South Coast Beaches of Kenya
Travel to South Coast Beaches – Tropical Indian Ocean
On the Kenyan South Coast there are beaches to suit the tastes and interest of any traveller. There are busy resorts with plenty of organised activities and non-stop nightlife or quiet beach destinations which offer the chance to relax and experience nature. Whether you are looking for a base to actively explore this fascinating region, or just somewhere to unwind and find peace, Kenya’s South Coast has everything you could wish for.
The coastline south of Mombasa is a tropical paradise of palm-fringed white sand beaches, where the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean meet beautiful coral reefs. The protective reefs have created ideal beaches with calm, inviting waters. Days are filled with sunshine and nights are balmy and warm with gentle sea breezes. Beaches are bordered by lush green coastal rainforests with prolific birdlife and a variety of wildlife which includes baboons, rare colobus monkeys and even leopard.
Historically, the South Coast was a route for shipping and dhow trade both from Swahili settlements in the north and southwards to Zanzibar. The south coast was the most densely populated area of Swahili territory. Just south of Mombasa at Kongo is the 15th century Mwana Mosque. The large vaulted roof of this mosque is still standing and local worshippers still use the ruins for prayer.
Out in the Indian Ocean, offshore reefs are alive with coral, myriad fish, sea turtles and dolphins. Both outer and inner reef walls offer world class diving with spectacular coral gardens and drop-offs. At Kisite-Mpunguti, a Marine Reserve has been established around beautiful Wasini Island, an ideal day trip for divers and snorkellers.
Visiting the south coast means more than just lying on the beach. For those interested in wildlife, there are opportunities for game viewing in the Jadini Forest, which borders the beach by Diani. This area is good for birding, but especially good for primates. The forest is home to troops of Baboon, a large population of Vervet monkeys and the endangered Colobus.
Boat trips into the mangroves and estuaries around Funzi Island can be easily organised. These mangroves are excellent for birding and are also home to large populations of crocodiles. The offshore reefs of the South Coast are rich in sea life.
In the south, the small fishing village of Shimoni is home to a series of deep mysterious coastal caves that stretch from the sea to deep into the jungles. Historically, these caves were long used as a refuge for dhow sailors, Arab slavers and explorers. Shimoni is also an excellent base for big game fishing in the waters of the Pemba Channel.
Watersports enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice on the south coast. Most of the resorts and hotels located on the beaches offer a wide range of water-skiing, sailing, jetskiing and parasailing.
A range of boats can be hired to explore the coast, including Hobie cats and sailing skiffs. Sea kayaks are also widely available, and are ideal for exploring remote coves and sheltered bays.
Beneath the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean lies a world of undersea wonders. There are plenty of excellent dive sites all along the South Coast. Diving is generally good all year round, although visibility lessens during July and August due to silting. There are many dive sites along the coast from Tiwi south to Shimoni. Some of the best sites are centred around Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park. This area is home to large Manta Rays which are occasionally encountered on dive expeditions.
The obvious culinary attraction on the South Coast is seafood, and there is plenty available, with excellent fish, crabs, lobster, oysters and more. There is also an abundance of fresh tropical fruits and vegetables, peanuts, cashews and wild honey.
The Kenyan coast is famous for its Swahili Cuisine, a traditional blend of Arabic and African cooking styles. Swahili specialities are mild curries made from a thick coconut sauce, and seafood cooked with cloves and cinnamon. The coast’s mix of African and Asian cuisines also produce a wide range of vegetarian dishes.
Regular buses and matatus service the South Coast Highway. Taxis can be found in any town, or at most hotels or resorts.
One of the best ways to explore the South Coast and surrounding villages is by bicycle. This gives you the freedom to explore quiet village roads and trails. Cycling is a popular form of local transport in this area, and on most paths and roads you will encounter other cyclists.
- Chill out and unwind on beautiful palm-fringed beaches.
- Safari game drive through Shimba Hills National Reserve.
- Explore the marine life of the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park.