Lying on both sides of the equator, Kenya is undoubtedly one of Africa’s most popular travel destinations. It has vast, world-renowned national parks where animals roam free in their natural habitat in a beautiful, diverse, natural and mostly untouched landscape. And for its wildlife, Kenya is a dream safari destination. Here you’ll find families of lions hunting in groups in the wide open meadows – or lazing sleepily – in the shade of thorny acacia or other shrubs. On the hilly plains, herds of elephants bathe in dust, scraping the soil with their flexible, boneless trunks – which they then pour onto their bodies in a mesmerizing cloud spectacle.
And for the photogenic, Kenya has plenty of Instagrammable spots. It’s also host to the wildebeest migration – rightly called the world’s greatest wildlife show. You should not miss this unique opportunity. And although Kenya’s coast is less famous, it is no less attractive. Along the coast there are many stunning palm-fringed beaches with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. These beautiful beaches stretch alongside extensive coral reefs and other marine life. For perspective, the coral reef along the coast of Kenya forms part of the second longest coral reef on the planet, surpassed only by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Let’s take a detailed look at Kenya’s coastline.
Kenya’s south coast and its popular attractions
Kenya’s coastline is divided into north and south coasts, using the historic city of Mombasa on the mainland as a point of reference. Of the two sides, the south coast is more picturesque and unspoilt, perhaps because it is further removed from the life and spirit of Mombasa city. With no road bridge, their only link is the Likoni Ferry, which periodically bumps noisily across the busy Likoni Canal. While the south coast offers many interesting travel opportunities, Diani Beach, 30 kilometers from Mombasa, is its golden goose. Diani Beach is the best in Kenya, 10th in Africa, and one of the best on the planet. Angelina Jollie, Brad Pitt, Jose Mourinho, Cameron Diaz, Naomi Campbell and many other celebrities have discovered a stunning secret hideaway at Diani Beach that is every bit as beautiful as any world-class Caribbean beach. Of course you can expect a top beach experience. Soft white sand; clear turquoise water; lines of slender coconut palms; a gentle leaf-rustling zephyr and spectacular sunsets.
- How to get to Diani: Take a train from Nairobi to Mombasa for $10. From Mombasa train station, take an Uber to Diani. Or take a direct flight from Wilson Airport, Nairobi direct to Diani.
On a 7 mile stretch along the beach is the Diani Forest. Though now broken into fragments due to human activity, you can still find silent, majestic stands of trees, especially as you approach the tarmac. Further in, there is a snake park and a world of birds and butterflies of impressive variety. For the ultimate forest experience, meander to the traditional sacred groves known locally as kaya, there are three along the beach. Not only are they sacred, but they also have an air of traditional mysticism about them.
Tiwi Beach, just about 11 miles south of Mombasa and 7 miles from Diani, is another attractive travel option – and perfect especially for budget travelers.
A little further afield is the beautiful island of Chale, about 8 miles from Diani Beach on the southern ends, where you will find some of the largest mangrove trees in East Africa – on Kenya’s only private island. The jewel in this exclusive resort is the 2.5 hectare bay, a breathtaking view of sparkling white. To top off your beach experience in Chale there is a beautiful luxury resort, The sand at Chale Island Resort, that sits right on this island. There’s a reason CNN Travel classifies Chale Beach as Kenya’s second best. Just 4km from Chale Island lies the secluded Gazi Beach, hypnotically beautiful and almost untouched. And for the ultimate private beach experience, we don’t think there is another Kenyan beach.
But that’s not all. Funzi Island – no, archipelago – known for its pristine beaches – can extend your trip even closer to Tanzania. A boat trip to the nearby Ramisi River may be the first time you see the cool grin of a Nile crocodile in its natural habitat. There are actually 4 islands here, but Funzi is famous for its size and beauty. Sea turtles, now an endangered species worldwide, regularly forage at Funzi Beach and are one of the beach’s main attractions. Unlike the exclusive Chale Island, Funzi is free and easily accessible and can afford an unforgettable camping experience. Funzi Island is a decent 40 miles from Mombasa.
A further 7 miles from Funzi you land directly on Wasini Island, a stunning paradise with no sounds of speeding cars or trains. The mood is slow and calm; and could respond to the romantic fairy tale destination where people “live happily ever after”. On the coral gardens immediately south of Wasini lies Kisite Marine National Park, the Home of the Dolphinsand perhaps the finest snorkeling spot in the country.
After this exciting whirlwind tour of Kenya’s south coast, you’ll be reluctant to travel home.
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