Have you ever been intrigued about the name of a place? I personally was curious to know the history behind the name of one of my favorite holiday destinations along the Coast. Watamu means “sweet people” in Swahili;you might probably view it as a tribute to the sweet nature of the locals who live in Watamu; but it is alleged the origin of the name might have a darker meaning. In the twelfth century, when Arab dhows sailed their way down the east coast of Africa, it is alleged the slave traders used to lure locals into their slave ships with sweets.
Despite the history behind the name, what springs to mind when you first think of Watamu? Could it be the white, sandy beaches, the mouth-watering seafood or probably the serene ambiance one feels the moment you get to Watamu? Whatever floats your boat, this town, as little as it may be has various activities and culinary delights for everyone to indulge in while on holiday.
Escape to The Lovers Island– Take advantage of low tide days and explore the island of love while encountering beautiful marine life along the way, such as the starfish, puffers among other amazing sea creatures. Laze around by the white sandy beaches, enjoy some lunch and wait for the tide to get high; then sail way with the local dhows while enjoying the view of the deep, blue sea.
Take a Snorkeling and Dolphin Tour– We’ve heard of bush safaris, but have you ever gone on a dolphin tour? Well, if you plan your holiday between October to April when the sea is cool and calm; you can book a dolphin tour and get a chance to spot the three species of dolphins that Watamu has to offer, such as the Spinner Dolphins, the Bottlenose Dolphin, and the Humpback Dolphin. As tempted as you may be to swim with the dolphins, it’s always advisable to admire them from afar, as dolphins in Watamu are wild and not as friendly as they are usually portrayed in movies.
BEACH (Best. Escape. Anyone. Can. Have)- There’s an irresistible allure which attracts you to the sparkling white sandy beaches in Watamu; although my favorite beach has to be Garoda beach. Garoda Beach sets itself apart from other beaches along the Coast; the sand is astonishingly white, the beach is always empty which gives you more privacy to swim in the warm Indian Ocean or help you find your balance through Kite Surfing. But here’s a beautiful story behind why Garoda is one of the cleanest beaches in Watamu; the Watamu Marine Association together with locals from the community formed the Blue Team, which has been able to turn trash into cash by upcyling marine debris and collecting waste from the beach and beyond.
Slither around snakes– If you are the kind of traveler who thrives to try out new adventures while on holiday, then Bio-Ken Snake farm in Watamu should probably be on your to-do list! Bio-Ken houses the largest collections of snakes in East Africa and one of the best places to learn more about Kenyan snakes. If you’re daring enough, you could get to hold one or wear it around your neck.
Travel through time– The crumbling houses, mosques and palaces are a stark reminder of Gede, which was one of the most significant trading posts on the Coast of East Africa. The Ruins have surrendered to the grasping fingers of The Arabuko Sokoke Forest and the site is now a charming fusion of ruins, roots and foliage and a perfect place to bird watch, go on a nature trail or simply have a picnic while you immerse yourself in the abundant history which echoes all around Gede Ruins.
Indulge in some Italian pizza- Come Back Club and Restaurant in Watamu happens to be one of my favorite restaurants. The ambiance is perfect, the music is quite soothing; although a few things make this restaurant one of my favorite places in Watamu. They have a delectable selection of pizzas to choose from, which are quite affordable; not to mention the service is quite fast, with friendly waiters who guide you on what to get when you find yourself spoiled for choice on what to order.
Cool it off with some Ice Cream– There’s nothing like rich, succulent, creamy ice-cream on a hot day; and Bahati Gelateria has some very mouth-watering flavors to choose from as you take a stroll down the artsy streets of Watamu.
Dine out with a picturesque view– Watamu is not only a holiday destination, but it somehow permeates a honeymoon ambiance around it. When it comes to PiliPan Restaurant, there’s something about the place which sets the mood just right for a perfect evening. PiliPan is a lovely open-air restaurant overlooking Prawn Lake, with a lovely backdrop of the beautiful sunsets Watamu has to offer. With a lovely selection of Indian food and curries to choose from, you can get to savor a perfect evening while watching the sunset as you sip on their signature special cocktails which are a must have at PiliPan Restaurant.
Get lost in Pastry Heaven- Non Solo Gelato leaves your culinary buds feeling like they have just had an out of body experience; from the best Tiramisu you could ever eat, to a succulent menu of pastries you can choose from, Non Solo Gelato is the perfect place to indulge in the finer things Watamu has to offer. The decor is simple, pretty and so inviting for sweet tooth lovers, and gets quite addictive as you always find yourself coming back for more ice-cream and pastries.
Watch Amazing Sunsets– The beauty about Watamu is the fact that it offers you both astonishing sunrises and sunsets. The Mida Creek, a lovely inlet fringed with mangroves is home to an extraordinary numbers of fish and bird species.
A walk along the board walk is quite calming as you get to spot various birds along the way; although nothing prepares you for the idyllic place that awaits you at the end of the creek. Crab Shack Dabasso comfortably sits on the edge of the creek with a breathtaking view of the creek and a delectable array of seafood; the Crab Samosas being a favorite with many. A perfect haven for photographers, as you get to capture the amazing golden rays of a sunset as it glistens on the water, creating such a beautiful backdrop silhouette of fishermen on boats over the horizon.
Be it the sepia glow sunsets or the amazing sunrises and white sandy beaches in Watamu, it is the perfect place to appreciate the beauty nature has to offer us. Stroll the streets of Watamu and get to experience the arty side of Watamu, delight in some Italian cuisine or stay in beautiful villas, which are quite affordable for this little piece of paradise known as Watamu.