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Late night star-gazing on Watamu beach

As I left Watamu Beach Cottages that evening, I stopped for a minute and turned back to look at this magical place that had been so good and homely to us for three days. Emily and I had got here at midnight and were shown around by Ken, one of the staff members. He took us all the way to the beach —three minutes away— and back.

Ken showed us just about anything we needed to know and see. That night, we decided to go back to the beach to watch the starry sky. That’s how safe it was; two wild girls, scampering off in the middle of the night to lie on the beach and gaze the stars.

It was so beautiful and serene,  so quiet except for the ocean waves that kept crashing on the white sand as if to announce its return. We lay there silently stargazing. We even had a sandwich at some point. You won’t believe it, but yes, we took a dip in the ocean at that hour. It was like in a dream!

I had not gone anywhere before to be welcomed into a room with decorations.  Watamu Beach Cottages was my first. The neatly made bed in Little Gem, our two-room cottage, had been carefully adorned with flower petals with my name cuddled in the middle. I felt special and wanted here, and so I decided I was going to make the best of my stay. And oh, I did!

Ian McCloy and his mother Christine, the property owners, made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed. The resort has a self-catering policy, but  Ian had hired a private chef, Steven, to nourish us. Steven was a good cook and his food was delicious. The only thing we did was get our own ingredients and let Steven take control; he went by whatever we wanted to eat.

Honestly, we didn’t care much about partying. We just wanted to have a quiet and relaxing vacay. And this place was that and more. It was clean and green, with natural shade all over from trees that housed monkeys. We would get up each morning to a filling and tasty breakfast then make our way to the beach.

We just made sure we had enough drinking water and sunscreen on our bodies. Yes, Africans need sunscreen too.  Wandering off for hours, we would return in time for lunch or dinner, which was served outside in the breezy lounge.

Occasionally, we would sneak across the beach to see what other places had going on. Again, that therapeutic feeling of toes mingling with the soft white sand that will never get old.

We chatted with Ian’s mom, who has been living in Kenya for 60 years now. She told us a bit about herself and the running of the property. They had decided to make Watamu Beach Cottages a self-catering facility to “give people a more affordable and private holiday option; to relax, enjoy and go at your own pace without pressure to follow a hotel routine,” as Ian put it. 

So, guests can choose to get a meal prepared by a hired chef or go out to eat. However, exceptions can be made where the family- run business can offer meals by arrangement.

The white cottages are well spaced and each has a viewpoint overlooking the beach. Like the rest, mine had two sunbeds with a shade above. A swimming pool is in a central spot, surrounded by the cottages that go for Sh6,000 per night for three in a one-bedroom cottage. A two-bedroom cottage for two costs Sh12,000 per night and a three-bedroom unit a good Sh15,000. Up to you! 

On our last day, we woke up earlier to explore Gede Ruins. It was almost half- an-hour away. We paid the needed fee to gain entry to the historical site and for tour guide who took us through the site with a narration that he has definitely mastered over the years. At one instance, I thought he was getting annoyed at us for asking too many questions, but it all went well as he took us through the once surreptitious town. We were done in time to head back for breakfast.

Little Gem had a fully furnished kitchen with a shared lounge next to the two rooms. Our room was well ventilated and had a working remote-controlled air conditioner.

As we swam and lay on the beach, I was dreading going back to Nairobi, but as always, it was inevitable. We soon had to pack and leave, but not before having the Last Supper prepared by Steven, who had been so kind to us. He even made sandwiches for us to take with on our trip back. Like every other night, the stars came out that evening to bid us farewell.

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