Kenya Beach Holiday – Kenya’s beaches offer ideal family holidays or romantic honeymoon and wedding options. Diving is also a big attraction at Kenya’s beach resorts.
To get to the beaches of Kenya, it is easiest to fly into Mombasa or Malindi; but there are also small landing strips on the coast.
Kenya’s coastline stretches some 480 kilometers from Tanzania in the south to Somalia in the north. The beaches offer a tropical idyll of soft white sands and a gentle sea breeze. The pace of life on the coast is notably slower and more relaxed.
The Kenya coast is a place with a long and exotic history; its calm blue waters were the traditional passage of the Arabian Spice Trade. Along the length of the coastline; Arab and Portuguese forts, Old Towns, and the overgrown, deserted ruins of Swahili outposts; bear witness to this fascinating history. In the winding medieval streets and bustling markets of Lamu and Mombasa Old Town; life has continued unhurried and unchanged for more than 400 years.
Here the wilderness meets the sea; and the ocean itself holds a world of spectacular coral reefs teeming with life and color. Dive beneath these waters and discover an undersea paradise. The coral reefs teem with fish, a kaleidoscope of color and life.
This blend of natural beauty and living history creates an exotic paradise unlike anywhere else on earth. Choose how you want to experience your Kenya beach holiday.
Kenya Beach Holiday Towns
Malindi & Watamu
The small towns of Malindi and Watamu are a strip of idyllic tropical beaches; offering the visitor a range of world-class resorts and quiet relaxing hideaways.
Watamu is 120 km north of Mombasa and 28km south of Malindi. It is not only the beach, it is the National Marine Park, coral reef, and sheltered lagoons; teeming with exotic fish that provide a wonderfully rich environment to discover and explore!
Northwest of Malindi is the spectacular Marafa Depression, locally known as Nyari and popularly known as Hell’s Kitchen.
The thick jungles of the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve hide a world of wonders. In the cool of the forest; winding paths will take you in search of rare endemic birds and mammals, and visiting herds of elephants.
The forest holds another secret, the lost town of Gedi; a deserted trading Swahili town hidden deep in the forests; whose winding passages and crumbling walls tell of a long and mysterious past. Walkthrough the forest, explore the mangroves by boat, dive on the reef; or try your hand at big game fishing.
With its 17 kilometers of beautiful, flawless, soft white sand; Diani Beach is popular with families, honeymooners, and watersports enthusiasts alike. Visit its marine national park to dive with dolphins and sea turtles, spot whale sharks, kitesurf, skydive; and Diani also offers a vibrant nightlife so caters to all ages.
The Lamu Archipelago is a stunning string of islands in the Indian Ocean on Kenya’s northern coast. The largest of the islands is Lamu Island, Manda Island, and Pate Island; which is only accessible at high tide. Smaller islands include Kiwayu, which lies in the Kiunga Marine National Reserve, and Manda Toto.
The largest island of Lamu is 165 mi/265 km north of Mombasa. The island itself is a beautiful place of rolling dunes and endless beaches; where tiny villages nestle among coconut and mango plantations and dhows ply the waters.
The town of Lamu began life as a 14th-century Swahili settlement; but the island has seen many visitors and influences; including Portuguese explorers, Turkish traders, and the Omani Arabs.
Lamu’s narrow streets remain unchanged, and in the markets and squares around the fort; life moves at the same pace as it always has. The Boda Boda; motorcycle taxis common in East Africa, donkeys, and the dhow; are the dominant form of transport.
The archipelago has proved irresistible to travelers since the 1960s; when hippies hailed Lamu as Africa’s Kathmandu. Its inaccessibility is seen as a drawcard; rather than a hindrance by the wealthy who visit after lavish safaris in East Africa.
Kenya Beach Holiday Activities
SCUBA Diving and Snorkeling
The coast has several world-class dive sites. Some of the best sites are in the Watamu Marine National Park; a well-protected and managed area. The reef here is close to shore, meaning easily accessible shallow coral gardens that are ideal for learners and snorkellers.
The 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; and Kenya’s best wreck diving on the MV Dania. Dives on the central Turtle Reef average at around 10-15 meters; with high spiking coral heads attracting large shoals of colorful parrot and surgeonfish. You will occasionally sight a few white-tip reef sharks and the endangered Green sea Turtle; that are in residence on the reef. This area is an important egg-laying site for these Turtles; which lays their eggs on the beaches at Watamu several times a year. The adventurous diver will not want to miss dive, the Vuma Caves near Kilifi Creek.
South of Mombasa; dive sites all along the coast from Tiwi; south to Shimoni with some of the best sites around Kisiite Mpunguti Marine Reserve. This area is your best chance to sight some of the largest Manta Rays on the East African coast. Divers at Kisiite often encounter hawksbill turtles and bottlenose dolphins.
A good excursion for both diving and snorkeling is a day dhow trip to Wasini Island; easily arranged from Diani or Shimoni. Dolphins often accompany the dhow; the interior of the island itself is well worth exploring. In the island archipelagos of Lamu and Manda; diving and snorkeling are best between November to March.
Big game fishing is widely available in the season (December until March). Excellent boats with state-of-the-art equipment are available for charter. A tag and release program ensures eco-friendly fishing. North of Malindi is one of the rare places on the planet; where you can expect to achieve the coveted Fantasy Slam; that means catching Black, Blue, and Striped Marlin, and also Spearfish, and Broadbill Swordfish; all in the same day!
Otherwise; expect Giant Trevally, Mahi Mahi, Kingfish, Barracuda, Wahoo, Kingfish, Sailfish, and also Yellowfins.
The coastal resorts of the North and South Coast offer a full range of water sports; including sailing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, parasailing; and more.
Nyali Beach, north of Mombasa is an 11.5 km stretch of white powdery sand; with a reef 2km offshore that provides a natural lagoon for kite surfing; ideal for starting out or learning to perfect more advanced kite surfing moves.
A variety of boats can be hired to explore the coast; such as Hobie cats and sailing skiffs. Sea Kayaks are also widely available and are ideal for exploring remote coves and sheltered bays.
Traditional Dhows are an integral part of life on the Kenya coast and islands. A day spent at sea on a Dhow is a wonderful experience and a fantastic way to explore the area.
Swim with Dolphins
If you would like to see or swim with dolphins; there are large populations of bottlenose dolphins; often seen in large family groups; all along the Kenyan coastline. Dolphins naturally join divers and snorkelers and surround and swim with people. This magical experience is a common occurrence on day trips in this area.
Kenya Beach Holiday when to visit
The best time to visit Kenya for a beach holiday is between October to January; when there is little chance of rain (although not guaranteed!). Mid-March to late May are probably the wettest months.
Diving in Kenya is generally good all year round; although visibility lessens during July and August; due to silting and high seas. The weather is consistently warm and sunny, with excellent balmy water temperatures that make for ideal dive conditions.
Whale Sharks are around each year from October until March. Migratory pods of Whales from Southern Africa pass through this area during the months of June to September.