tales of a wanderer
the waters that leave
if you have spoken to me, you would know that i am in love with the kenyan coastline and islands. so last december when my friend said we would be spending the festive period with her family in malindi, i was more than happy to experience somewhere new.
arriving in malindi
malindi is in the kilifi county about a two hour drive north east of mombasa. one thing i have come to expect as you move south of nairobi is heat and humidity. we arrived in the town of malindi late in the evening and couldn’t see much. despite this as we began to strip ourselves of as many layers as we could i became excited - my body knew that i was back in one of my favourite places, the kenyan coast!
the leaving waters
i woke up very early the following morning ready to explore my new home for what was meant to be four days (and turned into two weeks). if you have ever been to the kenyan coast you will know the phenomenon of the "waters leaving". unlike anything I have ever seen in south africa, low tide means the waters stretch all the way back. unveiling the reef below and making you forget that there had ever been water there to begin with. the waters tend to leave in the morning by 8am and return in the afternoon around 4:30pm. meaning early morning dips are really early but one of my favourite things to do. the water is refreshing and many locals have this ritual. after a dip i would find a shady area on the sand to do some yoga and meditations. for me morning don’t get much better than that.
getting around malindi
malindi is a fairly small town. it is extremely charming with beautiful swahili architecture with a lot of greenery. one of my favourite things were my tuk tuk rides around town. the fresh sea breeze offers some relief from the sweltering heat while you're watching the beautiful buildings and huge baobab trees pass you by. for our trips around town we paid 100 kes for an average trip. for longer journeys like to the neighbouring town of Watamu we paid around 1000 kes foe a return trip. i was lucky enough to become friends with someone who owned a motorbike - our evening rides on his bike were also a highlight for me. i would also highly recommend exploring the town this way. i didn’t take one cab while i was there. everything is very close and i also found that being in a car was extremely uncomfortable given the heat.
two things that you will hear a lot of in any of the kenyan coastal towns is “pole pole” and “hakuna matata”. pole pole meaning slowly, slowly. hakuna matata meaning there are no problems. two statements that couldn’t better describe the laid back and slow pace of the coast. swahili culture is ever present from the warmth of the people, the intricate swahili architecture to many local eateries and street food. i love the variety of fresh fish that you can choose from, cooked in the tradition swahili style. moreover, i love all swahili food.
the one thing I really love is the ability to completely switch off and be present. i often joke that i am a lady of leisure and days of nothingness suit her just fine. i would recommend stocking up on some ice cold waters and beers because they will come in handy to pass the sunny days.
malindi by night
to my surprise malindi had a number of options to choose from if you are looking for a night out.
during peak season your evening we would start at one of the beach bars. there are many to choose from but my favourite was rosada beach restaurant. all the beach bars work with a token system. you buy some tokens at a kiosk and then use your tokens to buy drinks at the bar. generally you can get there around 11pm because this won’t be the final destination. most importantly wear the right shoes because you will be on beach sand. sandals are your best bet.
around 1:30am, once the alcohol has done its job, you should be ready to go to the next location. the after parties tend to be at two of the most popular clubs in malindi, vintage and fermentos. vintage is one of the oldest clubs in the town and definitely the one of the most popular. we spent many nights here partying the night away and making friends. fermento is just across the road and they have shisha on offer. much like anywhere else I have partied in kenya the night does not end early. once again being the south african that i am i couldn’t make it passed 5am often leaving my friends to continue with the night.
fun in the sun
all in all malindi lived up to my expectations when it comes to the kenya coast. it is a very easy going town with quite a bit to do on offer. the people are very friendly so you will leave malindi with more friends than you came with.
a very interesting point to note is the italian influence and population in the town. i was very surprised to find out that most locals in the town who work in tourism speak italian for business. there are also a lot of italian restaurants and we definitely had our fair share of delicious pizza.
in my opinion the best thing to do in malindi is to just kickback and relax. forget your obligations, those can wait. malindi is a place that helps you connect and remind yourself that all you ever have is this moment.
places to eat
mayungu beach bar & restaurant
places to party
rosada beach restaurant
osteria beach bar & restaurant