Preparing for your arrival
The best option for getting to Watamu is by air and we can help to arrange shuttles that will bring you straight to the resort. The recommended airport options are below:
Malindi - 30 minutes from the resort, a complimentary service from Noma Mombasa - 2.5/ 3 hours from the resort ($80 pp for 1-4 people/ $65 for a 7 seater with 7 people)
Once you have decided which airport you'll be arriving to, we can help organise the shuttles for you.
Budgeting in Watamu is everything and anything that you want it to be! It is just as possible to spend $100 a week on nutritious meals and spirited outings as it is to spend $100 a day. Depending on your style and price point, our experienced guides can point you in the right direction.
The average local person from the Giriama tribe can eat a hearty meal of greens, beans, soup, meat, and chapatis for about $1.50. Sip a glass of fermented palm wine for another 30 cents, or a large Tusker lager for two dollars.
However, if you want to live la vita doce Italiana, you can look at paying between $20-$40 for your mealtime and each drink might cost between $5 and $16 depending on the level of swank of your chosen spot.
It is now a requirement to have purchase an evisa ahead of arrival in Kenya. This can sometimes take a little time to come through so please allow enough time before you fly to purchase it. Follow the link here
For the address, please use:
Sabasaba Villa, Watamu, Jacaranda Road Mawe Estate Malindi, Kenya.
Local Sim and Payment Information
Noma will equip you with a local SIM card preloaded with data to ensure seamless connectivity both on and offsite.
While we'll be supplying this SIM, we strongly recommend bringing along a budget-friendly, unlocked burner phone. This allows you to use both our provided SIM and your personal one.
The local SIM card serves a range of purposes. It can be used for payments, making local calls to verify information, and most notably, it connects you to Kenya's thriving mobile money economy. With over 60 million transactions a day, the virtual mobile money system called M-PESA is integral to Kenya's financial landscape. By using this system, you can deposit, transfer, and interact with various aspects of the local economy. From supermarkets and restaurants to motorbike and tuk-tuk drivers, even beachside coconut sellers, M-PESA is widely accepted. Its efficiency is so remarkable that even Facebook attempted to acquire it years ago, but without success.
In case your phone is locked or tied to a specific carrier, we recommend getting an old "burner" phone that can be used during your stay. Alternatively, if you prefer a lighter option, consider the Sendwave app. Sendwave links directly to your home bank account and facilitates transfers to M-PESA accounts, requiring only the recipient's full name and number.
Shuttles will be organized to get from Malindi or Mombasa airports. If you opted for this option, a driver will be waiting for you with a NOMA COLLECTIVE sign.
If for any reason you cannot make the shuttle, no worries, we can provide you with numbers to trusted taxi drivers that you can arrange before or upon arrival. However, there are no "official" airport taxi drivers at Malindi airport. Coming from Malindi, the shuttle will be complimentary.
From Mombasa, a fair price is around $80.
If you opted to make your own way, please head to the entrance of the villa and one of the team members will be there to greet you.
Once you are all settled in your room, we’ll have a welcome ceremony, where we will give you an orientation whereby we will run through the program and show you around the hotel. This is also a great opportunity to meet other Noma community members.
Packing List Recommendations
- Lightweight clothing both long sleeve/ leg and short sleeve/ leg
- Hiking type clothes: comfortable sneakers/ water shoes/ hiking boots.
- A dry bag for water excursions (not necessity, but useful)
- Rain coat / poncho + umbrella (might be a few rainy days)
- Eye mask
- Sun screen
- Bug repellent/oil
- Mosquito rackets (zappers)
- International credit/debit card
- If you have an old unlocked phone, bring it (we will explain later in the pack)
- A portable monitor if your work would benefit from this
- Ethernet cable for extra connection
- If you take supplements, bring enough as they're 4x as expensive in Kenya
- Musicians, bring your instruments for proper jam time. :)
Important - all guest communication is on slack.
Please click on the below image to join our Noma slack channel
Slack App is available on Web, Android and iOS. Please join Noma Collective on Slack clicking on the slack logo above.
