Typed up: at New Palm Tree Hotel in Mombasa, Mt. Sinai Hotel in Nakuru, Tas Hotel in Nakuru
Posted from: Petmary Internet Cafe in Nakuru
On August 27 we made the short trip from Mombasa to Tiwi Beach. We took a matatu from the ferry, then walked over the ferry, and found another matatu (which appears to be the Kenyan word for dalla-dalla) that would take us to Tiwi. Unfortunately we were at the end of the crowd of people, so we sat waiting in a sweltering matatu for the next one to arrive. Luckily somebody sold us some water which made the wait a lot more bearable. It was another laps-on-packs ride, but it was only 20kms. Then we found a taxi that would take us to the grocery store and then to Coral Cove Cottages. You have to take a taxi from the main road to the coast, because otherwise you get mugged. At least that's what the guidebook says, and locals still agree it's a good idea. We visited the grocery store because the Cottages come with kitchens, but no food.
Despite the fact that the beach was so close, we only really went once a day. That seemed to be enough to tire us out that the rest of the day was reserved for cooking and relaxing. The first day I didn't see much at all, because my mask turns out to have a small leak. It slowly filled up, and I was clearing in such a way that got sea water in my eyes, which stung a lot. So I didn't see much besides a few small fish in a clearing in the sea grass. I assume the cold California water makes the mask fit my face better, or something. We also quit pretty soon because of my stinging eyes.
But the next day I did a lot better. For one thing, I wore my sandals, which meant I wasn't scared to put my feet down, so I could just stand up whenever and clear my mask easily. We again explored the large bed of sea grass, which had occasional clearings where you'd find some small, sometimes territorial, fish. There were many kinds, the one that really stood out was a school of fish that had the same bright green color as the sea grass. We also saw tons of brittle stars, some of which were hiding inside shells of dead clams. There were also cowries, sea cucumbers, and shrimp.
The day after that we paid Zimba to take us to some large tide pools that are nearby. We walk over rocks for a short while to get there. On the way we saw tons of crabs running away. We also saw jumping fish. They're about 1 to 2 inches long, and quite thin. They jump out of the pools and up onto the rocks. They have quite a bit of control of their jumping. One fish ran away from us and went pretty much in a straight line for a few meters.
The first pool we went in was huge but no more than 2 meters deep, and we stayed in the warmish water until we got cold. It was next to a cliff, and in 2 places there was a cave we could snorkel into. Neither were very deep, but it got dark enough that we did not want to go in any further. There was notably less sea life in the caves, but some fish seemed to prefer it there. Looking up in one of the caves, there were bats hanging from the ceiling and flying around. The ceiling of the other cave had a hole in it, and tree roots coming down through it. Outside of the caves there were a ton of different kinds of fish, the biggest being about 8 inches long. All the fish were very colorful. Most of them seemed to be single, but there were some medium sized schools of fish, which seemed pretty tame. We also saw an eel, some chitons, and a few other things. The other pool was smaller and had less fish. It had more (drab) coral though, and we also saw quite a few of red-and-white shrimp in addition to some neat worms. (You really need to go snorkelling with a marine biologist to appreciate those.) Snorkelling in these pools was exactly what we hoped to find at Tiwi.
Our final day was the best. First we walked out to the breakwater at low tide, and hung out in some small pools just on this side of it. There wasn't a whole lot to see, but experiencing the water rushing in and out was quite a thrill. I did find some parts of pencil slate urchin spines rolling around with some rocks. Then we walked kind of in a straight line to the pools we visited yesterday. On the way we saw two small eels completely outside of their holes. They were a little over a foot long, yellow, and tried to hide amongst urchins and rocks. We also observed a few hermit crabs fighting. Cheering on the two big ones were several smaller hermit crabs, everybody hoping to move up one shell size. The fight looked to be a stalemate when we left. In the bigger of the two pools we again snorkelled until we got cold. We saw a few really big nudibranchs, some big cowries, and most of the things we saw before. The experience was a lot like being in a giant aquarium. It was awesome.