Watamu or Malindi ?

15 March 2014

Watamu or Malindi ? Which one is better?

This is a frequently asked question to which I can only respond “it depends.”

First of all, let me clarify: they are both tourist destinations on the north coast of Kenya that are only 20 km apart as the crow flies. Watamu doesn’t actually have its own township, the administrative offices are in Malindi. This is also why the village of Watamu has always been, and is still today, a small and, better yet, isolated fishing village that hasn’t lost its special characteristics. Tourism structures pop up on the right and left of the three bays in this village.

Watamu Fishermen

Watamu fishermen leaving for the day

Fortunately, thanks to its distinctive features, Watamu continued to be a lesser-known village among the masses, at least up until a little while back when Malindi’s uncontrolled growth, combined with a drop in mass tourism, stole a little light from step-sister Malindi to cast it upon Cinderella Watamu.

Is Malindi or Watamu better? It depends on what you want from your holiday.

Malindi is a big city with also traffic problems, noise, etc… But if you like nightlife, clubbing until the early morning, playing golf, going to casinos, or even spending all night in one of the the city’s strip clubs, then I would recommend Malindi.

Malindi Traffic Jam

Malindi traffic jam

Watamu doesn’t have many of these types of attractions, just a handful of delicious restaurants and a couple of gastro-pubs which turn into disco bars after 10 o’clock in the evening. Watamu, moreover, is one of the best beaches, not only in Kenya, but in Africa:

Malindi, on the other hand, has a more developed residential sector: in fact, many Italian people who have been attracted by Kenya’s fantastic climate have built amazing villas where they can forget about winter. You needn’t speak Italian in Malindi, but it sure is useful.

Watamu is the ideal location to blend three holiday needs in Kenya: an encounter with the sea, among the most spectacular on the planet, being close to the magic of Safaris and the Savannah, and a culture that is almost more precious than old.

To sum it up, Watamu has a fantastic sea and a unique contact with nature, there is little to do in the evenings except take in the silence and the fragrance of Africa, relaxing and counting stars.

And …if you want to stay up late, a 20 minute taxi ride will take you to Malindi and wait for you for only 30 euros.

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