Aiyana hotel pemba island

Aiyana Hotel Review: Pure Luxury In Pemba Island

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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.

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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 Pemba luxury hotel
The Aiyana Pemba luxury 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.

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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.

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The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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 Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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 Pemba luxury hotel

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.

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

There are beach chairs throughout the beach allowing you to relax in the shade at your leisure.

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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.

manta underwater villa pemba
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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.

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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 Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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 Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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 Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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.

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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

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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 Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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.

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The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel
The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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


pemba island diving

Scuba diving in Pemba Island is one of its main draws. The corals and fish life in Pemba is superb, and is far superior to that of the Mnmeba Atoll in Zanzibar in my opinion.

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.

The Aiyana Pemba luxury hotel

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


pemba sandbank north

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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Johnny
Johnny

I'm a dual Canadian-American from NYC that moved to South Africa for work and ended up traveling all through the continent. I'm currently living the expat life in Frankfurt, Germany and traveling the world as much as I can. I'm a bit obsessed with scuba diving, churning credit cards so I never pay to fly, and eating the most questionable of foods in the most peculiar of places. My bucket list is the world, and some day I might make it there.

4 Comments

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  1. Hi Johnny,
    Thank you for your detailed article regarding Aiyana Resort! I wish I could go there.

    Did you book from Booking.com or directly to the hotel? Price difference is huge (x2 more if you go through direct channel…)

    Thanks for your help,
    Seb

    • Hi Sebastien, I used the booking.com link on the post. Not sure why direct channel is so much more especially in covid times but lots of times these big hotel companies have total discrepancies between online booking agents and direct bookings. Always go with the cheaper option

  2. I really enjoy reading all your articles, Johnny! It’s really refreshing, hearing from a younger and experienced traveller. I’m going to Zanzibar in a month and have read your guide a few times and sent it to my daughter who is joining me on this trip. Keep up the good work and of course, keep exploring! Thanks and best wishes.

    Nicola R. (fellow adventurer) in the UK.