This Coastal tow located on the South Eastern part of Kenya undoubtedly has one of the best white sandy beaches and coral reefs that Africa has to offer.
Coupled with an array of hotels on the beachfront situated along the North and South coasts of the town and its rich history, Mombasa is characterized as the ideal place for a vacation thus is a major tourist destination.
The town is most popular for its exciting nightlife with many nightclubs all of which have different themes that cater to different crowds.
For a truly Kenyan experience, a ride in a Matatu which is the most common form of transportation within the town, is quite a unique adventure.
The most common language spoken is Swahili, followed by English. Mombasa town is heavily influenced by Arabic culture. It was a very influential port in the 15th century, and has played a significant role in laying the foundations of the nation that it is a part of today.
In 1498 a Portuguese explorer called Vasco De Gama landed on the shores of Mombasa. The purpose of his exploration was to spread the Christian faith and to further expand Portugal’s trading area. His arrival to Mombasa was met which much hostility among the local people. However, he made a very important ally, the King of Malindi.
The Portuguese knew that Mombasa was essential in order to successfully trade their goods; hence in 1592 they used their power to make the King of Malindi the Sultan of Mombasa. In doing so the locals consequently had no choice but to obey the orders of the Sultan, which in turn came from the Portuguese Government.
Mombasa became Portugal’s main trading centre along the East Coast of Africa. This led to the construction of a monumental fort that still stands today known as Fort Jesus. The Fort served as the main hub for trading goods, a prison for slaves, and most importantly protecting the Portuguese from conflicts with locals and threatening foreign battalions.
Slavery was the major activity that took place at that time, where local slaves were exchanged for goods from visiting ships that often came from European countries. The trading of spices, cotton and coffee, which were cultivated and grown in the rich fertile soils of the town’s farms, is one if the reasons Mombasa was a popular destination for seafarers at the time. Captured slaves were forced to work on these farms in extremely harsh and inhumane conditions.
Remnants of slave trade can still be seen today around the town. Fort Jesus still contains cells where the slaves were held, and various artefacts from that era in the museum at the Fort. In addition to the evidence in the Fort, there also is a town bell located in Nyali just as you exit the Nyali Bridge. The bell was rung to inform the locals to hide from the slave capturers who were fast approaching.
Portugal’s reign over Mombasa lasted for approximately 200 years, after which they were overthrown by the Omani Arabs, who themselves would be forced to give up Mombasa to its final captors: the British. The British ruled Kenya from 1888-1963 when Kenya finally gained its hard-fought independence on the 12th December 1963.
Although Kenya experienced a few political jitters after its independence, it has finally settled down on the road to a stable and promising future for the people of Kenya. The local people are extremely helpful and courteous and gladly welcome foreigners who come to visit their country. Kenya is by far the most visited destination along Eastern Africa, and is renown all over the world for the quality of its wildlife and beaches.
Some of the best fishing of the African continent is to be found off the Kenyan coast, where many all-Africa records are set. Not only are there more than five million billfish in Kenyan waters, but they also contain most of the top sporting game-fish of other species. Malindi is probably the best place in Africa for sailfish, while the Pemba channel is known for striped marlin, large yellow-fin tuna and sharks. All along the coast, from Lamu in the north to Shimoni in the south, there are boats available for hire, with well trained crews, to take anglers out to the fishing grounds. Types of craft vary from luxury cruisers to a wide range of smaller craft, both for offshore and inshore fishing trips. The bigger offshore boats are fitted with radio and are fully equipped with tackle. Fishing from the shore is possible in some places, with squid or prawn being the best bait. Kenya has an eight-month fishing season, which runs from the beginning of August to around the end of March, although some boats operate through the rainy season. There are two peak fishing periods, August to October for tuna and December to March for billfish, although it is possible to reel in impressive catches year round.
Numerous activities are available along the entire coast, including water-skiing, wind-surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving.
These friendly creatures of the sea can be frequently observed off the coast. At Shimoni special dolphin spotting dhow trips are organized to the Kisite Marine Park, which include a traditional lunch. Snorkelling equipment is provided for exploring the coral gardens.
A dhow is a traditional Arab sailing ship with a 1000 years history of plying the waters of the East African coast. Built entirely of wood, they were used to transport spices, carpets and other goods between Africa and India. Sightseeing, lunch or dinner cruises are available with on-board entertainment such as fire-eaters, limbo dancers, acrobats and fashion shows!
Glass-bottomed boat trips
A fascinating way of observing the reefs and marine life is from a glass-bottomed boat.
You might like to treat yourself to a souvenir from the Makonde carvers, who will carve a name plaque for your home while you wait. There’s also ample opportunity to watch a performance of Masai dancers.
The game is well established in Kenya. There are golf courses on both the North and the South coasts.
The area has a rich bird life both in the mangrove forests and on the overhanging cliffs. Ngumi Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its wealth of bird life.
The latest attraction in the Bamburi Quarry Nature Park is the Butterfly Project where many of Kenya’s 870 different species of butterfly can be seen.
The World famous night life of Mombasa and its Coast is one area you should actually experience to enjoy your stay.
Old Town: This is the part of Mombasa that is reminiscent of the days when the Arabs exerted a heavy influence on the town and its culture, and especially in the architecture and language. It is well known for its ancient buildings, extravagant art designs and curio shops that sell antique and popular Kenyan souvenirs. The town’s inhabitants are mostly of Arab origin whose forefathers once roamed the same streets of the town. Old Town is best seen when explored by foot with an experienced guide, as the streets are too narrow to accommodate a large number of vehicles.
