Shooting Star Lodge: Our full report
Shooting Star Lodge was built by an engaging and welcoming Tanzanian couple and stands on top of a coral ...... cliff, with stunning views of the powdery-white Kiwengwa Beach. It attracts a real mix of characters, who usually come together around the bar area during the day and in the evening, resulting in a lovely social atmosphere.
The central lounge bar is the main hub area, with lots of brightly coloured cushion-covered booths to sit in on either side of a walk-way which leads to the pool. The bar is behind this area and people tend to congregate around here before and after dinner for a few drinks. Next to this is the dining area and further outdoor seating area with furniture constructed from coconut palm. You might want to challenge someone to the traditional Zanzibari game of bao on one of the lodge's boards. On one occasion, we ate out on the decking in the open air overlooking the pool, while others chose to sit under the thatch. The food was tasty, and the service was friendly.
In front of the dining area at Shooting Star Lodge is the beautiful horseshoe-shaped infinity pool. It can be difficult to get a spot on one of the loungers around here at busy times. However, there are plenty of loungers down on the white sandy beach itself if you prefer a slightly more private spot. When the tide is in it's lovely to swim in the ocean from here, and when it's out, the exposed reef is an interesting walk. There is also a small beach bar, the Starfish Bar, where you can get some drinks or enjoy a lunch. The beach at Shooting Star is located below a coral cliff, and can be accessed by a winding path leading down from the dining area - about a 5 minute walk from the rooms.
Shooting Star Lodge can arrange diving and snorkeling trips with the nearby PADI centre at Bluebay Beach Resort. On a previous visit we were collected from Shooting Star and dropped back in time for lunch after doing a double dive on the beautiful Mnemba atoll. Shooting Star can also offer a range of other activities, such a sunset dhow cruise around the coastline. Other resorts along the beach can offer catamaran and windsurfing hire and fishing trips (usually on a catch and release basis).
The rooms at the Shooting Star are nestled amidst the tropical trees and flowering plants, and are split in to four different categories:
- Five Garden Suites are the most simple and basic room type. They are fairly small, and feel quite dark, however are clean and comfortable and dotted with colourful cushions and paintings which brightens up the room.
- The Six Sea View Cottages being a bit more spacious and each has a shaded veranda with a pair of sun loungers.
- The Four Family Sea View Cottages are similar in style to the normal Sea View Cottages, however they are located on the seafront cliff and have two bedrooms which happily accommodate up to four people.
- There are also two private suites - the Kusi and Kaskazi Suites - these are quite special. Shooting Star also has two day rooms which are available for use free of charge.
With only 17 rooms, Shooting Star is a small and personal lodge with a great atmosphere, helped by the friendly team who run it. It's a firm favourite with our travellers. The two resident dogs who live at the lodge are also very sociable creatures, so don't be surprised if you find them relaxing on your veranda.
- East Coast Zanzibar, Zanzibar
- Ideal length of stay
- We recommend spending 4 nights or longer to relax and enjoy Zanzibar’s east coast.
- It takes around 35 minutes to fly to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, and then it's a further one hour by car to Shooting Star Lodge.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- We did not eat here on our last visit in 2019, but have enjoyed the food on previous visits. Breakfast at Shooting Star is served from 7:00 - 10am (although this is slightly flexible if you are going diving early). It consists of a variety of fresh fruit as well as toast and eggs cooked how you like them.
Lunch is served between 12:30 and 15:00, there is an a la carte menu consisting of a variety of international cuisine, featuring meals such as fresh fish dishes, pizzas and pasta. We enjoyed a meal of roast chicken with home cooked chips and a seasonal salad.
Dinner is a 3-course meal, with a number of choices being offered for the starter and main. On one stay we started with crab soup, this was followed by either tuna steak served with vegetable rice, or a vegetarian option of roast peppers; for desert we enjoyed a platter of fresh tropical fruit. The food was good, although don’t expect haute cuisine. Generally the feedback we get from our travellers has been very positive – mentioning fresh produce, great afternoon tea and cakes, and excellent seafood.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Yes – though there are no phones in the rooms. Any room service will therefore need to be arranged in advance.
