I’d like to welcome Nadine as a contributor to my series, A Postcard From…Awesome Places Around The World! If you’d like to share your area of the world, please contact me. Today’s postcard is from Nadine, of The Expat Mummy, coming to you from … Galu, Kenya!
Every year 1.5 million tourists come to Kenya. And they all follow the same tired route; Nairobi for a few days and then a safari. Kenya is world famous for its animals but there is so much more here too.
The beaches of Kenyas 1500 km coastline are mesmerising in their tropical beauty, from the ancient town of Lamu to the glamorous resorts at Diani. But the beach at Galu on the south Kenya coast are where the locals go to holiday. Always spectacular, always warm, always changing.
I grew up on the beaches of Spain, Portugal and Greece. I’ve frolicked on beaches from Australia’s Whitsundays to Indonesia’s Gili Islands and the pink sands of Hawaii. I lived for years on the white sand beaches of Cape Town’s infamous Noordhoek beach. And nothing, NOTHING, prepares you for south Kenyan coast.
The beach at Galu is blindingly bright. Sunglasses a must, as the porcelain sand glares up at you in the sun. The sand is so soft its like fine cement. Grains so tiny a walk on the beach is to step into quicksand, a porridge puddled your feet.
The Indian ocean is every shade of turquoise and blue. At times the blue fades to indigo and stretches to the horizon. At low tide the water becomes a millpond and small islets emerge. Some are formed of coral and are home to a myriad of crab, fish and starfish. Some are sandbanks where tourist sunbath and kite surf.
In the early morning the sun rises and the sky is coloured orange and pink. Fishermen launch their sailings boats and skim the reef pulling up nets of lobster and snapper. Others walk the shallows with spears hunting for octopus or pull on diving gear to swim at the drop off on the other side of the reef. Dhows, their sails flapping pinkly in the morning sun, take people on boat rides along the shoreline.
As the sun launches itself into the sky, the fishermen pack up their nets and the tourists come out. Like the crabs that scuttle out of holes to greet the sun, local entrepreneurs arrive at the beach. They become familiar faces. The man offering camel rides up and down the silken sand. The beach boys selling carved key rings or masks. The red Maasai with their beaded jewellery.
The resorts come to life too. They send people into the ocean in droves. A boatload of divers seeking the elusive whale shark. A bevy of kite surfers praying for strong winds as they dance over the sparkling water. Glass bottom boats give the less adventurous a chance to see what lies beneath the waves. The sun grows more intense, the sand brighter, the air hotter. People nap in the shade or cool down in the sea. The beach shimmers with heat.
As noon becomes night the bars and restaurants crank up the music and cool glasses of water turn to cocktails. Red-faced children hunker down in front of giant pizzas whilst the mum and dads watch their children from a second bottle of chilled white wine. Acrobats join the tourist hungry touts. Gambolling across the sand in front of five start resorts hoping for tips to reward their bravery.
Night falls. The beach boys and Maasai return home and the children are packed off to bed. The moon rises and the stars erupt in a mesmerizing display of beauty. Lovers take moonlit strolls across the peaceful sands in search of romance and shells. In the early hours of the morning turtles arrive to lay their eggs. The transparent crabs creep from their hideouts in the millions and dance amongst the waves. Coconuts bob in the water before being washed up on the beach with shells of all shapes and sizes, ready for the early morning beachcombers to find.
All is peaceful and calm.
Reaching the Kenyan coast from Nairobi:
Air: The fastest and easiest way is to fly. Flights depart from JKIA and Wilson hourly throughout the day and take approximately an hour. You can fly into Mombasa but it’s easier to book a flight to Ukunda, which is situated right in Diani. Book in advance and you can be flying for as little as 4200.
Train: The SGR runs from Nairobi to Mombasa twice a day. The 8 am departure is a 6-hour journey past Kilimanjaro and through Tsavo. You’ll need to grab a taxi at the other end, as Diani is 90 minutes drives from the station. First class tickets are 3000 and second class is 1500 for adults.
Drive: its approximately a 9 hour drive on the very unfriendly Mombasa road to the beach, but it does take you past some amazing scenery. You can also break up the journey with a stop en route consider Voi or Mtito Andei for an overnight safari in Tsavo.
Where to stay in Diani
Where to stay in Galu:
Nadine Murphy: I’m a British mum of 3 living in Kenya,. My blog, The Expat Mummy, explores destinations throughout Kenya and offers an honest and heartfelt look at the challenges of raising children in wild and wonderful Africa.