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Do You Know Vipingo?

With a passion for the ocean, Sammy heads for the coast, as he often does, to do a little exploring in a lesser-known location
Above: Traditional Swahili dhows, seen all along the coast

I remember the first time I saw the ocean. In my teens, I stood on the sandy beach at Malindi Marine Park, staring at the Indian Ocean in awe, wondering which islands could be on the other side of the horizon. Madagascar? Or maybe Seychelles, a little bit to my east? Excitement built up as I filled my lungs with the salty smell of the sea, a sense of belonging, yet I had lived inland all my life.

White sand beaches and turquoise waters — paradise

And so, when I'm on a break from work, it's little surprise that I am always keen to head to the coast. There are so many beautiful places to visit on the Kenyan coastline along the Indian Ocean, but on this occasion, we headed to a small town called Vipingo in Kilifi County, a two hours' drive north of Mombasa.
 
With its own airstrip to make access easy, Vipingo is perfect for anyone in need of a quiet escape by the sea. There are plenty of activities to do such as snorkelling, deep-sea fishing, water sports and even a PGA golf course — arguably one of the most stunning golf courses in the region. In fact, Vipingo is branding itself as a premier golf destination and will again this year be hosting the third edition of Magical Kenya Ladies Open, a Ladies European Tour (LET) tournament.

Cardamom House is the perfect combination of Swahili style and beautiful views
The entrance, built seamlessly into its environment
So much so, you'll often find the outside inside

Arriving in Vipingo, we were engulfed by tall palm trees and massive baobabs as we drove down towards our secluded location. The architecture of Cardamom House is immediately recognisable as the Lamu-inspired mix of Swahili and Arabic styles. All the artwork and furniture are sourced from East Africa, with a large portion from local businesses in Kilifi and Lamu. The variety throughout gives the property a very homey feel.

While constructing the property, the owners aimed to protect the environment as much as possible, as seen by the large tree in the middle of the main house and all of the old growth found around the property. A similar approach is being taken at Angama Amboseli where construction in Kimana Sanctuary began late last year — with several outdoor areas built around large fever trees, digging under their roots — and is slated to open its doors by end of the year.

One thing that makes Vipingo very special is that it boasts one of the first community-led conservation areas in Kenya, the Kuruwitu Conservation & Welfare Association (KCWA), established in 2003 to protect the fragile coral reef and diverse marine life.

Katana from the KCWA in his office
Even the starfish here are vibrant

On our second day, we ventured down to Vipingo Beach Club where the KCWA is based. Our guide, Katana, took us snorkelling along the protected reef. This spectacular marine sanctuary is adorned with beautiful corals and over 200 species of fish, which accentuates its appeal. The KCWA was created as the local fisherman had seen a massive decline in marine life due to overfishing. This was largely due to a lack of oversight in the issuing of fishing permits by the government, attracting many fishermen to the area. In 2003, the local community established the reef as a protected conservation area which restricted the ability to fish.

Since then, Katana and his team spend their days ensuring the protection of this incredible ecosystem. Katana’s latest project has been incubating coral on underwater coral beds and building a new base for replanting coral using a special type of concrete — aiming to ensure there is sufficient sustenance for the marine life that calls this small haven home.

It's not all cocktails and sun loungers

Despite being labelled as a sleepy coastal village town, nearby Kilifi’s stunning beaches, calm lagoons and creek filled with mangroves add to the list of things to explore. We headed down to Bofa Beach, a pristine five-kilometre beach with powdery white sand, complemented by turquoise tropical waters — easily one of the best beaches on the East African coast. With its favourable winds and waves for kitesurfing, Kilifi attracts a lot of surfers throughout the year. There is even a dedicated kitesurfing centre, Salty’s Kitesurf Village, where you can rent kitesurfing equipment or book a kitesurfing lesson with professional instructors. If you’re not surfing, you can watch the different colour kites floating above the horizon as you sip your cold cocktail at their beach bar.

Bofa Beach, like powdered sugar

I will surely be going back to explore this part of the Kenyan coast further for its hidden gems — and will let you know what I find.

Notes from the Editor:

We would like to say a special thank you to our friends at Cardamom House for hosting Sammy. He hasn't stopped talking about the architecture, the staff, the food, the beach... the beach.

We also have a new 'Balanties & Baobabs' safari offer with four nights at Angama Mara and four nights at Cardamom House — a perfect bush and beach combination.

Filed under: East Africa Travel

Tagged with:

Angama Travel , Kenyan Coast , Swahili Coast

About: Sammy Njoroge

Sammy has worked in the film and photography industry for over seven years and has loved every moment of visual storytelling. He is passionate about the natural world and is keen to bring wildlife stories into your home. Outside of the 'office', Sammy enjoys the ocean and exploring different cuisines (despite the fact that he usually only eats one meal a day).

Browse all articles by Sammy Njoroge Meet the angama team

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