The Kenyan coastline runs 480km along the Indian Ocean. It is in this second largest city that harbors a history that dates back to about 2000 years ago. From the line of settlers starting with Shirazi Arabs who integrated with the Swahili community reflects the large stone cities constructed at the port.
Islam is the main religion with a nine tribe known as the “miji kenda” whose ancestors migrated southwards from the northern border region in the 17th century.
Fishing substitutes agricultural activity and here visitors can enjoy their holiday with a day out fishing. It is here at the coast where white sandy beaches lapped by warm blue waters of the Indian Ocean are found, a place where one can hide from the harsh winters in the northern hemisphere.
Mombasa is the second largest town after Nairobi. It is linked to the mainland by bridges to the north and west and a Likoni Ferry to the south.
Built by the Portuguese by the Italian architect in 1593, the Fort Jesus has undergone a change of ownership with considerable violence.
One of the most protracted battles in its history was a 33-year month siege by the Omani navy from 1696 to 1698, which claimed at least 6,000 lives. It has served as military barracks and then prison. To understand the overall picture and to know more about the history still visible on its wall and the names of its structure, a trip to the Coast is inevitable.
This town was known as the headquarters of Mbaruk bin Rashid, a notorious slave trader who claimed descent from the Mazrui dynasty ousted by the Omani capture of Fort Jesus in 1828.It is also here where you will find the Gazi Women’s Mangrove Boardwalk, a community project started in 2006 to protect the mangrove that line Gazi Bay. More interesting is the wildlife found here which includes mudskipper crabs, the dazzling kingfisher and various marine birds.
It is in this growing town that you will find lively yachting, restaurants and nightlife scene. Famous for its Kenya Marine land, there is a large glass-sided aquarium is home to colorful reef dwellers such as red snapper, puffer fish and angelfish. One can see crocodiles and lizards in a small park nearby. For those who want to feel the open sea arrangements for dhow trips are available.
A small fishing community also known as Kifunzi has an ancient link which is a venerable coral rag-rock mosque lying in partial ruins in the rambling gardens of Paradise Lost. Here dhow trips are also arranged to the open sea as well as canoe trips to see dolphins, crocodiles and tropical birds at Ramisi Creek.
Offshore is a wonderful tropical beach, the Funzi Island. With a beach lodge built in an inspired Swahili style, Funzi Key offers various activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving.
Beaches and Islands
Bamburi and Shanzu Beaches
Forming a 10 km stretch of classic Indian Ocean coastline- white sand, swaying palms and turquoise blue water hemmed by offshore reefs, this is a beach which can leave your holiday a moment to remember. With swimming and sunbathing to snorkeling, windsurfing and scuba diving all in one beach, one is assured more relaxation and less moving around and refreshing cocktails from the many restaurants available.
Diani Beach is characterized by its long, idyllic stretch of palm-fringed white sand, with dozens of resort hotels offering all inclusive deals of resort hotels offering all-inclusive deals in mid-range to up market bracket. With a surface road which links resorts here you will find shops, malls offering all manner of products and services.
Activities include short safaris to Tsavo East National Park, Shimba Hills National Reserve and Taita Hills. Also in the activity list is water sports such as diving, snorkeling, windsurfing and game fishing.
On the landward side of Diani, lives an estimated 500 Angola colobus monkeys about 10 percent of East African population.
It is one of the loveliest beaches on the Kenyan coast. Lined with prestigious hotels and resorts including the pioneering Nyali Beach Hotel here lies the Nyali Golf and Country Club which boasts the only 18-hole course on the coast north of Mombasa, one of the finest in Kenya.
Oppositely situated is the Mamba Village Centre which has the largest crocodile farm in Kenya. In the centre resides a snake park, spider house, botanical garden, horse riding facilities and an aquarium. Meals are composed of crocodile meat and houses one of the most popular discos in Kenya.
Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Reserve
This protected open sea, island and reefs which covers an area of 40sq-km. This is the area that harbors the richest marine life of any Kenyan reserve. On a boat trip to the island, it is possible to see one of the five dolphin specie. Other activities include diving and snorkeling in the “Mpunguti y a Juu”, “Mpunguti ya chini” and Liwe la Jahazi coral islets.
Interred within the humid depths of the Northern Coast’s forest are the crumbling mosques and palace walls of the Gedi Ruins, Kenya’s very own lost city. Abandoned in the 16th century, these medieval relics of a once-wealthy trading port, whose name has been lost in the mists of time, stand witness to the 2000-years old Swahili coastal culture.
Malindi is the second largest coastal settlement, there are limited historical landmarks but it is well endowed with tourist attractions and facilities plus a string of resorts. There are ample of activities like water sports which will keep your holiday fun and relieved. Malindi is strategically placed for trips to Gedi, Arabuko, Sokoke and Hell’s Kitchen, and also a short safari to Tsavo East National Park.
Watamu is known for its sandy beach which overlooks the shallow turquoise waters interrupted by a succession of fantastically ragged coral outcrops, which explode from the water like giant surrealist mushrooms. With its bay extending 7km, its beach is a gem, it is a place where one can pull up a deckchair and relax below the swaying palms or snorkel and dive among the kaleidoscope array of reef fish that inhabit the magnificent offshore coral garden.
Traveling does not stop there as the Arbuko Sokoke Forest and Gedi Ruins lie within a 10km radius. Also fascinating is the Bio-Ken Snake Farm located outside Watamu. This is a farm with the largest collection of snakes in East Africa. Through a free”remove snake” service for the locals it has seen this farm house almost all of the region’s venomous specie. Among the snake in the farm include cobras, vipers and all the three mambas.
These snakes are milked for antivenin for regional distribution. On a planned visit one could learn more and even come face to face with one of the most deadly snakes on the planet.
National Reserves and Archaeological Site
Arabuko Sokoke National Park
Arabuko Sokoke is a 420sq-km National Park that protects the largest remaining tract of coastal forest in East Africa. In this park resides a stronghold for six globally threatened birds, among a recorded 230, while at least four of its 250 recorded butterfly species occur nowhere else in the world.
This is an ideal place for ornithologist as the Sokoke Scops Owl could be seen while on a guided walk through the forest.
Shimba National Reserve
Characterized by green grassland and also supporting the second largest coastal forest after Arabuko Sokoke National Park, Shimba Hills National Reserve extends over an area of 250sq-km. It is Kenya’s stronghold of the sable antelope, hosting an estimated population of 200 of these magnificent creatures.
Other wildlife to be found here includes giraffe, leopard, zebra, warthog, several monkey species and substantial populations of elephant and buffalo's.
Dating back as far as the 13th centaury or earlier, this undocumented archaeological site is rich in history and has preserved an awesome work of architecture. Its name from the Oromaic Gede (precious), alludes to the abundant water of its deep stone wells.
It spreads over 49 acres with a population of 3,000 people and at least eight mosques. It is thought that the Gede was abandoned after the destruction of Mombasa by the Portuguese.