It is 5 pm, and the sunset blossoms red and gold with a flourish of romantic hand as couples sway across the boardwalk at Mida Creek in Kilifi County, to catch a glimpse of an island named the Garden of Eden.
The couple sways across the famous mangrove ‘dancing’ boardwalk, a 260-metre-long bridge, and at the end, they get to ride a canoe through the mangroves to the Garden of Eden island. Several edible crabs crawl around the mangrove-surrounded island, with birds also flying around. As one walks around the island, the white sand massages the foot giving a pacifying feeling.
Kilifi’s rich mangrove forest.
As if God graffitied rainbow-flame upon the evening sky, the sunset comes in its boldest blaze, giving the island a magnificent appearance.
Several couples have tied the knot on the mysterious island and others who are in love visit to officiate weddings, others go as far as spending their honeymoon here while others come for fun. According to the tour guides, many couples have come back with a testimony.
The island has for years been an interesting piece of Watamu history and culture as many believe that it holds the secret to any couple that would wish to have twins. Barren women and sterile men can sire children upon visit.
Apparently, if honeymooners make love in the garden, they end up conceiving twins!
“It’s believed that if you want to give birth to twins or have low sperm count, all you need to do is to come to the Garden of Eden with your spouse and conceive right here. The place itself is popular with locals who like to come and relax here,” says John Tsofa, a tour guide at the Mida creek boardwalk.
When the Nairobian team visited the island, we found a couple and wedding flowers almost withering, an indication that a couple held their wedding here in the past week.
Aaron and Jane are a couple interviewed by the Nairobian on the Island.
As Aaron watches the sea, lost in the rhythmic percussion of waves on sand, his eyes are steady on the horizon, face aglow with the last orange rays before twilight beckons the stars. His lips bear the semblance of a smile, just enough to show that he is enjoying his thoughts, whatever they may be. Jane moves closer so that he feels her presence, yet stays quiet, allowing him to stay lost in the moment a while longer.
“We are here to capture simple moments in our soul. We are still dating but when we decide to settle we are going to have our wedding on this island,’’ says Aaron.
With valentines around the corner, many singles have also flocked to the island to seek for a love charm.
Yvonne Mwasya, a BBC journalist who is single, visited the island earlier this week and offered prayers throwing sand into the sky and she hopes her prayers will materialise.
“I visited the Garden of Eden on Sunday, and I’m hoping to get a husband soon and bore twins too,’’ says Yvonne.
James Gumbo, one of the guides at the Mida Creek boardwalk, says the Garden of Eden has a special healing power for lovers.
“The Garden of Eden is an ideal place for lovers who are in a sour relationship. It is a place where you can settle your relationship problems,’’ says James.
Locals also believe that the pure white sand is miraculous and makes wishes come true such that one can secure a job after visiting the island.
“If you dip your feet into the sand, you have already received luck. No one will come between you all the days of your life,’’ James added.
With various habitats of the forest species, locals believe that Adam and Eve lived on this island and it is here where the two ate the forbidden fruit and plunged the entire generation into sinful nature.
“You see this tree, this is where the snake was hiding when Eve bumped into it and it deceived her and she ate the fruit,’’ James said smiling.
Mida Creek tidal Indian ocean inlet expands across an area of 32 kilometres. The Mida Creek boardwalk is one of Watamu’s greatest gems which offers a mix of adventure, ocean fun, and a bit of exercise.
Underwater archaeologists from the National Museum of Kenya established the creek is rich in underwater heritage that dates back centuries.
The rich underwater heritage has already begun to be unearthed and will soon become a major tourist attraction.
The real allure of Mida is a bird’s paradise in the mangrove forest.
The creek is home to over 600 bird species. Birds are believed to have nested at Mida and others come to the creek from as far as Asia.
Most of the migratory birds come from Asia between September to April and stay at the creek for about three months. They then return to their native continent for hatching.
Industry players also believe this is the reason Mida Creek records high numbers of honeymooners and love birds.
A broad walk and a canoe ride to the Garden of Eden islands cost about Sh600.However, the youths who work here say they lack tour guide training which is meant to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to conduct tour guiding and travel operations in the dynamic tourism industry.
“We would be grateful to see tourism CS Peninah Malonza visit us to see the beauty of this place and help the world know about this area,” said Jacob Charo.
Every morning, local fishermen catch crabs, lobsters, and oysters and sell their catch to tourists and locals.
Also, Mida Creek has eight species of mangroves out of the nine types available worldwide, beds of seagrass and coral, and many species of fish and sea turtles.
Women take part in mangrove conservation but they say their greatest challenge is they have not been trained on how to handle and maintain the mangroves.
With proper support, youths and women can reap big from the blue economy to promote a good environment and empower the community.
The Mida Creek is best explored by boat, on a cruise through the creek at sunset for a sundowner drink, as the orange-gold stretches far and wide, the colour of fire hearths and tangerines. It is but the reflection of the dawn, the promise of the rising sun that comes after the velvety night has had its say and the land has rested once more.
After a brief canoe ride, visitors taste a sample of the seafood, consisting of grilled fish fresh from the ocean and chips or Ugali.