in search of the best beach

between the two of us, luke and i have seen some gorgeous beaches in our time, and mutually agree that each has its own personality. sapphire bay in st. thomas has stellar snorkelling and a rocky point full of iguanas. in schinoussa, greece, ben and i found marble pebble beaches carved into cliffs. cape cod, massachusetts will always hold its place in my mind with grassy dunes and tide pools.

i could go on about beaches for hours really but that’s not the point of this story. after a few days wandering stone town’s sweltering streets in zanzibar, luke and i decided to head for the water. we’d had a little taste in stone town actually, when we jumped in at the public beach to watch the sunset while local kids played soccer in the sand. the next day we took a daladala (taxi-bus in rwanda, matatu in kenya, same animal different name) 10km north of stone town to bububu (say that out loud), waded through sharp rocks to where it was deep enough to swim. i cut my foot and luke got a sunburn. not a great first day. we moved south a bit to less rocky ground and 20-or-so beached fishing dhows, cut open a mango in the shade of a palm and drank in the view. i became mesmerized by four fishermen standing side by side waist-deep in the water, rhythmically pulling their net, rocking back and forth in unison.

because it’s so hot here, you can’t do much other than swim, sleep, or eat between the hours of 11am and 4pm. so after the day in bububu (say it again, it’s fun), we took an early daladala to uroa on the eastern coast of the island. not a lot of mazungus make it here let’s say. we were badgered by about a dozen initially cute ultimately annoying kids until we escaped to a small restaurant for lunch to wait out the heat. the beach here was gorgeous- no rocks, but awfully shallow with lots of seaweed. the local people gather the seaweed to dry and use as medicine.

luke in sunscreen stunning beach shot from restaurant street music - these were pounding out tunes to no one in particular, filling empty street in the tiny village of uroa

at 4pm we packed up and walked up the road 5km to pongwe. with hand motions, we told a smily guy we didn’t need a hotel, we just wanted to swim. he looked worried, pointed to a big pile of rocks at the side of the road. hmm. a short path led us to the beach which was indeed full of rocks. disconcerting. lonely planet forgot to mention this small detail. we walked a few hundred meters, rocks and seaweed to the right, palm forest to the left, not a soul in sight, till we found a good spot and pitched our tent (stealth camping, luke calls this, to be repeated in future episodes).

the ocean breeze was strong and steady here so no mosquitos and not too hot. unfortunately, the breeze did not penetrate our tent which made a nice safe-haven for the mosquitos and heat and after tossing turning and swatting for an hour or so, i left for open beach. it’s amazing to sleep under stars without a tent, more so with the sound of waves crashing. however, sunrise at 6am is a pretty early wake-up call.

the next morning we carved up a pineapple and had coffee in a beachside hotel. a couple staying there said we could walk around the point to find rock-free seaweed-free swimming, so luke strapped on the pack and i grabbed the bag and off we went.

our path began easily and soon became tough. sand made way to rocks, which were soon covered with lapping waves, then crashing ones, waist-deep, threatening to spill us and all our stuff. each step had to be measured- you couldn’t see to expect sand, rock, or big rock beneath the waves- and balance maintained. i eventually gave up, handed my bag to luke and swam the rest of the way while luke trudged on. brothers are nice like that.

after a good half-hour of wading, we finally reached our destination: an amazing beach nestled in a cove, with smooth sand and crystal clear turquoise waters. worth every second of near-death-by-wave-on-rocks.

pongwe beach rocks at low tide - care for a swim? hiking to the beach before the water overcame us sun bed


~ by aliciawolcott on December 17, 2007.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: