Baraza (Zanzibar, Tanzania): We're not fond of resorts, but this is a real beauty, and if you like space, opulence, modern conveniences, and great service, this is definitely the number-one choice on Zanzibar. It's also the top choice for spa junkies, with the best-looking spa in East Africa, and treatments to match.
Chole Mjini Lodge (Chole Island, Tanzania): The ideal destination for anyone harboring a castaway fantasy (and wanting the best diving experience in Mafia waters), tiny Chole Island has no roads, electricity, or water mains, and this intimate ecolodge, the only on the island, is accessible only by boat. Accommodations are, in some ways, relatively spartan, but if you think real luxury is living in a large stilted treehouse, open to the sea breeze but private enough to enjoy the view naked, and near enough to the water's edge to be lulled by the sound of the tide trickling back through mangrove roots, this is for you.
Delta Dunes (Tana River Delta, Kenya): Spread across the tops of high dunes and affording indescribably beautiful views over river, ocean, and yet more dunes, this is a Robinson Crusoe-style fantasy comprising a unique combination of beach and bush. The location makes it possible to spend the day getting the adrenaline pumping and then, with G&T in hand, witnessing wildlife at sunset while lazily cruising through the delta's water channels. The big appeal is being sequestered among the naturally, organically designed spaces and with an endless, wild beach at your disposal (if you're lucky, you'll spot elephants swimming across the river or lion tracks on the beach).
Fundu Lagoon (Pemba Island, Tanzania): Just getting to this aptly described "beach safari camp" is an adventure. Located on the isolated west coast of Pemba Island, here you will do nothing but dive, snorkel, canoe, and relax -- there are plenty of places to do so. It's both a romantic hideaway and a serious divers' destination.
Funzi Keys (South Coast, Kenya): At the northern edge of Kenya's southernmost marine park, a maze of water channels spreads between a patchwork of pretty mangroves and forested islands, one of which has been transformed into this exceptionally laid-back and relaxing hideaway, with palm trees and handsome, beautifully designed and decorated makuti-roofed bungalows ranged along a private beach. Everything here is designed to make you feel spoiled and pampered, whether you're taking a Jacuzzi bath in your massive open-plan room, having a romantic breakfast for two on the sand island that appears and disappears with the tides, or taking a languid sunset cruise between the islands. Come here to feast on spectacularly fresh seafood and discover new ways to do very little at all.
Kiwayu Safari Village (Lamu, Kenya): Spread across the beach just a few steps from the gently breaking surf, the huge, beautiful, open-plan bungalows at this ultimate toes-in-the-sand hideaway are the final word in beachcomber chic. Just about everything is made from natural materials, and there's hardly a hint of concrete to be seen. Vivid Swahili colors bring a simple elegance to the interiors, while outside, the gleaming white sands offset the sea's turquoise palette brilliantly. Besides marveling at the sense of solitude and remoteness -- you're lodged at the northernmost enclave along the Kenyan coast with only a tiny village for neighbors -- there's an endless line-up of waterborne activities to keep you active, and the endless supply of fresh, fresh seafood at mealtimes will have you in rapture. And if sharing paradise with a few other guests seems unfair, you can always opt for the ultimate in privacy at the very exclusive Baobabs of Kitangani, where a single couple can indulge their castaway fantasies while being waited on hand and foot in a dreamy setting.
A private villa in Lamu (Lamu, Kenyan Coast): The conversion of Lamu's medina-style stone houses into chic contemporary holiday homes has created some of the most sumptuous and romantic lodgings in the archipelago. Although the houses are generally suitable for families, they also make decadently spacious retreats for anyone who values their privacy and wants a sense of being part of the daily life of this ancient settlement. There are now dozens of sophisticated and lovely villas that you can rent, either on Lamu Island or on Manda, its neighbor to the north. Those in Lamu town and Shela village are mostly restored originals, done up in a flattering style that's reminiscent of authentic Swahili design, while there is also a selection of newly built houses (the best is Leslie Duckworth's beautifully innovative creations at Kizingoni Beach).
Mnemba Island Lodge (Mnemba Island, Tanzania): This small, chic resort, carefully tucked into its picture-perfect island, is arguably the most romantic escape in Africa. The island is tiny (it takes about 10 min. to stroll its circumference), with a coastal forest that sticks out from the powder-soft beaches and is surrounded by a conservation area. Plunge into the ocean to have the most amazing snorkeling experience; diving farther afield is stellar.
Pongwe Beach Hotel (Zanzibar, Tanzania): This unpretentious, laid-back beach retreat is located on a particularly stunning piece of coast and enjoys one of the most remote locations in increasingly developed Zanzibar. This is still easily the most romantic barefoot beach hotel on Zanzibar's east coast and offers exceptionally good value.
Shooting Star (Zanzibar, Tanzania): This intimate, personally managed beach resort offers a rustic, pared island style that resonates with island-hoppers from across the globe. The spa, a single whitewashed room, is within earshot of the ocean.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.