Watamu is a small 7km long peninsula that is a recognized UN biosphere with the Watamu Marine Park on one side and the Mida creek Mangrove Reserve on the other and the Arabuko – Sokoke Forest Reserve stretching along the edge of the creek. Watamu is located 20km south of Malindi Airport and 100km north of Mombasa Airport on the Kenyan Coast.
Hemingways Watamu is situated right in the middle of Watamu. Since they’re based right by the sea, their sea-food is hand-delivered by local fishermen – they can even cook your own catch of the day as per your specification.
They have two restaurants, the main one on the terrace and the raised Pagoda overlooking the Indian Ocean. Dinners are generally à la carte, however on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday they do a buffet and a live band on Saturday nights. If you don’t like anything from the menu, they always have fresh fish which they can prepare for you.
The hotel has reopened on 01st December 2015 with extensive refurbishments in the backhouse – pipes, plumbering, sewerage etc.
FAM TRIP PROGRAM
DAY 1 – Departure from Wilson Airport
Our trip began at 1530 hours, onboard the Fly SAX plane to Malindi. We were 11 attending the FAM trip all from different agencies.
As we landed into Malindi International Airport, we were welcomed by the chauffeur service of Hemingways Watamu with refreshing towels and welcome drinks. It was a 20 minutes ride to the hotel.
The chauffeur himself was very friendly and gave us information about the town. Malindi town is approx. 5 mins away from the airport and Watamu is 20 minutes away down south.
Welcomed by the General Manager, Melinda Rees, we checked in the hotel, felt a cool breeze from the reception as the beach and ocean is right there. The check-in process was quick- Each person got their own individual rooms and we were all to freshen up and assemble back at the terrace in the evening for a meet and greet.
Day 2: The Hotel Tour and Day Excursions
After a hearty buffet breakfast, we began the tour of the hotel first.
Hotel Facilities include 2 swimming pools; Tennis Court with equipment & coach; Gift & Jewelry Shop; Library; Business Centre; Spa
Activities that are offered at the hotel are Deep Sea Fishing; Dhow trips; Visit to Gede Ruins; Bird Watching at Mida Creek & Arabuko Sokoke Forest; Whale Watching; Dolphin Viewing
Accommodation comprises of 76 rooms where each of them are ocean front:
Every room features En-suite bathrooms – where the superior rooms have a shower only; Air-Conditioning; Free Broadband and Wi-Fi access; Ceiling fans; Telephone; In-room safe; Tea & Coffee making facilities; Hair dryer; Mini Bar in fridge.
Other information about Hemingways:
- Babysitting is provided free of charge, private baby-sitting at night can be arranged for at a charge
- Season for Dolphins: November – March; Turtles are seen all year round; Season for Whales: July – Sept.
- Monday to Friday morning they offer free transport to Malindi town, where guests can visit and look around the town
- The hotel souvenir shop is also collaborated with the beach boys, to not sell the same items and also let them earn their living, beach boys are given their designated areas to work in.
- In the afternoons they offer free transport to the Gede Ruins- a National Museum, where the ruins are heavily overgrown with beautiful indigenous forest trees, baobabs and tamarind.Taking a guided tour through the ruins and the museum will teach you a lot of interesting things about the fascinating culture of the Swahili people and the ancient town they constructed. Additionally, you can walk along the nature trail network which comprises 40 different species of plants and leads to lesser ruins throughout the forest.
- For international guests returning from the Masai Mara, they also provide transfers where they are picked from Wilson Airport around noon, have one meal and rest at Hemingways Karen and dropped at JKIA in the evening for their journey back home abroad. – US$ 95
Around 11:00 am we went off for Snorkeling into the Marine National Park. The Park entrance fee for Citizens of Kenya is KES 150; Residents is KES 350 and Non-Residents is USD 20. We saw and also got to swim with a variety of fish – this was a memorable experience.
Crab Shack Restaurant
After an afternoon siesta, we visited ‘The Crab Shack’’ which is run by the Mida Creek Conservation Community. It is a community run project at the edge of the mangrove forest with amazing views of the creek – perfect for sundowners with friends or a romantic dinner.
Guests can access the restaurant via this boardwalk and enjoy a meal or snacks with drinks as the sun sets over the creek. The food is prepared by local chefs who are trained by hotels within Watamu. Some of the food in the menu includes fresh fish, prawns and their famous crab samosas.
All profits go towards the community for conservation and education of the community. The crabs are sustainably farmed and fish caught by local community as well.
Guests can also have a guided boardwalk tour without having a meal at a small charge.
After a beautiful sunset at the Crab Shack Restaurant and a few drinks and nibbles, we headed back to the hotel and geared up for a live band and some live cooking.
Day 3: Day of relaxation
Last day at the hotel we were free to relax and do as we please. After a relaxing morning by the beach, we were all heading back to Nairobi – this time a flight via Lamu (Manda) Airport.
The FAM trip overall was very informative and at the same time exciting. I thank the General Manager – Melinda Rees, Reservations Manager – Charles, Sales & Marketing Executive – Zipporah Njiri, who had been very accommodating with all of us.
Report by: Binal Bid