Mombasa and its surrounding beach resorts are great jumping off points for safaris throughout Kenya. Starting and returning to Mombasa and Kilifi Beach, you can join a Copious Africa Safaris to wildlife filled parks like Tsavo, Amboseli, Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara. Mombasa is actually an island connected to its mushrooming development on the mainland by a causeway, bridges, and ferries. Coral reefs fringe the coast for 480 km providing fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities, especially at Mombasa Marine National Park and around Wasini Island. Dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing are also popular. History buffs will enjoy exploring the 16th-century Fort Jesus and Old Town with its narrow streets, ancient Swahili dwellings, markets, and souvenir shops. The north shore of Mombasa is crammed with attractions including Mombasa Go-Kart, cinemas, sports, and a cornucopia of restaurants. This being a coastal hub, beach lovers will find some worthy strands nearby. North of the city, Nyali and Bamburi Beaches are favorites, while the white strands of Shelly, Tiwi, and Diani Beaches are popular spots south of Mombasa.
Malindi & Watamu
North of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast, Malindi is a beach resort popular with European visitors. Thanks to its rich trading history, it too is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, and also sports a split personality. Part historic old town, part modern tourist hub, Malindi is where travelers come to sun on the white sands of Watamu Beach, dive the coral reefs of the Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks, and soak up a dose of Swahili history in the historic town, dating from the 12th century. Here tourists can visit the Jami Mosque, two pillar tombs from the 14th century, and the Church of St Francis Xavier, one of East Africa’s oldest churches. On the promontory, the Vasco De Gama Cross is one of the oldest standing monuments in Africa. In the former home of an Indian trader, the Malindi Museum has displays on Vasco de Gama and also doubles as an information center.
Surrounded by the breathtaking Indian Ocean, soft white sands, lush greenery and the striking shade of emerald blue that emerges from its clear warm waters, Diani is Kenya’s most relaxing retreat. It is the perfect place to get away from the stress of everyday life or to relax before and after an exciting safari.
With its 17 kilometers of beautiful, flawless, soft white sand, Diani Beach has been awarded the best beach destination in Africa for 5 years running and is popular with families, honeymooners, backpackers and water-sports enthusiasts alike. From visiting its marine national park, diving with dolphins and sea turtles, spotting whale sharks, kite surfing, skydiving and nightlife, Diani offers a range of activities for all ages.
Diani boasts a wide range of resorts, hotels, B&Bs and budget stays. From the backpacker to the luxury traveler, everyone can find the ideal retreat.
A foodie’s heaven, eat al fresco at various local cafés serving the best of local fresh Swahili dishes or enjoy a luxurious seafood platter in one of the highly rated international restaurants.
There is plenty to do in and around Diani, on, off and above water. Take a day trip out on an original dhow boat to Wasini Island to look for dolphins and sea turtles. For a small adventure take a glass bottom boat or small fishermen’s dhow to the sandbank and marvel at the fantastic underwater world. Go a bit deeper into the ocean and dive with one of the PADI certified diving companies in Diani. The constant trade winds make Diani a top spot for kite surfers and windsurfers.
Take it to the sky for the thrill seeking; skydiving down onto the pristine beach is a fantastic adventure. On land, guided walks through sacred forests, a monkey sanctuary, a turtle information centre and a trip to Shimba Hills, the only coastal national park that is home to the endangered Sable Antelope, are some of the many options waiting to be explored.
The small island of Lamu, northeast of Mombasa, oozes old world charm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited settlement with origins dating back to the 12th century. Strolling the labyrinthine streets, you will see the island’s rich trading history reflected in the buildings. Architectural features from the Arab world, Europe, and India are evident, yet with a discernible Swahili technique. Intricately carved wooden doors, coral stone buildings, hidden courtyards, verandas, and rooftop patios are common features. Visiting here is like stepping back in time. Dhows plow the harbor, few if any motorized vehicles exist here, and donkeys still rule the streets as they have done for centuries.
Most of Lamu’s population is Muslim and both men and women dress in traditional attire. Top attractions on the island include Lamu Museum, with displays on Swahili culture and the region’s nautical history; Lamu Fort; and the Donkey Sanctuary. If all the history is a little too much, you can bask on one of the island’s white sand beaches or sip Arabic coffee in a local café.
Just the name, Zanzibar, evokes dreams of romance and mystery and the reality will not disappoint. Zanzibar includes the main island, Pemba and Unguja and has for centuries attracted adventurers and seafarers from around the world. Today Zanzibar welcomes a new generation of explorers-those who come to marvel at the rich heritage, reflected in the architecture and the culture of the people. Visit Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town-another of Tanzania’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Relax on the dazzling white, palm-fringed beaches, where the azure waters of the Indian Ocean beckon divers, swimmers, fishermen and water sports enthusiasts alike. Breathe in the fragrant scents of cloves, vanilla, cardamom and nutmeg, and discover why Zanzibar is christened ‘The Spice Islands’.
Immerse yourself in the magic that is Zanzibar!