Vacation-mode activated: Beach more, stress less

Saturday, November 9th, 2019 00:00 |

It’s that time of the year when the holidays are beckoning and the sun’s about to pop in full glimmer. Take a coastal vacation before the beaches fill up. We have some tips

Kilifi Bay Beach Resort

An enchanting sandy beach lapped with clear aquamarine waters is the sight that greets me when I step into the wooden deck at Kilifi Bay Beach Resort. The deck in the oceanfront resort offers a scenic view of Indian Ocean. Waters of the ocean gather into high tides towards the bare beach and sprawl right in front of me, hitting the wooden poles supporting the deck before gently ebbing away in a rhythmic flow. This serves as a nice welcome to the resort located in the old coastal town of Kilifi. It’s only the first day of my two-day stay at the resort and there is every indication that it’s going to be a great experience. 

A trail of footsteps imprints the sandy beach, almost as if beckoning one to take a walk; I heed the call. There is a tingling sensation as I sink my bare feet into the sand pebbles on the beach and venture deeper into the warm seawaters. As waves rise and fall, time slowly slips away and the tiredness of travel is soon forgotten. When the tides cede, large pale crabs dash across the bare sand. “They are harmless and don’t bite,” one of the hotel staff members who I meet while heading back to the hotel calms me.

At sunset, curtains of an oceanfront room billow in the late evening breeze, as palm trees wave against a dazzling golden sky. The scene is picture perfect. Some visitors gathered in the deck all stare in the scenic surroundings in silence, probably trying to commit the moment to memory.  

Set along the Kenyan coastline, the resort has 50 double and single rooms. There are a couple of beachfront rooms that offer a covetable view of the ocean. The long narrow layout of the resort, however, ensures that just about all guests are a few steps away from the beach. For the three nights spent at the resort, a single room few metres from the beach serves as home. It has a medium-sized canopy bed, desk, ensuite bathroom, wardrobe, TV and an air conditioning system. The rustic wardrobe is decorated with traditionally woven sisal threads, while the bed and walls bear subtle Swahili architectural designs.  

With all these features fitted in a small space, the room looks crammed up. What it lacks in terms of space, it compensates with a large verandah featuring chairs with colourful cushions, where I curled up numerous times during my stay for a view of overlooking tropical gardens.

The walk towards my room from the beach was always great, with a view of flowerbeds, the far coastline and tropical gardens all around. Also, except for the ocean, nothing beats the view of a grand swimming pool, located not so far from the coastline. The azure pool is tucked amid the gorgeousness of long palm trees overlooking a restaurant decorated with simple earthy colours. It seems to be a popular chill spot for visitors at the resort. There are two restaurants at the resort, serving local and international cuisines. 

Retreating into my room, I call it a day, eager to wake up to another day of more rejuvenation.

- Evelyn Makena

The Sands at Nomad

My friend Faith and I recently set out on a journey to discover South Coast, and what makes it get ranked as having some of the best beaches in the world. We travelled at night by bus to Mombasa, before proceeding to The Sands at Nomad Hotel by taxi.

The reception was warm, which set me off on a high note. The hotel is located in the midst of an indigenous coastal forest, and as we were heading to our rooms, we saw monkeys jumping from tree to tree. We were advised not to leave our doors open, if we didn’t want to find any surprises.

In a bid to preserve the ecosystem in the beach, the hotel opts to use glass bottles instead of plastic ones, which could explain why the sand there is white and clean.

The first evening was a full moon, and it was just heavenly having my lobster meal with the bright moon in view.

Throughout our stay, we had different meals and drinks, thanks to the varied international as well as local cuisines and cocktails on offer. Thankfully, the waiters were friendly, and were happy to take us through the menu and assist in us in our choices.

Our days were spent sampling some on the activities that can be enjoyed on site, where there is a wide array, being that the resort is the base for water extreme. One can enjoy snorkeling, windsurfing, diving, as well as kite surfing. Their five metre-deep pool, the deepest at the Kenyan Coast, is ideal for diving courses, so if you are a great swimmer, this would be your kind of destination.

It was quite a lovely but short vacay. I guess that’s why their motto is Eat beach sleep!

