Being rich is fun. Pretending to be rich is even more fun.
Eating rich people food. Maybe some unsuspecting sea animal.
Going to rich people places. Like an exotic island, a private beach, maybe a private nude beach. No? You’re not into that? Okay.
What about waking up to a view of the ocean. You wouldn’t mind that, would you?
Smelling the air that the rich breathe. Oh, I imagine that it smells different. Like fresh bills, with a hint of mint, you know?
I have always secretly wanted to become rich just to live out my rich people fantasies.
And it finally happened. (No, I didn’t get rich. Yet.)
Anyway, it was a normal evening, after a regularly uninteresting day. I opened my email and saw it….
“…we look forward to hosting you at Chale Island next weekend…’’
I re-read the email. Five times. It was happening. I was going to visit an exotic island, for the first time. Heck, I was visiting an island for the first time.
I jumped. Okay, I did more than that. I did a victory dance. You know what I am talking about. That embarrassing dance that you never want anyone to see.
At this point you may be wondering, kweni how good is this place that’s worth doing crazy dance moves for?
Well, if you saw the place, you would get it. Heck, you may even join in on the crazy dance.
Just google Chale Island. I will wait…
...waiting some more...
You see what I mean, right?
(Side note: There is always that one reader without enough data to open multiple pages. I got you. Yes, you!)
By the way, these photos don't do justice to the place. THAT'S WHY I WANTED YOU TO GOOGLE!
So, for the next one week, I showed the photos to anyone and everyone who cared to look.
Even to this old lady I met in a taxi (matatu). I was that excited!
But in all seriousness, the thing about visiting an island, especially for the first time, is that you get so excited that you forget about the basics.
Like, how the hell are you going to get there? What if you fail to find a boat? Will you have to swim there? Ah, the struggle is real.
I imagine that the Beyoncés of this world have helicopters for that very reason. But when you are regular folk like us, the logistics can be a pain in the behind.
Well, you could board a plane to Mombasa and take an Uber to your destination.
But no, I had to go for the ‘real’ experience! On a bus.
It’s just 24 hours, right?
So, I took a bus from Kampala to Nairobi (took 12 hours). Stopped for a night in Nairobi. Picked another bus to Mombasa (took 8 hours but felt like 20).
Once in Mombasa, I took a matatu to the ferry. And then the culture shock set in.
Feel free to blame the Ugandan in me (hello, land locked country girl here!)
If you’re born in a landlocked country (you know, a country without an ocean view), the closest you will get to seeing a ferry is on a lake (which is partly sad) or in your little sister’s textbook (more likely to happen).
That’s as good as it gets.
So I watched, mesmerized, as a thousand people boarded the ferry. My jaw dropped some more as seven cars, five tuktuks, a bus and a lorry all got onto the same ferry.
Oh…I wanted to take a picture and make the ‘Picture of the Day’ section of the Daily Monitor. But photos aren’t allowed on the ferry. So, I didn't!
Anyway, with a loud horn….the ferry set off. Within 10 minutes, we had crossed to Diani.
Once at the port, I took a tuktuk (once again, bad decision. Uber would have saved the day, but no…I had to act tough). Anyway, I made my way to the Diani beach road.
Can I be honest for a second?
The Mombasa that I saw didn’t smell all that great. Frankly, there are some parts that smelt like my socks after being worn for 4 days straight.
That’s until you get to the Diani beach road. You will know once you’re there. Because the air smells different. Remember the rich people air I mentioned? Yeah, they have that here.
Chilling at Diani Beach
Suddenly, it’s like you’ve arrived in a completely different country. There are 5* hotels, one after the other, all lined up on the beach road. The nomad Hotel, Baobab Beach Resort, Swahili Beach Resort, Neptune Palm Beach…the list goes on.
We speed past them, as I stick my head out of the tuktuk for a better look. And then, several minutes later (felt like hours on a bumpy road in a tuktuk), we arrive at Chale point.
At Chale point, there are two options at your disposal. A) Take a boat to the island. B) Take a tractor.
If you ever find yourself faced with only these two options, you’ve either made it in life or you are truly [insert bad word here].
So, I alight the tuktuk and wait for my fate to be decided. What’s it gonna be? A boat or a tractor?
I watch as the security lady pulls out a walkie talkie to inform the hotel of my arrival. I gape as two humongous security dogs sniff around. There is no messing around here. Security is a priority.
The guards offer refreshments. I take selfies with baboons. Yes, baboons. And soon, my ride arrives.
Since its high tide, a boat picks us up (the tractor is reserved for low tide.)
More selfies on the boat. And…
…5 minutes later, we arrive at our destination. Chale Island.
Chale Island. Diani, Kenya
You cannot imagine how beautiful this place is, in person. The first view of the hotel that I get is of an overwater cottage that looms majestically above the water.
At first glance, it looks like a drawing out of a Disney animation. Too good to be true.
We get closer. And as we get off the boat, men dressed in masaai shukas rush over and hurl our bags over their shoulders and carry them in. I find out that they are staff.
I can’t help but pinch myself. I’m surrounded by Mother Nature. On a beautiful island. Away from the world’s troubles.
This is paradise.
What would you do if you were in my shoes?
I’ll tell you.
You would run around the island. Barefoot. Just because you can.
You would try something new. Maybe kayaking. Maybe a mud bath.
You would take a long walk around the island. In the pouring rain. Just to see the natural aquarium that everybody has told you about.
You would try beach yoga, because, why not?
You would run towards the ocean. Then, pretend you’re afraid of the waves once they approach.
At night, you would dance around a campfire, and sing along to some local songs whose lyrics you wouldn’t remember the next day.
You would sit down to a scrumptious dinner that you had nothing to do with preparing. And you would love it.
You would buy some Maasai souvenirs, not because you have a lot to spend. But to hold onto the memories.
You would collect shells, gaze at star fish, sea spiders, sea urchin, just for the fun of it.
The following day, you would wake up slowly. Oh, you would wake up slowly, listening to the sound of angry waves beating against the rocks.
And you would just lay there and take it all in. Because this is exactly what life should be like.
You would take an outdoor shower just to say you did. After all, you’re on a private island. In a private banda.
At breakfast, you would sit down for an all-you-can-eat buffet. And do just that. Eat all you can.
You would meet the local island people. Most likely a man everyone calls Mr. Coconut because his name is too difficult for tourists to pronounce.
No, he's not Mr. Coconut. But you will find him in Diani!
He would take you around the island to show off all of its hidden treasures.
You would be amazed at how simple island life could be. This is no ordinary place. And anyone who has been will tell you as much.
You wouldn’t want to leave.
You would want to return to this paradise every year...because you found it.
And on that last day, you would leave a piece of your heart behind. And as you board that boat one last time, you would make a silent promise to yourself.
I will return, one day!
Chale Island is located in Diani, Kenya. On the island there are 62 rooms. An Overwater suite, a honeymoon suite, 30 bandas, 2 penthouses, 28 standard double rooms, 3 swimming pools, 2 bars, 2 restaurants, and a private beach.
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About the author
Hi, I am Angelica, a creative writer with a particularly intense interest in travel blogging.
I started this blog to write about what I love to do...Travel. And occasionally, a few other topics.
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