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The Coast, Kenya
Fast Facts
ACTIVITIES
Beach
Historic Interest
Scuba Diving
Museum
Religious Site
Wildlife Park
Shopping
Snorkeling
Natural Wonder
Ancient Ruins
Birding
Market / Fair
 
 
Places to Visit
FAMILY FUN
CITIES & CULTURE
ACTIVE ADVENTURE
 
Points of Interest Nearby
 
Family Travel Tips
FAMILY TRAVEL GEAR
 

Malindi, Kenya

 

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

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The Kenyan coast, 480 km (300 miles) of palm-fringed shoreline, is a beach lover's paradise. Notwithstanding the throng of package tourists from Europe. Families in search of adventure and adrenaline have a variety of choice: kite sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, and full or half-day excursions on a dhow. Shopaholics won't want to miss the narrow streets and bustling markets of Mombasa's 'Old Town'. And the coast of Kenya boasts several cultural pearls. Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest living Swahili settlement in Kenya. The 12th century ruins at Gede, near Watamu, are shrouded in mystery. Remote Paté Island is a great place to experience traditional Swahili life. What's more, Kenya's coast is conveniently connected to several of Kenya's top safari destinations.

The beach vacation destinations on the coast of Kenya are as diverse as the list is long. Kalifi, situated on a river estuary just north of Mombasa, is favored by the intellectual set, both local and international. To the south, Tiwi Beach is a favorite among the self-catering crowd. Diani Beach, near the border with Tanzania, is the place to head for family fun. A family beach vacation here is all about waterslides, banana boats, jet skis and kids clubs. Watamu is the preferred destination of active families, snorkelers and scuba divers as well as game fishing enthusiasts. Malindi, complete with high-end boutiques and galleries, is an Italian tourist enclave. While the Swahili restaurants should not be overlooked, this is the place to head if you are traveling with kids that can't live without pizza, pasta and gelato. Lamu and Shela are frequented by the extremes, backpackers and the well to do. The islands farther afield, such as Kiwayu, are ideal for families in search of a holiday in the liking of Robinson Crusoe.
Getting There
 
International and intercontinental flights including regularly scheduled and charter airlines arrive/depart the airport in Mombassa. Domestic flights connect Nairobi with Malindi, Lamu and Mombasa. Mombasa Air Safari flies up and down the coast and makes it possible to travel between Kenya's beach resorts and games reserves without connecting through Nairobi. The night train referred to as the Iron Snake makes the trip between Nairobi and Mombasa three times a week and offers a bit of adventure for families traveling with older kids.
Getting Around
 
Driving in Kenya is a hair-raising experience and the hazards go beyond potholes. If you decide to rent a car make sure it is a 4-wheel drive, keep in mind that driving is on the left, and do not drive at night. Buses, matatus (minibus), and taxis are valid alternatives.
When to Travel
 
The peak season for travel to the Kenyan coast is in August and from December through February. The best time to visit the area is from January to March when snorkeling is ideal. While it is clear and dry in August and September, the ocean is rough and visibility low after the long rains. What's more, the white sand beaches north of Mombasa are often covered in seaweed at this time of the year. March is a month of trade-offs, humidity is on the rise but the tourists have all but disappeared.
Health & Safety
 
Malaria is a risk in all areas along Kenya's coast and travelers' diarrhea is the most common ailment affecting tourists in Kenya. When packing your suitcase don't forget to include long sleeved shirts and trousers, DEET insect repellent and high factor sunscreen. If you are going on a wildlife safari also pack neutral colored clothing. Sleep under a treated mosquito net or in a screened or air conditioned room. Watch your bags at all times and be wary of large and small tricks. If you plan to travel to Lamu by bus, check the security situation before you depart.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
In many areas, the white sand beaches all but disappear at high tide. A service charge of 5% is added to all accounts settled by credit card.
Travel Trivia
Which of the following animals are you likely to spot on an African safari:
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