A place of ‘no shoes and no news’, Manda Bay is a true escape from everything. It’s in the Lamu Archipelago off the Kenyan coast, a remote space where beauty and simplicity prevail. Here, the beaches are quiet and untouched and the only folks you’ll see are fishermen, going about their day.
Wake up quietly to the sound of the ocean lapping close by, in fact it’s right at your doorstep at high tide. You can step out of your room and right into the Indian Ocean, which is a fine way to start any day. Spend the whole day there, if you choose, punctuated with sea breeze naps on your private shaded swing bed – and a scrumptious fresh seafood lunch somewhere in between. Oh the seafood … it is simply beyond compare.
In front of your cool, thatched suite is white sand and idyllic turquoise ocean; behind is natural bush and varied and enchanting wildlife – along with a resident herd of buffalo. So take a game drive to spot little dik-dik, bushbuck, mongooses and monkeys by day; there are many other species that come out at night too. Marvel at the ancient Manda ruins amongst giant baobabs and dating back a thousand years; visit the medieval town of Lamu, which is a World Heritage Site that is still inhabited. Woodworkers and silversmiths are busy at their crafts, and little artisan shops down narrow streets beckon you to browse.
Back at the lodge, opt to experience some of the more leisurely activities on offer – from paddle boarding down the quiet mangrove creeks watching turtles bob up for air, to kayaking, windsurfing and water-skiing, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing aboard Cheza. A yellowfin tuna or a sailfish could be calling your name, and so could some fresh sashimi.
After a day in the sun, retreat and refresh at Manda Bay or take a stroll behind the lodge and watch the sun sink into the dunes, sundowner in hand. After dining al fresco under the stars, or at an intimate lantern-lit table on the beach, be lulled to sleep by the sound of the sea. For tomorrow more adventure or complete relaxation awaits. ‘Live, play, breathe’ is the motto of Manda Bay, and that’s exactly the way days there are spent.
What we love!
- The tasteful use of natural materials, from grass mats to fish trap-like light shades, along with simple wood furnishings give the lodge an airy, open feeling.
- Seafood curries at Manda Bay are just sublime.
- Woven basket trim around the windows adds a traditional finish.
- Watching the sun go down, sipping a traditional Kenyan Cocktail – the ‘Dawa’, meaning medicine – reminds you just how good it is to be in Africa.
- The commitment and practise of conserving wildlife on Manda island, and the catch-and-release programme when fishing, are inspiring.
- A coral restoration programme is also about to commence.
Need to know…
- Suites are beautifully handcrafted and windows are glassless to allow cooling sea breezes by day. There are ceiling fans and beds have walk-in mosquito nets for comfort.
- Various commercial airlines fly from Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi to Lamu. Manda Bay has a private airstrip for charter flights, and the lodge is just five minutes away.
Reviewed by Keri Harvey