I’ll tell you a little secret; the success of a family holiday is inversely proportional to the amount of time you are actually able to spend apart from each other. It might sound counter – intuitive but believe me after a couple of days together I’m sure many of you know how quickly the fire of familial love can transform into smouldering resentment. You want to spend time together but you also want that sweet space when you need it.
Cue Beach House.
I’ll skip the couple of months this took to plan and skip to successfully herding 7 adults and 4 children safely and on time onto the island. Suffice to say by my estimation it shaved about 5 years off my life, thats a couple of pension checks I won’t be picking up.
So what does a day on the island look like?
Wake up to catch the sunrise. The kids lie in wait for whichever adult is awake first to start their day of non-stop chatter, today I’m their prey.
The house has 4 levels of living space and I head to the top-most level to get a birds-eye view of the fishermen’s boats heading out of the channel at this time. Right across the channel is Manda Island.
Head down to the pool level to get some shots of that area as it looks nice in the morning light.
Looks to me like what an Egyptian palace might have looked like.
Quick walk down at the beach before it gets too busy, you can just about see Peponi Hotel peeking out of the corner.
Breakfast. No pics because I’m eating.
First pool session of the day. The weather on the island is such that the water is always nice.
Take a walk around Shela Village to visit some other properties. This one in particular, who’s name I’ve forgotten has a lovely view. Maybe one day I’ll get to tell you about it.
First nap of the day. Mission becomes to hide away from the kids.
In the room?
All meals are served in different areas of the house, nice touch. Lunch is served in the garden on the outside patio.
Second nap time.
Time for some ‘doughnuting’ and water skiing for both kids and adults. One of the highlights of the day.
I like this picture, I think it captures Shela quite nicely?
We have a few ‘firsts’ on this trip. A 4-year-old gets up on skis for the first time…
And she rocks the channel like a champ.
For water sports in Shela ask for Nawaf, he’s a great guy and is especially patient with first-timers, plus he’s a rocket on the water!
Back to the pool for another swim. Mama Duck shows how the jump from the second story is done.
A sunset dhow trip along the channels listening to Lamu’s rich history from a local mzee. No pics unfortunately (what kind of a travel blogger am I?)
Walks along Shela beach towards the dunes and the unpopulated point is a must-do in the evening. In this pic from Shela houses highest point you can see what a popular pastime this is for locals and tourists alike.
This is a great to watch the days end and watch my people enjoy the beach. This makes all the planning worthwhile.
Some great light here although I’m more interested in enjoying the moment rather than taking photos.
Dinnertime. Every meal here is a an event, the chef and staff at the house bend over backwards to make sure you do as little as is possible. I can be quite critical about service and professionalism, there is a bit of ‘over’ service during mealtimes (I’m not the type that need someone standing at attention to fill my water glass) but otherwise zero complaints.
- The house is taken as a whole on a self-catering basis. How does this work? Meals for the next day can be ordered from the chef. Fresh seafood, chicken beef, fruits and your basic starches, spices and vegetables can be found on the island. The chef will keep a running total of expenses for your perusal. However, I would advise that you carry your own little treats and alcoholic drinks.
- The house is set up in the following manner :
- 1st level – pool, toilet, outside lounge area, 1 possible bedroom, garden.
- 2nd level – kitchen, indoor lounge, 2 double bedrooms (en-suite with private balconies), garden,choice of 3 outdoor eating areas.
- 3rd level – 3 bedrooms , 2 with double beds and 1 with 3 single beds (all en-suite) with shared terrace.
- 4th level – outdoor lounge, day beds, bar with mini fridge and long terrace.
- I’m probably going to be declared persona non grata for discussing this but as this blog is based on honesty let me mention price. You have to be clever about this, depending on how many adults, length of stay, and availability of special offers it is possible for this house to cost you less than Ksh 10,000 per adult per night. Sounds like lots of work, but bloody worth it.
- If you are a larger (or smaller group) the house has 3 sisters, Shela House, Garden House and Palm House that can be booked as well. Contact The Amazing Angelika on +254 (0) 715 577896 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their website to see more pics at www.shelahouse.com although for a group of such beautiful properties it’s a shame their website is stuck somewhere in the early 2000’s.
- For a list of other properties all around the Lamu archipelago visit the Discover Lamu website.
Tradition for what Kenyans do for family holidays at the coast has traditionally been resort based. I don’t know why you would want to go somewhere to relax where all the fun and meals are on a time-table but I’m not going to knock it, we all have our different ways to relax. If you’re into your cable TV, timed activities, and feel secure in crowds then self – catering places like Shela House are probably not your cup of tea not.
However if you’re the type who likes loose schedules, the seclusion of a house all to yourself, a small and extremely welcoming community and a feeling of total safety and security then Beach House and Lamu Island as a whole is probably right up your alley.
Oh, and don’t forget the family.