Visit the Best Beaches in Mombasa, Kenya

By Tee1

Kenya Beach Vacation Guide

If you are looking for a destination for exotic tropical beach vacations, look no further than Mombasa, Kenya.  The Mombasa beaches in Kenya are famously known as the best beaches in Africa. Some very well traveled people, go so far as to say, the best beaches in the world.

Visitors come from all over to the Indian Ocean shores of Kenya for the perfect weather and white sandy beaches. Figures fluctuate every year, but the total number of number of tourists is relatively low (under 200,000 per year) allowing for more space to kick back. With long stretches of palm trees and fantastic cooling breezes coming over the water, the never ending beaches of Mombasa are a top choice for the ultimate exotic beach trip.

Where is Mombasa Beach? 4°04′S 39°67′E

Mombasa Beaches

Featuring very tasty fresh seafood, warm welcoming locals and extremely interesting cultural influences from Arabs, Portuguese, Swahili, and the British, your Kenyan beach vacation is waiting to begin. The exotic Mombasa beaches are full of things to do, for all activity levels. The rich marine life contributes to spectacular experiences in the water, both snorkeling and diving. If that is too interactive for your tastes, maybe a glass bottom boat ride is more appealing. You will always find willing participants for beach sports on your trip.

[pullquote]The Swahili name for the city is Kisiwa Cha Mvita, which translates “island of war.”[/pullquote]

Mombasa is a rapidly expanding coastal city in Kenya, with an estimated population of 1.2 million people in 2016. It is Kenya’s second largest city, after the capital of Nairobi and lies on the Indian Ocean. The city has been blessed with an extra large port. Mombasa’s strategic coastal location, has made it a regional economic and cultural hub as well as a historic trading center. Mombasa has had a tumultuous history and been controlled my a number of countries and empires due to its location.

Tropical Swahili Coast Beach

In less than a decade, the population of the city has increased by 30% (939,000 per the 2009 census). Acute water shortages are now a problem facing the city, due to the increased demands from both industrial and population growth. Mombasa has a whopping 44% youth unemployment rate.

The city sprawls from Mombasa Island to the surrounding mainland. Tudor Creek and the Kilindini Harbour separate the mainland and the island. In Swahili, “Kilindini” means deep. Mombasa’s importance is directly related to  its deep water port. The port is a vital link to the ocean for Kenya and the interior African countries.

Fun Kenya Beaches

The harbor is an “example of a natural geographic phenomenon called a ria, formed at the end of the last glacial period when the sea level rose and engulfed a river that was flowing from the mainland.”  A ria is a coastal inlet formed by the partial submergence of an unglaciated river valley. It is a drowned river valley that remains open to the sea.

[pullquote]Mombasa has twinned with the following coastal sister cities: Long Beach, Ca, Seattle, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, Honolulu, and Durban, S.A.[/pullquote]

The city is considered to be cosmopolitan, as communities of various Kenyan tribes are well represented in the city along the Swahili Coast.  Throughout time, settlers from the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and Somalia have all settled in the Mombasa, in particular skilled craftsmen  and merchants. Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are all practiced in the city.  Tensions are increasing between the dominant Christians (70% of population) and increasingly devout Muslim groups after centuries of peaceful co-existence. In a some ways beach vacations in Tunisia, another African country are similar. 

To explore the tranquil tropical coast of Kenya, visitors should depart from Mombasa. With over 300 miles of sparkling beaches and an array of sights and cultures, lovers of great beach vacations should not miss the Swahili coast. Starting with the small town of Malindi in the north, these 300 miles of beaches covered by palm trees extend to the southern town of Diani and its white sands.

The Kenya beaches are located too close to the equator to have seasonal variations, like winter or summer, along the coast. As a result, your Indian Ocean beach vacation to Mombasa is guaranteed to have outstanding weather, whatever time of year you visit. Travelers should be aware that there is both a wet and a dry season. The “wet season” extends from November to May. The coastal area is hot and sticky all year round, but monsoon winds helps to mitigated by the heat.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of annual floods which bodes ill for the residents of the city. The increased flooding is partially a result of coastal erosion and rising sea levels. Every year, the shores are receding at a rate of 2.5 to 20 cm. Its hard to guess what the future holds for Mombasa. It doesn’t sound promising.

The culture of Mombasa and its history starts in the 12th century. This bustling tropical city on the Indian Ocean is on the east coast of Kenya.

Built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Fort Jesus dominates the area while overlooking the harbor and its eclectic mixture of modern vessels and traditional dhows.  Visitors also enjoy the Arab architecture of the Old Town markets, narrow streets, mosques and Swahili houses. The scent of exotic spices that fills the air is unforgettable. It is typically overwhelming, truly a case of sensory overload.

Let’s not kid ourselves though, the reason people travel massive distances is for Mombasa’s beaches and also the safaris, of course. The nearest national park to Mombasa, for seeing wildlife on safari is about three hours’ drive away in Tsavo East. It’s easier to book a short flight though.

