. The bathrooms are appealing, with a deep bath but no plug and an open-plan hand shower. With solar heating, hot water is accessible. However, keep in mind that there is no fresh water on the island, and it’s all supplied from the mainland — so don’t waste it!

The Sunset Villa

The Chapwani Private Island Resort’s Sunset Villa offers the exclusivity of a private house, with ample comfort for hosting big groups of family and friends. It’s ideal for couples, family holidays, and extended visits.

There is plenty of indoor and outdoor living space, with two decks, a balcony off the master bedroom, and a small private pool. Besides the light-filled rooms, there are also two spacious en-suite bathrooms, each with double vanity and a deep bath.

From the private patio, you can admire a lovely sunset, as you’ll enjoy a unique perspective over the water.

The Sunset Tent

The Sunset Tent adds the experience of glamping to the Chapwani Private Island Resort. It’s a new type of vacation for couples, families, or even solo travelers.

Forget everything and find tranquility away from the crowds, in a more personal and silent realm. Discover a new type of eco-accommodation that respects nature while maintaining comfort.

You’ll get the chance to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the privacy of your own tent. And, under endless starry skies, you’ll fall asleep listening to the sound of the waves.

Enjoying Zanzibar ecoturism

The lack of television, telephone, and air conditioning, as well as the absence of 21st-century distractions, contributes to the beautiful sensation of escape and romance.

There is a diesel generator for power, which shuts down at midnight and restarts in the morning. During the rest of the time, a tiny generator keeps the lights on in the rooms. When the main generator is turned off in the evening, the ceiling fans only run on the lowest level. However, because there is generally decent sea wind, this won’t be too much of an issue. All you need to do is to open the banana leaf shutter to let the breeze in.

Outside, there’s a wooden deck with deck chairs and a thatch umbrella with your own sun loungers. This terrace is a beautiful spot to sit and watch the sunset. And the water is so close that it’s almost lapping at your patio during high tide!

You can also bring your sun loungers to the beach and choose a private location to sunbathe.

Chapwani Private Island Resort amenities & perks

Lounge area

The open-plan thatched cabin on this wonderful tiny private island lies in the center of the island, with views to both sides. This should give you a sense of how narrow Chapwani Private Island is!

The cabin is accessed through sandy walks that are illuminated at night by paraffin lamps, and it comprises a bar, dining room, and lounge adorned in Swahili antiques.

The lounge area, with its handcrafted furnishings and soft sofas, is a good spot to escape the heat of the day. The entire space is light and airy, with the type of laid-back beach attitude that has long since vanished from the Maldives and the Pacific Islands.

chapwani private island resort beach
Waves on the Chapwani Private Island Resort beach

Beach & private pool

Chapwani’s beach is beautiful and ideal for resting and enjoying the sea.

As an alternative to the beach, the pool provides even more area for swimming and resting. To avoid disrupting the island’s nature, the swimming pool is filled with sea salt water. Situated in a magnificent palm grove facing the sea, you can dive in even during low tide and rest while enjoying the comforting sea breeze.

From snorkeling lessons to bar services, the Chapwani Private Island Resort staff is there to make sure you have a relaxing and safe day at the beach.

Swahili treats at the Chapwani Private Island restaurant

All your meals are served at the restaurant right on the water’s edge, where Swahili cooks produce delectable three-course set dinners with an Italian touch, with delicious, fresh vegetables from their own garden.

The cuisine is excellent and frequently includes fresh fish, crayfish, prawns, and other delectable goodies, although it’s possible to eat the occasional steak, too. However, the local food is safe, flavorful, and well-prepared, so I recommend trying new things you don’t get to enjoy on a regular basis at home.

It’s worth noting that the menu varies every day, and as you’d expect from a small intimate lodge-like Chapwani Private Island Resort, there’s plenty of choice and conversation.

  • If you’re used to having breakfast every morning, you’ll be able to have fresh fruit, juices, hot drinks, bread, jam, and eggs. (At the Chapwani Private Island Resort they breed their own chicken, so they always have fresh eggs.)
  • Many guests choose the dinner/breakfast half board option so they can explore Stone Town and eat lunch there, but if you want to relax and remain at the Chapwani Private Island Resort, light lunches can be prepared for you.
  • In the evenings, the bar is a casual gathering spot. Soft drinks, beer, South African wine, and liquor are all available in the bar. It’s a terrific spot to gather, and nothing beats drinks at sunset on a tropical island, especially when you can view the sunset!

