NONSTOP FLIGHTS FROM ENTEBBE TO THE KENYA COAST CUT OUT ALL THE HASSLES
(Posted 06th December 2019)
A recent visit to the Kenya coast, flying on Uganda Airlines’ inaugural service from Entebbe to Mombasa, allowed to sample some of the coast’s best attractions, as described in two articles already posted, links shown below:
While the visits to PrideInn Paradise in Shanzu – north of Mombasa – and to the Baobab resorts in Diani – south of Mombasa – ticked all the right boxes when it came to setting, facilities, service levels and food is the coast hospitality scene of course offering a much wider range of options which travelers from Uganda can explore as they fly to Mombasa on the airline’s new CRJ900 aircraft.
As mentioned before does the new connection cut out the very hasslesome transit in Nairobi, where one has to go through immigration and customs first before then making one’s way to the domestic departures terminal for the onward flight to Mombasa, having to check in the bags of course once again.
Uganda Airlines’ flights relieve travelers of this pain and in contrast to their Nairobi colleagues are immigration and customs officials in Mombasa very much friendlier, happy to see more visitors come to the coast which depends on tourism.
Both north and south coast have options for travelers savvy enough to book their vacation online, first of course the ticket via www.ugandairlines.com and then by visiting the respective resort websites where online bookings can be done and payment made.
Google will give yet wider answers to available resorts, as does TripAdvisor and similar websites but for the purpose of this article will I restrict myself to just a few resorts both north and south of Mombasa. All of them have been sampled before and my impressions of those resorts are also available on my TripAdvisor reviews.
As during my visit three weeks ago, let’s start with the beaches north of the city and the island of Mombasa.
My personal long time favourite is the Serena Beach Resort & Spa, a hotel which I saw open in the mid 70’s and which I visited over the decades quite regularly.
We are on one page when it comes to conservation and eco friendliness where I can highlight their butterfly and turtle projects and their constant efforts to go green and stay green in all key areas of the hotel operation.
It is worth mentioning that the Serena Beach has attained EcoTourism Kenya’s coveted Gold rating, which certifies the highest standards of green operations on the market today.
Their architecture is second to none, the main entrance and reception resembling a Swahili building, right up to the rooms in the Swahili Village they put up, showcasing wells, woodcarvers and vendors as it was the case in the old days and can still be seen in many of the Swahili settlements across the Kenya coast.
Their food of course is another reason for my visits, second to none again, in both their main Fountain Restaurant as well as in the Jahazi Grill which is located right at the beach.
The meals served in the main restaurant are varied, leave no taste bud unsatisfied and the quality of Serena’s food, from breakfast to dinner, has earned the resort rave reviews over many years.
The Jahazi Grill in fact must be mentioned among the very top of seafood restaurants along the north coast and their Seafood Chowder and their Piri Piri Prawns – but also the Garlic Prawns – are meals I always remember and always look forward to sampling again during future visits.
The sprawling gardens offer plenty of space for one’s sunbeds and the long beach line invites for walks from one end of Shanzu to the other, at least during low tide.
The resort’s Maisha Spa is an acknowledged oasis of regeneration while their gym – equipped with state of the art machines and with trainers in attendance – helps to work off some of the excess calories taken ‘on board’ during the meal times.
Notably will the Serena Beach close for two months during the low season 2020 to carry out refurbishments and generally give the hotel a facelift but will reopen from mid June 2020 again and will warmly welcome visitors until Easter 2020 and from mid June onwards.
Another one of my favourites is the Sarova Whitesands Hotel, which no doubt meets the expectations of guests through the many facilities on offer. Like the Serena Beach is the Whitesands also a multiple award winning property.
From the seaside Tulia Spa over several pools to the animation programme for children – but also adult guests of course – leaves the Whitesands nothing to be desired and the meals served in the main Pavillion Restaurant, normally buffet style, offer guests excellent choices of hot and cold dishes with a menu change every day.
Located along the Bamburi Beach and close to the famous Haller Park – a must visit place when in Mombasa – are the Whitesands’ guests having another attraction right at their doorstep.
And then there is the Nyali Beach Hotel, the very first place I ever stayed at when I came to Kenya in the mid 1970’s, now owned and managed by Sun Africa Hotels. The Nyali is the closest beach resort to the city of Mombasa and guests there enjoy a full set of facilities among them two pools, a childrens playground, a Spa and a Gym, a night club, restaurants and bars and a long stretch of beach to stroll along. Close to the action spots, i.e. restaurants and clubs located in the Nyali suburb of Mombasa, does this hotel offer something to all categories of guests, be they single, couples but also families, who can do a quick Tuk Tuk trip to the Nyali Water World where the kids will have a ball.
All three resorts and many more can be reached with ease from Moi International Airport in Mombasa and, depending on traffic can transfer times vary between 45 minutes to one hour.
Passengers arriving with Uganda Airlines and heading to the beaches south of Mombasa, will for now enjoy the unique experience of crossing the Likoni Channel, i.e. the entrance to the port of Mombasa but in about a year and a half will a new highway connect the airport with Ukunda and transfer times then should be anywhere between half an hour and 45 minutes to reach some of the best beaches in Africa, notably Diani Beach.
During my visit to the coast, as part of the inaugural flight by Uganda Airlines, did I stay at the Kole Kole Resort which is part of the Baobab Resorts, and a link to the article is shown above for readers keen to read about my superb experience I had there.
But, as is the case along the beaches north of Mombasa, are many other accommodation options available long Diani.
(Maji Beach Resort)
There are two boutique hotels worth mentioning, the Elewana Afrochic and the Maji Beach Resort, worth considering for guests who enjoy a more or less couples only location combined with excellent food, rooms with all amenities and as close to the beach as it can get.
Travelers seeking five star luxury in a more regular resort setting should stay at the Swahili Beach Resort, which features 8 cascading pools making their way from the reception level down to the beach. Great seafood is served, and prepared fresh in front of guests on Teppanyaki tables, at the resort’s Zanzibar a la carte restaurant but three more restaurants invite guests to try anything from the lavish buffets at the main Majlis Restaurant to Indian Swahili fusion cuisine at the Spice Restaurant to the informal setting of the beach side eatery.
(Swahili Beach Resort)
Plenty of added facilities are on offer at the Swahili Beach, as can be expected of a five star resort, such as Spa, gym, an entertainment programme which changes every day and a friendly staff keen to ensure that their guests are pampered from arrival to departure.
A final recommendation for Diani would be the Jacaranda Indian Ocean Beach Resort, which at affordable prices caters for families, couples and solo travelers. Good food and warm hospitality are a hallmark of the resort as is one of the longest beaches any coast resort can offer. The resort’s beach adjoins also the Tiwi River which is an interesting feature not often seen along the coast.
(Indian Ocean Beach Resort)
There are of course plenty of other options available to stay at both north and south of Mombasa, suitable for every budget, from self catering to beach side cottages to more simple three star resorts where the food offerings leave no guest go hungry and where the rooms are still adequately furnished and have air conditioning.
Combined with the US Dollar 319 return air fare of www.Ugandairlines.com are visits to the Kenya coast within financial reach of many more compared to the past when air fares to the Kenya coast were a lot more expensive and added the hassle of changing aircraft at connecting airports.
With a flying time of about 1 hour and 45 minutes is the trip swift from Entebbe to Mombasa and departure and arrival times give especially for weekend trips, i.e. Friday to Sunday, enough time to arrive at daylight at one’s chosen resort and enjoy 48 hours of sun and sand, #MombasaRaha style.