Malindi - North Coast of Kenya
Informal, relaxed and very friendly The Driftwood Beach Club was opened in 1963 and is something of a coastal institution, especially with the resident ex-pat community. A favourite place for eating and drinking (especially the Sunday curry), the resort stands on Silversands Beach, 3km south of Malindi Town. A popular haven for fishermen, it offers excellent deep-sea fishing. There is a bar and restaurant overlooking the beach, a swimming pool, squash court and diving centre.
This part of the coast is famous for its deep sea fishing. Sailfish, which are the most acrobatic of the Kenyan billfish family, can be caught throughout the season but the best period seems to be November to February. Three of the Marlin family can be found off our coast, Black, Blue and Striped. The best time for the Blue and Striped is from January to March although they can be found in August and September as well. Black Marlin can be found throughout the season though not in large numbers. Other fish such as yellow fin tuna, dorado, wahoo, kingfish, giant trevally and barracuda are fun to catch too.
The Swahili coast, a glorious ribbon of silver and sapphire, crashing surf and bright coral, is steeped in a turbulent history pre-dating Da Gama. The Swahili culture, a fabulous fusion of Arab, African, and Portuguese has created a pace of life, a style of cuisine and a mosaic of architecture, heritage, myth and magic that is found nowhere else in the world.
Location and seasons The resort is on Silversands Beach, 3 km from Malindi and close to Malindi Airport. Kenya's north coast, one of her most popular beach holiday destinations, offers clear blue sea, marine parks, excellent water sports, coral reefs, monsoon winds, numerous hotels and beach resorts, family vacations, sun n sand, cultural and beach travel and more. Close to Mombasa, it is also within easy reach of Malindi, Lamu, Diani and many other popular Kenya safari resort hotels.
Beach vacation facts The Kenyan coast is roughly divided into ‘North and ‘South' of the island city of Mombasa.To reach the south coast, it is necessary to cross from the island of Mombasa via the Likoni Ferry (10 minutes) to the start of the south coast beaches. The link to the north coast is via the Nyali Bridge, which leads from the island (via the suburb of Nyali) to the north coast. The north coast features features: Nyali Beach, Kenyatta and Bamburi Beaches, Shanzu beach, Kilifi, Watamu and Malindi
Beach facts: Hottest time is between November and March, rainy season is May and June (hotel closed 01 May to 15 June); sea weed on beach and strong winds May /August. September to November is cool and pleasant.
The Background Kenya's stunning coastline (485 km from Nairobi) runs 700 km between the Tanzanian and Somali borders and is renowned for its silken white sandy beaches, coconut palms, sheltered lagoons, pellucid blue waters, remote islands, uncharted mangrove swamps and mysterious Arab and Swahili ruins, many of which date back to the 8th Century AD. An idyllic climate cooled by the monsoon, the Swahili coast offers a daily average of 8 hours of sunshine, and the hot steamy climate is tempered by the monsoon winds: the south-easterly Kusi, which blows from April to October; and the north-easterly Kaskazi which blows from November to March.
Accommodation There are three types of accommodation. The standard chalets which are individually located in the very spacious grounds giving each chalet its own space. They are air-conditioned, en-suite and vary in size. The two superior cottages are in a walled garden and share a swimming pool allowing for extra privacy. They each comprise two spacious bedrooms, en suite and air-conditioned, a sitting room and the verandah. Across a small access road are the three Driftwood Villas which are surrounded by a wall garden and share a swimming pool. The rooms are, air conditioned, en-suite and each villa sleeps four.
Dining and bars The resort offers a variety of dining experiences - from sumptuous buffet selections and themed nights in the main restaurant to an excellent bar snacks on the open terrace of the bar. BBQs, beach sundowners, cultural dance performances and first-class seafood a feature.
Child-friendly The hotel welcomes children.
What to see and do Wonderful Watamu The popular coastal resort of Watamu (20 minutes/24 km from Malindi) centers around the small town of Watamu, home to an exotic mix of local residents, visiting Maasai warriors, Italians, Germans and the remains of the old British settlers. The 8 km white sandy beach, fringed by palm trees, and lapped by the sapphire-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, has been voted one of the top ten beaches in the world.