- Drinks included
- Drinks are not included. Soft drinks are about $2.50, beer around $3.50 and a bottle wine averages $25 - $30.
- Shooting Star’s suites are ideal for a good-value Zanzibar honeymoon. With a private swimming pool, a rooftop bath and rooftop bed perfect for stargazing, it couldn’t be more romantic. The staff will make a great effort to make your stay special.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- The beach-side spa at Shooting Star Lodge offers a variety of pampering treatments, with massages from $25, to full seaweed body wraps at $60. Pedicures, manicures and waxing treatments are also on offer, resulting in a very relaxing stay.
- See ideas for Wellbeing
- Attitude towards children
- Shooting Star welcomes children
- Property’s age restrictions
- There are no age restrictions at Shooting Star
- Special activities & services
- They will happily organise baby-sitting. Parents should simply tip the nanny, who is arranged through the housekeeping team. Shooting Star can create a child friendly menu on request.
- Cots and highchairs can be provided at Shooting Star
- Generally recommended for children
- Shooting Star is a very friendly and welcoming place, which will happily cater to children. There is a lovely pool and stretch of beach for playing, though there are no special facilities or activities for children.
- Power supply notes
- There are two backup generators.
- Free Wi-fi is available in the public areas, and reaches some of the garden rooms.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV or radio at Shooting Star
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The 24-hour hot water supply is a bit brackish. The lodge remarked to us on our last visit in 2016 that the expensive desalination plants used at some lodges are effective but pump highly saline water back into the sea, which can damage the coral. Limited bottled water is supplied to guests (a half litre at breakfast and a half litre in the room).
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is an on-site first aid kit, and there is usually a doctor on call nearby (in one of the larger lodges) that Shooting Star Lodge can access in the case of a medical emergency. There is also a European pharmacy in a nearby village.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- 24-hour security guards are present on the beach and around the hotel. There is a lockable Zanzibari chest in each room, and valuables can be left in the safe at reception. 24 hour security guards
- Fire safety
- There are fire-extinguishers dotted around Shooting Star Lodge and smoke alarms in the rooms.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A fuull machine-washed laundry service is offered at an extra charge.
- Shooting Star cannot offer a currency exchange. There are lockable chests in the rooms, and also a safe in the office.
- Accepted payment on location
- The preferred form of payment at Shooting Star is cash, however you can also pay for any extra costs Visa, Mastercard or American Express. However there is a 5% charge for any card use.
Room types at Shooting Star Lodge
Garden View Cottage
The three Garden View rooms sit in one long stone and thatch cottage, bordering the lodge's central area. All have double or twin beds, a mosquito net and an en-suite bathroom. They're fairly small, and have a tendency to feel quite dark, but the white bed linen, walls, terrazzo floor and colourful rugs certainly brighten up the space. There's a lockable chest, full-length mirror and a separate luggage area and although there is air-conditioning, the rooms also have a ceiling fan.
There is a small veranda outside with a day bed - although these are not very private and don't have much in the way of a sea view.
The bathroom is small and simple but very clean. There's a washbasin, a shower and a flush toilet.
Kusi and Kaskazi suites
The Kusi Suite and the Kaskazi Suite are Shooting Star's flagship suites. They are named after the trade winds that alternately buffet the island - the Kusi from south-east and the Kaskazi from the north-east.
Both resemble a fort and stand on a hill overlooking the existing Sea View Cottages at Shooting Star, and are reached via a sandy path through the tropical garden. Both of the suites are set in private gardens.
Each suite is entered through a pair of impressive carved Zanzibari doors, and has simple, but high quality finishes and antique furniture; each is air-conditioned.
The ground floor has a hallway opening onto a large terraced exterior veranda with a private swimming pool. A shower and a toilet are reached from the hallway. Extra beds can be added to enable the hallway to be made into an additional bedroom, with either double or twin beds. There is a large walk in wardrobe with fitted shelves and rails. In here there's a well stocked minibar-fridge.
