If you know me, you know that I love the coastal life. A LOT.
Missing the beach, having some leave days left and my birthday, I thought it was time to book a ticket and fly down to Ukunda to meet my friend Jacky who lives in Diani.
(I was actually gonna go try the new SGR train, but unfortunately all tickets had been booked...) I left straight out of work to the airport, and had some amazing views during the flight. You have no idea how excited I got from seeing the ocean from the plane! I had never taken a flight straight to Diani, and I immediately fell in love with the cutest little airstrip Ukunda has.
My favorite taxi driver in Diani, Sifa, picked me up and dropped me at Jacky's house. We cooked some food and went for a cocktail at Forty Thieves. But nothing too crazy, since we had big plans for the next day!
MARINA ENGLISH POINT
Saturday morning we took a matatu to the Likoni Ferry and after crossing over, we took a tuk tuk to our first stop: Hotel English Point Marina. Opened last year, this is a big new modern hotel with a view over the water and the old town (definitely the biggest plus of the whole place!). It was a bit empty and the sound of the wind made it seem even emptier, but we had a great lunch and drinks. And the deck with the view is really nice and great to take some cool picture for the gram ;).
After our lunch we went to the 'marketi' or old market in Mombasa town. First we went to the indoors fruit/veggie and spices market, where lots of sales men have their little stalls and some real exotic stuff to sell. One of my favorite stall was Mr.Ali's (see photo on the right) who sold rambutan, carambola (star fruit) and many other fruits and let us try many of the cool fruits for free! We ended up buying fruits for ourselves and the kids at the friend's house we were staying at to try. I also bought some Kenya green tea, masala spices and pilau spices which I can confirm are just amazing as they smell! And obviously I bought about 15 bags of achari to make my colleagues back in Nairobi happy when I'd be back in the office on Monday :)
A WALK AROUND TOWN
From the marketi we walked down town. Mombasa Old Town has a fascinating vibe. The people and houses are a Swahili mix between local, Arab, Persian, Asian, Portugese and British influences. I personally love the narrow streets and the old colorful houses with beautiful wood carved doors and balconies, the little stalls on the streets and all the different people that you see. I think the pictures will do more justice than words:
JAHAZI COFFEE HOUSE
A really cool spot in old town to go is Jahazi Coffee House (opposite Ajabs Barber Shop). In many cultures coffee houses are social places to meet up, and this place reflects that Swahili vibe in it's interior: cosy seats with pillows on the floor and beautiful wood carved furniture. Definitely a must to go for a coffee, or juice!
Another part that is really cool about Jahazi is the community learning centre, that you can visit by taking the stairs on the right of the coffee house. We went to have a look at met Abdi, who use to come to the community library as a kid. Now he and his family run the place. The Light of Life Library is 17 years old and mostly exist because of book donations. Besides a library, it is also a place where youth can come to do activities. This is very important because the community has been battling with a lot of drug addiction, so the centre also tries to prevent or assist in rehabilitation of local youth for instance by giving them a trainee ship at the coffee house. In the future they are also planning to start activities specifically for women. A really great initiative!
SEA SIDE TEA
After strolling through the streets (and let's not forget... it's hot and humid in Mombasa!), we needed a refreshment. So Jacky took me to the end of the old city, where the creek starts and you see Nyali on the other side of the water. Right there is this lovely old man, with his pots of tea boiling and ready to be served. There are mostly older men, sitting and having their afternoon chat over a cup of 60 bob sugary sweet tea and the cool sea breeze. It was so relaxing to sit down in the shade and enjoy our tea. We just watched over the water, and some local kids swimming and catching small fish. Definitely try find this spot when you're in Old Town!
SAFINA CRAFTS SHOP
On our way back, we passed Safina Crafts. A small store in one of the beautiful old building that sells the most amazing Swahili crafts. I was about to buy my whole interior here when I realized I don't even have a house to put it yet, but I know one day I will come back to do exactly that haha! This is a store to my heart. The beautiful wood carved furniture from local craftsmen, golden Aladdin tea pots from the middle east, old paintings and maps, beautiful hand painted crockery. And the best part is that it is a small shop, so not all of it is very organized and walking around you just discover more hidden gems in dusty corners. I wanted to buy everything, but it wouldn't fit in my suitcase anyway. But Jacky bought me this beautiful Arabic wooden jewelry box for my birthday, and it has a prominent place on the shelve in my bedroom. I love it soooo much. Thank you again love!
To be completely honest, Kenya has wayyy nicer beaches than the ones in Mombasa if you ask me. But hey, it wouldn't be me if we wouldn't spend at least a day at the beach! So I went to Bamburi Beach Resort and Reef Hotel, which are fine places where you can get a sunbed and chill. But just don't have lunch at Bamburi, go to Yul's Restaurant instead if you want some good food!
Last but not least...
A super big thanks to my friend & partner in crime... Jacky!
Thanks, for taking me around, letting me stay at your and your friends homes, showing me once again why the coast is so amazing :)
A d v e n t u r e s o f
a D u t c h g i r l
i n E a s t - A f r i c a.