They say, you don’t need a second chance to make a good first impression, and true to that expression, Indian Ocean Beach Resort needed no second chance. The resort located in south coast (Kenya), has effortlessly gained entry in my list of places to stay whenever I travel to Diani.
I had initially booked my return flight from Nairobi; Wilson to Ukunda (which is the easiest, fastest and the most straight forward route to south coast; Kenya) but somehow along the way, my plans changed last minute and that meant I had to either reschedule my flight to the next day which was too expensive and to add onto that, the earliest flight I could get for the next day was 11:30am.
The frustration of changing flights last minute: A mini story.
Having planned for this trip months ago, meant that my flights were also paid for early enough. A direct ticket to Ukunda from Wilson was KS 4,200 one way, at the time of booking. Unfortunately, due to delays from other engagements, the earliest I could travel was same day evening or next day early morning. (Also Remember, I had booked 3 nights, 4 days at the hotel. So that also meant that the earlier I got a replacement ticket the better, so that I don’t reduce my days at the hotel or reschedule my return date with the airline and pay for what would cost me an arm and a leg.
I spoke to the airline and the info I got was; the ticket (Class P) that I had initially booked was then retailing at KS 11,500. In addition, there were no early morning flights to Ukunda, and so I had to either fly at 11:30 am or get an early morning Mombasa flight. To reroute my flight(to Mombasa), was going to cost me KS 3,500, and KS 2000 to change the date of travel. So, do the math, deduct KS 4,200 from the 11,500 then add KS 3,500 and KS 2,000…and remember, you are not flying to Ukunda direct! You are going to Mombasa to connect at an extra cost to Ukunda.
Lesson Learnt: Read you ticket conditions to avoid small small heart attacks.
I went to farecompare.com, searched for flights to Ukunda, there was none, tried direct flights to Mombasa and got a Kenya Airways flight for at only KS 4,145! And that is how I saved Ksh 12,855 on that cold Sunday night! I spoke to the hotel and they agreed to pick me along the way after crossing the Likoni ferry from Mombasa. Almost win-win yeah?
NB: 1 USD approx. KS 102.
Getting to Indian Ocean Beach Resort from Moi International Airport in Mombasa
I flew to Mombasa, then from the airport I got a cab that dropped me at the ferry in Likoni. After crossing the ferry, I grabbed a matatu that took me to Ukunda shopping center where I was to be picked by the hotel van. It would have cost me KS 4,000 more if the van was to pick me from Likoni ferry. So quick math… the matatu charged me KS 100 again, I saved KS 3,900.
If you’ve been to the Kenyan coast you know how hot and humid the weather is, so imagine the excitement when I met my driver who was eager to take me to the resort after my matatu ride from Likoni ferry. The van was spotless, the A.C was functional and the bottle of cold water offered washed down the humid coastal heat that had built up and moistened my dry mouth..
My arrival at the hotel was met by a colder glass of freshly squeezed passion juice and brilliant smile from Joy (Customer Relations) who checked me in. I was so curious to check the resort out, and even before I went to my room, I glanced around to acquaint myself with what was to be home for the next few days.
The rooms,Beach view,Sea view or garden view…you choose.
I walked to my room and let’s just say, I was sold. Not only did the room match my mood at that time, but the interior and exterior design did the most for me. There were stand-alone hotel blocks that housed four units each with a brilliant modern Swahili architectural design.
IOBR has 100 rooms; all standard .Those rooms have either a garden view, sea view or a beach view.
The most popular rooms are those with the sea and beach views and are always booked. I was very lucky to even get the garden view room! During my entire stay I kept hoping that someone would check out from those rooms but instead, they prolonged their stay.
Each of the rooms had a balcony, a nice cushioned wide window sill seat, a bathroom area with separate showers and washrooms with wall to wall mirrors. There were large louvered windows that rendered the room open plan when fully opened.
There was a main swimming pool overlooking the ocean, and next to the terrace restaurant;one of the restaurants at the resort. One of the farthest end of the swimming pool was the Coconut Willy’s bar that served cold drinks and cocktails, while the other side had a patio with suspended seats for guest who want to enjoy views or just chill.
In addition to the main pool, were these tiny plunge pools that almost passed as Jacuzzis- from the bubbly inlet, that I totally loved. These plunge pools were located in between the rooms and man, these were the times I wished I had a travel bae. I am told they were designed for guests who don’t fancy large pools with lots of people.
The main restaurant; Spices Restaurant had a lovely panoramic view of the sea, tall palm trees and the blue swimming pool. It was a formal restaurant, and served both buffet and A la carte dishes. The head chef, Chef Manono told me that he tweaks the menu every so often so it suits the needs of the guests at the hotel…especially those on long term stay.
The Food and Beverage team were on a mission to make me add more kilos and I swore if I spent even an extra day at the hotel, I would have gone home a size bigger. The food was always tasty, the fruits were always ripe, and the juice was also freshly squeezed and chilled at all times.
At that point, I had two compelling reasons to go back!
Also, nothing slaps better than fresh Kenyan tea served in the afternoon with sweet Swahili dumplings or moist cake.This is served at the terrace restaurant that overlooks the swimming pool everyday.
In addition to the two restaurants and Coco Willy’s bar, there is the dhow bar that is right at the beach for nice holiday feel with beach breaks, tides here and there and chilled outdoorsy vibe. Then the indoor bar inside the Sultan Lounge is best for semi-formal meetings, or just a nice chatty evening with friends.
Things to do.
- Join the animation team for activities from dawn to dusk. The energy and interpersonal skills by the team was unrivaled. The kids loved them.Each day of the week at 8.30 pm there was a special performance ranging from acrobatics , traditional dances etc. They also have water polo during the day, guided workouts early morning and Swahili lessons for foreigners. If you are a solo traveler who have stayed at a resort before, who know how the animation team are an instant connection!
- Enjoy a good coffee massage / scrub at the massage parlor. Imagine 45 minutes of gentle scrub with coarsely ground coffee and olive oil, with soothing tunes in the background, under a makuti roofed massage parlor with the sound of waves hitting the beach and whistling palm trees at a distance. That was magic.
- Go for snorkeling and enjoy the sites of the sea bed through a glass bottom boat. IOBR has partnered with a number of service providers to take to client for guided trips. I went to Robison Island with Dream Kenya Safaris. I am still amazed by the level of professionalism displayed, starting from timely pick up from the hotel, to a smooth drive to the beach, then booking of water activities, and wealth of information by the staff and finally an entertaining ride back to the hotel.
The 3 hours experience was worth every minute. The colorful fishes, beautiful sea creatures like, star fish, sea archines, sea spiders, corals and lots more were in plenty. There are many activities to do while at the island, it was a different happy world. Snorkeling, jet skiing, speed boats, fishing, sunbathing at the sand bank, photography and a whole lot more. Tuja my guide, informed me that they also had trips to Wasini to swim with dolphins.
- Visit Kongo Mosque; the oldest Mosque in the East African region. The mosque is conveniently located at the edge of the resort next to a mangrove forest.
Get in touch with IOBR and explore the niceness of South Coast Kenya.
Reach them through:
Cell: +254 711 089 000