Over the years, Kenya has consistently been voted as a leading destination that offers an unrivalled beach product experience that is second to none in Africa (It was named Africa’s leading tourist destination in 2020 by the World Travel Awards. The WTA award recognizes and rewards excellence in travel and tourism). It is without a doubt that these awards often cement the phrase, Magical Kenya, a travel destination that everyone must put on their bucket list.
One of Kenya’s popular coastal getaways, a tropical paradise with the perfect weather and the most fascinating attractions in and around it, known, appreciated, and admired not only for its natural beauty, but also for its rich heritage and cultural gravitas is Watamu. This small town is an ideal perfect getaway for anyone seeking to go on holiday by the beach and enjoy an incredible outdoors lifestyle. On a day with clear skies, all you will be singing are these words, “the beach is calling me.”
Watamu is located 105 kilometers north of Mombasa and 15 kilometers south of Malindi on the Indian Ocean Coast of Kenya, it lies on a small headland between the blue lagoon and Watamu Bay. It is that right destination for when you need to be surrounded by a tranquil blue water, which is a recipe for re-energizing and refreshing your mind, soul and body any time of the year.
The minute you arrive in Watamu, you will definitely want to take the quintessential, postcard-perfect photograph because this town, offers you breathtaking views of the blue waters and surroundings at every turn, something we, Capital Lifestyle experienced and couldn’t wait to bring you as we enjoyed our stay at Hemingways Watamu.
Mother Nature was extremely generous when she created Watamu. Whether it’s exhilarating outdoor adventures, immersive dining experiences, or simply a walk by the beach on any given day, you simply cannot afford not to just take a minute and admire the beauty that is Watamu. The sun and sand and rolling waves instantly makes you forget about all of your worries and instead focus on the amazing view in front of your eyes and that is what Watamu delivers every minute of your stay.
When not asleep or swimming, there are a wide range of activities here that offer plenty of memorable experiences in Watamu. They are simply unforgettable things that will leave a lasting great impression on you, of this coastal gem.
Staying at Hemingways Residences, Watamu
Along the soft white sandy beach of this coastal town, is the gorgeous and resplendent Hemingways Residences, which comprises of 21 exclusive apartments. These apartments are part of Hemingways Watamu, an Indian Ocean luxury 5-star boutique beach front hotel, offering an oasis of peace and calm and delivers hallmark experiences served with iconic touches of gracious world class hospitality. Hemingways Watamu’s signature exceptional level service standards stand out and no wonder, it is a jewel resort in Watamu, cementing its place in the town as the quintessential luxury boutique hotel.
It’s not hard not to fall in love with this slice of Coastal Luxury offering an unrivalled hospitality and service with the most breathtaking ocean front views from your private terrace. Guests of the Residences enjoy full access to all hotel facilities with the added benefit of being completely self-sufficient.
The Hemingways Residences are stunning on all accounts, remarkably styled with contemporary grace and panache, providing an idyllic backdrop for days of tranquil indulgence. Think fully furnished and equipped state of the art kitchen arenas, comfortable lounge and dining areas which effortlessly look onto the broad sweep of the wide-vista verandas with plenty of natural light (every room and apartment has a private balcony overlooking the Ocean that beautifully contrasts with azure waters and painted skies with yachts in the horizon, a perfect Instagram shot at every corner).
Hemingways Watamu is part of the Hemingways Collection group which also comprises of the Luxury boutique hotel Hemingways Nairobi, which was awarded the ‘Mystery Inspectors’ Award in the Luxury Hotels Awards 2020. The property emerged top from over 550 member hotels.
The coral reefs in Marine Park in Watamu, with their colorful and rich biodiversity, makes it a perfect spot for snorkeling, an activity that is fun and adventurous. There are hundreds of beautiful coral reef fish which leave you awestruck and dazzled by their vibrant colours. If you are lucky, you may see a sea turtle, a guitarfish or large grouper.
This is one of the most fun ways to see the beauty of the underwater world and is one of the safest recreational activities you can take part in. Just simply floating on the surface of a calm ocean, looking out at the harmonic underwater life is not only beautiful but simply therapeutic and peaceful.
