A Kenya beach stay is perfect for unwinding after a safari. Or to get away from grey days in the northern hemisphere. The Kenya coastline offer a great mix of stunning white beaches, colourful marine life and the unique Swahili culture.
There’s an enticing array of tempting, sand-ridden possibilities for a Kenya safari and beach holiday. These range from trendy beach resorts to atmospheric islands.
For the best Kenya beach resorts, look at one of three areas:
- South and just north of Mombasa lie some great beaches. And about an hour’s drive south is the famous lovely and lively Diani Beach amongst others.
- At Malindi, 2 hours north of Mombasa, a number of international-standard beach resorts lie on idyllic tropical beaches. Watamu Bay, to the south is quieter.
- Lamu Island, off northern Kenya, is a long-term favourite. A magical, atmospheric, slightly crumbling old Arab port, in whose narrow alleys unique Swahili traditions and customs have been preserved. It’s best for the more adventurous and seasoned visitor.
Diving off the Kenya Coast
There’s a coral reef running the length of the country. This both protects the coast and offers great diving and snorkelling. Check out the Malindi Marine Reserve, with its coral reefs which extend to Watamu.
Kenya Beach Resorts – Diani Beach
The coastline south of Mombasa is quite developed with resort hotels. However the long, broad white sands at Diani take some beating. Its coral reef protects the calm turquoise waters off the beach. And the Diani beach hotels can arrange for an extensive array of water sports. But it’s still possible to find a secluded spot. Set slightly away from the larger hotels are bijoux houses for families, luxurious private villas and romantic retreats. Funzi Keys and Alfajiri Villas set the standards here. For more modest budgets, Asha Cottage in Diani and the Pinewood Beach Resort & Spa on Galu Beach are great options.
On the Kenya coast, there are two protected stretches of water, at Malindi and Watamu. After Mombasa, Malindi is Kenya’s second largest coastal town. It’s an interesting mix of the local Swahili culture together with Arab and more recent Italian influences. Several beach resorts lie on idyllic tropical beaches. The Malindi Marine National Park extends south to meet the coral gardens of the Watamu. And a break in the reef allows waves big enough to surf to reach the shore. Alternatively try your hand at deep sea fishing. Or visit the reefs and marvel at the colourful fish from a glass-bottomed boat.
Watamu Bay, to the south, is a quieter option. The Marine Park, with around 700 species of fish, affords excellent snorkelling and diving. This area is also a breeding ground for Green and Hawksbill turtles. Plus there’s plenty to do. You can take a boat to the mangroves at Mida Creek. Or travel inshore to visit the fascinating and atmospheric ruined settlement at Gedi. This was mysteriously deserted sometime in the 17th century.
Watamu used to be a quiet fishing village and still has the same ambience. But now it also has a number of top beach resorts. We recommend Hemingways. Close to Watamu are the ruins of the lost town of Gedi. It is an important archaeological site and well worth a visit.
Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city. While the cobbled streets and colourful, exotic markets are entrancing, the sheer hustle and bustle of Mombasa can be overwhelming! Most visitors visit the old town of Mombasa as a day excursion to soak up the atmosphere. But they prefer to stay on the long stretches of white beach of Diani to the south.
The Lamu Archipelago is a collection of unspoilt, idyllic islands off the far north of Kenya. Lamu is the largest. For centuries this has been a calling point for the Arab dhow traders trading spices, mangrove poles and ivory. More recently, it became a charming, slightly alternative, destination, for a beach retreat. It remains beguilingly different from the rest of Africa.