Coastal Kenya a Place Like no Other for Holiday Markers.
Being in Mombasa feels like a different world from the savannahs of safari country. Low-lying sandy beaches, indented by mangrove-lined creeks, and shaded by coconut palms, the coast blends the bright light and colours of the tropics with the sparkling azure-blue of the Indian Ocean, where you squint through the afternoon sunlight to watch traditional lateen-rigged dhows sailing out beyond the coral reef.
While being on safari can often feel like participating in an enjoyable group challenge, with its daily rhythm of game drives, bush meals and campfire anecdotes, a beach holiday releases you much more into the gentle embrace of local life. Once you’ve checked into your hotel, you’ll basically be left to your own devices – though there are plenty of activities to fill your days if you have the energy. From diving and snorkelling to city tours, shopping trips and cultural and historical excursions, fun can be anywhere you turn your eyes to.
If you want to explore underwater, all you need is to choose the right spots at the right time of year. The town is full of life by honeymooner’s be it in privacy, stylish luxury, affordable comforts or a lively resort base, the ideas are endless. The adventurers few whether it’s a visit to the old city of Mombasa or a trip inland to the alluring Shimba Hills, Tsavo East National Park. You can be sure to enjoy your time to the fullest. While most holiday makers use their beach stay simply to chill after several days on safari. A safari from the Kenya coast can change the experience of stay in Mombasa.
While the upcountry safari regions can sometimes feel surprisingly mild and even chilly on an early or late game drive, the coast will give you a big helping of serious equatorial climate. It’s rarely less than warm, even at night, while the middle hours of the day at certain times of year can be as hot as a furnace, and humid to boot. Fortunately there’s usually a gentle breeze, blowing onshore from the Indian Ocean, and sometimes a full-on, flapping wind, making for excellent wind- and kite-surfing conditions.
Landscaping changes everything, of the shoreline and immediate coastal hinterland of Kenya is dominated by the fringing coral reef that parallels the coast for most of its length. Millions of years old, the living reef at the edge of the lagoon is just the youngest element of this landscape: most of the countryside inland from the beach sits on coral rock – the remains of ancient coral reef that was once submerged by the ocean, it’s like a honeycomb, notoriously full of caves and holes, some leading straight down from ground level.
A good thing place to note from my recent visit is Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant, a popular restaurant at Diani Beach, is built in a huge underground cave, and there are similar caves inland from Watamu and at Shimoni, where they were used to hold slaves captive. As well as the sandy beach and coconut palms, the coast features lots of meandering creeks and several areas of tidal mud flats, where low forests of salt-tolerant mangrove trees cover large areas and create a distinctive ecological zone.
If your holiday is based on the coast, remember that coast was the Kenya’s first contacts with the wider world were along its coastline. The magical town setup was discovered by the monsoon winds traveler who dictated the Indian Ocean’s annual trading calendar: merchant ships arrived from the Persian Gulf and the Arabian peninsula, but had to wait for the annual change in the wind to return home. So they anchored here, in Kenya’s creeks and ports, for months at a time.
Such long stays in foreign land can be tiring, but a difference was experienced here and anyone’s comfort was in excess, every season, some visitors chose to settle on the coast. For the same reasons they settles, just be sure to meet the people who are effusively welcoming and helpful. It is an extension of their Swahili culture.