Mountains, deserts, colourful tribal culture, beaches, coral reefs and wildlife
Covering 300 miles, the Indian Ocean coast offers visitors a superb beach holiday in Kenya, and is one of the country’s main attractions. It offers a combination of historical sites, trading ports with a strong Arab-Muslim influence and excellent beaches and diving opportunities. Mombasa, the coasts’s capital, is an old trading port dating back to the 12th century with Portuguese, Arabic and Indian influences. There are good transport links by air, bus and train. To the south and north of Mombasa are some of the finest beaches in Africa. To the south, the area is more unspoilt and the Colonial-style hotels are frequented by Anglo-Kenyan families during school holidays.
A strip of hotels, popular with package tour companies for beach holidays in Kenya, stretches up the north coast. There is accommodation to suit all budgets ranging from guest houses to luxurious lodges. The Watamu Marine National Park provides some excellent snorkelling and diving and the coral gardens can be viewed from glass-bottom boats. Watamu and Malindi are also centres for deep-sea fishing charters. From here, you can also visit the historical ruins at Gedi, the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve and The Shimba Hill National Reserve. Moving further north is the Lamu Archipelago, a truly relaxing destination for a beach holiday in Kenya. With only donkeys for transport, Lamu can only be reached by dhow, motorboat or by air via nearby Manda Island.
Once known as Kenya’s Kathmandu, there are now a large number of reasonably priced lodgings. At Shela, a 40 minute walk or 10 minute dhow trip, there is a 12 kilometre stretch of white sand backed by sand dunes, and unprotected by a reef, this is one of the few beaches in Kenya where it is possible to surf. Dhow trips are available to other nearby islands, namely Manda, Pate and Kiwayu. Kiwayu is part of the Kiunga Marine National Reserve and offers some of the best snorkelling in Kenya. There are budget camping sites as well as luxury lodges and it is also accessible by air.