In our first post on Mombasa we travelled from the airport to Bamburi beach where we found accommodation, then alternative accommodation. We looked at the Severin Sea Lodge where we had a nice stay but discovered that it was overpriced for the level of service that we were given. I must say, as I forgot to mention in our last blog, you must check out the Imani Dhow Restaurant in the Severin Sea Lodge. It’s not cheap, of course, but the Swahili style atmosphere and authentic musical accompinement by a resident Swahili artist is very romantic indeed (even if I went in there by myself). It is actually made from an old Swahili Dhow ship that has been cut, preserved and made into a restaurant. The vessel juts out from the rear side of the hotel and you are surrounded by the palm trees. The most cost effective way to visit this hotel is by way of a package tour which will include a safari plus 10 nights at the hotel – according to their site – these depart from Germany.
Be sure to investigate the beach frontage as you can walk along the beach from The Severin Sea Lodge to Papweza Suites via many a good place to stop, such as a place called Pirates. Pirates is a bar/restaurant and on the weekend they often have volleyball and basketball tournaments. Pirates has a public beach area where you’ll mix more with the locals especially on the weekends when families enjoy their country along with you. Some tourists prefer to stay cocooned in their own spot but not me, I’m all over and everywhere!
I have also heard amazing reviews on Nyali Beach Hotel and from what I saw, it looks impressive. I went there for dinner one evening and was pleasanlty surprised.
We then moved on to papwezasuites where I was blown away by their one, two and three bedroom suites with stunning views of the beach and Ocean. Once you’ve settled into your accommodation, you’ll want to explore your surroundings a little. I advise that you use the hotel taxi service and befriend a driver. After your first trip, arrange future trips on a cost by day basis. Haggle for a good bargain and even get price comparisons for quarter and half day prices. If you walk around the corner from Papweza Suites, near the gas station you’ll see a bar called ‘Cheers’ and whilst you may be tempted to hang around in there, just go there to find a taxi. If you go in looking for anything else, you’ll probably find it. Actually, they do a lovely keg (draft beer to us Brits) Tusker, ice cold and a variety of snacks! But right now, you need a taxi.
Ask the driver to take you to Mtwapa, it’s a few miles drive up the Nyali road where you’ll pass local life and culture. Don’t be scared to stop and investigate with the help of your driver, it’s safer than many places in the US or UK. Just observe your normal measure of caution when in a place that you are not familiar with.
There will be several places to stop and eat but I would recommend stopping at the Moorings seafood restaurant that floats on Mtwapa creek. You cannot miss it as you’re driving towards Mtwapa. You’ll drive over a lake and you’ll notice it on the left just floating and tempting, turn the next possible left turn and, although it looks like the road doesn’t lead anywhere, it does. The food is lovely and the atmosphere the same. Check out their site for more information: Moorings.
The whole journey is sprinkled with night spots and restaurants worth popping into even if it is for one glass – just to catch the vibe. If you’ve been in Kenya for more than ten minutes you’ll be aware of NYAMA CHOMA (barbecued meat) which is very very tasty. One word of warning though, as with any tropical destination, be prepared with diarrhoea medication and please, it sounds crazy, please carry some baby wipes! Even if you’re a grown man you’ll appreciate the comfort they may give you during the hard times. Be careful where you eat and if you are not from Africa or used to outdoor eating in a semi-rural setting, choose to dine in places with adequate kitchen facilities. I’m not saying that you should try to find a place with a fitted kitchen – just use your better judgement. Also, please do not over eat – that’s when the problems can happen. Sample food when away from the hotel, but do not stuff yourself.
After passing through Mtwapa, you’ll end up in a place called Kikambala. You’re thinking “So?” but you’ll really need to go that far to experience what I believe to be, an unmissable venue. Porini Restaurant, a combination of typical mombasa cuisine mixed with seychellois and here, you can stuff yourself. It’s mouth watering! Make sure to try the Porini Chicken and ask them to show you their Giant Aldabra Tortoises. They also have reasonably priced accomodation worth checking out if you want to keep the expenses down and although you will not be close to the beach, the atmosphere will more than make up for that visit: www.bokoboko-kenya.de for more details.
Mombasa South Coast
Now, if you go to Mombasa and do not visit the south coast – you’re mad. No other words for you. You can catch a taxi, or, if you’re comfortable by now you can hire a car and drive yourself there – I did. You can find cheap cars to rent in Mtwapa. Just look out for the signs. You’ll drive through town and then board the ferry. Well, not as easily as that. You’ll want to get directions first, but it’s not hard. Once you’re there, before going anywhere, go to Forty Thieves Corner in Diani Beach. There’s a lovely bar and restaurant with a mixture of seating from perched over the sea to snuggled, enclosed and romantic. The venue oozes down onto the beach with as much elegance and grace as is naturally possible. Kenyans frequent this place so you know the food’s good.
I like to keep things homely, so the place that I’ll recommend you stay is a very homely but luxurious villa perched just a few rows back from the beach in Diani. There is a very large villa in the compound and a smaller cottage. Tembo villas is not one you are likely to be able to find on just any online travel site. You will need to contact the owner directly, Lenrick Guy. His contact details are on the website but the website is not so good. Please do not be put off by this and try to call or email him. He just isn’t gifted in that area, that’s all. Tell him Jay from London sent you.
The compound has a 12 metre swimming pool and is ideal for families as it is very secure and homely. Lenrick, the owner, is very well known by the locals and is involved with several local programmes to further enhance the local facilites. He is very approachable too.
Well, I guess we’re done with Mombasa for now so you can go looking for those flight deals. Remember to visit www.dialaflight.co.uk or call (+44)01732 593086 and ask for Cat as a part of your flight searching.