The rumours are true. We’ve moved our base from Nairobi to Johannesburg. Worst part of all this? We can’t go to the Kenyan coast every month. In our 2.5 years in the county Owen and I visited the magical cobbled streets of Lamu, ran around on the empty pure white beaches of Kilifi and crashed into the waves in Diani. We left one of the best spots on the coast to last: Watamu.
A friendly town in the middle of the Kenyan coast, Watamu is just 30 mins drive from Malindi airport. Like all of the Kenyan coast, the sand here is so soft and pretty looking you want to shove it in your mouth (like my friend’s baby did, at lot, during our weekend there). Kite surfers whip across the cerulean ocean while away from the shore line restaurants and cafes buzz with locals enjoying a pizza (big Italian community here) or some local Swahili cuisine.
We went to Watamu for a big goodbye weekend with our friends, but snuck to the coast a night early to stay at The Charming Lonno Lodge, situated at the top end of the main Watamu strip overlooking rugged cliffs and crashing ocean waves. Owners Silvia and Aldo arrived got here a bit earlier than us though. They arrived from Italy in February 2006. “We said we didn’t want to live anywhere in Africa” Silvia told me when we arrived at the Lodge. “But then my husband came on a trip to Kenya – he asked if I wanted to come but I said no.” Quite the entrepreneur and visionary, Aldo’s trip was rather productive. “When he came back he said ‘I’ve got something for you’. I thought, ‘what is it, a bracelet, earrings?’.” It was a piece of land. Silvia was furious and didn’t speak to Aldo for two days. “I think I should have waited longer!” she chucked.
Unexpected and unwanted as the decision to come to Kenya and build a lodge was for Silvia, it ended up being a very happy decision for the couple. Building began the month they arrived and took three months, employing a friend from Italy to get the signature Italian design you see throughout the property – curved brick ceilings, rooms with large, light-filled terraces and loungers overlooking the sea. “We don’t mind if there aren’t any guests, we get the place to ourselves,” Aldo said, only half jokingly.
On site there’s a deliciously deep and cool central pool area and lots of lounging spaces covered in pretty Kanga pillows. The dining room, with its high woven ceilings and candle lit dinners, is very romantic. At low tide guests can walk out to the rocks in the middle of the ocean, take a right and wander all the way in to town, described by Silvia and Aldo as, “a true fisherman village – small, with a nice community and very safe.”
For more details and to book visit the Lonno Lodge website.