Kenya Beach Holidays
MOMBASA AND THE CORAL COAST
The Kenya coast
belt is a distinctive part of Kenya’s unrivaled attractions. It is integrated circuit whose history goes back to over one thousand years. It is home of the Miji Kenda civilization (the nine communities who inhabit the area) and whose dialects gave the basis of the Kiswahili language, Kenya’s official lingua Franca. The dialect evolved here and is now spoken in East and Central Africa. The island town of Mombasa is the main sea gate on the East African Coastline and is Kenya’s second major metropolis and cruise ship centre. The island port of Mombasa and the four hundred and eighty kilometers coastline have been in recorded history for generations. Evidence exists to the effect that along its shores Ptolemy’s informants’ visited followed by the Phoenicians in the sixth century, Persians in the ninth and tenth centuries and thereafter Arabs, Turks and Portuguese.
Chinese porcelain from the Sung era to Early Ming which is found extensively through excavations in some parts of the coast underscores the extent to which gold, ivory and slaves left the port for distant lands. Mombasa
has had a turbulent history as a symbolized by Fort Jesus, a massive fortification built and completed by the Portuguese. Being the gateway to East Africa, the Kenya coast has a striking and colorful mixture of people and cultures that have defied the passage of time. Beyond the palm fringed white sandy beaches and extending from the North to South lies a spectacular coral barrier reef which runs for a distance of four hundred and eighty kilometers and teems with wonders of under water explosions in the blue lagoons and creeks. The area has an over whelming cliffs. These attractions coupled with a variety of entertainment and superb accommodation facilities make the Kenyan coast an incomparable holiday circuit for both beach and nature lovers. Kenya’s colorful coral coast is a playground for sun and worshippers who are an addition may also enjoy the rich variety of attractions that make Kenya a unique tourist destination.
THE NORTH COAST
The north coast is another distinct tourist resort. It stretches from Nyali to Kilifi Creek and includes such as Bamburi, Shanzu
, past Mtwapa Creek, Kikambala
and Kilifi. Long stretches of idyllic beaches that are fringed with swaying palms, casuarinas, oleanders and frangipan make the North Coast, a unique and fascinating stretch of Kenya’s coast. The North Coast boosts of numerous attraction which include a twelve hole golf course at Nyali estate, squash and tennis courts in most hotels. A variety of specialty restaurants and superb hotels along the beaches provide high quality and luxurious services to visitors. The Mtwapa creek with it abundance birdlife and the Bamburi nature trail are a must for nature lovers.
Kenya’s little secret
Kilifi is a breath of fresh air. Halfway between Mombasa and Malindi on Kenya’s south coast, this unassuming market town has become something of a hideaway for expats and artists. Through the middle of town runs Kilifi Creek, a wide, bird-filled estuary, crossed only by ferry until the 420-metre bridge was completed in the Nineties. On its north bank is the town centre, while the Swahili village of Mnarani dominates the south.
Bofa Beach, widely believed to be the finest beach in all of Kenya, runs northwards from the town centre. Its soft, power-white sands, fringed by nodding palm trees, go on for miles and miles, and its gentle, bath-warm waters are sheltered by a vast coral reef. Much more compact is Kilifi Beach, tucked inside the south side of the creek. It has a wide portfolio of water sports, plus a dive school, and is scattered with sun loungers and parasols that cast sundial-like shadows on the sand.
Even by Kenya’s standards, Kilifi likes to take things nice and slow. The commercial activity is concentrated on the north side of the creek – the daily market, the banks and the bigger shops. On the south side, Kilifi Boatyard welcomes luxury yachts from all over the world. And set back from the shore is Mnarani, a traditional tribal village where you can learn about poetic traditions, shop for hand-made crafts and visit the bizarre 14th-century Swahili ruins.
Arabuko Sokoke National Park is just a 15-minute drive north of Kilifi. These lush, semi-tropical forests are criss-crossed by walking trails where mongoose, elephant shrew, and a huge number of bird species can be spotted through your binoculars. For more major sightings, Tsavo East National Park, Kenya’s largest safari park, is a few hours’ drive away. Home to the Big 5, there’s a good chance you’ll see lions stalking the prairies and elephants gathering at the watering holes in the dying light of day.
MALINDI AND WATAMU NATIONAL TOURIST RESORTS
The coastal resorts of Watamu and Malindi are renowned for accessibility, beauty and diversity of marine life which lives just off-shore on Baracuda, North Coral Reef and Whale islands.
Malindi which lies a few kilometers north of Watamu is the oldest of Kenya’s beach resorts. The sands are golden but the attraction centre on mini surfing and tranquil township with its mosque minarets and composed people. The town is a labyrinth of alleys, courtyards and gardens dating back to the 12th century. Here, time stands still and centuries of civilization have not altered the courtesy and charm of the local people. The indomitable spirit of intrepid sailors of centuries gone by, such as Diego Amerigos, Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama
, who set out to discover new territories as well as find a passage to India is kept alive by the Vasco Da Gama monument at the Causarina point.
Malindi and Watamu Marine parks and Reserves were the first ever marine parks and reserves to be established in Kenya. Both were opened in 1979. The coral reefs are home to over one hundred and forty species of hard and soft corals. The reef plays a central role as a biodiversity stronghold as it provides ideal breeding grounds for fish and other marine organisms and tourists recreational areas. The coral reef also acts as a barrier against the marauding sharks common in the deeper waters.
Gede ruins a few kilometers from Malindi house the “Golden Era” of the Islamic culture. The ruins which were mysteriously abandoned in the 17th century, Lamu islands, the Arabuko Sokoke forest, the Portuguese chapel and the Mamburi village offer excellent excursion from Malindi and Mombasa.
Lamu archipelago with its magnificent old house and narrow alleys that have defied the passage of time, delicate wood craftsmanship of yester year, numerous mosques and a thriving Swahili culture is an ideal resort for those like going down memory lane. A visit to Lamu takes one back through time to a way of life that has remained uncharged for the last six hundred years. Time tends to standstill when holidaying in Lamu. Little has changed one can capture the ambiance and mystery of one of the trading posts of East Africa coastline that has persisted for the last seven centuries. Lamu archipelago is the Venice of Kenya as it is linked to the mainland and to the three other smaller islands of Kikwayu, Manda
and Kiunga by waterways. The great author, Earnest Hemingways had made his home in Lamu and most of his writings were inspired by this fascinating Island. The Maulidi festival that takes place in Lamu soon after the Muslim holiday of Idd IL Fitr draws pilgrims from Africa, Asia and Middle East and is one of the attractions that should not be missed. Other attractions worth seeing include a visit to the mangrove swamps and the Lamu Museum. Donkeys are used as a mode of transport on the island since there is no motorized transportation
The south coast is by far the most idyllic and fascinating tourist resort of the Kenya coast. The resort which is unique fir its long white sandy beaches, is linked by ferry to Mombasa Island. The most notable of the beaches is Diani which is serviced by well appointed and luxurious hotels, chattels and villas. The South Coast resort stretches from Likoni South of Mombasa to the Kenya/Tanzania border. Shimba hills can be seen quite clearly from this beach. The hotels along Diani Beach are located on the cleared beach front areas of the Jadini forest which is still a haunt of wildlife such as leopard, colobus monkeys and a wide variety of birdlife. Apart fom sunbathing, there is a variety of other sports such as waterskiing, windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkeling and deep sea fishing. Diani/ Chale Marine national Park and Reserve are places with a dazzling array of technicolored fish and coral gardens which are worth visiting. Viewing the denizens of these marine National Parks from glass bottomed boats or by snorkeling offers one an unforgettable experience.