What Now? What Next?

It wasn't long ago that we were celebrating how well the elections had gone and we could all enjoy a return to “business as usual”. How wrong we were. Court cases, re-elections, incitement of violence, demands, bitter rhetoric between candidates and threats not to turn up for the match. Surely, if you don’t turn up to play, you can’t win? This could turn out to be a home win in front of a very small crowd. Now that will be interesting. I don’t claim to understand it all but I do know that I’m getting rather tired of it all, as I believe a great number of people are. The majority of Kenyans are hard working people who want the opportunity to get on with their lives, go to work, educate their children, pay their bills, get a promotion and stay healthy.

Unfortunately, with so many young people out of work and with nothing to lose, there will always be the bored and frustrated who can be relied on to turn out when called upon to create a bit of havoc and no doubt a few will.  But it will only be a few, Kenyans don’t want a fight, they want a life. And we need leaders who are committed to giving people a life not take a life away by encouraging violence on the streets.

What I do know is that whilst all this is going on, I will be enjoying the sanctity and sanity of Sand Island Beach. Why don’t you join us? We're offering a special rate for a week's stay 24th to 31st October.

Once again the pantry will be stocked and the cellar full ...

Black and White.jpg


Hot to Get Away from It All. Whatever the All is ...

Potential for great weekend away.

We have just had such a fun weekend; the local golf club holds an annual event this time of year which was inspired by the Ryder Cup and the importance of remember the Westgate victims.  The Umoja Trophy is the most competitive golf fixture of the year at our little club in Diani.

It is a team match play competition run along the lines of the Ryder cup. Two teams of 12 players who play 5 Foursomes matches on Saturday morning, 5 betterball matches on Saturday afternoon and 12 singles matches on Sunday morning. What is critical to the competitiveness of this match is that the teams are Kenya versus Expats. Under normal circumstances,  the club can never get a member to volunteer for Saturday morning draw, let alone get them on the course early Sunday morning but for this event the range is full both days from 7.30 am, with both teams players practicing like mad men and woman possessed!

Kenya led after the foursomes on Saturday morning 3½ to 1 and after the betterball matches at the end of the day Kenya led by just a point 5½ to 4½. The singles were shared 6 points each, to give the Kenyan a win over the expats who were the champions from last year.

This was the fourth Umoja trophy to be held at the club and the Kenyan team's third victory, the author of this blog post would just like to point out that he gave 100% to his team and brought the Kenya side 3 points. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Earlier this year - here at Sand Island - we hosted a team from Vipingo Ridge Golf Club and we played a similar tournament.  A combination of Foursomes and betterball over the weekend with a group dinner on Saturday night, a Sand Island brunch Sunday morning and lunch at the club on Sunday. Why not bring you golfing buddies down and stay with usand we will arrange the golf course.  If you want opposition from the “coasties” we can get a club side to play you, if you want to play amounts yourselves we can get you tee times and a very handsome discount on fees. Come down on Friday morning,  play Friday afternoon, chill at Sand Island Saturday morning, golf Saturday afternoon, a group dinner Saturday night, at the manager's table at Sand Island then breakfast and Golf Sunday morning with lunch either at the club or another venue. Head home Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. We can formulate a package to suit you which will include green fees, accommodation in our cottages, catering and transfers. If you don’t golf then we could arrange a similar weekend around  a kite surfing school or sky diving experience.   It  has the makings of a great weekend away.


The Kites at Diani Beach

Dining Out in Diani. Or Dining In ...

What makes Sand Island so much fun for us, as management, is that we meet such interesting people.  This week we had a family of Fins who live in Nairobi but grew up in Australia. It’s surreal to meet a man called Haikkenen who bears an Aussie accent and speaks Swahili mzuri sana. Such a lovely group of people; they wrote a song about Sand Island which we hope to post soon.

We recently also had a couple from Addis and a family from Khartoum. We had Kenyans, KC’s and expats from Fort Portal in Uganda and if that wasn’t eclectic enough, we had a group of twenty from Dubai who came for a couple of days to celebrate a birthday. They asked if we could do something special for them one evening so we served dinner on the veranda at our house, a simple Pea and Crab soup, a surf and turf barbecue of Piripiri Chicken, Beef Fillet, Lobster tails and Salt and Pepper Calamari, Salsa Verdi, Dill Aioli and Barbeque sauce with Salads and Baked Spuds and we finished it all off with an Apple Tarte Tatin, Apple Sorbet and Cream. Great fun and much appreciated by the group who went to Sails at Almanara in Diani for dinner on the second night which they also enjoyed. 

