Jambo! – the welcoming cry of Hello is one of the first words that you will learn upon arrival in Kenya, and you may surprise yourself by how quickly you pick up Swahili during your stay – the words Asante, Pole Pole and Sana will also be rolling off your tongue in no time.
The land of many attractions is certainly an applicable phrase, from the beautiful beaches seen on Instagram, to the wildlife migrations in the Masai Mara to Big 5 Safari’s and beautiful scenery set to take your breath away – there is something in Kenya for every traveller.
Our home during our stay was the beautifully appointed Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa, which is situated roughly 14 kilometers north of Mombasa on Bamburi Beach, and literally is everything you could ever have dreamed of for a beach paradise holiday.
The joy of staying at Sarova is the wide variety of options and offerings available on site, from dining and entertainment, to kiddies’ activities at their Ozone Club, water sports and tours, everything is easily accessible.
Sarova boasts three themed restaurants, two bars, and the exclusive Cocos Beach Bar, which overlooks the beach and ocean, as well as five outdoor swimming pools with water slides, spring board, diving boards and four floodlit tennis courts that also double up as a heliport (if you are flying in in your own plane, that is).
We were impressed with the pristine beaches rolling out from the resort, there is minimal litter on the beaches which we found refreshing, and although not wide, the beach is long and an early morning or late afternoon stroll, to avoid the midday heat, are a great way to get your appetite ready for some of the yummy food on offer.
Onsite restaurants offer a selection of culinary options, Minazi café offers a large variety of meals such as pizza, curries, salads and lighter dining options, while The Pavilions, which is the main dining restaurant serves exceptional buffet-style cuisines at breakfast, lunch and dinner with offerings that include indigenous African, Continental, Asian, Arabic and Mediterranean style foods.
Breakfast is extensive and offers all your favourites such as eggs and bacon, as well as delicious local dishes to sample, coconut water and refreshing Chai tea. In the evenings The Pavilions come alive with a local five-piece band to serenade one during dinner.
As your day winds down, you can enjoy a sundowner beverage or two at Cocos Beach Bar on the sea facing benches and watch as locals walk hand in hand to their destinations, camels and their minders come wandering past in the hopes of getting you to take a 10-minute ride, and vendors ply their wares.
Our pool facing room was beautifully decorated in sea blue accents and local décor items and offered a large balcony to enjoy the views of palm trees and rolling green lawns, with the sea in the background.
Tulia (the Swahili word for ‘relax’) Spa is located on Sarova’s premises and is reasonably priced with a wide variety of treatments available to relax and unwind your body, mind and soul. Enjoying a massage in a private banda, with the sound of the waves in the background is enough to allow you to completely forget the stress and strain of life – and a dip in the jacuzzi afterwards is just the ticket to round off your spa experience.
Shopping could not be easier, take a stroll down the beach, or wait for the vendors to come to you – kikoi’s, Masai blankets, jewellery, woven hats and shells are just some of the items for sale on the beach outside the resort.
If you wold like to explore Mombasa town itself, may we suggest booking a vehicle and a tour guide via the hotel, and spend some time with a knowledgeable local guide finding out more about the history of Mombasa and the old town.
We visited the spice and fish market, wandered through the streets and shopped for fabrics, carvings and local items, as well as visiting Fort Jesus which was built in 1593 by King Philip I of Portugal, to guard the Old Port of Mombasa.
The fort offers some great insights in to local history as well as superb views of the bay and surrounding architecture.
Sarova Whitesands Resort and Spa offer a variety of packages and makes a wonderful base from which to explore Kenya. They are also perfect for families with loads to do for the kids, and if you are a water sports enthusiast then you will be right at home here.
The dry season in Kenya falls between June and October, and the wildebeest migrations usually reach the Masai Mara in July and remain until October when they move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. Wildlife viewing is good year-round, but this can differ from park to park – so make sure to check with your destination before booking.
A yellow fever certificate is required and depending on the time of year and the destination you are heading to; malaria medication is also advised. We do also suggest always drinking bottled water and avoiding adding ice to your drinks as an extra precaution.
We flew internationally with Kenya Airways, which is the main carrier and all flights arrive and depart from Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta) airport.
Internal/domestic flight offerings are available on a number of local airlines – JamboJet, Fly540 and Airkenya Express. Do just take note of which airport they depart from, as it is about a 30-minute drive between Jomo Kenyatta International and Wilson Airport, so do allow enough time to commute between the airports if required.
We had an utterly magical stay in this welcoming country and were sad to leave at the end of our visit, but we do know for sure that we will be back, very soon. Kwaheri, Kenya.
Words: Heather Hook. Images: Supplied.