SWAHILI COASTKenya Sunset

  • Before you leave Kenya spend at least a few days at the coast! The Kenyan coast is stunning with over 500km (312 mi) of the bluest, clear, warm waters of the Indian Ocean, soft, white sandy beaches, palm trees, hot, shining sun and a good variety of accommodation, restaurants and water sport activities. There is a mix of developed and undeveloped ruggedness.
  • The coast area is also famous for the Swahili culture, a mix of Arab,African and other cultures from ages past. The influence of the historical colonization of Arab traders, then the Portuguese and later the British, is seen in some of the buildings and ruins.
  • There are beaches both north and south of Mombasa.
  • All beaches in Kenya are public. Some paths leading up to them are privately owned however. The beaches north and south of Mombasa are where you will enjoy the best that the coast has to offer.

MOMBASA CITY

  • A city of historical and cultural significance, Mombasa started as a trading port over 1500 years ago. In 1498 the Portuguese explorer, Vasco de Gama, landed here and a Portuguese colony was established. In later years Arabs from Oman took over the city and established it as a trading place. The vibrant Arabic Swahili culture remains today and is reminiscent in the language and architecture of ornately carved doors and balconies in the ‘old town’ and shops selling antiques.
  • Mombasa is 500kms (312 mi) by road and a one hour flight from Nairobi. It has an international Airport (Moi International Airport).

Fort Jesus, Mombasa

  • Now a museum, Fort Jesus is a monumental piece of architecture, built in 1593 by the Portuguese. It represents an Italian fortress in the shape of a man. Religious significance is denoted by its’ name. It was used to protect nearby Mombasa beach. Different periods have seen a few adjustments made to the building.
  • Perched on the cliff overlooking the waters of the Indian Ocean, the interior has torture rooms and prison cells where slaves were kept in captivity before being traded, and weapons which were used to defend the fort from invading foreigners as well as rioting locals, The site is open for viewing in the morning and closes at dusk.

Mamba Village, MombasaCrocodile

  • Mamba Village is East Africa’s largest crocodile farm, with over 10,000 crocodiles. It is situated in the Mombasa suburb of Nyali. As well providing education about crocodiles and conservation, there is a botanical garden and camels and horses to ride. There is also a restaurant that serves specialized game meats.

Haller Wildlife Park / Bamburi Nature Trails, Bamburi, Mombasa

  • Haller Wildlife Park is a unique, ecologically restored area that was previously a quarry site, on the Mombasa-Malindi road. It is now a sanctuary to a large variety of animals such as hippos, giraffes, crocodiles, buffalos, zebras, waterbucks, elands, antelopes, giant tortoise, oryx, bushbuck, suni and duiker. More than 160 bird species have been introduced. The butterfly pavilion provides a magnificent display of colour, with many coastal species. The nature trails are good for bike riding and walking.

Bombolulu Workshop Nyali, Mombasa

  • This is a centre where the physically disabled are employed in four workshops (jewelry, tailoring, woodcarving, leather). There is a shop where the quality products are sold for a very reasonable price. In the compound there is also a Cultural Centre featuring traditional tribal homes.

Beaches, Mombasa

  • Within Mombasa there are several beaches, including Nyali Beach and Bamburi Beach. Both have good restaurants and hotels which provide water sport activities.

Mombasa Marine Park and National Reserve, North Mombasa

  • The Marine Park extends from Mtwapa Creek south to the entrance of Likoni, and is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • The Park has different types of reef (including multicolored hanging reefs and large corals) soft, smooth, sandy sea floors and an abundant and diverse marine life, including crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, star-fish.

NORTH COAST

WATAMU

Watamu Marine National Park, North of MombasaTurtle

  • The National Park has a range of habitats including intertidal rock, sand and mud, fringing reefs and coral gardens, coral cliffs, sandy beaches and the Mida Creek mangrove forest.
  • The Mida Creek mangrove forest has a high diversity of mangrove species including Ceriops tagal, Rhizophora mucronata, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Avicennia marina and Sonneratia alba. There are more than 600 species of fish and other sea creatures, including whale sharks, manta rays, octopus, barracuda, dugongs, which provides for wonderful snorkeling and scuba diving, or viewing from a glass-bottomed boat.
  • It is also a vital turtle breeding area, with Green and Hawksbill turtles being the primary species. Over 100 species of birds are found in the cultivated gardens, shambas and bush.

Gedi Ruins, Watamu

  • Gedi, Kenya was one of the ancient Arab towns located along the East African coast from the late 13th or early 14th century, The ruins are the only remains of the historic thriving Swahili town. The city was abandoned in the early 17th century. Ruins of the Great Mosque, the Palace, pillar tombs and homes of sophisticated Swahili architecture have been uncovered and are available for viewing.
  • Ming Chinese porcelain and Spanish and Swahili artifacts are on display in the museum.