Others of our guests dined at iconic Ali Barbour's Cave and they very much enjoyed that too. Flamboyant has opened a cocktail bar and does great bar bitings whilst the food at Nomads is good too. So Diani seems to have a few more options for a  slightly more sophisticated night out these days.

But if you want something really special, really on-your-doorstep personal, ask us first. We are a great venue for a party whether it be a reunion, birthday, anniversary, stag or hen party and we love a good wedding too, more about that later ...

Crab and Pea Soup

Crab and Pea Soup

Books and Turtles

Sand Island Beach looks fabulous at the moment;  the heavy rain has passed and we are settling to more traditional rain patterns, a little light rain over night and in the early mornings clears to yield blue skies and sunshine all day. The grass is green, the trees are beginning to flower, the sea is clear again and the temperature perfect.

Last Friday I visited Tiwi School and had the privilege of meeting the teachers and some of the 350 pupils to present them with 2 big boxes of reading books and school books. One box was donated some of the owners, the Rowan family. The other was a box of school text books we had bought with money collected through our “Get Africa Reading” initiative where we rent  books out from our library in the Sand Island Beach office.

Arty at school

Arty at school

A turtle nest hatched on our beach on Saturday night but most thrilling was a half dozen stragglers who popped up and flapped their way down the beach and in to the sea at 2.00pm on Sunday afternoon. A great photo opportunity which our guests snapped up, I however found myself without a camera and only a dodgy phone battery.  


Posted by Arty

The Generational Pull of the South

Until I found myself promising to love, honour, obey (my husband of almost 30 years) and - by necessary extension - spend my beach holidays at Tiwi (where?), I was a dedicated North Beach Babe.  My conversion was not an altogether easy passage.  After all I liked the north.  I liked goggling at Watamu, skiing in Mida Creek, dancing at the Driftwood and eating Italian in ‘I Love Pizza’.   I liked the fact I knew every curve of a wide, white beach you could walk on for miles and miles.  But I’d made a promise and that was that.  My husband was a South coast boy and so for almost three decades I've been turning left at the junction, not right. A reluctant convert, I have morphed as a devotee.

Great grandmother Zoe with her daughter, Neville 1926

Great grandmother Zoe with her daughter, Neville 1926

Sand Island has belonged to my husband’s family since the forties, it began as a clutch of scruffy cottages with outside loos and showers, upon which the family would descend for coast holidays from the farm in Kaptagat.  My children’s great grandmother discovered it from the water,  myth holds that she swam miles in a bid to beat the pain of cancer and spotted the pretty bay, flanked at either end by rocky outcrops and coral pools and caves.  She was seduced by the sand island that rose as the tide fell, 150m from the beach.  There’s acres of untouched bush inland, turtles scramble ashore during laying season and tuck their eggs in sand above the highwater line; they know they're safe there, solitary where a committed staff stand sentinel.  There are no high rise hotels and no beach boys.  Just the sea, the beach, the main house (chock full of memories and eccentricity) , six cottages grew, under my brief tenure, to nine, the stoic remains of an Arab settlement and scrambling bush, palm trees lean into the wind and whisper secrets to one another.

