June 18, 2024
2 Min. Read


The next generation of East Coast fun is here. Less makuti, more glass, bamboo, and lightness seem to be the new beach vibe. Gamechanger restaurants, start-up cafes, and daring hotels are sprouting up from Jambiani to Michamvi.

News on the beach: The 22-kilometer stretch of the southern East Coast, dotted with fishing villages, budget, and boutique accommodation is stretching its wings – this season evermore.

Wings also play a role in a most-photographed art installation by Tanzanian artist Linda at the brand-new Shanga (Swahili for “beads”) restaurant, the big surprise newcomer at the northern end of Paje. 

The restaurant with a two-storey modern glass-and-wood structure seats 200 people, adding a fresh breeze of natural materials, earthy tones, and top cuisine to Zanzibar. A beautiful interior plant design was done by Fumba’s permaculture team. Owner Nikitas Simion will add an equally modern, bohemian hotel with 26 rooms and a large 30m pool shortly, he tells me when we catch up a few days later. 

The 39-year-old Romanian owns Zanzibar’s best supermarkets and plans to establish the Shanga brand in Dar es Salaam and other African countries. “We are modern, but African art and culture are very important to us”, he said. Another hotel newcomer, “Be Zanzibar” towards the southern end of Jambiani, is recognizable by a unique twisted palm. 

Syrian developer Tarek Maatouk, 40, and his wife Alexandra designed 16 jungle-look deluxe cottages; casually, they serve pasta with lobster sauce on the cliff. The Bamboo Boutique hotel next door with ultra-modern architecture holds another great restaurant and one of Zanzibar’s best spas, The Elements, operated by versatile, well-known  Vietnam entrepreneur  Kim Anh Nguyen Thi. 

On the way to the sleepy coastal town Makunduchi, we observe construction activities on almost every beach plot. Crazy cacti made of jeans, lamps with dhow ropes and other unusual home & garden paraphernalia sells German florist Ilka here. “I wish some of the coasts would remain undeveloped”, says Leonie Kaack, owner of Zanzibar’s best-known backpacker hotel New Teddy’s on the Beach. But even she could not resist starting a new venture. Recently she opened the wonderful, more upmarket Babu Villas.

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