Set above a secluded bay, Thonga Beach Lodge is nestled into beautiful coastal dune forest with sweeping views of the private sandy beach below. Only metres from the beach and a 25 minute drive from Lake Sibaya, this 24-bed luxury lodge is the ideal place to discover one of the most unspoilt wilderness beaches in the country, with crystal clear, warm water offering good snorkelling and some of South Africa’s best off-shore scuba diving.
Large coastal Milkwood trees set the scene for the ultimate beach experience, capturing the essence of a luxury Robinson Crusoe hideaway. With thatched bush suites, 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 South Africa. In mid-summer (November to January), guests can witness the culmination of an incredible journey as Giant Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in carefully dug nests.
Mabibi is a magical place of coastal forests, grasslands, bush, shimmering lakes and exquisite sandy beaches. The shallow reefs along this protected stretch of coastline are home to an array of brilliant subtropical fish including moorish idols, parrot fish and blue surgeons. With 1 250 fish species occurring on the reefs in this area (the Great Barrier Reef has 1 500), shoals of game fish, sharks and schools of bottlenose dolphins are often seen, while the warm open Indian Ocean supports a myriad of larger marine life including whales, whale sharks, manta rays and giant turtles.
Typical coastal bird 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.
Nearby Lake Sibaya, falling within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, has 125km of untouched shoreline and at 70 square kilometres is South Africa’s largest freshwater lake. It supports a diverse flora providing a variety of habitats for birds, mammals and aquatic life. With 279 species recorded, Lake Sibaya is a birdwatcher's paradise. These include the endangered Palmnut Vulture, the rare Pel’s Fishing Owl, Pygmy Goose, Woodward’s Batis and Rufousbellied Heron.
The thatched suites are hidden in the coastal dune forest and raised on wooden stilts to ensure no harm comes to the sensitive dune soils. Some rooms offer sea views 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 dining area is a large thatched rondavel that opens onto an expansive wooden deck, where guests can enjoy Maputuland’s sultry weather and the Lodge’s sumptuous meals. Most meals will be served alfresco. Guests can also choose to head for the beach and dine by candlelight on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
The upstairs lounge with its comfortable couches and cosy fireplace offers spectacular views of the beach and the forest surrounding the lodge. It is 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.
Scuba diving at Mabibi is phenomenal, with reefs located a short distance from the lodge. Dives are taken from a semi-rigid dive boat that launches from straight in front of the lodge directly through the surf. Mabibi offers good snorkelling opportunities, but the ocean is best explored with a tank on your back.
For non-divers, the Open Ocean Experience offers an exciting launch through the surf in front of the lodge and a rare opportunity to experience the variety of marine life beyond the breakers, where guests may swim or snorkel.
Birding at Mabibi and its surrounds is excellent and the variety of habitats attracts a great diversity of species.