The Kenyan coast is lined with pristine white sand beaches fringing the warm inviting waters of the Indian Ocean. The Kenya coast wilderness meets the sea, and the ocean itself holds a world of spectacular coral reefs teeming with life and colour.
Kenyan coast has beautiful white beaches with palm trees, warm sea water, coral reefs, and sand dunes. The average temperature is 82°F (28°C) but there is a relaxing cool breeze from the sea
History of the Kenyan coast has a very interesting and unique culture. It is a place where Arabs and Africans lived together and created a new culture, unique only to the coast province of Kenya.
Early coastal Kenya settlements grew into towns with Arab and African inhabitants. Intermarriage was common and a unique culture developed that resembled the people of the Islamic Gulf states.
Today, the people of the Kenyan coast region are the Swahili, who speak a blended Arabic and African language called Kiswahili.
The Portuguese first arrived at the coastal Kenya region in 1500 and gained control of the entire Kenyan coast region. They built the historic Fort Jesus for protection. Trade flourished until 1698 when the Sultans of Oman attacked and conquered Fort Jesus and the entire Kenyan coast.
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Now under the control of the Seyyid Said, the Omani Ruler, trade resumed including the exports of coconut, cloves, ivory and hides.
Slave Trade was banned in 1800. The British took control of Kenyas interior but left the 10-mile wide Kenyan coast strip to the Sultan. In 1920 this coastal Kenyan region too became a British protectorate.
Protected by its own barrier reef, the Kenyan coastline rolls serenely north of Mombasa via the endless beaches of Bamburi, into the quaintly pretty Kilifi Creek, and on up to the lazy languor of Watamu, Malindi and Lamu. To the south, it swings through the magnificent crescent of Diani Beach and on down to the Tanzania border.
For much of its journey, the Kenyan coastline is backed only by waving coconut palms. Occasionally it is punctuated by the bustle and brilliance of hotels, beach bars, camels and skittering kite surfers; sometimes by the coral-grey ruins of an ancient Swahili settlement; sometimes by a buttress of bulbous baobab trees; sometimes by a deserted mosque.
Behind the southern beaches, though, rise the elephant patrolled woodlands of the Shimba Hills: behind the northern beaches the red-dust reaches of Tsavo East National Park. But above all, the Indian Ocean coastline is a journey: from past to present and from holiday paradise to pristine wilderness.
Kenyan Coast Today
Today, Kenyan coast is full of historical sites, trading ports, beautiful beaches, and luxury resorts.
It is the place that truly reflects Kenya’s rich cultural heritage. Unique to the Kenyan coast is the harmonious mix of African, Arabic and European cultures.
A trip to the Kenyan coast gives an opportunity to kick back and relax in the sun, scuba-dive, big-game fishing trip or take a dhow cruise in Coastal Kenya waters. You can also discover the traditions and culture of the kenyan coast people.
The coast province of Kenya is now a major tourist attraction area with the warm Indian Ocean waters providing some of the best places for snorkeling and diving.
Other Coastal Kenya attractions are its enormous game fish and coral reefs located at Malindi, Watumu Bay, and Shimoni.
Kenyan coast town of Mombasa has Kenyan coast biggest sea port and is Kenya’s second largest city. This colorful city has both ancient and modern influences.
The old town and its narrow winding streets offer beautiful sights of nicely carved doors, narrow verandahs, bazaars and curio shops.
Fort Jesus, built in 1593 by the Portuguese is kenyan coast’s biggest attraction, serving as a historical museum.
The Kenyan Coast: Kenya’s marine ‘Big Five’… and where to spot them…
Ask most visitors about Kenya’s ‘Big Five’, and they’ll think you’re talking about the safari stars (lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard). But it’s a lesserknown fact that Kenya hosts another Big Five – the marine mega-stars (dolphin, turtle, whale, shark and dugong).
Five of the world’s seven species of turtle are found in Kenya – green, hawksbill and olive ridleys nest along the coast, and the loggerheads and leatherbacks migrate through the waters. As for dolphins and whales, visitors can expect to see Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, spinner dolphins and humpback whales, with occasional sightings of killer whales, sperm whales and dwarf minke whales.
