Funzi Keys is a lovely owner-run beach lodge on a private island off Funzi Island. The keynote is on relaxing in unspoilt, natural surroundings; on doing what you want to do when you want to do it. It is a blissful and luxurious escape from the disciplines of daily life.
Funzi Island lies off the Kenya coast at the mouth of the Ramisi River, between Diani and Shimoni. It is a 15-minute charter flight from Mombasa, or up to 2 hours by road and boat.
Hosting nine enormous beachfront cottages and eight seaview rooms, Funzi Keys and its surroundings are magnificent. Built of stone and thatch, and set along the high-water line, they blend into their surroundings. Each cottage has large netted windows to catch the sea breezes and has been positioned to ensure privacy. The carved four-poster bed is hung with netting: in some rooms, it is in a shimmering, richly-coloured fabric reminiscent of the Arab traders. Silken curtains cover the large netted windows by night. A cushioned day-bed, an intricately carved Swahili chest, carved chairs and a jacuzzi bath continue the sense of opulence. You don’t need to bring much more than your swimming costume and sun lotion: kikois, caps and hats, T-shirts, beach bags, flip-flops hairdryers and insect repellent are all provided. Other amenities include a fan, a personal safe, a cool box for chilled drinks and tea/coffee facilities (the owner was once a coffee trader). Each cottage has its own private outdoor area and sunbeds, too. Two of the cottages have a second bedroom and all can accommodate an extra bed for a child. The new garden bungalows are available on a half-board rate. They offer attractive accommodation, with a steep thatched roof, private terrace, lounge area, comfortable bed and en suite facilities.
The Funzi Keys has a very large freshwater swimming pool with a large decked area for sunbathing – or reading. The two-storey main building stands behind the beach and houses the bar and lounge, on the ground floor, and the main dining room on the first. The well-stocked bar, comfortable lounge and airy restaurant are open to the breezes and provide an excellent vantage point for the tropical sunset.
Opposite the Funzi Keys’ beach, a sandbank rises and is submerged with the rhythm of the tides. The staff will take you by boat (unless you would rather canoe across yourself), erect a shade and bring your lunch or equip you with “bitings” and your favourite tipple. It is a idyllic place to sunbathe, cool off in the clear water, and look for starfish. You can paddle a canoe, take out a windsurfer or sail a cat, laser or Pico; or relax on a sunset cruise under the full sail of a traditional dhow. Take a boat trip into the bay or to the Ramisi River; borrow a fly-rod for creek fishing or see what you can catch from the fishing boat. You can also walk down to the nearby village and get a glimpse of local life; or ask Claudia to arrange for you to see their cattle, tended by Maasai. Massage, pedicures and manicures are on offer. The shop has a selection of beach wear, essential items and a collection of fine beaded, stone and seed pearl jewellery. Big-game fishing charters can be arranged at extra cost. Two fully-equipped fishing boats (46’ and 42’) are skippered by an expert father and son team. November – March is the prime billfish season, while July – October is best for tuna. Scuba diving and snorkelling are available (at extra cost) in the Kisite Marine Park, about 25 minutes by speedboat. A British Sub Aqua Club Resort Centre on Wasini offers the SSI Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses with a maximum of four people. It also provides rewarding diving for experienced divers.
The Funzi Keys has an extraordinary menu, with seafood, fish, and beef dishes from Italian, Chinese, Indian, European and Swahili cuisines. Fresh gnocchi, pizza fresh from the pizza oven, soups, salads and sandwiches also feature. The kitchen provides a good choice for vegetarians, too. There are no set meal times, no dress code and no prescribed place to eat. You can breakfast in your room or on the sandbank, lunch in the cool of the dining room or beneath the trees beside the pool, or dine on the beach. The owners keep a herd of cattle to assure the quality of the beef – consommé, carpaccio and fillet.