-Harriet James

Turtle Bay Beach Club

Many a holidaymaker are increasingly discovering that the ultimate coastal vacay experience is away from the main town, Mombasa, where it’s less crowded, polluted and is serene. One such area is Watamu at the North Coast, with a list of hotels to choose from. I recently visited the Turtle Bay Beach Club for a week of unwinding, and indeed, it will take a lot of convincing for me to pick Mombasa the next time I’m thinking Coast.

We opted for a Tuktuk transfer upon landing at Malindi Airport, to feel the breeze for our 25-minute ride to the hotel. What with the sweltering temperatures. It is a beachfront hotel, so the first thing one wants to do after a pleasant chilled-cocktail-crowned welcome is take a nice sandy walk.

Five days lay ahead, and it was prudent to do a plan of activities. The not-so-good news about a hotel that has been around for over two decades is that everything, though well maintained, may not be modern and shiny, but the good news is, they know what vacationers are after, and they offer an array of fun stuff. There is actually a whole department for that, known as Fun Base Team. From pool tables, beach volleyball, beach soccer, pool aerobics and table tennis among others, as well as fun supervised activities for the little ones such as cooking lessons, arts and crafts including painting, field trips, kids fort by the pool and more.

After a day of travel, we just wanted to relax at the hotel, enjoy its facilities, and sunbathe. There are two pools, an adult one near the rooms and a general one near the main dining area. Nothing beats poolside and beach relaxation, not to mention, as an all-inclusive hotel, you get to eat and drink all day at no extra cost. Be it ice cream, pizza, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, name it, provided it’s available, it will be brought to you at the sun bed or wherever.

Also, each night during dinner, there is some themed entertainment such as an evening with acrobats, traditional dancers, magician, or a pianist. After this, comes a disco session, loud enough to enjoy, without distracting those who would rather retire to bed.

During one of the days spent away from the hotel, we visited the medieval Swahili settlement, Gedi Ruins, said to have been occupied between the 11th and 17th centuries. Right adjacent is a snake park, where one can view a number of local species of snakes. A stone’s throw away, is Kipepeo Project, a butterfly sanctuary that helps support locals who do butterfly farming. Imagine all that butterfly beauty in one place, plus all the new stuff you get to learn. Nearby also, is a honey plant, and one can buy rich honey harvested from the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. We wound down the day by sampling the Malindi nightlife, which is quite robust.

Another day away from the hotel was spent enjoying a Mida Creek boat trip for Sh4,000 per person, and we got to watch dolphins, snorkel at the marine park, explore the coral and enjoy fresh seafood at Waka Waka Island. Here, locals, Giriama people, entertained us with some traditional song and dance. A fun stay it was, and I have all intentions to visit again.

-Matilda Nzioki

Plaza Beach Hotel

When you have had an overwhelming working period, all you need is a break from the city that never sleeps. You can choose to go it alone, or tag along a friend to break the monotony. Recently, I took some time off and headed down to the north coast. My destination? The Plaza Beach Hotel. It’s perfectly perched along the exhilarating stretch of Bamburi Beach. It’s located between Severin and Neptune Hotels. I will first tell you that if you’re looking for a luxury holiday, don’t go there expecting bells and whistles. It is not that over the top.

The hotel has a total of 88 rooms, both twin and double, with the balcony giving the guest an exciting view of both the swimming pool and the Indian Ocean. Among the features I loved most was the hotel’s spacious rooms, not to mention the Swahili ambience, which spreads all the way to the beautiful furniture. However, Plaza is like a maze. An adventurous one for that matter. You might get lost a few times before you get to familiarise yourself with its layout, but somehow, it all adds to the thrill.

There are also a myriad activities you can engage in while vacationing at the hotel. Instead of basking on the sun bed all day, you can find it more relaxing taking a ride on a glass-bottomed boat to the amazing National Marine Park, located at a nearby coral reef. You could also try snorkelling, karting or for more adrenaline-rushing engagement, you could give a speedboat ride a try. 

Another outstanding thing that impressed me was the facility’s customer service and hospitality. The staff was friendly and engaging. I liked the cordial interactions with the manager and how he perfectly related with the crowd. Also, the premise has a restaurant which features a buffet set-up, mostly serving local cuisine. From time to time, however, the menu and the arrangement is switched to incorporate a relaxing set-up by the beach or beside the pool. In the evenings, it can get a little chilly, thanks to the sea breeze, and therefore, it’s advisable to carry a wrap around. 

-Faith Kyoumukama

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