When you join Noma Collective, you will see a list of channels on the left hand side of the display. Please follow these links to join the channels:
#kenya-october-news-and-events- For anything related to on-site events and activity sign-ups. @teamnoma uses this channel to let you know about the onsite event programme and a daily announcements.
#kenya-october-onsite-chat - For community conversation. In order to respect people’s time, please keep it brief.
#alumni - For our whole Noma Collective Community, to use for recommendations, travel plans, launches.
You can also DM anyone by selecting their name in the bottom left which will enable you to discuss anything in private.
Please add a display picture and a short bio sentence of current/ previous job roles and any personal information of interest that you’d like to share in the ‘what I do’ section in the edit profile section. This will help our Noma community identify each other!
If you have any questions for us, or any issues with anything on-site, please DM @TeamNoma. Also, if you’d like to flag anything in a general chat for our attention, simply add @TeamNoma to your post and we’ll pick it up.
Your Community Manager will monitor slack between 8am and 8pm daily, and will respond within the hour (usually faster than this). You will have their Whatsapp number, so if there's an emergency, you can reach out to them via Whatsapp.
Otherwise, there’s anything urgent outside of those hours then please contact the front desk at the hotel.
Everything you need to know about Watamu and Our Noma Villa
The Neighborhood - Watamu
Watamu is an incredible enigma of paradise nestled in a yet exploited coastal region of Kenya. It is a natural haven of sea, creek, and river, with magical mangrove channels that pull you to float through on the new and full moons. It is a mix of traditional Bantu village, meets little Italy, meets Swahili Arab haven. Watamu is a place you could never understand until you've waded through its waters, heard its a call to prayer waft to greet the breaking sunrise, tasted the diverse offerings of palates in a beachside hut, wrapped yourself in its colorful wax cloths, and danced the night away to the polyphonic singing and dancing of its local people.
Watamu means "sweet people" in Swahili, and this is the essence of what you will encounter during your stay on the Kenya coast. The local people, the Giriama are some of the most friendly and kind people that you will cross paths with on this earth. Most people in the local village still adhere to the traditional ways of living within family compounds, building mud and palm-thatched huts, and appreciate their ancestral language and music.
The coastal region is Nairobi folk's favorite place to get away for the weekend away from work and so you'll encounter all of the hippest young folk from around the world in Watamu, get your fix of true Italian pizzas and homemade pasta, while not possibly managing to miss out on the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets that this world has to offer.
Watamu is a fabulous eco-tourism destination, and a fun place to festival and wander. As one of the safest places in Kenya, you can frolic in peace.
Here is a list of useful numbers and links for your stay in Watamu:
Mama Lucy Blue Marmalade
Land and Sea Guides
Nemo - 734997695 Chui - 736703319 Sampson (forest) - 796175805
Kinghi - 0726139718
Tribe Watersports - 0718553355
Dr. Erulu - 0722437423
Kahindi - 0723058415
When Going Off Site
Check out some of the Team Noma favorite restaurants, bars and cafe's in the local area:
Hemingway's, Crab Shack, Visiwa, Tamu Beach and Fusion, Naturalmente Pane, JJC (Gede), Ocean Sports, Pilipan, Kobe, Prawn’s Lake, Mbuyu Lodge, Hosteria Romana, Swahili Snacks, Swahili Dishes, Wasafi Swahili Dishes, The Liar’s Club, Willy Beach, Amici Miei Cafe, Nadia's Chinese Food, Prawn Lake, Sunset Beach, Non-solo Gelato, Cafe "F", Tannes Tavern, Mama Glassy (Turtle Bay Beach kiosk)
We completely recommend eating from the local grills and kisoques that you encounter on your journeys around the city.
We can recommend personal chefs if there is a night to create a meal for you and your new friends at an incredibly reasonable price.
The Noma Villa - Saba Saba
Sabasaba Villa, Watamu, Jacaranda Road Mawe Estate Malindi, Kenya.
Perched atop a cliff with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and the 7 little islands of Watamu, this luxurious villa features nine spacious rooms, a private pool, a garden, and an expansive outdoor patio perfect for work and relaxation.