Neville, Sand Island Beach, 1945

Neville, Sand Island Beach, 1945

For me and for my children, though, who, like their dad, all grew up on this beach and have an affection to the south coast that mimics my long gone affection for the north,  it’s the beach that’s the real prize.  My huffy teenage-imposed loyalty to the North has been eroded by an unexpected love affair with the same places my husband knew so well as a boy.  The quaintly named Swallow Pool (where there’s always enough water to swim, beneath the cliffs, accompanied by the wheeling birds that spill out of their homes above), and Crocodile Rock, a navigational point for anybody out goggling.   North Bay.  South Bay.  Names that have dropped off the pages of a Famous Five adventure story.  At low tide the beach is one enormous playground, the ultimate in child-friendly.  There are shallow pools of clear warm water to paddle in; coral outcrops to explore;  caves to duck into and vast rocky outcrops, thrown up like protective arms, under which to hide from the sun and dig in the sand.   Whole, happy mornings can be spent like this, were spent like this, safely shaded, with just the sky, the water and the odd passing fisherman for company, the cries of busy swallows and the pounding of a distant surf for music.  Like their grandmother, like their dad, my children grew up with an abiding affinity for this place, it left its mark in sunburn and freckles, was dredged for months after leaving at the bottom of suitcases and drawers in sand that still smelt of the ocean. Sometimes we donned tackies and strode for miles along the reef, further south, to Fairy Pools, so named by their great grandmother, where they could dive into inky water, cold for its depth and the dense shadow cast by the cliff.  My daughter flew a kite from the beach on late afternoons when the rising breeze let it fly high and chase a thousand white horses across the sea's choppy surface and  the resident labradors barked like things possessed imagining the bright dipping shape above them was some exotic bird.  My son, has, over the years - almost a quarter of a century -  bowled more cricket balls on a low tide sand island than I could ever count.

Hattie, Zoe's great grand daughter, Neville's grand daughter, Sand Island, 2002

Hattie, Zoe's great grand daughter, Neville's grand daughter, Sand Island, 2002

This is the enduring beauty of this pretty, special place: its familial pull, its generational appeal; my children - all grown up now - have been fortunate to call this place home from home but they are not alone: many families return, generation after generation. I imagine that one day I will watch my husband take his grandchildren out over the reef, guiding them carefully, pointing out to the them an enormous underwater world, just as his mother introduced the same to him and his siblings. just as later she showed her grandchildren.

When you're not recapturing your childhood or flying a kite or exploring the reef or watching the sea and sky embrace tenderly on a far, far away horizon or wriggling your toes in the sand, you can head to Diani to shop, eat in any number of restaurants (Aniello's has been a family favourite since forever).

Or, if you're brave, with more energy than sense, and are not intimidated by queues at the Likoni ferry, you could head north.

But why on earth would anybody want to do that?


posted by Anthea Rowan






Make Hay whilst the Sun Shines ...

In May we had 876mm of rain (34.5inches) which has been hectic but this last weekend was glorious and the forecast going forward is for sunshine and clear skies. They say make hay whilst the sun shines ( which is code for come visit us) and we are amazed at how grass that was brown and burnt 21 days ago can green up and grow three feet in as many weeks; that's half an inch a day!

Grass as high as an elephant's eye

Grass as high as an elephant's eye

The local golf course has enjoyed the rain and Arty and Cheryl - both keen golfers - enjoyed a good month's play:  Arty winning club nite with a net par round and Cheryl the monthly mug doing the same. We have extra golf clubs at Sand Island and can arrange a discount on the green fees; the course is well laid out with established trees which play host to resident troops of Vervet, Sykes and Colobus monkeys; it's a must-play course for golfers staying with us.

A turtle nest hatched early on Thursday morning last week - much to the excitement of our guests - and the same night a mama made a new nest and laid 120 eggs. With twelve nests now on our stretch of beach, hatchings will be a common occurrence throughout June, July and August.

If you feel the need to get away from the chaos of the election frenzy and instead witness those hatchings, Sand Island Beach is the place to hang over the next few months.

Check out our specials for August.

Blood Lilies, Scadoxus multiflorus, variously called Powderpuff or Football Lilies, pop up post rains

Blood Lilies, Scadoxus multiflorus, variously called Powderpuff or Football Lilies, pop up post rains

Sand Island's Contribution to World Turtle Day

Bang on cue, as World Turtle Day dawned (an annual observance to remind us to celebrate turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats) and the sun rose over a still sea and retreating tide, a turtle came onto our beach to lay her eggs.  Her flippers left traction marks in the sand, like a tyre's tread. She patiently, laboriously, dug a hole above the high tide line. Later, eggs safely laid and carefully covered up, she found herself - as the sun rose high and the tide fell further - too far from the high water line to make it out safely. Our local fishermen, a number have received training on turtle conservation, fashioned a teepee for her as shade as she reclined in a rock pool until the sun sank and the tide rose and she could swim back out to sea. 

Her eggs will hatch in the next 60 - 90 days ... we'll keep you posted here.