The water along the Swahili coast is extremely warm and clear. The conditions are great for scuba diving and snorkeling. In February and March, whale sharks migrate through the waters.  The breezes that moderate the temperature also make this beach spot ideal for windsurfing and sailing. 

Along the coast, the Kenya’s scenery and climate have made it a popular honeymoon destination. The Swahili coast is also known to be quite family friendly.  Depending upon your style and budget, your Kenya beach vacation can just as easily place you in a budget accommodation as a 5 star luxury resort.

Heading either north or south of this vibrant city, you will see Africa’s finest beaches. Opulent coastal hotels have been built on the silver sands of the Swahili coast. All of the beaches have direct access to the area’s coral reefs.

A number of the best beaches in Kenya, including the glistening white Diani beach are found on Mombasa island’s south coast. Diani beach is the region’s most developed beach and is accessible by ferry and car. Another popular beach on Mombasa’s south coast is Galu beach. The quiet Galu beach is a little further south and is a bit more peaceful and relaxing.

Luxury hotels are found on the Kenya beaches closest to the city, while the further away, the cheaper less expensive hotels are found.

On the north coast of Mombasa, there are large beach resorts at Nyali beach. Crowded with locals on weekends, Nyali beach is also the closest to the international airport. It is a fun spot for water sports, partying, and is close to the Mombasa Marine National Park. A fair amount of resorts can also be found on the Bamburi and Shanzu beaches farther up the north coast of the island. Sea turtles go to Shanzu Beach to lay their eggs.

The northern shoreline of Mombasa goes around the clock. With 24 hour family fun entertainment like bowling and movie theaters to many international restaurants and taverns, clubs etc, Mombasa is busy and fun for a vacation.

Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve was established in 1986, to protect the coral reef and marine life. It is well managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. The park is 2500 acres (10 square kilometers) and the reserve is a massive 200 km².  There are coral reefs in the park’s waters. The park is known for its warm tropical conditions and comfortable water temperatures that sit between 77°F and 86°F. It is the most visited marine park in Kenya and is a popular beach because due to the diving and snorkeling opportunities.

A nice variety of iridescent and fantastically marked fish live on the reef. Some of the more interesting species frequently seen are striped zebra fish, blue and jade-green parrotfish, huge butterfly fish and the multi-colored angelfish. Along the reef, sharks and other predators like turtles and rays feast on the many inhabitants of the protected waters.

The park suggests keeping an eye out for “clouds of tiny damselfish also often hover above the branching coral, and under deep ledges you may catch a glimpse of the magnificent lionfish with its mane of sharp spikes (a sting from this fish can be very painful).”

Mombasa Marine Life: Dolphins and Turltles

Schools of bottle-nosed, spinner and humpback dolphins can be seen playing in the bountiful Indian Ocean waters.  Endangered sea turtles are also regulars to the lagoons and reef along Kenya’s coastline. Magnificent loggerhead, green, hawksbill, Ridley and leatherback sea turtles are all found in these waters.

Guide to Best Kenya Beaches

Nayeli Beach

A popular destination for both foreign and local tourists, Nyali beach has long white sand beaches. The area has many high end hotels, beach resorts, and modern residential houses. At the beach, a number of activities are widely available, including beach volleyball, jet skis, windsurfing, sailing, and diving. There are plentiful restaurants and bars to suit all budgets.

Diani Beach

Located about 20 miles south of Mombasa, Diane beach is a peaceful, yet beach spot on the Indian Ocean. The World Travel Awards in 2014, named Diani Beach as the Leading Beach Destination in Africa.

Diani Beach is a special place with a number of number of top beach resorts to choose from. The scenery is amazing, but what lies under the water is even better. It’s a great beach to walk around and take in the exotic tropical sites.

Bamburi Beach (Pirates)

Bamburi beach has several apartments, beachfront hotels, and villas to choose from. It’s only about 5 miles from the city center. Pirates beach or Jomo Kenyatta Public beach is found on this bit of Bamburi beach. It is Kenya’s busiest beach. It is a place to party, have a barbecue, or kick back. The Mombasa Marine Park is a here. If you want action, this is where you want to be.

Shanzu Beach

Past Bamburi beach, is the upscale neighborhood of Shanzu. The Shanzu beach is host to some of the best beach resorts in Kenya. Unlike its neighbor, it is a serene beach scene. Shanzu is only 8 miles outside of Mombasa. There are a number of exquisite hotels to choose from.

Tiwi Beach

Tiwi Beach is the perfect spot to hang out, if you want solitude. The guests here are usually older. Tiwi beach is only about 10 miles out from the big city. The area has a number of good hotel options.

Copacabana Beach, Mtwapa

The town of Mtwapa is a famous for its vibrant nightlife and party scene. Mtwapa is about 10 miles from the Mombasa. Beloved by both local and foreign tourists, Mtwapa is a tourist magnet. Everything you can think of for a vacation is found here aplenty: good accommodation, shopping, banking facilities, entertainment and dining.

I would like to thank my glamorous friend Rosmery for the wonderful pictures. She had the foresight to get out of Venezuela, before the world turned upside in that lovely country. She has been loving life in the Netherlands for a number of years, but her heart remains in Venezuela.