A Guide to the Coast of Kenya

Kenya is well known around the world for its savannahs, the dramatic Great Rift Valley and mountain highlands, but probably most of all, it’s also home to extraordinary wildlife like lions, elephants and rhinos. One thing that a lot of people don’t think when they head to Kenya is the coast of Kenya and the beautiful Indian Ocean and the beaches there.

Having spent quite a bit of time there and travelled over the country, here I share a bit about the coast. Where to go and why.

There are many options in getting to the Kenyan Coast

How to get there?

Flying

When it comes to flying; you can get straight into Mombasa, Lamu or Malindi if you’re looking for the most direct option.

Many international flights arrive into Mombasa, or you can pick one of the budget airlines that fly to here and other airports on the coast from Nairobi.

Train

Since the completion of the railway track, there is a direct train from Nairobi to Mombasa, which has now been converted to a high-speed train that only takes around 4 hours and only $7.

The trains fill up fast – despite running daily – and tickets must be bought a few days in advance either from the train station in person Or via the Kenya mobile payment method M-Pesa. For a travelling tourist, this can be difficult.

There is the option of a Bus; however, I have never taken this mode of Transport, but it is the cheapest and slowest way. Well, I say it is the most time-consuming if you fancy running it like me it takes about two weeks!!!

Culture

The Coast of Kenya is part of Africa’s Swahili coastline, with its tropical climate and melting pot of cultures.

With much of Asia just across the Ocean and Kenya’s colonial past. European, African and Arabic influences jostle peacefully alongside each other here to create a fantastic mix.

The Swahili coast is malarial so you will need to take Malaria tablets. Also, you should avoid them biting you in the first place.

Deet Free Mosquito Repellant

Mombasa

Capital of the Kenya Coast, Mombasa is a bustling port city.

There’s not a huge amount to do here and have to confess I use it to get from the airport to the beaches.

However, it’s entirely possible you’ll spend a night or two here on your way to other coastal destinations.

Top sites include the UNESCO-listed Fort Jesus and the crumbling old town.

Kilifi

Where I spend most of my time on the coast. I love this place. A very relaxed spot and has a friendly local community and an arty-alternative crowd of expats. They tend to gather around Distant Relatives backpackers.

Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers

Set on the banks of a creek, there are tons to do in Kilifi including visiting local markets and enjoying sunset dhow rides.

Along with other activities such as Sailing and Waterskiing.

Water Skiing Kilifi

However, if you feel like relaxing with a good book and enjoying the sunshine as part of your Kenya itinerary, this is the perfect place to do that too.

If you do, you have to walk around in a Kikoy, and it’s a must on the coast!

Lamu

Has had a bit of a bad rep in recent years due to conflict in Somalia and Al Shabab. Road travel here is considered unsafe; however, things are changing for this beautiful place.

Get a return ticket to Manda Island and from there hop on the short ferry to the island of Lamu itself.

There are no cars on Lamu, only donkeys wandering the ancient streets of this UNESCO World Heritage-Listed town. As mosques sing out their call to prayer and the smell of simmering samosas lie thick in the air.

While there are some attractions to visit in Lamu and beautiful beaches to explore too; this is the sort of destination where the essence of it is the real attraction so take a deep breath, relax and spend your wandering and getting lost in the fascinating streets of this remote community.

Diani

Growing .up this was the party place to go over New Year. This is likely to be one of your favourite spots on the Kenya coast.

This resort town is an Indian Ocean paradise, with white sand continually lapped by azures tides and palm trees that perfectly frame the picture.

If you’re feeling active; there is skydiving, scuba diving and kitesurfing all on offer here, as well as boat trips and snorkelling trips to enjoy, as well as day trips to the Shimba Hills National Reserve.

Otherwise enjoying a stellar sunset from near the Kongo Mosque is a must, as is hammock swinging.

There’s a lot of resorts that line the beach at Diani, but the sand is still very much public property meaning you can easily enjoy it on any budget too!

Watamu

Visiting Watamu is another excellent beach spot on the Kenya Coast if you enjoy being dazzled by spectacular beaches or visiting ancient ruins, which are tucked away in the jungle nearby.

With a substantial Italian expat population don’t forget to indulge in some gelato or a tasty espresso as you soak up the incredible coastal views in Watamu too.

Sunset Kilifi Creek

For another Blog on Kenya check out https://www.johnhorsfall.org/2019/08/horseback-safari-kenya/

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