Chale is a small island located about 600m from the mainland and 10km from Diani in the south coast of Kenya. It has hidden inland lakes and a mangrove forest that covers a large part of the island.
I first heard about the Island from my sister who discovered it as she was looking for a unique destination to go on vacation. After asking her to describe her experience all she had to say was “you must visit it to truly experience it”. So with a long weekend coming up, and a good discount from Jumia travel, it was time for me to visit Chale island.
I flew to Ukunda airport from Nairobi, where I found the driver from the Sands waiting and after about 45 minutes drive, we arrived at the bay where we were to be transported to the island.
The are two modes of transport to get to and from the island. One is a boat that is used when the tide is high and a tractor (yes, you read that right) with a wagon that is used when the tide is low. The boy in me really wanted to experience the tractor ride but unfortunately, for both my arrival and departure, there was a high tide so I had to travel on the boat.
Upon arriving on the island with a couple I met on the boat, we were welcomed warmly by the staff who quickly took our bags and led us on a few minutes walk to the resort. Upon checking in, we were informed that the Sands resort runs on Chale time. Which is one hour ahead of the local time. This is something you will get used to the longer you stay at the resort.
After finishing the check-in process, I was taken to one of the standard rooms with a lovely view of the ocean.
The room was quite spacious and they went to great lengths to give it a traditional Swahili- feel. It was equipped with air conditioning, an en-suite bathroom and a Swahili-style bed. On the balcony, there was a daybed which you can use to read a book or even take a nap in the cool ocean breeze.
After a good breakfast, it was time to explore the island. As we walked to the beach, we were approached by beach boys. We initially declined their offers to take us around the island but after some convincing, we decided to hire one of them to be our guide. This turned out to be the best decision we made during our stay there.
As we started our tour, our guide educated us on the history of the island, the different marine life that can be found in and around the island. He took us into the Mangrove forest and showed us shrines where the locals in the nearby mainland would come to pray.
As much as we were enjoying our tour, we quickly had to return to the resort because the tide was rising and a big storm was fast approaching.
Things to note
The island is powered by generators and for the resort to conserve fuel and reduce their carbon footprint, the generators are switched off between 10 am and 5 pm. This is fine on normal sunny days but if you end up visiting the resort during the heavy rainy season like I did, you will be stuck with nothing to do until it stops raining.
The few beach boys that the resort allows are extremely polite and courteous. If you intend to go round the island during the low tide, I highly recommend that you use them. Apart from learning a lot about the island, they will show you areas to avoid particularly the areas with soft mud which can be a nightmare to get out of if you get stuck.
I went to Chale Island to get away from everything and refresh my mind. And I was not disappointed. It truly gives you the sense of being cut off from the rest of the world.
The staff was extremely friendly and were willing to go the extra mile to make sure you are happy and comfortable. The food was pretty good but a bit limited in variety. There are plenty of activities that one can do including kayaking, scuba diving etc.
So if you are looking for a perfect getaway or just different kind of place to spend a romantic weekend then I highly recommend Chale Island.