The Kenya Coast

Kenya’s beautiful Indian Ocean coast stretches for more than 300 miles (500 km) and feels a world away from ‘upcountry’ East Africa. The coast is fringed by white sand beaches, backed by coconut palms and towering sand dunes, interspersed with mangrove flats, ancient forests and sheltered coastal creeks and anchorages. Another marked contrast is its enduring and distinctive Swahili culture – a unique amalgam of African, Arabian, Indian and European influences – which reveal themselves in the coast’s religious and social traditions, food, architecture and many other aspects of daily life. Its towns and villages, sometimes bustling but often sleepy, remain tranquil, traditional and welcoming.

Kenya’s beaches and coastal waters are nesting sites and home to five endangered species of sea turtle. Offshore coral reefs shelter much of the coastline and provide a crucial habitat for a wonderful variety of marine life. Scuba diving and snorkelling provide a window into this extraordinary underwater world. Two of its most spectacular areas are within Marine National Parks off Watamu and Malindi – both are also world-renowned centres for deep sea fishing. South of Mombasa, Diani Beach is regularly voted one of the most beautiful in Africa. An adventure sports hub, renowned for kitesurfing, skydiving and ocean fishing, its coastal woodland has a large population of lively black-and-white Colobus monkeys.

Kenya’s coastal settlements house the historic remains of a network of ancient city states that stretched the length of the East African coast – from Mogadishu in the north to Mozambique Island in the south. These ports were the gateways for external trade with Africa – exporting slaves, ivory, tortoiseshell, animal hides, ambergris and other precious commodities to Arabia, Europe and across the Indian Ocean. Lamu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest living town south of the Sahara and the region’s best-preserved historic settlement. The ‘old town’ in Mombasa, Kenya’s second city and East Africa’s busiest port, is home to Fort Jesus – a magnificent Portuguese citadel built in the 1590s.

There are several scheduled flights daily from Nairobi to Lamu, Malindi, Vipingo, Mombasa and Diani/Ukunda. Safari destinations in the Masai Mara and Tsavo are also served by Mombasa’s Moi International Airport, as are Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. Mombasa also receives international flights from Dubai and Addis Ababa, and seasonal flights from Rome and Frankfurt. An alternative route to the Indian Ocean coast is via Kenya’s new Standard Guage Railway (SGR) which was completed in 2017 and connects Nairobi with Mombasa. The scenic 470 km (290 mile) journey takes around 6 hours by express train. Our travel team will be pleased to advise and plan your journey to the coast and beyond.

Our handpicked Kenya Coast properties

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