More unusual species include pilot whales, Bryde’s whales, striped dolphins, and more recently, Pan Tropical spotted dolphins. Rarer still are the dugong, more commonly known as sea cow.
Kenya has five major marine reserves all of which offer spectacular marine tours, most of which are run by community boat operators for the good of the local community as a whole.
They are: Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve, Malindi Marine National Park, Kisite-Mpunguti marine National Park, Kiunga Marine National Reserve, Watamu Marine National Park.
Visitors guide to the Kenyan Coast
Kenyan Coast – Kenya’s South Coast
The south coastline south of Mombasa is a tropical paradise of palm fringed white sand beaches, where the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean meet beautiful coral reefs. The protective reefs have created ideal beaches with calm, inviting waters.
Days are filled with sunshine and nights are balmy and warm with gentle sea breezes. The offshore reefs are alive with coral, myriad fish, sea turtles and dolphins.
Both outer and inner reef walls offer world class diving with spectacular coral gardens and drop offs. At Kisite-Mpunguti, a Marine Reserve has been established around beautiful Wasini Island, an ideal day trip for divers and snorkellers.
The beaches are bordered by lush green coastal rainforests with prolific birdlife and variety of wildlife including baboons, rare colobus monkeys and even leopard.
A wide range of World Class resorts, centred around Diani Beach allow visitors to relax and enjoy this natural paradise with the best standards of accommodation, service and cuisine.
Kenyan Coast – North of Mombasa
The coastline North of Mombasa is a world of enthralling history and natural beauty. The coast is lined with pristine palm fringed beaches,and the calm inviting waters of the Indian Ocean.
The beaches are broken by the wide mouth of Kilifi Creek, whose azurewaters are a popular port of call on the international yachting circuit.The beaches of Nyali, Vipingo, Kikambala and Shanzu are home to a widerange of World Class resorts with fine cuisine and services.
The peaceful beach havens of Mtwapa and Takaungu offer an ideal escapefrom the outside world, with endless deserted beaches.
The offshore reefs are alive with coral, myriad fish, sea turtles anddolphins. Both outer and inner reef walls offer world class diving withspectacular coral gardens and drop offs, and Kenya’s best wreck divingon the MV Dania.
Kenyan Coast – Lamu
Lamu is a place like no other, a peaceful tropical island where life is lived at it’s own relaxed rhythm, but a place whose history is as mysterious and fascinating as the winding streets of it’s medieval stone town.
The island itself is a beautiful place of rolling dunes and endless beaches, where tiny villages nestle among coconut and mango plantations and lateen sailed dhows ply the waters.
Lamu Old Town
But Lamu’s real attraction is its Old town. The town of Lamu began life as a 14th century Swahili settlement, but the island has seen many visitors and influences, including Portuguese explorers, Turkish traders and the Omani Arabs.
All left their mark, but Lamu developed its own particular culture, which has ultimately endured.
Lamu’s narrow streets remain unchanged, and in the markets and squares around the fort life moves at the same pace as it always has. There are no vehicles on this island, and the donkey and the dhow remain the dominant form of transport.
Kenyan Coast – Nyali & Bamburi
Nyali Beach and Bamburi Beach, located on the south east coast, facing the lndian Ocean offers long miles of pale sandy beach, backed by private villas, hotels and gardens. They are suitable for those seeking a beach holiday with the convenience of Mombasas urban attractions dose at hand.
Kenyan Coast – Shanzu
Shanzu, about 20 kilometers from Mombasa city along the Indian Coast, is a town, a lovely spot, with superb beaches and many beautiful and interesting places to visit. To get to Shanzu, take the main Mombasa – Malindi highway north and cross the Nyali Bridge.The Shanzu Holiday Market has lots of small shops and a Bazaar offering a large collection of local crafts at very good prices.
Kenyan Coast – Haller Park
Haller is the largest animal sanctuary in Mombasa. Visiting the park fascinating experience, with its giant tortoises and giraffes.
