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Kenya's idyllic Indian Ocean coastline is a popular post-safari chill-out destination. Those seeking a stress-free few days surrounded by white sand and swaying palms generally head for Diani, Tiwi or Nyali Beaches, which lie a short distance from Mombasa and are strung with beachfront resorts catering to most tastes and budgets. Also popular with sun worshippers, the beaches around Watamu and Malindi offer better opportunities for diving or snorkeling in spectacular reefs, as well as deep-sea fishing.

The Swahili Coast has a strong historical dimension, thanks to a maritime trade with Arabia stretching back more than a ...

Kenya's idyllic Indian Ocean coastline is a popular post-safari chill-out destination. Those seeking a stress-free few days surrounded by white sand and swaying palms generally head for Diani, Tiwi or Nyali Beaches, which lie a short distance from Mombasa and are strung with beachfront resorts catering to most tastes and budgets. Also popular with sun worshippers, the beaches around Watamu and Malindi offer better opportunities for diving or snorkeling in spectacular reefs, as well as deep-sea fishing.

The Swahili Coast has a strong historical dimension, thanks to a maritime trade with Arabia stretching back more than a millennium. An atmospheric relic of this medieval trade is the jungle-bound "lost city" of Gedi near Watamu, while the living culture can be experienced in Mombasa's Old Town, an enclave of 19th-century Islamic architecture set alongside the 16th-century Portuguese-built Fort Jesus. The cultural jewel of the Swahili coast is the ancient port of Lamu, which lies on the remote eponymous archipelago north of Malindi.

In addition to marine life, the coast offers some great game viewing opportunities, notably in the forested Shimba Hills Reserve near Diana, though Tsavo East can be visited as a day trip from Malindi. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, which engulfs the Gedi Ruins, harbors several rare endemic birds and mammals.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Southeast Kenya, on Indian Ocean coast. Mombasa is the second-largest city in Kenya. A regional cultural and economic hub, Mombasa has a large port and an international airport, and is an important regional tourism center.
  • Language: English, Kiswahili
  • Currency: Kenyan Shilling
  • Research: Wikitravel | Mombasa
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The main rainy season (March-May) is best avoided.