Monday, January 6, 2014

Sun 'n Surf on the Kenyan Coast!

We just got back a couple days ago from an extended stay on the Kenyan Coast. We were there for my birthday, Rhonda's birthday, and New Years and we had a blast exploring different beaches and seeing some sights.

Instead of chronological order of how we spent the 10 days, I figure I'll give ya the highlights and low lights from worst to best!

Worst experience: In Watamu, where we spent 5 days, our hotel was not on the beach. Since we were at the coast for the highest of the high season (week between Christmas and New Years) all the places on the beach itself were either booked, had minimum of six or seven nights, or cost over $6,000!!!! Needless to say we economized and still stayed at a clean place with a/c and nice pool called Tembo Village. But we really did miss having the beach right outside our door. One day we went to a close-by beach where we thought we could rent beach beds and chill out for the day -- but they were totally booked and took no pity on us :(
beach where we were kicked out of
2nd worst experience: For some strange reason Tembo decided not have a restaurant operating during this highest of holiday weeks -- so we had to take tuk-tuks (auto rickshaw) for every meal. At first its a blast to ride in them but after a couple times it gets old quick as there's no suspension and we are all cramped in the back.

3rd worst experience: Obliviously in a country like Kenya there is a wide divide between the privileged and the poor. At beach resorts on the Coast this really hits you in the face. The minute you start walking on the beach - the touts/beach boys start hitting you up to visit their souvenir stand, buy their snorkel excursions, pay for their kids education, etc. In Watamu and Diani they were present but either I've gotten used to them or maybe since the beaches are so wide and spread out they seemed slightly less intrusion then in other places we visited in Kenya.
too long of a wait for food for Ruby

4th worst experience: time it takes to get your food! Jeez! not only did we have to take these tuk-tuks to get food but many times since it was such a crowed time of the year we waited and waited and waited to get our food.

Alright, now that I've got the yucky things out of the way -- let's start talking about the really cool things!

8th best thing: Gedi ruins -- a couple miles inland from Watamu are the remains of a city from a 800 years ago. We had a good time exploring the ruins.

7th best thing: Having a great tour of a snake center in Watamu. They had everything you could imagine from cobras, to pythons, to mambas, to five feet long monitor lizards. Our tour guide was fabulous, for example telling us how they milk the venom from the snake's fangs to use to create anti-venom.

6th best thing: Distant Relatives Lodge in Kilifi  -- this was a super chill place where we spent the first night on the coast. Very relaxed with great pool to take a dip at night. We loved our cabin with a unique shower coming out of a tree branch!

5th best: Friendly Kenyans!

4th best: snorkeling and watching dolphins. In Watamu one morning we went snorkeling and marveled at the hundreds of different kinds of fish.
Ruby with her buddy Isaac

3rd best: spending time with friends -- also in Watamu our friends from Nairobi, Francesca and family, were staying close by. On Rhonda's birthday they invited us over to their place and made us a delicious fish/pasta dish.
buying fish from fisherman on the
beach with Francesca and family

Watamu's beach with these gorgeous isle's in the bays

2nd best: Watamu's beach -- It is tough call which beach is nicer (Diani or Watamu). Despite our issues with actually getting onto Watamu's beach - the area and beach itself are breathtaking. Luckily we figured out we could access the beach directly from across the street from our hotel after 4pm or so. A couple nights we had dinner right on the sand.
acrobatics on the sand at Watamu

Ruby swimming!
And the Best!: Diani Beach. I guess Diani has to win due to a number of factors. The final three days of our time at the Coast we stayed at Ocean Village Club which was right on the beach. Also it was all inclusive so there was no tramping around to find food -- just show up at the appointed hour and its all there. Also the kids loved the fruit drinks they could order anytime they wanted. Matthew had a blast playing volleyball and we all enjoyed our beach walks, building sand castles from the super fine/powdery sand, and lazing around the pool. Also the beach itself at Diani was fun since in the morning it was low tide and you could explore the tidal pools and coral reef and then later in the afternoon at high tide there were big waves to body surf.

super wide Diani beach at low tide

same beach six hours later at high tide

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