Kenyan Coast – Ngogmongo Villages
Ngomongo Villages, situated 500 meters off the Mombasa- Malindi road near Mombasa, is a spectacular Eco-cultural tourist village. The park is home to a variety of bird-life, crocodiles, ﬁsh among other species, in addition a well maintained forest and a wetland consisting of three lakes. There is a collection of 9 diverse rural Kenya tribal households, each one complete with huts, domestic and wild animals.
Kenyan Coast – Fort Jesus
The Portuguese built Fort Jesus in l593.The site chosen was a coral ridge at the entrance to the harbor. The fort was built to secure the safety of Portuguese living on the East Coast of Africa. It has had a long history of hostilities by interested parties that used to live in Mombasa. Perhaps no Fort in Africa has experienced such turbulence as Fort Jesus.The Omani Arabs attacked the Fort from I696 to I698.
Kenyan Coast – Lamu
Going to the remote archipelago of Lamu is like traveling back in time.As Kenya’s oldest town, Lamu has retained its appearance and character over the centuries. The town has narrow streets, no cars and the only means of transport are donkeys, or by sea and motor powered boats.The Lamu area contains wildlife and wide beaches. The beauty of this ancient world is celebrated daily. However, every year during the annual Lamu festival all are welcome to experience the; marvel of this coastal gem.
Kenyan Coast – Malindi
Malindi is a place full of history dating back to the 15th Century when the Portuguese visited our shores, making it a prime trading post. Sometimes referred to as Little Italy, Malindi is located at the centre of a strip of idyllic tropical beaches offering the visitor a range of world class resorts and quiet relaxing hideaways. The Vasco Da Game Pillar in Malindi stands just south of the town at Vasco Dagama Point. The pillar marks the last stop in Africa before Vasco Dagama sailed across the Indian Ocean to India in 1498.
Kenyan Coast – Watamu
Watamu offers wide white sandy beaches front. This tranquil haven is home to several Well established resorts such as Turtle Bay Beach Hotel, Blue Bay Village, Watamu Beach Hotel, Hemingways Resort, and many private guesthouses scattered through the forest along the shore. In this area, Watamu Marine National park is the ideal spot for divers and snorkellerg alike, The Marine Park boasts over 600 species of ﬁsh in just 10 square kilometers
What To Do At The Kenyan Coast
The Kenyan coast is lined with beautiful beaches and with the beauty comes luxurious hotels and resorts, scenic sites, and loads of activities and fun for tourists of all ages to enjoy.
Kenya Coast – Water Sports
The Indian Ocean plays host to a number of water sports. Apart from swimming, other sporting and fun activities common at the Kenyan coast are snorkeling, deep sea diving, game fishing, board surfing, kite surfing, kayaking, canoeing, boating among many More activities.
Kenya Coast – Beach games
Kenya‘s long coast line provides a large beach for ball games on the beach. One could enjoy beach volley ball or soccer, and kids could build sand castles with and play other sand games. ‘
Kenya Coast – Sites to see
One of the most famous tourist sites along the Kenyan coast is Fort Jesus. Once a fort owned by the Portuguese in 1593. Fort Jesus is currently a museum of priceless heritage. Then there are the Gedi Ruins which are said to have existed in the l400s. These ruins are set in a beautiful forest setting where you hear birds chirp and see beautiful butterflies fly past you as you walk through. A blend of modern and ancient buildings along its beautiful streets, exotic dishes served in the E various hotels and the entire Swahili /Arabic ambiance is an experience to savour.
Kenya Coast – Cultural tours
While at the Kenyan coast you can take a tour through the local villages. The tours vary in experience. For example a tour to the Ngomongo village you get to see maasai ancers, eat honey comb and drink traditional brews like muratina. A tour to bombolulu will ensure you a unique shopping experience of crafts and other sourvenir items. Other cultural tours to the Miji-kenda villages and other tribal show-casings are not only eye-opening but only an opportunity to appreciate the cultural heritage of the hospitable coastal people.