Thonga Beach Lodge
is set on the pristine shores of the Maputuland coast, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This 24-bed luxury lodge is the ideal place to discover one of the most unspoilt wilderness beaches left on the African continent.
Mabibi is a magical place of coastal forests, grasslands, bush, shimmering lakes and exquisite sandy beaches. Its crystal clear, warm waters offer South Africa’s best snorkelling and fantastic off-shore scuba diving and excellent birding opportunities. Guided bird watching can be arranged.
Set above a secluded bay, Thonga Beach Lodge is nestled into beautiful coastal dune forest with sweeping views of the stunning beach below. The thatched bush suites provide guest privacy and were carefully constructed to ensure minimal impact on the environment. The lodge offers luxurious accommodation, mouth-watering meals and one of the best dive sites in the South Africa.
Thonga Beach Lodge is situated only metres from the beach and a 25 minute drive from Lake Sibaya (Southern Africa’s largest freshwater lake), which is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, now internationally recognised as a World Heritage Site.
ACCOMMODATION AT THONGA BEACH LODGE:
Set above a private, sandy beach and nestled into magnificent coastal dune forest, Thonga Beach Lodge captures the essence of a luxury Robinson Crusoe hideaway. Traditional Thonga fishing villages provided the inspiration for this unique retreat that celebrates the true spirit of Mother Nature.
Large coastal Milkwood trees set the scene for the ultimate beach experience. Carefully constructed into the coastal dune forest, Thonga Beach Lodge takes full advantage of its incredible position while being in complete harmony with the environment.
The dining area – a large thatched ‘rondavel’ - opens on to an expansive wooden deck, where guests can enjoy Maputuland’s sultry weather and the lodge’s sumptuous meals. Most meals will be served al fresco, or, guests can head for the beach and dine by candlelight on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
The lounge, with its comfortable couches and a cosy fireplace, is the perfect place to unwind after a day at the beach. Located upstairs from the diningroom, it offers spectacular views of the beach as well as the incredible forest surrounding the lodge. It’s the ideal spot to relax with a sundowner or catch a breathtaking sunrise over a steaming mug of coffee.
To beat the midday heat, guests can take it easy beside the lodge’s swimming pool or enjoy a delicious cocktail at the bar with its unique “ocean” bar counter. For those needing a little pampering, the lodge also has a rejuvenation centre where guests can revitalise body, mind and soul.
Bedrooms at Thonga Beach Lodge:
The spacious, thatched suites are hidden in the coastal dune forest and raised on wooden stilts to ensure no harm comes to the sensitive dune soils. Inspired by Thonga architecture, the rooms have been carefully positioned to guarantee guest privacy. Some rooms offer sea views (see rates), whilst others are set within the dune forest. All have private balconies. Luxuriously decorated, the rooms exude a romantic ambiance. Bleached wood, glass and natural materials have been wisely used to create an open, airy feel. The en-suite rooms have a bathroom with bath, shower and twin vanity. Every suite has air conditioning.
*** Please note that Thonga is an eco friendly lodge in a World Heritage site and is built into an extremely sensitive Milkwood Forest. In order to preserve the natural vegetation, we are not permitted to cut down any of these trees and as a result, over the years this forest has grown and now some Seaview rooms do not have a full 180 degree sea view.
Thonga Beach Lodge activities:
Mabibi offers superb snorkelling opportunities with a great diversity of underwater seascapes and marine flora and fauna. The shallow reefs along this protected stretch of coastline are home to an array of brilliant sub-tropical fish including moorish idols, parrot fish and blue surgeons. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean make this the ideal spot to snorkel or guests can simply soak up the sun and savour the tranquility of this pristine, sandy beach.
Scuba diving at Mabibi is phenomenal, with reefs located a short distance from the lodge. Shoals of game fish, sharks and schools of bottlenose dolphins are often seen. Our professional lodge diving team accommodates all enthusiasts; from the beginner to the veteran, wanting a tour of the very best our reefs have to offer. 1,250 fish species (Great Barrier Reef has 1500) occur on the reefs in this area. Dives are from a semi-rigid dive boat which accommodates a maximum of 8 divers at a time. The boat launches from straight in front of the lodge directly through the surf. This can be exciting and strenuous so a reasonable level of fitness is required. Diving is limited by weather and the tides and cannot be guaranteed. Guests must have proof of their diving qualifications. We regret no children under 12 years or adults over 65 years.
