Outdoors + Nature

Off the Grid

by Sarah Tuff


The hideout: About six miles from Zanzibar, Chumbe Island Coral Park (view slideshow) is a national park and sanctuary for both you and the 400 species of tropical fish that swim among 200 types of pristine coral.

Low-tech lowdown: Protected by Tanzania since 1994, Chumbe has no electricity, let alone anything that might need plugging in. Snorkelers stay in one of seven "eco-bungalows" that were designed to stay cool with Indian Ocean winds, collect rainwater on roof expanses, and store up solar energy to heat showers and power reading lights. But after a glass of Champagne and a Zanzibari supper of octopus masala, chances are books will be cast aside in favor of a romantic evening listening to the waves off the Indian Ocean.

Your new "to do" list:
• Walk 30 seconds from your eco-bungalow into the sea
• Snorkel in one of the world's last undisturbed coral parks
• Stay awake long enough to witness the island's nocturnal attraction, the rare giant coconut crab, which has a leg span of more than three feet

The road less traveled: Make the 21-hour journey from New York's JFK (with one layover) to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and then cross by hydrofoil to the island of Zanzibar (view slideshow). Take a taxi to Mbweni Ruins Hotel to meet the boat to Chumbe Island.

Don't forget: A deck of cards. Only 14 guests are allowed on the island at one time, so you'll be able to play a round (or two) of gin rummy with everyone.

Chumbe Island Coral Park
Tel: 255 24 2231040
From $250 per person, including meals and snorkeling

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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