The verandah and pool deck have dining and lounging areas, as well as a kitchen space so that the lodge's chefs can prepare private meals if required.
The first floor is reached up a curved staircase, reminiscent of Shooting Star's family cottages and it houses the master bedroom suite. The large bedroom itself has views (better in the case of Kaskazi then Kusi. The windows have shutters as well as glass, so if you prefer the ocean breeze to the air-conditioning, the choice is yours.
The large beds are 2 metres wide, hung with mosquito nets, and are of a traditional Zanzibari-style, fitted with batik and cream linen. There is a large shower and separate toilet adjoining, with separate double vanity basins. A walk-in wardrobe is found in the hallway.
The stairs continue upwards to a roof terrace. Here is the perfect place to relax in the evening, with views from the flat roof which mean that you can watch the sun set over the island, and rise over the Ocean.
Zanzibar's fantastically starry skies have inspired the team here to furnish the roof with a fully-netted bed, so that you can sleep up here and spend a night under the stars. The terrace also has a huge bath, for those who enjoy a little alfresco splashing around.
The sea-view cottages are spacious, bright, airy stone and thatch cottages. The rooms have large Zanzibar beds and chests, colourful 'tinga tinga' pictures and purple bed-sheets with matching mosquito nets – and we liked them a lot for their charm and character. Beach towels and kangas are provided for your comfort.
The terrazzo floors and whitewashed walls make the cottages feel cool – and all of the rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and fans for really hot days. To enjoy the sea breeze and views over the lush gardens onto the sea, relax in a comfortable chair or sofa in front of your room on your private veranda.
The rooms have a separate luggage room with space to hang your clothes.
Four of the cottages, all along the seafront cliff, have been designed for families. These have a double bedroom on the lower level, and separate twin-bedded room upstairs. These split-level cottages have lots of space and are very comfortable indeed, with an outdoor sandy 'deck' area, with sun loungers.
The bathrooms in the single level cottages are en-suite, with a flush toilet, hot-and-cold shower and a sink. Though the bathrooms are not big, they are functional, clean and nicely decorated.
In the split-level Sea-view cottages there is an en-suite shower and toilet. Toiletries are provided. The wash basin is in an open-plan area behind the bedroom, adjacent to a separate toilet.
Other lodges in East Coast Zanzibar
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Pongwe Beach Hotel
Pongwe Beach Hotel is comfortable, good-value, family-friendly beach lodge, with a lovely pool, secluded beach and good food.
Matemwe Lodge is one of our favourite beach lodges. With only 12 cottages right on the edge of the old coral cliff, it is personal and relaxing.
Mnemba Island Lodge
Mnemba is a private island resort with 11 chalets, fringed by some of the best coral reefs in the Zanzibar area.
Matemwe Retreat is one of the most exclusive lodges on Zanzibar, with four split-level villas each with their own veranda, sun terrace, plunge pool.
Sunshine Marine Lodge
Sunshine Marine (sister of Sunshine Hotel) is located in a secluded part of the east coast, with a first-rate, in-house dive centre.
Located right on the beach, with bright rooms and a colourful garden, the Zoi Boutique Hotel has a lively, relaxed atmosphere.
Green & Blue
The pretty Green and Blue hotel has a picture-postcard setting on a sweep white sand in the Matemwe area of Zanzibar’s north-east coast.
Formally known as Matemwe Beach Village, Zanzibar Pearl Boutique Hotel is one of the newest properties on the island
Matemwe Beach House
Located on Zanzibar's stunning east coast, Matemwe Beach House offers private accommodation for friends or families travelling together.
Melia Zanzibar is a very large resort hotel on Zanzibar’s east coast and is well equipped for business and leisure trips.
Tulia Zanzibibar Beach Resort is a 16-room boutique beach hotel that opened in 2016 on Zanzibar's east coast.