Dhow Cruise along Mida Creek at 4 pm
It is a 3-hour evening ride along East Africa’s largest mangrove creek, all this while enjoying an endless supply of icy cold Dawa and cocktails and plenty of delicious nyama (beef, chicken and seafood) aboard an Arabian dhow which has two decks, each with cushioned seating areas along the edge of the boat. All one can think of aboard this dhow, is how this would be such a perfect ride while surprising a special loved one on a special occasion like a birthday, a proposal or even a wedding on board. You must experience this to say out loud, that you were in Watamu. It offers you sunset views that are unforgettable that just makes you so ridiculously grateful to be alive.
Jo Walton once said, “There is a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.”
The dhow cruise is honestly one of the most spectacular rides you will ever encounter providing you with a view of the vibrant hues of blue, orange and sometimes red filling the evening sky,as plenty of birds flying back home cross the skies, against a beautiful and calm evening sunset.
Dolphins’ watching at midday
One of the most exhilarating, moving and even life-changing experiences in Watamu is watching dolphins in their natural habitat. It is simply a must add on your to do list. You are left with a huge grin on your face, and in awe because honestly this is the gift that these beautiful sea animals give us. Did you know Dolphins are known to be great divers? Being creatures of the sea, they can dive up to 1,000 feet underwater.
According to the National Geographic, Dolphins are graceful, sleek swimmers that can reach speeds of more than 18 miles an hour. They are also playful and often frolic in a boat’s wake, leaping out of the water—possibly for fun, to communicate, or even shed pesky parasites.
This tour as exciting as it is, also plays a huge role in inspiring people to love and cherish these mammals, and in turn be inspired to help protect them. Watamu is a natural sanctuary for families of dolphins including mothers and calves. This is according the Watamu Marine Association, who together with the Kenya Wildlife Service have been studying dolphins since 2010.
A visit to Eco world
Proper recycling is important & makes a difference to our environment, our quality of life, and our country’s future. One center you must visit while in Watamu is Eco World, a recycling Centre often touted as Kenya’s answer to recycling waste, promoting health and community wealth. The Centre turns waste into useful products and in turn, engages the community in conservation and how to generate income from recycling.
You will get a tour of the facility and see how waste (which includes plenty of plastic bottles and glasses from the entire Watamu region) is turned into usable products that are on display like toys, decorating handbags, key holders and so much more including the showroom wall that is made of wine bottles. There is so much to learn from this centre as it also acts as a centre for learning institutions, public schools and general public.
Deep sea Fishing
One of the most thrilling adventures in Watamu is deep sea fishing. This early morning (6 am) ride that takes about 2 hours on board the private Hemingways Yatcht, takes you into the deep seas where you get to see and experience the raging sounds of the enchanting sea waves, something you just almost only see in movies.
To say the beauty of the sea is something you will not miss to behold, is an understatement. You watch the sunrise right infront of your eyes, experiencing the true grandeur of one of Mother Nature’s most revered blessings.
Hemingways Watamu is renowned for deep sea fishing, something that singles this property out from many others lining the coast as an advantage “due to the series of undersea ‘mountains’ nearby which make for especially concentrated marine life.”
It is said that due to its endless deep blue waters, the Kenyan coast is home to some of the top big game sport fishing species in the world. This ride early in the morning, takes you deep into the sea, as you watch the sun rise and catch fish on board the Hemingways yacht. It is an early morning thrilling activity.
A beach holiday is always an excellent location for a relaxing holiday with plenty to see and enjoy in the water. (All the above activities were arranged by the wonderful team at Hemingways Watamu where we stayed).
To get to Watamu, fly Safarilink, Kenya’s premier safari airline with a network of connecting domestic scheduled services to all the best safari destinations within Kenya and across the border into northern Tanzania.
It operates from Wilson airport, a huge advantage and convenience so you don’t have to deal with the dreaded Mombasa Road traffic/ Jams. Safarilink operates daily flights to Malindi, and Hemingways concierge is on hand to pick you and take you to Watamu (which is about a 20 min ride).
No Coastal itinerary is complete without a trip to Watamu. And as Jacques Yves Cousteau once said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
(A special mention to the entire wonderful and amazing Hemingways Watamu team and staff who made this trip incredible leaving us with wonderful lasting memories, with a special shout to this Gentleman Extraordinaire, the new Group Chief Executive Officer- Hemingways Group Mr Ross Evans, GM Hemingways Nairobi Mr Richard Kimenyi, Melinda Rees of Hemingways Watamu and Charity Katago of Riverwood Communications.)