Mombasa is the main city on the coast and has been, at various times, a Swahili city – state, the capital of Portuguese East Africa, an Omani provincial capital and the rail head for the British East Africa railway. After the cool highlands, Mombasa’s steamy tropical climate takes some getting used to but the city is the major hub for transport north and south along the coast and the old part of the city is well worth exploring.
North and South of Mombasa
North and south of Mombasa are some of the finest beaches in Africa. A staggering number of beach hotels and resorts are crammed into this small stretch of coast. The big development are at Diani Beach, Bamburi, Shanzu , Watamu, and Malindi, butt there are also some wonderfully peaceful get aways tucked away between the mega resorts, most notably at Tiwi Beach, just south of Mombasa.
Nature reserves include the ArabukoSokoke Forest Reserve (excellent for birdlife), and the Shimba Hills National Reserve and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary (which are both prime locations to spot elephants).
Marine parks and coral reefs
Offshore are the coral reefs of the Mombasa, Malindi, Watamu, Diani – Chale and Kisite – Mpunguti Marine Parks, which provide some excellent diving and snorkeling.
Swahili culture and history
The Swahili culture and history is also of great interest at the coast. Archeologists have unearthed a number of ancient Swahili ruins, most notably at Gede and Kilifi, and these are well worth exploring. For a taste of living Swahili culture, you should take a trip to the gorgeous island of Lamu. It’s possible to take dhow trips to even more remote Swahili islands from Lamu, and many mangrove islands south of Mombasa can also be visited by dhow.