You'll have access to a quiet beach spot via a tunnel hewn from the rock, making it the perfect place to take a break and soak up some sun. With classy furnishings, artistic decor, and the sound of the waves, SabaSaba provides the perfect escape for remote workers looking to balance productivity and relaxation.
Food & Beverage
Indulge in culinary freedom with a community kitchen at your disposal within the villa. If you're seeking variety, numerous restaurants are just a stroll away.
Embrace local flavors with our partnered family, crafting delightful Giriama dishes, chicken or fish with rice, beans, and the renowned Kenyan chipatis, available upon request.
The easiest way to get around Watamu is by motorbike, tuktuk, or bike.
Most fares around Watmu should be between 150 Sh and 300Sh and on a tuk tuk 200-500Sh
You can also rent a motorbike, tuktuk, bike, or car in Watamu.
If you would like to rent one of these vehicles for a day or the entire month, we. can arrange a deal for you. There are also public buses called Matatus that can bring you into Gede, Malindi town as well as other places around the coast as far as Diani. These costs 100 shillings.
Watamu means sweet people and this is almost always indicative of the nature of the local coastal community. We can guarantee that most of your interactions with Giriama people will be engaging, kind, and often sprinkled with laughs.
As you’ll find with the resort staff and walking around the street, most people have a very peaceful demeanor and are very welcoming of those from around the world. Coastal people are known to say the word “Karibuni!” or “Welcome!” dozens of times during a single interaction.
Watamu is one of the safest places in the world. Really!
Because of a combination of the good-nature of the Giriama tribe and the organization between village leaders to maintain a safe atmosphere for foreigners, it is incredibly rare to hear about any crime occuring in Watamu.
You will notice that women walk the dimly lit streets at night, and that most people who approach you will greet you and offer you whatever help or aid that you might need along the way.
It is a place where you can walk freely with your cellphone in your hand, you can leave your belongings on the beach without feeling hyper vigilant, you can travel around with your laptop in your bag without a second thought.
Breathe a sigh of relief. :)
It is common practice for tuktuks and motorbikes to be stationed outside of hotels, restaurants, and hotspots, ready to take you home at any hour of the day or night. 99.9% of the time, these motorists are completely responsible and a convenient way to get to your next destination. We will also supply a list of motorbike riders and Tuktuk drivers that we trust that you can call if you’d rather ride with the same drivers each time.
Most of these drivers are extremely cordial and safe. If you find a driver is going too fast for your liking — you are well within your right to tell them to slow down or pull over.
Relational & Romantic Safety
On the coast you’ll meet a mixture of local Giriama people, diverse Kenyan tribespeople, British and Italian Kenyans, as well as expats from around the world..
If you want to truly know Watamu, we encourage you to make local friends and get to know how most people live each day. And as you make new friends in such a paradisiacal surrounding, it can be easy to fall into a sunny romance.
There are a few relational patterns to observe and notice as you acclimate yourself to Watamu.
We want to stress that these observations will NOT apply to the majority of people that you’ll encounter — but it is something to keep in mind before giving your heart away.
In some parts of Watamu, you’ll notice much older foreigners (women and men) with much younger coastal Kenyans.
There is a long history of Giriama men and women who marry much older Italian and British citizens and create a new life in Europe. This has led some local men and women to dream of marrying or having a romantic relationship with a foreigner or a “mzungu” as a means of gaining financial sponsorship in their lives.
If you encounter that a (wo)man on the beach, motorbike driver, or waiter is suddenly expressing “how much they love you” or if they are showing a frantic desire to take you to their home, or to get married— just be aware that they may be trying to lure you in to a financial agreement.
It is NOT a dangerous thing at all to develop a local romantic connection. There are many foreigners who come and create authentic and lasting connections with local folk, but there are also those who are surprised when the financial demands begin to creep into their honeymoon period.
Take note and if you see that someone is employing romantic tactics that quickly lead to financial expectations or financial “emergencies”.
If you find that anyone you are interacting with begins to ask for financial support —please, come to talk it through with Noma Staff to understand the best course of action.
