A breath of wind catches in the sail, the creaking of ropes and fluttering of cloth before the fabric fills with tension, and billows to the shape of a perfect crescent-moon that fills the sky. Our Captain turns us a nudge South-West of Songosongo, and as the dhow cuts through the crystal waters it seems as eager to reach Fanjove Island as we are.
Beautiful and unchanged, the East-African dhow arrival is a quintessential part of the Fanjove experience, I remember my excitement the very first time I approached the island. Connecting the Swahili Coast, dhows can be seen daily, silently passing the island, their glistening white sails in fantastic contrast with the shimmering blue waters. In fact, every drop of fresh water, building material or piece of fruit used on Fanjove, is sailed in using a dhow boat first, and so it is no surprise that when you walk around the island you will see touches that pay tribute to these elegant workhorses.
Stepping onshore, with feet directly into the sea is always a special moment for guests that we love to share with them. I vividly remember the first time I plunged my feet into the warm shallows. Any travel weariness immediately gives way to broad smiles and disbelief as the guests take in the empty white sand beach, watched over by the Island’s historic German Lighthouse.
In the distance, neighbouring Songosongo Island can be seen, home to a forward-thinking community. It’s their cooperation and support over several years that has made the beautiful experience of Fanjove and its surrounding protected waters a possibility. The special relationship between these two islands has seen the successful introduction of several no-fishing zones, rotational reef closures and illegal fishing patrols that have allowed a coral nursery to flourish and the health of the reef to constantly improve. Aside from the obvious perks of living in a veritable tropical paradise (no shoes, surprisingly toned calves and fresh coconuts on tap!), working together with Songosongo community is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job and I’m very excited to see what we can achieve together in the future.
To truly appreciate Fanjove, there is no better place than to sit at the top of the lighthouse at sunset. From this unbeatable vantage point, you can see the island in its entirety as well as the 11km of coral reef stretching out into the Indian Ocean. To the West you can make out the busy fishing port of Kilwa Kivinje, where the sun is setting, framed by the colourful stratus clouds of November. The rhythms of the day play beautifully here on Fanjove.