Fort Jesus: Located just a few steps away from where Old Town ‘starts’ the fort is Mombasa’s most popular tourist attraction. It is a monumental piece of architecture built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The museum displays various artifacts from the era where Mombasa served as a transit point for the slave trade and commodities, and which enjoyed regular visits by seafarers and the like. Its interior comprises of torture rooms and prison cells where slaves were kept in captivity before being traded. Weapons such as canons, which were used to defend the fort from invading foreigners as well as rioting locals, can be seen both inside and outside of the fort.
Mombasa Tusks: The tusks were built to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the town in 1952. They lay directly on the path from the port to the town as symbolic representations of the entrance into the heart of the town. Ivory was considered to be an exquisite commodity during the time, and in essence the tusks were meant to embrace the Queen and the British Empire into the town and within its social structure. Coincidentally the tusks also spell the letter “M” for Mombasa.
The Hindu Temple: It is one of the many symbols of Mombasa’s cultural diversity. The temple is a popular tourist spot with a historical background of the temple. A tour, given by one of the temple gurus, can be taken inside the temple. Extravagant idols and stone carvings of the various religious beliefs are displayed within the temple and on its walls.
Mamba Village: This is East Africa’s largest crocodile farm situated in Nyali. A tour of the farm starts with a movie on the life cycle and behavior of crocodiles, then a comprehensive tour of the rest of farm, and ends with the highlight of the day: a spectacular scene of blood-thirsty crocodiles during feeding time. Excellent cuisine is available at the Mamba Restaurant, and the house specialty is superbly grilled crocodile meat.
Bamburi Nature Trail: Was previously a barren piece of land that had been stripped of its resources through limestone mining, and was redeveloped through reforestation and conservation efforts. It is now the largest animal sanctuary in Mombasa. It is now a habitat for a large number of flora and fauna species and boasts an enormous variety of animals, reptiles, insects and botanical gardens. Walking along the trail is the ideal way to look at the various animals. On many occasions holding or feeding a reptile is allowed under close supervision of a guide.
Bombolulu Workshops: Founded in 1969, Bombolulu Workshops is a Project of the Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK). It is a major tourist attraction consisting of a Cultural Centre with eight traditional homesteads. The Centre is run by the “Association for the physically disabled” and employs 150-disabled craftsmen/women who produce jewellery, handprinted textiles, woodcarvings and leather crafts. Bombolulu Workshops have grown to be one of the biggest rehabilitation centers in Kenya.
Gedi Ruins: The most pre-historic ruins found in Mombasa and date back from the 15th century. Gedi was a small town built entirely from rocks and stones, which was inhabited by a few thousand Swahili people and ruled by a very rich Sultan. Through careful preservation most of the original foundations can still be seen today. The ruins are designated as a National Museum by law.
Southern Palms Beach Resort
Southern Palms Beach Resort has its own private ocean front of sultry tree fronds swaying gently on the sea breezes over a wide swathe of brilliant white sand. Behind, interlocking cascading swimming pools abutt an al fresco restaurant and bar area with panoramic views of the Indian ocean.
This fine establishent maintains a high standard in keeping with the strive for quality in Kenya’s tourist service sector.
There are many activities that can either be organised or enjoyed ad hoc, ranging from a wide selection of water sports to an afternoon’s siesta ! Facilities are in conformity with the accepted 4 star levels – several covered and open restaurant areas, an al a carte option and busy bar areas. The reception area is warm and welcoming and spacious leading to cool room decors.
Close to Mombasa, the property is in an ideal location to offer visitors easy access to facilities also close by in Diani – shopping, seeking arts and crafts, entertainment and a range of tours and activities to be enjoyed on the coast, or inland to the famous wildlife areas of the country.
Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel
Situated on Shanzu Beach, on the north coast of Mombasa and 30kms from the Airport, Mombasa Serena Hotel is one of the best hotels on the Kenyan coast. It combines both Arabic and Swahili architecture, with its shady courtyards and flat-roofed houses with hand-carved doors. The hotel is styled to resemble a 13th century Swahili town complete with winding lanes, carved balconies, fountain courts and bustling market squares, it provides an oasis of tranquillity whilst delivering a unique mix of high-action water sports.
Nyali Beach Hotel
Set amid 20acres of flamboyant tropical gardens, the hotel has been extensively refurbished and modernized while retaining its cultural charm. The main building has spacious older rooms while the Garden Wing rooms are more modern and spiral through the tropical gardens. The atmosphere is laid back and comfortable and the ambience is very Casablanca. It features a Barber/Beauty Salon, In-House Movies, and a Restaurant.
Sun N Sand Hotel
Located along the Kenyan north coast, Sun N Sand is the finest beach resort built in a modern Swahili architectural design, the outer walls depict obtrusive sand and sea waves colours. Set on spacious lush landscaped beautiful gardens, under the swaying whistling palms overlooking the emerald green waters of the Indian Ocean, the resort offers unparalleled luxury and refined comfort to all. Sun N Sand is a secluded haven where tranquillity meets with activity. Perfect location for sports craze featuring water sports like kayaking, windsurfing and sport fishing as well as table tennis, board games and crazy golf. The resort has 300 air-conditioned rooms, with en-suite bathrooms available in 4 categories, which offer a perfect sophisticated blend of elegance and comfort.