WASINI ISLAND

On all my trips to the Kenyan coast, I have always seen posters advertising Wasini Island and have heard such rave reviews , that I thought, what better way to judge it than to visit it myself? That’s how I found myself sitting on the Wasini Island bus at the ungodly hour of 7.30 am being transported to Shimoni. We arrived Shimoni at around 9 am, and were briefed on the day’s events, over a hot & welcome cup of coffee. All the non-divers, of which I was one, were herded into a majestic dhow and off we set.

The sail was unfurled, but as the day was overcast and the sea quite choppy, it had to be tied down again. Oh well!! It gave our male passengers an opportunity to flex their muscles and feel part of the crew.

On we sailed, being fed fruit juices, water and watermelon (don’t worry the dhow boasts a proper marine toilet), for about an hour during which time the sun, I am happy to report, came out, flooding the sky with a brilliant hue, and we passed the twin islands of Mpunguti wa Juu and Mpunguti wa Chini. Everyone on board was excited, anticipating a beautiful day ahead. We anxiously searched the sea for dolphins, but saw no sign of these elusive creatures.

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Later, we arrived at the designated snorkeling site. Those who were trying the fun dive remained on board, whereas those going for a snorkel hopped into the smaller boat and were rowed across to the sandbar.

The captain of the dhow accompanied us, much to my relief, and was going around making sure everyone was okay. I put on my mask to see if it was ok, and all of a sudden, claustrophobia set in. There was no way I was going into deep water with that! However, according to the captain…that was not on! With the help of a tube around my waist, he guided me and a few others, into much deeper waters. All I can say is that I am truly grateful to him as I would have missed out on a whole other world down there. Plants of every color, tropical fish of brilliant hues- all waving gently in the current. It was magnificent and I could have spent hours looking in on this wonderful world.

Alas, we only spent a little over an hour there, during which time I got to spend a little time sunbathing on the sandbar. The pristine sand, the sound of the waves lapping at the shore, and the call of the birds, not forgetting the heat of the sun, all served to soothe my spirits. Truly a beautiful place to relax. En route to Wasini Island, we spotted 2 dolphins. Just our luck, they belonged to a species which is extremely shy. The pair kept appearing but were too quick to capture on film. Well, I’ll just have to go back.

Lunch was served at Wasini Island. Getting off the dhow into the smaller boat was ok, but then you had to get off the boat and wade through the sea to get to the shore. Lunch – having heard so much about this, I was eagerly awaiting this and was not disappointed. I was ravenous after the day’s activities and began wolfing down the fried coconut strips and fish bites. Big mistake as this was followed by a whole pile of crab. The waiter, very kindly, showed us how to crack the crab and dip it in the ginger sauce. This was heaven for crab lovers, witnessed by the loud sounds of cracking coming from all the tables. This heavenly dish was followed by barbecued fish (a whole fish to yourself) in a coconut sauce with chapatis and rice. Then came some fruit, and finally to round off the meal, some delicious kahawa (spiced coffee) and sesame seed balls.

Who could move after such a meal? So, I took the easiest option after lunch..snoozing on day beds laid out overlooking the ocean. As soon as my head hit the fat, plump cushion, I was off in dreamland, lulled by the fresh breeze coming in from the sea, while others engaged in various activities like walks and a visit to the village.

Reluctantly I dragged myself away from my secluded spot at 5 pm, and made my way to shore, to board the boat. This was a little tricky as the tide was in, but I was soon safely aboard the dhow. A run to Shimoni and then we boarded the bus for the trip back to the hotel. For those interested in the Shimoni caves, a visit was made on our return to Shimoni. This is where the slaves were held during the days of the slave trade, and you can see the iron chains and other paraphernalia related to this. As I get claustrophobic in small, dark places I decided to give it a miss.

As we drove back to our hotel in Diani, I looked around at the different nationalities present on the bus. Everyone had made friends and were busy discussing the wonderful things they saw and did that day. With a contented sigh, I settled back in my seat. I had finally done Wasini!!

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