Thonga Beach Lodge

Beach Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal


Within frisbee-throwing distance of golden sands, 24-room Thonga is the relaxed eco-lodge of an escapist’s dreams. Set just inside dune forest fringing the Elephant Coast (aka Maputaland), it majors in seclusion thanks to a wilderness beach and glassy chalets—“Robinson Crusoe-chic”, say the owners—whose curving decks lend an open, airy feel. Inland are grasslands and lakes, yet most guests head in the opposite direction, drawn towards the Indian Ocean’s clear, warm waters, some of Africa’s finest snorkelling and scuba diving (lessons available), and a cast of wildlife A-listers: egg-laying turtles, dolphins and sharks.


Smartly made from glass and wood, the dozen thatched rondavels include three family suites—able to fit two children with their parents—and a deluxe chalet plus plunge pool for privacy-seeking couples or honeymooners. Raised on wooden stilts to minimise impact and accessed by boardwalks, all have private verandas from which the surf can be soothingly heard, en suite bathrooms with large stone tubs, air-conditioning and palpable space. Sea-facing rooms cost more than those with forest views. 


Forest vistas adorn Thonga’s main lounge, which has comfy couches, and serves sundowners on another expansive deck during balmy evenings. Bordering that is a thatched dining area, although many guests choose to scoff their seafood al fresco, on yet another veranda or by candlelight on the beach. Exclusive to guests, that same sandy strip has sun loungers laid out by day. A large, deep swimming pool, a cocktail-serving ocean bar and a small spa providing extensive treatments round out the offerings.


Rates include cultural tours to meet the Tsonga community, forest walks, and sundowners and kayaking at nearby Lake Sibaya. The friendly staff also can arrange bird-watching, fishing or after-dark turtle-spotting during summer (November-February). Most popular are watersports, however: just offshore is a shallow reef whose waters support parrotfish shoals, bottlenose dolphins, whale sharks in summer and humpback whales in winter. Snorkelling kit is free to hire, and scuba-diving lessons are available using the pool.

Child Policy

Thonga is extremely child-friendly. Along with those family chalets, most activities are available to teens, with special daytime distractions arranged for kids aged 3-8. Simple meals for juniors are served from 6pm, and babysitting is available.

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