Open Ocean Experience
This adventure activity offers guests a rare opportunity to experience the variety of marine life that lives along the Elephant Coast. An exciting launch through the surf, in front of the lodge, takes you beyond the breakers to a world of dolphins, whales, whale sharks and snorkelling. The warm Indian Ocean supports a myriad of fish and marine life. Guests can sometimes swim with dolphins or whale sharks or snorkel with manta rays and giant turtles. No experience is required for this activity, but the launch through the surf can be strenuous. We regret no children under 12 years or adults over 65 years. Maximum number of guests is 10. Weather and tide dependent.
The lake is 6km from the lodge, a 25-minute drive.
Sundowners are offered on the shores Southern Africa’s largest fresh water lake – Lake Sibaya (70 square km). The Ramsar Convention assures its international conservation status. The lake has 125km of untouched shoreline, good bird watching and a great diversity of fauna and flora.
Guests can also explore parts of the lake by guided kayak with the chance of seeing hippo and crocodile en route. A reasonable level of fitness is required.
Birding at Mabibi and its surrounds is excellent and the variety of habitats attracts a great diversity of species. Typical coastal species include Livingstone’s and Purplecrested Lourie, Green Twinspot, Grey Waxbill and Green Coucal. Waders are common along the shoreline, and Pinkthroated Longclaw and Rufousbellied Heron frequent the marshy areas. Lake Sibaya has recorded 279 bird species including the Palmnut Vulture, the only fruit-eating vulture in the world. Pel’s fishing owl and pygmy goose. Guided bird watching can be arranged on request.
Guests can head out on foot and explore this natural wonderland through coastal dune forests, unspoiled sandy beaches and grasslands. The wild beauty of Maputuland will enthrall naturalists and photographers alike.
Best from November to February. In summer, nocturnal walks and drives along the beach in search of egg-laying turtles can be arranged. Guests can witness the culmination of an incredible journey as Giant Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in carefully prepared nests. Turtle tracking is offered in the evening from November to end February. Every precaution is taken to ensure these magnificent creatures are not disturbed during the laying process.
The Maputaland coastline is renowned as one of South Africa’s most popular fishing destinations. Guests can try their hand at surf fishing or fly-fishing. Thonga Beach Lodge encourages guests to “catch and release”. However, for all types of fishing you will need to bring your own equipment, plus bait. Permits can be organized by the lodge, but the guest must physically accompany us (90 minute drive) to the nearby Parks Board with proof of ID. Deep sea fishing can be arranged ahead of time and we will transport you to Sodwana Bay (about an hour and 15mins drive).
Tsonga Cultural Experience
Visit a Tsonga homestead and learn about their unique heritage and culture. Spend some time with community members discussing their rural lifestyle and their vision for South Africa. You also have an opportunity to see one of the local schools and see how these young South Africans are striving for a better future under trying conditions.
Access to Thonga Beach Lodge:
From ORT airport, 8 hrs (650km) Durban airport, 5 hrs (398km) Richards Bay airport, 3.5 hrs (205km) to lodge. (1 hour transfer from Pick up Point to Lodge)
4 X 4 ACCESS
4 x 4 Access required The last 60 minutes is a 4x4 track. Guests in 2x4 vehicles will be collected at Coastal Cashews and transferred in open 4x4 vehicles to the lodge. There are two collection times from the 2wheel drive parking: 12h00 or 15h00 only.
Self drive 4x4 The last 34km is a poor condition sand road so guests in 4x4 must ensure they do not travel this road after 16h00. The last available 4x4 transfer is 18h30 from Coastal Cashews. Guests estimating to arrive after this time must overnight at Richards Bay or Hluhluwe. Self drive 2 x 4 (Coastal Cashews Car Park) pick up times (12h00 or 15h00 ONLY) There is a charge per person for a return transfer and also an extra charge per person, per transfer for late arrivals at the pick up point or early departures. (Please refer to rate sheet). Guests to please phone the lodge as they leave Jozini (from the north) or Hluhluwe (from the south) so that if possible we can change the pick up times.
All children welcome. However, no more than 6 children under 8 years to be in the lodge at any one time. Children under 8 to have dinners from 6-7pm.