Bongoyo Island: Tips for the Secluded Island off Tanzania

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tips for visiting bongoyo island

my sister and her family are in town so we must go play all day and eat pizza! therefore, i’m going to share about our adventures earlier in the year on a private island!

after our amazing experience in nairobi, kenya, my husband and i ventured to dar es salaam, tanzania! this is a coastal city located in east africa.

bongoyo island

when i first heard of the city, i felt like dar es salaam was very arabic as opposed to african. sure enough, dar es salaam means “haven of peace” in arabic. you can read more about the history here.

should you fly into the airport here, be forewarned that immigration into the country, at least from this point is an absurd system. i interacted with five different people and eight different people touched my passport before it came back to me. my detailed and processed oriented brain wanted to help them streamline their process so bad. 

also make sure you have cash on you (they accept USD and euros) because they charge you more for a credit card, assuming the machine ever works.

Bongoyo Island Tanzania

we asked for recommendations of what to do while in dar es salaam. surprisngly, a ton of people in kenya and even tanzania said, ‘eh, there’s not a ton to do here.’ thankfully we met a new friend who grew up in tanzania and she recommended bongoyo island, a uninhabited island experience. well, you don’t have to tell me that twice because i am a beach gal.

you can hire a private boat to take you to bongoyo island but the easiest is to take the ferry from the slipway hotel. we took a $5 taxi ride from out hotel to get there (shoutout to our hotel best western coral beach in dar es salaam)!

here are 5 things you need to know when going to bongoyo island:

1) bring cash with you

bring tanzanian shillings with you (though most places around here will accept US dollars but won’t give you change in USD). the slipway does have an ATM onsite. you’ll need to purchase ferry tickets in cash once onsite the slipway so stop by the ATM. the ferry cost about $13 USD roundtrip for each of us. keep your ferry receipt, they will want to look at it once on the island.

note that if you’re planning to catch the 9:30am (earliest one that goes out), then most all of the shops at the slipway will be close. stock up on things before you get there!

2) mentally prepare for rough waters and hot sun

be prepared that the water can get a little choppy here. also don’t panic when they first pull up a tiny little boat. you will be on that for about 3 minutes until you get to the larger boat. thankfully we don’t have issues with seasickness but it was a little rough.

the boat ride from the slipway to bongoyo island is about 30 minutes so thankfully it’s quick and gorgeous!

bongoyo island tanzania

3) be one of the first to get off the boat

we sat next to someone who is currently living in dar es salaam. she gave us the excellent advice to hustle off the boat to ensure you get an umbrella and chairs! it would have been pretty miserable on the island with zero shade coverage and there is a shortage of umbrellas and loungers so be quick!

the umbrellas and chairs cost extra so again, have that cash ready. i believe they were each about $7/each and worth every dollar!

bongoyo island tanzania chairs

bongoyo island tanzania

4) if you’re a picky eater – bring your own lunch

once you get to bongoyo island, a few guys will go around to ask for payment for the chairs and also hand you a menu. the selection is pretty slim but delicious! we had the chicken with french fries and it was some of the best chicken we’ve had. otherwise it’s a bunch of seafood and snacks like chips and cookies.

it is a little spendy in terms of other food prices in dar es salaam so you may want to bring some of your own snacks and water.

you can also buy bottles of water, beer and some cocktail things.

they have a small generator so the drinks are cold and food is cooked to order!

bongoyo island tanzania

path to the eatery

bongoyo island tanzania

bongoyo island tanzania

5) bring sandals + essentials

like duh, most times sand gets hot but this sand felt especially hot. even like walking the short way from the chair to the water was quite painful. bring your sandals! also, depending on the tide and how close the boat and drop you/pick you up, you may have to step into water.

bring water friendly shoes! we did see quite a few jelly fish in the water and washed up on the beach so be careful!

it does get incredibly hot and the sun is super intense so bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat! we arrived from the first ferry leaving at 9:30am and then we took the 2:30pm ferry back to our hotel.

bongoyo island tanzania

bongoyo island tanzania

bongoyo island tanzania

zanzibar is also easily accessed from dar es salaam but it’s about a 2 hour boat ride to get there. we decided we would be back to do another safari in tanzania when our kids are older and then go hang out on the island of zanzibar! bongoyo island was a perfect day trip to get the uninhabited island experience!

white sandy beaches and gorgeous turquoise water. what’s not to love about bongoyo island?

Bongoyo Island Tanzania


  1. Penny McWright

    July 25, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Beautiful and looks like a fun place to visit. Great you were prepared!

    • chelsea

      August 21, 2018 at 10:53 am

      it was a really great place visit for sure penny!

  2. Audrey

    July 29, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Ummmmmm… a private, uninhabited island?! Sign me up! What a neat experience! I love that you had some local advice (and that you passed it on!). It’s nice that they have food and drink on the island, too! Those chairs and umbrella look heavenly!

    • chelsea

      August 21, 2018 at 10:54 am

      should you ever go… those chairs and umbrella FAST! totally made it all workout for the best! thanks for your comment, audrey. you are unwavering with your support and i so thank you for that <3