About Thonga Beach Lodge
This intimate, luxury 24 bed lodge is nestled on the pristine coast of Maputaland, Northern KwaZulu Natal, within the Isimangaliso World Heritage Park (formerly Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) an internationally recognized World Heritage Site. It’s the ideal place to explore unspoilt, wilderness beaches. Thonga Beach Lodge is a magical place of coastal forests, grasslands, shimmering lakes and exquisite sandy beaches. Its crystal clear, warm waters offer superb snorkelling and unspoilt off-shore scuba diving, arguably the best in South Africa.
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.
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. There are 3 room types to choose from. 2 Deluxe Ocean View suites with private plunge pool and deck, 3 Ocean View suites and 7 Forest View Rooms.
All rooms at Thonga Beach Lodge have private balconies and 2 boast their own private plunge pools. 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.
Main Lodge Facilities
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 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 dining room, is a mezzanine area which is the perfect place to celebrate with a private candle-lit dinner. It offers spectacular views of the beach as well as the incredible forest surrounding the lodge.
To beat the midday heat, guests can take it easy besides one of the lodge’s two swimming pools or enjoy a delicious cocktail at the bar with its unique “ocean” bar counter. Scuba diving training is offered in the one extra deep pool. For those needing a little pampering, the lodge also has a rejuvenation centre where guests can revitalise body, mind and soul.
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 deck and dine by candlelight on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Sea Spa at Thonga Beach Lodge
The Sea Spa at Thonga Beach Lodge offers seaweed rejuvenation treatments, facials, massages, manicures, pedicures, hot stone therapy and reflexology.
As one of a handful of public-private partnerships within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Isibindi Africa, in partnership with the Mabibi Community had the opportunity to develop an environmentally sensitive lodge to complement the striking coastline with its unparalleled diversity of natural treasures.
The local community, through the Mabibi Community Trust, owns a 68% share in Thonga Beach Lodge. During the building of the lodge, all labour was sourced from the Mabibi community and, wherever possible, construction materials were purchased from local enterprises. The lodge has created employment for 30 community members, and the water treatment plant also provides the local community with between 40 000 and 50 000 litres of much needed water per day.
Construction of the lodge took the utmost care taken to ensure minimal environmental impact. The lodge is built in the “dune slack” – the trough between the dunes; firstly, to ensure the least possible disturbance to the vegetation that protects the dunes, and secondly so that lights are shielded from the beach. Artificial lighting is known to disorient turtle hatchlings, leading them away from the natural moonlight reflecting on the ocean which usually draws them to safety, and is also believed to put breeding turtles off returning to their birth beach. The lodge also took care not to break the canopy of the coastal forest. The huge Milkwood trees which shade the lodge are among the few pioneer plants that have adapted over the years to withstand the harsh salt spray.
Thonga Beach Lodge and the Mabibi Campsite have been recognised by the Sappi WWF Tree Routes Partnership as being “benchmarks for the development of private sector/community partnerships in eco-tourism.” And “a significant empowerment exercise combining conservation ethics with major equity for a local community”
Attractions & Activities
Lake Sibaya, Southern Africa’s largest fresh water lake, is only 6kms from the lodge and provides an interesting 25min drive through the local Tsonga community. From here you can either go on a guided kayaking trip or in the evening experience glorious sundowners with hippos and crocodiles nearby.
Mabibi offers superb snorkelling opportunities. 1,250 fish species (Great Barrier Reef has 1500) occur on the reefs in this area. 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 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.
Open Ocean Experience
This adventure activity offers guests rare opportunities to experience the variety of marine life that live 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 may encounter dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays and giant turtles. (Maximum 10 guests).
Lake Sibaya (Sundowners and Kayaking)
Lake Sibaya is 6km from the lodge, a 25-minute drive. Sundowners are offered on the shores of Southern Africa’s largest fresh water lake - Lake Sibaya (70 square km). 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 as well as competent swimming and no children under 12 yrs old will be allowed).
Birding at Thonga is excellent and the diversity of flora attracts a wide variety of species.
Tsonga Cultural Experience
Visit a local homestead, school and clinic and experience how the peaceful Tsonga people go about their rural lifestyles.
Zulu Dancing / Singing
Our local Mabibi school has put together a small team of singers and dancers and they will come to Thonga Beach Lodge by arrangement to perform for us. Donations are usually appreciated.