A big reason why thousands of people visit the Kenyan Coast each year is the beautiful beaches that stretch for miles along the North and South Coasts. In addition to being a haven for those who are looking for a quiet, relaxing vacation, water sports and fishing enthusiasts can also get their money’s worth. But Mombasa has a lot more to offer visitors than just beaches. Remnants of historical and cultural attractions from centuries ago still remain. Other attractions showcase the diversity of flora and fauna in the region, and nature parks are an appealing destination for many visitors. As well, there are opportunities to experience the different facets of the Kenyan culture – within the city, in some of the surrounding towns, and even in remote villages. Fort Jesus is Mombasa’s most popular tourist attraction. The fort, located along the coastline near the Old Town, is a monumental piece of architecture that was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The fort has a museum that 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 the fort. The fort opens its gates for viewing in the morning and closes at dusk. Old Town” 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 (Swahili has a lot of phrases derived from various Arabic dialects). It is well known for its ancient buildings, extravagant art designs and curio shops that sell antique and popular Kenyan souvenirs. Old Town is best seen when explored by foot with an experienced guide.
The coast offers the widest variety of activities and attractions, both recreational and educational. You can go for a boat ride along the coast or bask in the white sandy beaches and swim in the salty waters of the Indian Ocean. For the adventurous people, the long coast is perfect for surfing, riding speed boats, yacht’s, jet skis and even going for a romantic cruise in a ship.
You can visit historical sites such as Fort Jesus, the old colonial town of Lamu, ancient Hindu temples and The Mama Ngina drive which was a cemetery for the Portuguese where each grave was marked by a Baobab tree. The coastal villages are the best places to learn the cultures and traditions of the coastal people as well as drink the traditional coastal brew ‘Mnazi‘
The Bamburi Nature Trail is a popular destination in the coast which sensitizes on the importance of conservation of nature. It is a rehabilitated quarry which is now a natural habitat for wildlife.
A visit to the coast would not be complete without a collection of souvenirs such as carvings, fabric, shells, ornaments and even spices. The old town of Mombasa has some of the best spices from the coast and all the way from Zanzibar which is famous for spices from the colonial days.