Three weeks ago, a writer on this space wrote a little bit about the Coast.
To paraphrase him by paragraph, he correctly pointed out that you cannot talk about Kenyan travel without mentioning the Coastal strip.
He said Mombasa is a quick trip (more so these days via SGR train), and that one does not need to plan prior to visiting, with accommodation almost always guaranteed.
Of course, the icing on the cake is that Mombasa always has a buzz.
There is also Malindi, which has direct flights on a few airlines straight to Malindi International Airport.
The travel writer, with a distant nod to Lamu, then went on to speak about Watamu as a sweet spot!
“Watamu is not as expansive, which means you have to do proper planning beforehand... but there are a few good affordable places, especially if you do not have to stay on the beachfront,” he wrote.
He correctly concluded that if one stays at one of the few all-inclusive package hotels in Watamu, and all one wishes for is some downtime, then “you might not even have to get off the lounge chairs overlooking the beach.”
On the morning I left Watamu for Kilifi, it had just drizzled.
Watamu in the early morning seems sleepy and quiescent like it is recovering from the hangover of a previous night’s fete.
It has a worn fabric of placidity that is so tender and so luring that it makes you want to protect it from the alternative, from the chaos, wishing it never awakens to hard modernity.
The sort where you find yourself whispering when talking to someone, or unconsciously frowning at the occasional tuk-tuks or bikes that go up and down the road with such a careless roar that threatens to tear off the fabric of its surreality.
The tarmac looks clean and unusually serene with the small pools of water.
Almost all its main-street shops are still closed and the leaves of the jasmine trees (surprisingly common in the area) that endlessly line the tarmac drip with light drops of water that fall on the ground, forming small wet patches around all feet.
Everything is asleep, and anything that is miraculously up looks sleepy. Even the tuk-tuk driver who stops to pick me at the Jacaranda Road junction (to take me to the Ola petrol station for the shuttle on the B8 to Kilifi) looks like he will soon doze off on the wheel.
For the traveller using the SGR, for Sh800, one can get a shuttle straight outside of the terminus, and in one and a half hours, they will have comfortably covered the 75 kilometres to Kilifi – crossing the Kilifi Bridge that spans the scenic Kilifi Creek – and landing at the Lexo energy station, and if you cross the road, there is the large Naivas Supermarket (that is a Kilifi landmark) for all of one’s shopping needs.
And of all the places on the Coastal strip for hotel holiday seekers, Kilifi is easily the quietest of the lot.
On Bofa Road, there is the Baobab Sea Lodge, the Black Marine Sea Resort and Kilifi Bay Beach Resort. Then there is the Silver Palm Spa-and-Resort, right at the end of the road.
It has the pink-tinged air of entering a Moorish palace, with lush green gardens adorned with palm trees.
Unlike many other places on the Coast, here the view of the ocean is unbroken – no boats or little islands – so that one feels, like Columbus or Ibn Battuta, that you could sail out straight to India from here. If you prefer a cosy, smaller place, that almost feels like a home, there are the Katoa holiday homes.
They are next to a rocky patch of ocean, with wide, clean rooms, a small patio for meal eating, an actual living room (with a small bar) and one chef, and a friendly lady called Frida ready to attend to all your needs.
In short, any phantoms of stress and care one carries from the city cannot see the light of day in Kilifi.
But if you are the sporty type, there is also Salty’s Kite Surfing Village and Beach Bar, where one can have a drink with friends, or ride the waves, until the tides come rolling home.