Pemba is an absolutely stunning island and there’s no better place to stay than at the Aiyana hotel. If you picture tropical paradise devoid of tourists, beautiful white sand beaches, and unreal turquoise water, then Pemba and the Aiyana resort is for you.
Located in the far north of the island, I stayed at this hotel for two nights as part of my dive trip in Pemba island. The Aiyana is the only 5* luxury resort on the entire island and it fulfills its role as the ultra luxurious hotel quite well. I stayed in Zanzibar for over a month and also stayed in some beautiful properties but the Aiyana is unique just because it’s in such a remote part of the world.
In addition, make sure to read my comprehensive guide on traveling Zanzibar if you are planning to visit Pemba’s big brother!
Booking a stay at the Aiyana Hotel
I booked my stay at the Aiyana hotel with booking.com. I like using booking.com as I find the Genius discounts that they offer for frequent users generally provide better discounts than other platforms.
Getting to the Aiyana Hotel
The Aiyana hotel is located in the far north of Pemba Island. It is roughly 60km and 1.5 hours from the Pemba airport.
From the airport, a taxi is at least $50 one way and more if you book directly with the Aiyana.
The road in Pemba island is actually very high quality with the exception of the last stretch before the resort. After you depart from the main highways, expect to traverse through dirt roads the rest of the way. The last 10k of the trip takes almost 30 minutes and you will travel through the local villages, farms, and forests.
The common grounds of Aiyana Hotel
The Aiyana hotel was founded by Ashok Sungkur, an artist from Mauritius. The story goes that he came to Pemba many years ago and fell in love with the island and especially the village nearby to the Aiyana.
He decided to build his masterpiece of a resort on this beautiful stretch of beach. The large number of the locals from the nearby village work at the resort. A lot of the goods used at the resort are supplied by the village as well.
Getting to the Aiyana is a bit of a journey in itself but once you arrive, you are transported to another world. The resort is beautifully designed with white stones in the mold of a Mediterranean villa reminiscent of my time traveling through the Greek Cyclades.
The minimalist design is beautifully complemented by eclectic art pieces, various sculptures, and bougainvillea flowers that are becoming of an artist of Mr. Sungkur’s stature. The hotel feels part luxury resort, part art museum, all designed on the backdrop of a beautiful tropical beach.
The Beach in Front of Aiyana
The Aiyana is located on a beautiful stretch of beach in North Pemba. Right in front of the resort is a stretch of white beach that extends 400m from end to end. During high tide when the water floods in, it might be one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen.
There are beach chairs throughout the beach allowing you to relax in the shade at your leisure.
To top it off, there are two rock islands in front of the resort that double as a spa with a view, as well as dining with a view. These rocks remind me of the beautiful Rock restaurant in Zanzibar but you can visit them as you please.
Next door to the Aiyana is the Manta Resort which also has a beautiful stretch of beach. They also are the owners of the famous underwater villa with an underwater bedroom enclosed in glass allowing you to see all the fish. I swam out here as they were closed when I visited and this was one of the more unique experiences I’ve had.
The pool at the Aiyana
All good luxury resorts must have an amazing pool and the Aiyana is no different. Equipped for a 30m infinity pool that overlooks the beautiful beach, you have everything you need here.
There are also five different stone pillars that double as fountains flowing into the pool which just looks cool. There is also a lounge area here where I enjoyed my sundowners along with a shisha!
The restaurant and food at Aiyana
The food at the Aiyana is superbly prepared. You can book your stay on a full board or half board basis, the latter of which includes breakfast and dinner.
The resort has a large restaurant area in the common area with tables that all face the beach. I absolutely loved having my breakfasts out here while listening to the ocean.
The food was mostly quite delicious. The cuisine centers around seafood and is cooked with Mauritian, Indian, and African styles. The breakfasts were comprehensive with everything you could want (eggs, fruits, bread baskets, pancakes, etc.) and you could always ask for me.
Lunches were a la carte but prices were very reasonable. For $10, I could get a fish curry dish which was flavorful and filling. Of course, these prices might be because of me staying during the pandemic but the food was quite good.
For dinner, it was a multiple course meal highlighting the flavors of the region. In my two nights at the Aiyana, we had a dinner by the pool overlooking the beach, and an Indian inspired night where we sat on the cushions in traditional Mauritian style.
The drinks list at the Aiyana was comprehensive. You could always order a drink anywhere you wanted. I enjoyed the common bar area overlooking the beach as my spot for the sunset. Like the other resorts in the area, facing west allows you to enjoy the full sunset.
My go to drink was the Dawa of which I had so many while traveling through Tanzania.
The villas at Aiyana
The villas in the Aiyana are pure bliss. There are 30 villas in total at the Aiyana with numerous different classes.
- Prestige Villa
- Superior Villa
- Ambassador villa
- Presential Villa
I stayed in the Superior villas which was a complimentary upgrade from the Prestige villa. All villas have direct views of the beach with a terrace you can walk out on. The Ambassador and Presidential villas have small pools as part of the villa which also look out at the beach.
The layout of the resort is that the central buildings like the pool, restaurant, and reception are located in the middle of the resort. There are 15 rooms on each side of the resort.
The rooms themselves are incredibly comfortable. At over 100 square meters for the Superior villa, I had more than enough room to stretch out in. The rooms are very thoughtfully decorated with the same theme in art pieces used in the common areas. The ceilings are extra high (5m+) and there are big windows allowing you to see the beach from the bed.
The bathrooms are really big with indoor and outdoor showers. There is also a stylish bathtub that comes with all the essentials. The resort runs mostly on solar power so the water is warm on most days but can be room temperature on stormy days.
The staff come twice a day like most high end resorts. The first time is to make the regular cleaning in the morning, and then a turndown service at night.
I also was able to visit the Presidential suite during my visit as the resort was at such low capacity. The room is absolutely stunning with a huge pool overlooking the beach.
Scuba Diving with Swahili Divers
The corals are in impeccable condition and you’ll see some of the most beautiful hard corals of your life. The visibility was also an incredible 30m+ every day which let you appreciate it even more.
There are three dive shops in Pemba; Afro Divers, Swahili Divers, and Manta Resort. The latter belongs to the Manta Resort next door and they focus on their guests primarily. Aiyana partners with Afro Divers to offer fun dives and courses.
I did my diving with Swahili divers, and stayed at their eco lodge before the Aiyana. I very much enjoyed the service at Swahili Divers. The prices are not so cheap but is as expected for a place this remote.
Make sure to visit the Fundo Gap if you’re diving for a few days. The wall here blew my mind.
The Aiyana offers snorkeling trips as well with their custom crafted dhow boats. They also do sunset cruises along the coastline for fixed prices.
Visit the Sandbank in Pemba’s northern tip
No trip is complete without a visit to the absolutely beautiful sandbanks in Pemba’s northern tip. This sandbank is the stuff that dreams are made of.
From the Aiyana, you can actually walk to this sandbank in 30-40 minutes in low tide. Otherwise, you can book a tour from the Aiyana to take you there. You can read more about it on my Pemba blog post!
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