Written on: 29/06/2006 by kittenwoman (1 review written)
People (staff and guests), locals in the village, safari, diving.
Lack of local food in the hotel.
Just returned from a fabulous two weeks at the Sun and Sand Beach Resort in Kenya. The hotel was clean, had plenty to do (never managed to do all the things on offer), the food was well prepared, and there was a great choice (although a little more Kenyan / African food would have been nice).
I have loads I want to note down, so I will do it in sections:
Visa - Either get it before you go, or like another reviewer said take US dollars. They do not take Scottish Sterling or Kenyan Shilling (KS) at all, and we were the very last people through passport control because we didn't realise this.
Hotel facilities - All very good. Would especially recommend a massage at the beauty parlour. It costs 1200KS (about £8) for a full body massage, and it was so good I fell asleep! If you want extra bottled water go to the little shop and not to the pay bar, as it's cheaper there.
Food - There is plenty of choice for breakfast lunch and dinner in the main buffet area. We didn't try the Chinese, but the snack bar is good for Pizza and Spag Bol. We splashed out on the seafood dinner, which at £20 for 4 courses and a bottle of fizzy each, was reasonable and tasty.
Safari - We did Tsavo East and West, and the early starts were well worth it. The lodges we stayed in were lovely, and the animals take your breath away. Do not go to Kenya and miss a Safari - Just the trip up there is an eye opener.
Day Trips - Haller Park is excellent. You can feed giraffes, hold a snake, see Owen & Mzee (the hippo and turtle twosome), and it's only 600KS to get in. Take a taxi from the hotel. It's about 3000KS, but the driver will wait on you as long as you need (we had him for 5 hours). We also did the Mombasa City tour, which was worth going for a look, and for lunch on the Tamarind Dhow. We also visited the carving cop-operative where the workers get a decent return for there work.
Shopping - One of the cheapest places we found for souvenirs was Haller Park. The gift shop is very good. T-shirts are very cheap at the Nakumat Supermarket, and you can also get cigarettes and alcohol at way below duty free prices. Ask the taxi driver to take you after Haller Park. He really won't mind, and he won't charge you extra.
Diving - We did scuba along at the Whitesands Hotel (free bus will take you). The dive team are all great. The water is like a bath, and the viz is great. Outside the reef are whale-shark and turtles, whilst inside there are scores of tropical fish. Book online before you go for the best deals - www.buccaneerdiving.com.
The Village - The people are what make this place. Most of the staff live in the village and are very friendly. The person running the snack bar could not do enough for us, and the person at the pool bar is a great Swahili teacher.
Do not be afraid to go to the village. Even as two single girls we got no hassle at all. They all just want to chat to you and have a drink in the bar. They know the hotel is their life-line, and they wouldn't be silly enough to jeopardise that. Spend the 100KS to get a decent beer in the local pub and you will really enjoy it. If you are brave ask one of the locals to get you some Palm Wine, but go easy. It's lethal, and it smells awful.
If you have any clothes, toiletries, shoes, mobile phones, anything really that you want to leave behind, you can trade stuff for them. To be honest, those people had so little though that we just gave ours away to the guys we had made friends with. There is an orphanage down from the hotel. Go right along the beach if you are facing the sea, and go and visit the children. They lost their parents in the bombings some years back, but they are such happy wee souls. Take them pens, books, clothes (ages 2 to 11), sweets, grain, anything, and they will sing you songs, recite poems, and generally be really grateful for anyone who gives them anything. It really makes you think. Don't worry, no-one will ask you for anything, but gifts are very welcome.
Overall, we had a fabulous time, and we would definitely go back! The hotel was good, but the people there really made the place.
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