Chances are, if you go to any public beach, you will be approached by those who the local community calls “beach boys”. These men dressed in khaki pants and white button up shirts are water tour operators who spend each day on the beach and who receive a commission for each tour they sell.
They will often come up with an extra friendly approach and then verbally meander into a sales pitch for a snorkeling trip or a dolphin watching trip. It is perfectly safe to join these tours during your free time. You are welcome to check with a Noma guide to verify the prices that you’ve been offered.
What you might encounter is the annoyance of being interrupted or presented with multiple snorkelling trips, safari rides, or fresh coconuts as you are trying to meditate on the beach or take a leisurely walk with your friends.
The key here is to be firm with your boundaries, and be firm with those who approach you.
You might say, “Thank you very much, I already have a guide who has booked my trip.” Or you might say “Thank you, I’m not interested at all.”
Once you have walked on the beach a few times, most of the local “beach boys” will recognize you, realize that you are uninterested in their trips and leave you alone.
If in the unlikely case, someone is being inappropriate or threatening with their requests, ask for their name, and then let them know that you will be reporting them to the main Kenyan Wildlife Services Office in Turtle Bay.
Please, talk to the Noma guides for more support, if you do come across an uncomfortable situation. We have familiarity with most of the operators on the beaches and can make sure that there is no continued disturbance.
Your Digital Nomad Guide
As digital nomads ourselves, we know how important it is to our community to change up their working environments.
This is why, we have multiple spaces to working from around the property, including the co-working space, the restaurant, Lichthaus bar.
Be prepared to make your co-workers jealous of the zoom backdrops!
The apartments also have table areas outside so that in case you needed some privacy on a work call.
Of course, all of these areas have great wifi however if there are any drops, please contact the front desk and our technician will be with you as soon as possible.
As mentioned previously, We will be providing you with a Kenyan sim card preloaded with data so that if any power or wifi emergencies occur, you can stay connected.
Our community, events and code of conduct
We announce the weekly events schedule on slack every Monday morning which includes 1-2 events a day, offering something for everyone.
The events consist of 4 categories:
Wellbeing; yoga/ HIIT classes/ run club/ beach workouts/ zumba (mainly guest led, let us know if you'd like to lead!)
Adventure; weekly group excursions ranging from boat trips, to elephant walks to historical tours.
Community; we host various community events to bring everyone together including a weekly family dinner, soccer and group games nights
Professional growth; One Noma community member a week hosts a workshop that are either their professional background or something they find interesting or useful for other guests. We have had workshop topics ranging from ethical fashion, to personal finances, learning to code with python, to DJ, take amazing photos and many more.
Code of Conduct
We are a community, please be supportive in people’s efforts to organise things and ask questions. There are no such things as stupid questions or boring events.
We have a lot of solo travellers and people’s arrival times are staggered, so please make sure that you’re friendly and welcoming to new arrivals as it can be a pretty daunting process at the start.
We attract people from all backgrounds, creeds and ideologies. Please be conscious when making comments about religions, divisive political figures or national stereotypes.
Be considerate. Social etiquette applies here as it does elsewhere:
- Don't touch people without their consent
- Respect people’s privacy, including their right to personal space (they might not want to be disturbed)
- Report any unsavory, criminal or unwelcome behaviour to a member of the resort staff
If you feel uncomfortable and are not sure how to deal with a situation then Team Noma are always on hand to help. We will exercise discretion unless you specify otherwise. Please feel free to reach out to us @TeamNoma on slack or your Community Manager in person.
Engaging With The Local Community In Watamu
We encourage guests to engage with, and have a positive impact on, the local community:
We are in the process of arranging some volunteering and skill sharing opportunities. If you believe you have a skill for local businesses e.g. Social media/ website optimisation, English tutoring etc then please let us know!
We are exploring ways to better support the local economy and are open to your ideas!
We love to gather feedback during a Noma Community Forum at the end of each Edition. Join us to share your thoughts about the program over some pizza and beers.
Some of you will have opted to join the safari trip, at the Maasai Mara on the 20th October. More information will be sent separately for this. For those of you opting to leave, shuttles will be arranged to the airport accordingly.