If you’re celebrating a special occasion, you can ask for a table on the beach for a romantic supper or have lunch delivered to your hotel.

Complimentary activities

Snorkeling on Chapwani Private Island

Snorkeling is like entering another universe. The coral reef, a natural beauty that must be safeguarded, produces an eco-system that can be explored with a mask, flippers, and tube, which are supplied free of charge by the staff of the Chapwani Private Island Resort.

Everyone, whether a beginner or an expert, can explore the underwater environment. Among the remarkable aspects of the diving locations in Zanzibar are the unique marine creatures, the beautiful colors of the reef, and the utter solitude of the deep oceans.

Trips to Snake Island

If you don’t want to go snorkeling, you can still enjoy the beauty of the reef. During low tide, you can go to Snake Island, where you can see starfish, hermit crabs, and tiny fish.

Kayaking trips

The scenery near Chapwani is beautiful and varied, and the sea is typically calm, making kayaking an activity ideal not just for specialists but also for novices and the entire family.

chapwani private island resort spa
Take a break from everything at the Chapwani Private Island Resort spa


Massages that use oils and local essences to pamper you will relax both your muscles and your mind.

At sunrise and at sunset, you can enjoy massages on the beach to make use of the sun’s maximal electromagnetic potential. The sun’s a tremendous source of energy, and the locals believe that massages can pick up on this energy and realign your own essential energy throughout the body.

The environment emanates charm and magic at dawn and sunset, and those who allow themselves to be carried by periods of meditation will discover serenity for their senses, totally absorbed in the beauty of the surrounding nature.

These are massage motions that assist in stretching the muscles, reactivating the metabolism, and massaging the internal organs gently. Enjoy the soothing sounds of the Indian Ocean, the refreshing breeze, and this calm routine, and start or end your day with a smile!

You can also book a relaxing massage in the spa area of the Chapwani Private Island Resort, overlooking the sea, where a soft wind will caress your skin and expert hands will care for your body.

Souvenir shop

The Chapwani Private Island Resort has a souvenir boutique that sells local crafts, clothing, and accessories like frames, purses, and pareos.

In addition, the souvenir shop sells an ethnic jewelry collection, with a variety of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that were exclusively created by a local stylist and handcrafted by the staff’s girls.

The souvenir shop of the Chapwani Private Island Resort is operated by the employees, and the profits assist to improve the economy while also giving them managerial experience

chapwani private island wedding
Want a unique, magical wedding? Plan it on the Chapwani Private Island!

Romantic moments at the Chapwani Private Island Resort


If you are planning a really unique wedding, Chapwani Private Island is the ideal location, with its beaches, azure blue ocean, and romantic sunsets. The resort’s staff will happily help you plan your special day, taking care of everything to make the event truly memorable. They can even develop themes and matching decors for your event setting.

The chefs vow to improve your wedding celebrations with their food. You can choose from the Chapwani Private Island Resort sample menus or let the chefs get inspired by your ideas.

Local transportation can be organized for you and/or your guests upon request. You can also ask for a list of recommended businesses for all of your wedding needs, from photography to entertainment.

Civil ceremonies can be held at the Chapwani Private Island Resort on the beach or at the Sunset Villa. The staff can assist you with completing the necessary papers to perform your ceremony there and obtain your wedding certificate.

Other romantic events for couples


Begin your wedded life with a romantic honeymoon at Chapwani Resort. Stay on the private island and get pampered from sunrise till sunset as you make cherished memories that last a lifetime

It’s the tiny details that make your stay memorable so you’ll enjoy little surprises throughout your stay, such as extra touches in your villa or a romantic dinner on the beach while watching the sunset.

Vows renewal

The joyous Renewal of Vows ceremony allows you to relive the moment that brought you together in the first place. Every special vow renewal option is available on the Chapwani Private Island Resort’s beach or at the swimming pool.


Remember your big day in a romantic setting and rekindle the spark.

Trips from the Chapwani Private Island Resort

Discover the crystal blue seas of Zanzibar, cruise to the beach bank in a traditional boat, spend a day with the local fisherman to learn about traditional fishing methods or go on an excursion to Prison Island. Everything is possible at the Chapwani Private Island Resort!

