One of the biggest frustrations travelers will find along the beaches of Kenya are the ‘Beach Boys’. No it isn’t the young boy band group who sang in melodic unison in the 70s. We’re talking about what the locals call ticks, those blood sucking insects that cling to your skin. They zero in on you when you first arrive to the beach. “Hello my friend” they start and then ask where you’re from and where you are staying etc. They always say three is better than one and that they can show you the beach. Who needs to be shown a beach? There is the sand, there is the water, those things over there are called palm trees, and that yellow disk thingy is called the sun! So once you ditch one of these Rhode scholars another will instantly appear asking the same questions. Ultimately they want your money. They will try to get sell you souvenirs, dhow trips, sex, or drugs. Sometimes they just blatantly beg. One guy asked us if we knew what Saturday meant in Swahili. He said “it means those who have money are to give to those who don’t (feel like working). So how about 10 pounds?” We said “we’re Americans, not stupid.”
Fun Alternatives: In Watamu, your out of luck. These guys are all over. You can relax up along the cliffs though. There aren't any beach boys as there is no sand. But the cliffs are nice and give great views of the sea and the crashing waves.
We got friendly with a lad from the local village who we met while taking a walk up the beach. He just wanted to practice his English on us (and probably earn a small amount of money) and we arranged for him to take us to the local snake farm. Unfortunately at the arranged meeting time two of the beach traders turned up instead and said that they would escort us - they said that the lad couldn't make it after all. We didn't really want to go with them, but out of courtesy arranged for them to show us around their village. At the end we gave them the equivalent of 3 pounds sterling each which we thought was fair reward for just over an hour of guiding (considering we didn't even want to go there in the first place) - we also bought them a beer in the local bar. They looked a bit put out by the amount and asked for money for the local orphanage. We stood firm and gave them no more money, but did say we were donating some clothes and money through the hotel at the end of our stay - which we, and most of the other guests, did. After buying them another beer each we parted on good terms, but I never did find out what they said to the boy from the village who was supposed to be our original guide for the day! I guess he strayed on to their turf.
Unique Suggestions: If you are "kidnapped" in this way its probably best to agree a fee in advance, that way there would be no disagreement at the end. I also had serious doubts whether the percentage they claimed they gave to the local orphanage ever would have gone there! Much better to donate through the hotel.