Kenya is full of surprises. It’s not all big cats and dawn game drives – there’s smooth white sandy beaches too. Lots of them. Kenya’s picture-perfect stretch of palm-fringed shoreline attracts divers, adventurers and beach bums alike. Head to the bustling island city of Mombasa and you’ll find a string of luxury hotels hugging the powdery white shores of the Indian Ocean. This is where temperatures hover around a perfectly balmy 30°C (with tropical downpours around April and May, and October and November). There are no early wake-up calls or bumpy roads to travel – just lazing in a hammock, snorkelling crystal clear waters, and deep sea fishing. That’s as hard as life gets here.
A melting pot
Away from the sprawling beach resorts, wooden dhows you’d expect to see in the Arabian Gulf, 16th century European defensive forts and British colonial architecture all sit side by side against a backdrop of urban, cosmopolitan Africa. But, while the city’s buzzing nightlife, famous restaurants and historical sights are all worth exploring, it is Mombasa’s idyllic beaches that are the main draw.
Mombasa’s Nyali Beach has been a popular destination for decades. Beachside resorts are well-established along its stretch and a wealth of watersports are on offer from many of the hotels. The Voyager Resort offers total relaxation on the doorstep of an 18-hole golf course, casinos and a crocodile sanctuary. Kitesurfing has become increasingly popular around the world, and Mombasa’s reef-protected shallow waters, soft sand and good winds make it a great place to learn. You’re only a short taxi ride from several top-class restaurants too.
Around an hour south of Mombasa, Diani Beach is well worth the journey from the city. Away from the urban action, life on Diani Beach is slower and more peaceful. It’s the place to go for a truly relaxing beach holiday with some of that legendary African hospitality. Exclusive beach resorts with all the trimmings, eco-resorts and more rustic, budget-friendly accommodation are all available, as well as some options for wellness and activity retreats.
Further up the coast towards Malindi, a scenic journey of around two hours, is Watamu Beach. The diving and snorkelling around here is excellent, and it is an important turtle breeding area, thousands of which lay their eggs from January to April. If you’d rather not swim, there are plenty of glass bottom boat and fishing trips available.
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