From the Great Rift Valley to the eastern shoreline, our Kenyan landscape changed dramatically once again. We spent 5 nights in the tropical haven of Watamu, Kenya, a small town north of Mombassa by about 60 miles. Flying into the teeny tiny airport of nearby Malindi, we were immediately struck by the hot and humid weather when we disembarked from the plane, a far cry from the mild temperatures of high-altitude Nairobi and the dryer heat in the valley.
We spent our time in Watamu in a fabulous rental home tucked along the white sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. It felt like paradise to the girls (to all of us, really), between the pool and the beach, snorkeling along the reefs and exploring the tide pools! We selected fresh fish from the local fishermen every morning, eating our fill of seafood and curry for lunch and dinner. Rooftop sunsets completed each day and the open-air concept of the home made for some cooler breezy evenings, a welcome relief from the heat of the day.
For this post, we think the pictures will speak for themselves. The girls will chime in toward the bottom with their highlights.
ON OUR WAY….
ZOE: One of my favorite memories from Watamu will always be exploring our little beach with Dad, looking for shells and other sea creatures. There are so many different kinds of shells here compared with our beach in New Hampshire. We started a little collection to put on my dresser in my bedroom at home. Once, while snorkeling off our beach, we found a HUGE, bright blue starfish that was just beautiful.
Twice while in Watamu we took a small, glass bottom boat out to a coral reef nearby for some snorkeling. The girls had been practicing with their masks and snorkels in the pool at the house, and were little experts by the time they jumped off the boat. Of course, there was still a lot of (muffled) screeching and yelling through their snorkels at all the fish sightings! Our trips to the reef in Watamu are hopefully preparing us for our time in Australia at the Great Barrier Reef!
SCHUYLER: My favorite activity in Watamu was definitely snorkeling. It was such an amazing experience to be able to explore the coral reefs. We dove down under water and peeked into caves, and saw so many brilliantly colored fish. I couldn’t possibly count all the different species we encountered! Two of the most unusual sights were a lion fish and a sea snake. One of my favorite species was the Moorish Idol fish, which has black and yellow stripes and a long fin or tentacle coming up from its head. Luckily we didn’t run into any dangerous sea creatures! One highlight was when our snorkeling guide, Mohammed, found an octopus that was able to camouflage itself perfectly to whatever it rested on. Mohammed went down deep and wrestled with the octopus to bring it to the surface so that we could get a closer look at it. Also, in Watamu, some parts of the ocean were the most beautiful aqua marine color because there was only white sand at the bottom, while other patches were darker blue because of the coral underneath. At first, I only wanted to swim in the aqua marine water, but then I learned that the coral reefs are much more interesting and fun to swim around. Overall, Watamu was relaxing and invigorating at the same time!
To get into the small town of Watamu, we took little three-wheeled cars called “tuk tuks.” The girls thought this was just about the most fabulous way to travel thus far! In town, we frequented a real Italian gelato store, stocked up on food, and shopped for some Kenyan beach wear (sarongs and lightweight skirts and pants). Here are some photos of the town, and a video clip from a tuk tuk ride.
THAYER: We had some really cozy pants made out of Indian fabric – they are so soft! We call them parachute pants (because they remind Mom and Dad of the 80’s). It was SO fun to go on a tuk yuk. At first I kept calling it a “dik dik” which is not an automobile, it’s an African animal that we saw at Sanctuary Farm. It was so fun to see all the tiny shops. I really liked it in town!
Watamu was difficult to leave behind as we boarded our flight back to Nairobi. With 2 nights to go in Kenya, we will squeeze in another visit to the elephant orphanage, and perhaps some giraffe feeding as well. After our next post on Kenya (which will be the last, we promise!), we head to South Africa for a different African experience altogether. As always, thanks for reading!