When Captain Hamed sauntered up to us at breakfast one morning, he seemed so experienced – and so reassuring. Dolphins and snorkelling – hell, yeah! But the next day, I wasn’t feeling so sure. It turned out that not only did our “captain” not have his own boat, but his other promises fell short too. The boat that he did hire had no lifejackets for our children, refreshments or any of the other things that he had promised. It was a less than auspicious beginning.
From our starting point in Shimoni, we motored out for about 90 minutes (after we picked up buoyancy aids still several sizes too big from a ‘friend’) to the dolphin-spotting area. We were in luck that day, and several dolphins frolicked around the bobbing boats.
Our next destination was to the snorkelling area of the Kisite Marine Park – a shallow and glorious spot for sighting all sorts of colourful sealife and, if you’re lucky, turtles. It was here that the lack of tiny buoyancy aids was most noticeable, as our youngest children could only snorkel while holding onto an ageing lifebuoy.
Still, there was the much raved-about crab lunch to look forward to. Except that it turned out that our fee didn’t include crab. Hamed did finally persuade them to provide a few claws, but it was a far cry from our lovely seafood banquet on the island of Funzi a couple of days before.
I admit that I am not selling this trip very well. But I do know that I am itching to do it again – but this time with a reputable operator. Flicking through the brochures back at the beach house, I saw the company Pilli Pipa selling the same trip for a similar price, but with drinks and snacks on board, and an all-frills lunch with crab, wine and beer in a private garden. I know where I’ll be putting my money next time.
About the Author
I'm a former travel magazine editor, focused on Kenya, before which I covered news in Africa and beyond. These days, I travel with my kids.