A Weekend at Hemingways: Why to Stay at this Watamu Beach Resort

Becca Blond

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Watamu on Kenya's Swahili Coast is one of East Africa's most spectacular beaches.Becca Blond

I dip the fresh roti into the near empty bowl of Thai-style green curry, mopping up whats left of the flavor packed sauce. It is perfect mix of spice and coconut milk sweetness. I chew slowly, savoring this last bite of deliciousness while watching the last bits of color dance across the sky.

I am dining al fresco at the edge of the Indian Ocean at Hemingways Watamu Resort. On Kenya’s Swahili Coast in Watamu, this 5-star resort is the perfect place for a weekend getaway (or weeklong holiday). Located right on the beachfront, it is a beautiful property that has been the leader in Kenyan coastal luxury for nearly 30 years now.

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A Thai-style green curry with roti at Hemingways WatamuBecca Blond

Hemingways Watamu is more than just a great spot to eat. Although it is most definitely that as well! The main restaurant here serves three meals a day that range from Swahili to international flavors with lots of fresh seafood.

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Beautifully manicured grounds at Hemingways WatamuBecca Blond

The grounds are equally appealing. A mix of lush green grass, flowering plants and coconut palms interspersed with deep free form swimming pools all looking out onto the main attraction: a sea of sparkling turquoise, emerald and aquamarine. Rooms and apartment style residences are set in low-slung white colonial style buildings that blend beautifully into the natural environment and the entire place has a classy, elegant vibe. There is also spa onsite with a full range of African inspired treatments.

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The India Ocean in front of Hemingways WatamuBecca Blond

About a 20-minute drive from the airport in Malindi, where you can catch multiple flights per day to and from Nairobi, Watamu was a sleepy fishing village that is attracting more visitors with each passing year. Besides tourists, who come for beach holidays, it has a small, but notable ex-pat scene. And it is also growing popular with remote workers drawn to its laidback vibe and insanely beautiful scenery. At the same latitude as places like the Maldives, lovers of bright shades of blue water juxtaposed against sugar white sand beaches will find their paradise.

What to Do: Water Sports

The area is also home to some of the best snorkeling and diving on Africa’s east coast thanks to a plethora of thriving coral formations in different bays just offshore that are sheltered from big waves by a reef and protected as part of the Watamu Marine National Park. The resort has a dive center on site and if you aren’t certified classes can be arranged. Snorkeling trips are also popular and you can see everything from whale sharks to reef sharks to manta rays and three sea turtle species depending on the season.

Diving takes place year-round depending on weather. During the winter rainy season (usually April through June) it can be limited, however. Dives range from a shallow 18 feet to more than 90 feet. The marine park is home to more than 500 species of fish and some 200 species of coral.

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All sorts of water sports are offered in Watamu.Becca Blond

Watamu is a famous kite-surfing destination thanks to its steady tradewinds, especially in winter. You can sign up for a course at Tribe Watersports, which is one of Kenya’s best kite surf schools and walking distance from Hemingways. This is a great place to learn the basics of the sport thanks to a sand-cushioned sea bed and bathwater warm water. Experts can head out to the reef to get their adrenaline buzz on swells, kickers and sliders.

Hemingways Watamu is also renowned for its deep sea fishing and many televised competitions are held off its shoreline. The area is one of the few places in the world where three types of marlin as well as sailfish, broadbill swordfish and spearfish all exist. The fishing excursions can be booked as half or full day experiences and usually depart just after sun rise.

Rooms and Residences

Whether you book a room or residence, all come with ocean views. I stayed in a two bedroom ocean view apartment, but there are also one bedroom and a four bedroom penthouse version of these sprawling residence style condos.

If you don’t need as much space then the rooms are still extra spacious and feature the same style of modern luxe decor. They also feature lots of light and large, furnished balconies facing the marine park. If you are traveling with kids, there are rooms with double bed configurations.

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One of the bedrooms in the two bedroom apartment at Hemingways.Becca Blond

Residences are huge and ultra comfortable. The master has an en-suite bathroom and floor to ceiling window doors opening onto the patio. The second bedroom has twin beds and an adjoining bathroom and features the same giant windows with ocean views. All beds are draped in mosquito nets.

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The living room inside one of the residences at Hemingways.Becca Blond

The living and dining rooms look like they should be featured in an interior design magazine. The furniture is luxe mod and pops of color in the form of throw pillows add coziness to the otherwise neutral hues. I also loved the fully equipped kitchens as it is nice to be able to cook some meals for yourself (or simply use the fridge and microwave to re-heat leftovers). Room service is also available and I highly recommend ordering breakfast in and taking it on your balcony. It’s the perfect way to activate a vacation morning.

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Becca Blond is an award-winning travel and lifestyle content creator with a focus on luxury and adventure travel, travel with dogs and mental health. She is the author of more than 30 Lonely Planet travel guides across five continents. Her work has also appeared in US Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The Denver Post, The Points Guy, Thrillist, Afar Magazine, Matador Network, Culture Trip, Trivago Magazine and many others. Before joining the travel writing world she was a breaking news reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette. She lives in Denver, Colorado and travels the world monthly with her service dog Poppy.

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