‘Where Liana was from, you wouldn't go for a serious swim in a “creek.” You'd splash up to
your ankles while cupping your arches over mossy stones, arms extended for balance, though you almost always fell in. But everything in Africa was bigger. Emptying into the Indian Ocean, Kiliﬁ Creek was a river - an impressively wide river at that - which opened into a giant lake sort of thing.
As Lionel Shriver wrote in the eponymous story that won her the BBC National Short Story Competition in 2013, Kiliﬁ Creek is impressive. It is also beautiful. From the craggy cliﬀs that jut up its sides to the rushing waters that plunge towards the ocean, and the coves and beaches that dot its edges, there's plenty to feast the eyes on here.
The creek is spanned by Kiliﬁ Bridge – an imposing structure that towers over the water, so high that the masts of the yachts and sailing boats that cruise up and down the creek can pass beneath it. The bridge was built in 1991 and – at 420 meters – is the longest bridge in Kenya; before it was built, people wanting to cross the creek had to transport their cars and goods on a rickety raft attached by a chain to both banks.
On the southern side of Kiliﬁ Creek, Mnarani Ruins were once a great mosque and smaller mosque. Built in the ﬁfteenth century, the crumbling stone buildings have yielded to tangled branches and knotted roots, and make an evocative
and peaceful spot to stroll and picnic.
Distant Relatives Ecolodge opened in 2012. Operating on the happy principal that we're all distant relatives, the lodge has become a meeting place for all the adventurous along the Kenya coast. With a host of ducks, monkeys, dogs and guinea fowl strolling around their spacious grounds, and well- thought-out amenities like a pizza oven, bamboo showers,
eco-loos and Wiﬁ, the place is friendly and inclusive. Promoting alternative, sustainable and conscious lifestyles, the lodge grows its own fruit and vegetables, plants trees and organises permaculture courses. The team encourages people
to create their own small businesses, and puts visitors in touch with locals who organise dhow sailing, village tours, water sports, trekking, diving, jam sessions and more. New Years'
Eve parties here are what legends are made of.
In 2011, a clutch of travellers and idealists started building a dhow called Musaﬁr. At ﬁrst in Kipini, the home of traditional boat-builders, they drifted to Kiliﬁ as soon as the dhow was able to ﬂoat. Their vision of an alternative community is still intact, and the 70-foot dhow is home to a ﬂuctuating group of volunteers who believe in peace, freedom and unity, and live by the principals of recycle, reuse and recondition. They host yoga classes, art shows, tree planting events and community gatherings. And sometimes they sail, too.
Kivukoni International School opened its doors in 2011; its pioneering educational programmes caused a multitude of young-marrieds-with-kids to descend on Kiliﬁ. The curriculum is British, with a strong leaning towards the Kenyan context and the natural environment. Extra-curricular activities are eye- openingly-imaginative, and include taekwondo, scouts, climbing, music, drama, beach clean-ups, conservation, current aﬀairs, triathlons, sports tournaments, mastermind quizzes,
book days and talent shows.
In 2015, the Creek Club at Kivukoni opened in the same extensive grounds as the school. A ﬁtness and leisure centre in well-kept gardens overlooking the water, the centre has the ﬁrst 25-meter swimming pool in Kiliﬁ County and oﬀers a plethora of activities that will exhaust even the ﬁttest visitor. Pilates, yoga, tennis, swimming and kickboxing are just a few of the regular classes here, while concerts, private functions and one-oﬀ events happen often.
Despite this wave of new arrivals, the enduring Kiliﬁ Boatyard stands strong. This old favourite is a working boatyard oﬀering moorings, slipping, storage and boat repairs. It's known for its cracking view over the creek and its relaxed beach bar. The most popular dishes here never go out of fashion: piripiri prawns, grilled calamari, crab samosas and, of course, ice cold Tuskers. The boatyard crew are happy to organise dhow trips, snorkelling and sunset cruises up the creek, and oﬀer fresh Kiliﬁ oysters – with fresh lime and Tabasco of course – every Saturday.
Where to stay
Silver Palm Spa & Resort
High on a cliﬀ with a stunning ocean view, this boutique hotel has stairs leading down to a sandy white beach. Rooms are spacious and luxuriously furnished. Other amenities include a wellness spa and a restaurant with panoramic views of the turquoise water.
With bandas, rooms, safari tents, dorms and a campsite, this lodge has accommodation to suit all tastes. Add to this a friendly bar, appealing restaurant, swimming pool, spacious gardens, beach access, hammocks and cushions and a book exchange – and everything eco-friendly and sustainable – what's not to like?
This Arabic style beachfront resort has a selection of rooms, a spacious restaurant and an inﬁnity pool with jaw-dropping view. It also oﬀers spa treatments, conferencing, team building, weddings and water sports.
Baobab Lodge Resort
Set in tropical gardens, this resort has rooms and rondavels, two bars, a restaurant and a conference centre. Activities include snorkelling, scuba diving and big game ﬁshing. http://www.madahotels.com/index.php/camps-lodges- resorts/hotels/baobab-sea-lodge-kiliﬁ
In Kiliﬁ town, this hotel oﬀers access to all the banks, shops, bars and markets of this bustling centre. It has rooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant, a bar, a nyama choma barbecue and a conference centre
A houseboat owned by Kiliﬁ Boatyard, this alternative style of accommodation is moored in the creek. Available for one group at a time, it has three bedrooms, a kitchenette, a lounge on the deck and a 24-hour dinghy service.
l as two swimming pools,