Wasini Island – a step back in time


(Posted 22nd July 2016)

It has been a while since Amina Sabel has written about her adopted home, the island of Wasini, where she lives and works with her husband Feisal Abdalla operating island and ocean tours and an accommodation facility.
Read on to find out what in her view makes a visit, and more so a stay on Wasini, such a unique proposition.

1. Because it is an island!

In general, every island has some great advantages for the intrepid traveler. One of them once put it like this: "being out at sea away from the mainland seems to magnify everything – the drama of the weather, the wildlife and even the colors," or “the opportunity for absolute privacy. Nobody can get to you. There are no cars, just the gentle sound of water rippling all around." Well, it is not a coincidence that in some languages the idiom "to be ready for the island" is commonly used!

Wasini Island Impression

2. Because it is not connected to the power grid, has no fresh groundwater, and there are no cars

What might seem like a disadvantage at first sight actually turns into an advantage for the conscious traveler. The lack of conventional luxury keeps partying crowds and annoying mass tourism away. This leads to a very healthy ratio inhabitants/travelers which is keeping Wasini Island astonishingly authentic, welcoming, and peaceful.

Wasini child helping her grandma with household chores

3. Because it is budget-friendly

Where else can you find accommodations right at the seafront starting from KShs 900? A healthy vegan meal for less than KShs 600? A delicious seafood dish incl. freshest mangrove crabs for KShs 1000? A half-day boat cruise to a marine park for around KShs 2000?

4. Because it is surrounded by reefs

Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. Nowhere else such a variety of beautiful colorful fish species can be spotted. This ranges from single coral formations in front of your cottage, to a medium-sized reef in the protected Wasini channel, up to the immense reef in Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park located off the southern shores of the island.

Coral Reef Fish off Wasini Island

5. Because it is a dolphin and turtle territory

There are several resident schools of dolphins and chances to meet them in the vicinity of the island are extremely favorable. The green turtle is also frequently spotted by snorkelers in Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park. Although turtles do not hatch in the Marine Park, it is one of their favorite feeding grounds in the area. The experience of swimming with these graceful sea reptiles cannot be beaten by much.

Green Turtle Spotted on a Dolphin & Snorkeling Tour with Wasini’s Blue Whale Boat Operators

6. Because it has a ‘Coral Garden’

The ‘Coral Garden’ is a unique community conservation project supported by the European Union and the Kenyan Government. Mesmerizing fossilized coral structures, up to about 3 meter height, are dispersed in a creek, where also sea purslane and mangroves grow. A boardwalk allows an easy access even when the area is flooded at high tide. This is one of the most sought after photo shooting locations while the setting sun is bathing the rock formations in orange light.

Wasini’s Coral Garden at High Tide

7. Because the local chefs prepare the most amazing Swahili dishes

Wasini’s chefs prepare such tasty Swahili dishes that their services are even requested for events outside the island. Their delicious seafood dishes, accompanied by Wasini’s famous sea pruslane, are a highlight of many travelers’ stay.

8. Because of its untamed nature

Exploring the island on foot is a special experience. The coastal forest and bush vegetation is home to a wide range of birds, chameleons, turtoises, monitor lizards, blue monkeys – and the lucky ones may even spot one of the elusive duikers, a small horned antelope. Walks in the intertidal zone along its northern cliff shore offer amazing sights of dense, impenetrable jungle and baobab forests.

A Blue Monkey in Wasini’s Coastal Forest

9. Because you can get in direct contact with the local population and traditions

Wasini is inhabited by the Wavumba, a very good-hearted and welcoming tribe. Overnight guest numbers are low and every traveler is treated like a guest! People have time for a chat and are more than happy to share local knowledge and anectodes. Would you like to see how fishermen catch the mud-dwelling mangrove crabs? Learn how to rig a local dhow or catch fish like a local? You are more than welcome to explore all this and more.

Local Fishermen on their Way to the Fishing Grounds off Wasini Island

10. Because it is totally safe

With its modest size of approx. 6 x 1.5 km and about 3000 inhabitants in two main villages and one hamlet, the island population is tightly knit. People are either related or, at least, know each other well, i.e. there is no space at all for bad elements to hide. On Wasini, you can peacefully walk anywhere, at any time you like.

And coming to 11, my own addition, it is for the perforce absence of laptops, notebooks, tablets, smart phones and related gadgets, which gives eyes and fingers a much needed rest, like it or not and encouraged human relations, close up and personal, by talking to each other and not by WhatsApping, texting, FB’ing or other electronic means. And for some people I know, that is as much a challenge as jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge with an elastic rope tied to their feet …

If you want to read more about Wasini Island, or book your stay right away, please visit the island’s Tour & Travel Guide at www.wasini.net

(Written by Amina Sabel, co-founder and co-owner of the Wasini Tour & Travel Guide and the Blue Monkey Beach Cottages on Wasini Island)