MALINDI

  • Malindi is literally two towns in one; an historic Swahili town dating back to the 12th century and a modern tourist center with resorts, shopping and white sandy beaches.
  • Malindi was historically a popular destination for early Chinese and Arab traders, Portuguese sailors and then European settlers.
  • Now a popular tourist destination, (particularly popular with Italians), Malindi is known for its culinary skill at local restaurants, hotels, coffee houses and other eating establishments.
  • Birdwatchers will enjoy a visit to the Malindi Falconry, a rehabilitation center for injured or sick birds and a breeding location for falcons.
  • Mailindi, with a long, white sandy beach and a beautiful ocean front, is a great place to spend a few relaxing days.
  • Malindi Marine Park and Reserve has fringing reefs, coral gardens in the lagoons, sea grass beds, sea cucumbers, mangroves, mudflats, high fish diversity, marine mammals (e.g. dolphins), turtles and various species of shorebirds.

LAMU, in the far northKenya Wildlife

  • The archipelago, consists of Lamu Island, with Lamu town and villages. Founded in the 13th century, the Swahili settlement of Lamu town is Kenya’s oldest town still in existence. Lamu was a thriving trading port in the 1500s, exporting timber, ivory, amber, spices and slaves.
  • Lamu is full of charm, character and mystique. The town is well-preserved, with many buildings, their architecture a mix of many combined influences from Europe, Arabia, and India and traditional Swahili techniques. Buildings are constructed of coral stone and mangrove timber, and feature inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors.
  • Vehicles are rare, transport is by donkeys, and the pace of life is so relaxed one feels far removed from the modern world. Even much of the traditional culture and way of life have remained intact. The majority of the population is Muslim. The men wear the traditional white kanzu and embroidered cap and women cover up in black cloth when they travel outdoors.
  • The Mawlid Festival, held annually in May or June, celebrates the birth of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, with dancing and special foods.
  • Pate, the largest of the Lamu islands, has an interesting maze of winding alleys and three-story homes. It is an historic Arabic colony, with a number of historical sites including the Fort at Siyu, overgrown tombs and ruined mosques, and a set of ruined medieval walls which outline the edge of the town. The island is surrounded by mangrove swamp and can only be reached at high tide.

SOUTH COASTMonkeys

DIANI BEACH

  • The most developed coastal area, with white beaches, palm trees and coral reefs. The reef is only a 30 minute swim or a 10 minute boat ride away from the beach. At high tide the beach tends to get partly or entirely covered. Available water sports include swimming, windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling, water-skiing, parasailing and scuba diving. The many accommodations and restaurants cater to all budgets. The nearby Shimba Hills National Reserve is known for its black and white Colobus monkeys.

TIWI BEACH

  • Tiwi is a lovely peaceful beach, not developed with restaurants and resorts, where you can enjoy safe swimming since it is protected by the reef. Cottages are available for renting.

SHIMONI

  • Near the Tanzania Border, Shimoni is the departure place for travel to Wasini Island. It has caves which can be visited. The history of the caves is unclear. One story says that the caves held slaves before shipment to Arabia. Iron shackles can still be seen on the walls and well-preserved wooden crates, used to transport slaves, are still found in the caves. Another story is that it was a place of refuge for the Digo people during battles with various hostile tribes.

WASINI ISLAND

  • Wasini Island was once the headquarters of the Imperial British East Africa Company. Swahili houses and a pillar tomb inset with Chinese porcelain, remain as remnants of an 18th and 19th century Arab settlement. Coral gardens and a landscape of exposed coral reefs make this a nice day trip by dhow, or it can be combined with a dolphin trip in the Shimoni Channel or deep sea fishing in the Pemba Channel.

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park

  • The Marine Park is South of Wasini Island, and can be reached by tour company boats and local community dhows.
  • The ecosystem covers a marine area with four small islands surrounded by coral-reef. Kisite Island is covered in low grass and herbs. Mpunguti Island has dense coastal equatorial forest.
  • There are coral gardens, gastropods, a variety of sea grasses and more than 250-recorded fish species (including dolphins). It is a great place for snorkeling, scuba diving and bird watching, with large nesting colonies of seasonal migratory birds.

Scuba Diving and SnorkelingChameleon

  • Protective reefs are beautiful and in very good condition. The best time for diving is October to March when there is excellent visibility to watch exotic fish of every color and shape.  Diving or snorkeling gear is available for rent everywhere, and there are numerous Padi Diving Courses available.

Wind and Kite Surfing

  •  Kite surfing conditions are especially good between December and February, with the afternoon wind between 4 and 5 Beaufort, ideal for both beginners and experienced surfers.

Sailing

  •  Become a member of the yacht clubs of Mombasa, Kilifi or Mtwapa, and enjoy their Club evenings.

Dhow (Traditional Sailing Boat) Trips

  • Dhows, the traditional sailing vessels Arab traders used to cross the Indian Ocean, are still used for fishing and getting around. They can be hired with crew for a few hours or several days. The more luxurious dhows may also have outboard motors, while the others are reliant on wind for sailing.

Glass Bottom Boat Trips

  •  Beach hotels in Kenya offer glass bottom boat trips to the beautiful reefs, a few miles from the coast.

Ocean Fishing

  • Ocean fishing trips are mainly available around Watamu, Malindi and Mombasa. In general, the fishing seasons runs from August to April, but it differs by species, and is influenced by the weather.

Camel Rides

  • Camel rides are available on most beaches. A fun and inexpensive experience!