Setting Sail on the Tamarind Dhow
History, views and fresh seafood offer a Mombasa experience to savor.
Any tourist holiday to Mombasa, on the Kenyan coast, must include a Tamarind Dhow dining experience. This legendary restaurant aboard refurbished, authentic trading vessels (dhows) combines fresh-caught seafood with cultural and natural viewsfor one unforgettable adventure.
These sailing vessels, once used to carry cargo along the Kenyan coast and Arab states trade routes, now moorto the elegant Tamarind restaurant in Mombasa’s Nyali neighborhood. With a backdrop of the culturally diverse coast and beauty of the Indian Ocean, the Tamarind Dhow sets sail daily (excepting Sundays) for both lunch and dinner cruises along Tudor Creek, hosting guests to both first-rate service and cuisine. The authentic Tamarind Dhow experience begins with a welcome drink (called dawa) after boarding. Translated “medicine” in Swahili, this vodka-and-honey cocktail — complemented by the gentle rocking of the ocean — is said to cure the ills of the day, before the meal of mixed seafood, steak, fresh fruit and more is prepared.
Relaxing while dining on fresh-grilled lobster or fresh-caught fish only gets better with the stunning views along this coastal tour, such as that of the old city of Mombasa, with Portuguese and Islamic architecture reflecting the area’s trade culture.
Views of the looming Fort Jesus as well hint of the site’s history as a 16th-century coastal fort built by King Philip of Portugal between 1593 and 1596. The only Portuguese fort on the Swahili Coast, Fort Jesus stands as the first successful attempt to influence Indian Ocean trade by the West. It is now a museum of Kenyan archeological finds, a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Named “Nawalilkher” and “Babulkher,” the two restored jahazis, or dhows, not only whisk guests away for the 2- and 4-hour daily cruises, but also for private parties between 55 and 100 people — ranging from celebratory showers to wedding receptions to business parties. Whatever the occasion, though, the fresh-catch flavors abound, and the resident band on board keeps the dance floor thumping — combining to create memories certainly worth savoring.