Diving trip

Chapwani Island has a specific arrangement with a local diving school that will take you to discover the crystal blue seas of Zanzibar. The Chapwani Private Island Resort partners with Zanzibar Ocean, Zanzibar’s largest dive center, and a 5-star PADI diving center with instructors that speak a variety of languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Kiswahili). They’re up to date with all international safety standards, and all of their crew is trained in first aid, oxygen delivery, and water rescue.

Sand Bank & island tour

Chapwani has a traditional local boat, created by native Zanzibar shipwrights, that will take you on great trips to visit the magnificent deep waters, the sandbanks with dense sea bird populations, and the small islands nearby to Chapwani Grave Island, such as Prison Island.

Originally a slave colony, then a quarantine zone, Prison Island is now a tourist site. It’s also home to several large turtles from the Seychelles colony of Aldabra.

Boat trip with a local fisherman

Spending a lovely day with the local fishermen never disappoints. It’s within everyone’s grasp because it’s not technically difficult and frequent catches by fishing line, in the true tradition of ages, are nearly assured.

Sunset cruise

Take in the sights and sounds of the seashore while you relax on a traditional dowh sailboat. And, if you discuss with the staff in advance, you can enjoy aperitives aboard or plan a special occasion cruise.

stone town zanzibar visit
Go on a trip from the Chapwani Private Island Resort to visit Zanzibar Stone Town

Visit Stone Town

Zanzibar Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is distinguished by a maze of streets lined with residences, stores, bazaars, and mosques. A one-of-a-kind blend of styles, its architecture mixes influences from Moresque Arab to Persian, Indian, and European colonies.

For a long time, Stone Town was the most important commercial center in East Africa. A vital stop on the Spice Route connecting Europe and Africa to Asia, Stone Town also played a significant role in the ivory and slave traffic from the Continent to the Middle East.

The historic Persian Baths, the Portuguese Fort, the Palace of Wonders, the old slave market, the Jamituri gardens, and the House of Livingstone are among the most interesting destinations to visit.

Spice Tour

During your stay at the Chapwani Private Island Resort, you’ll be able to explore the historic spice and tropical fruit plantations, inhale the local aromas and flavors, and learn about their therapeutic and culinary benefits.

Zanzibar grows delicious fruits such as orange, lime, coconut, and banana, as well as the lesser-known breadfruit, jackfruit, and custard apple. Fragrant and fragrant species such as cloves, nutmeg, ginger, chiles, black pepper, vanilla, coriander, cinnamon, and seaweed can all be seen growing and are available for purchase in boutique shops and roadside vendors.

These many fruit and plants are used in food flavoring and preparation, cosmetics, colorings, and medications.

red monkey zanzibar
Go on a trip to the Jozani Forest from the Chapwani Private Island resort to see the rare Zanzibar red monkeys

Jozani Forest trip

The tropical forest of Jozani, located in the south of the Chapwani Private Island, is a protected region that is home to the Red Colobus, a rare species of monkey on the verge of extinction. Red Mahogany, Ebany plants, and other palm tree kinds blossom profusely, providing a perfect and protected environment in which the tropical rainforest reigns supreme.

On the walkways, you may get some great photos and see some of the uncommon critters that live in the forest reserves. Jozani’s guides are also naturalists, so nature enthusiasts will have a great time in the reserve.

This woodland is one of the last surviving sanctuaries for the Red Colobus monkey. The Jozani forest, which covers 2,512 hectares (6,207 acres), was designated as a wildlife reserve in the 1960s.

Grave Island excursion

On Chapwani, there is a modest cemetery that Sultan Barghash set aside in 1879 for English royal navy officials and marines. The historical site is quite attractive, and it also contains the bones of several sailors who were killed in combat in 1914 during a battle between HMS Pegasus and the German cruiser Konigsberg.

The inscriptions on some of the gravestones transport us back in time: with the abolition of the slave trade in 1827, and after its complete prohibition on the West Coast of Africa, Zanzibar became the last circle of the terrible trade by the end of the nineteenth century, and the market in Zanzibar Town became the theatre of the exchanges. During this time, Zanzibar flourished, due in part to this commerce, to which the English were adamantly opposed.

Visiting this location at sunset with the sound of the waves, the memory of these men who fought to eradicate this wound, will transport you into a magical world of sailors and marines, battles and duels, an epic cultural battle that only resulted in the abolition of the slave trade from the island in 1922.

About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

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