Here the coast is broken into three separate coves, each divided by a rocky headland. Between each headland is a broad white sandy beach - ideal for swimming, snorkeling and water-sports. To the north, lies Mida Creek, an unspoilt area of mangrove forests, ideal for bird watching.
Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks and Reserves Africa's first marine park and one of the world's last great natural marine reserves, Malindi Marine and its sister water world, Watamu Marine offer protection to one of the world's most famous coral reefs. Glowing with coral gardens and teeming with vividly fantastic fish, the parks provide a haven for divers and a window on to the wonders of the deep for snorkelers, swimmers and rock pool dabblers alike.
A unique complex of marine and tidal habitats, the Malindi and Watamu marine parks cover an area 30 km long and 5 km wide, and stretch from just south of Malindi town southwards to beyond the entrance to Mida Creek. The widely varied habitats include intertidal rock, sand and mud; fringing reefs and coral gardens; beds of sea-grass; coral cliffs, platforms and islets; sandy beaches and mangrove forests.
Splendid Snorkeling and Glass-bottom Boating The twin marine parks offer one of Kenya's finest snorkeling venues. Just five minutes boat ride from the shore, the extensive coral gardens can be accessed in glass-bottomed boats operated by members of the local community. Visitor tip: the best time to snorkel is two hours either side of low tide, when the greatest amount of marine life is revealed.
World Renowned Dive Venues Enjoying perennial warm shallow waters, exceptional clarity, pristine coral and an extraordinary breadth of marine life, the outer edges of North Reef provide five of the most spectacular diving venues in the world.
Turtles, Dolphins and more... The area is famous for its population of turtles (green, hawksbill, loggerhead, Ridley and leatherback), which can often be found feeding in the lush Thalasia beds of the reef. There is also a turtle-breeding beach immediately adjacent to the KWS Marine HQ where visitors can see young turtles tentatively emerging into the evening light and streaming down to the ocean. Dolphins are also regular visitors to the area (spinner, humpback and bottle-nosed).
The Malindi Marine Information Centre , the first of its kind in East Africa, is open 6am to 7pm daily.
Watamu Turtle Watch Programme ; is a community based marine conservation organization, which works for the protection of endangered sea turtles and their marine environment. Allied to the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee and the Fisheries Department, the programme offers education on turtle-friendly fishing methods, plus offering rewards for the preservation of eggs and nests.
Gedi ruins, the ‘precious' place Founded in the late 13th or early 14th century, the ruined Swahili town of Gedi is located about 4km north of Watamu. Meaning ‘precious' in the language of the local Galla people, it is thought to have flourished in the mid-15th century. Obviously a prosperous town at that time, it hosted sultan's palaces, sunken gardens, a fabulous selection of grand merchant's houses, a large Friday mosque and some exquisite examples of Islamic pillar tombs. Then, in the 17th century, it was abandoned, some think quite suddenly. Theories abound as to why this happened, one being that the residents fled in the face of an imminent invasion by the Galla - who were known to be cannibals.
Today, the picturesque ruins are spread over several acres, dotted with ancient baobab trees and surrounded in dense coastal forest in which monkeys swing. Believed to be haunted by a strange ‘beast' which stalks visitors as dusk falls, excavations in the ruins during the 1940-50s revealed an extensive array of domestic, religious and commercial structures including a palace with sunken courts, fortified walls and a deep well. Finds included glass and shell beads, gold and silver jewellery, coins, porcelain and local pottery. Within the inner and outer wall is a nature tail with some 30 indigenous trees. Next door to the Gedi Museum (which houses the many finds) is Kepepeo Butterfly, a community project linked to the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve, which hosts a Butterfly Pavillion, 260 species of butterfly, an education centre on the life of butterflies and illustrations of how the local community has been trained to breed pupae, which they sell to butterfly projects all over the world.
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