8 Memorable Things To Do In Mombasa


The holidays are here and the hot coastal town of Mombasa beckons, with its beaches and the promise of good times! Sadly, many clueless people with grand dreams of having a great time at the beach will visit Mombasa and head right to Pirates Beach, which is hands down, the shittiest, most crowded of beaches in north and south of Mombasa.


So first, do yourself a huge favor and Go Swim in a Beach Other Than Pirates. Here is a list of 7 public ones I have swum in and loved:

Source: http://cloudfront.net
Source: http://cloudfront.net

1) Baobab Beach in Kilifi right next to the Baobab Beach Resort, is a long stretch of fine and white sandy shore. It is for me the best public beach in Mombasa so far. When we first visited it while living in Kilifi, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a private beach! It’s that good!


 2) Watamu Beach in Watamu comes second even though the white sands rival those of Baobab Beach. The reason is that it is much further than Kilifi and requires a change of matatus to get to; and who wants that? Watamu itself comes highly recommended as an entertainment hotspot as well as a chill out place that is, if you can afford it.


3) Mafumbini Beach in Kilifi is a little smaller than Baobab, yet, due to its closer proximity to town it gets more action than Baobab Beach. You’re better off carrying packed snacks to this beach because there are no shops close by and we all know hell hath no fury like a tummy out from a long and fun swim.


4) Mnarani Beach: going into Kilifi town is a bridge with a view I never tire of. Before crossing this bridge is this small place called Mnarani, which has its very own stretch of beaches. While the beach is not as sandy white as Baobab, the yatches and the Kilifi bridge make for quite a view.


5) Coba Cabana Beachwhen in the mood for fun beach time unfolding into a vibrant night life, head over to Mtwapa. Coba Cabana (that is not a typo. Brazil’s is Copa and we own the Coba suckers!) is a restaurant situated smack next to the beach named after it. It usually has really good music all day long, and affordable booze when they don’t have some famous star performing (then they double or triple the prices of everything on the menu). The party goes till very late literally every day.



Image Credits : https://tripadvisor.com
Diani Beach. Image Credits : https://tripadvisor.com



6) Diani Beach is on the south coast and is the mother of waves. I haven’t been there for the longest time but from last time I was, it does not come highly recommended for unsupervised kids and amateur swimmers.

Malindi beaches are also pretty decent if you’re willing to go all the way to Kenyan Timbuktu just to sample them.


As a rule of thumb, transport around Mombasa towns is by Tuk Tuk or Boda boda, unless you’re heading to a place more than 10 minutes away. The matatu drops you at the town center and you take a tuk tuk to wherever. Know your names because while Google Maps thinks ‘Mafumbini’ is gibberish, a local transporter will know exactly where to take you. If you just say ‘Take me to the beach’ don’t blame anyone for being taken to one worse than Pirates Beach.



2. Walk through Old Town


And by walk I mean Walk. I am a great lover of Mombasa history and I like to walk through the streets imagining all the plush places that existed, how people dressed back then and the great wars fought that shaped the town. From ancient mosques to intricately carved doorways dating back to before the 50’s you’ll get a picture authentic Swahili culture, then and now. Most of the old buildings have merely been repainted but the old designs remain.




Some buildings have been condemned for years and if you want to take photos, most people will merely spare you a look before walking on, plus, there’s no kanjoo to harass like it is in Nairobi (unless that has changed recently because of Alshabaab). Just don’t point a camera into someone’s face.


Security is really not a concern because the streets are full of people and Mombasa people are known to be ruthless to thieves. Just don’t walk into some dark alley, this is pure common sense. Street food is available for foodies like myself and for shoppers there is no shortage of stuff from the throngs of Arab shops selling perfumes, genuine gold jewelry etc.



3. Snack at Burhani Gardens

This place is an old downright neglected garden that had working fountains in its hey days and I am sure it was a sight to behold. It is on the way into Fort Jesus and despite its setbacks, serves as a nice and clean chill spot to take a breather or a snack. The whole area is canopied in leafy trees and palm trees. It makes this list simply because I like it. And I am the writer of this post so…



4. Walk around Fort Jesus

Image Credits: Hellen Masido

All of us probably visited Fort Jesus on a school trip we hardly remember. You may go in (I highly recommend it) but do not ignore the outside either. Go chill at the beach down the stairs leading to the ocean and perhaps take ice cream while watching ten year olds cross the deep waters where a sign post tells all to go for a swim at their own risk.

My personal favorite is watching shagz people in those newly bought shiny clothes take family photos with the beach as the background.


Also the shops outside the fort hold some really cool Swahili art and souvenirs. You can even get those paintings of stick Maasais in the sunset if you like bad art.


On the opposite side of the fort entrance is a street leading to another section of Old Town. That street houses several ancient houses that can give you jitters if ghosts are your thing, and onwards some cool souvenir shops selling Swahili art pieces at really affordable prices.



5. Chill out at Mamangina Drive

Mamangina Drive is the very edge of the north coast of Mombasa that dips into the Indian Ocean and has a view of the opposite south side of the coast. It’s a really great outdoors chill spot because of the diverse forms of entertainment it offers.


A wide variety of street food is available all around and the Shawarma off some of the food trucks to die for! One thing you have to bring along is good money; not because stuff is expensive but because there’s so much to choose from, for both kids and adults. The daytime is kiddy time with horse rides, ice-cream and miniature car rides, while at night, it’s adults only because booze, sheesha and no sane person should have a kid out right by the ocean at that time.


There is ample parking and you can chill right in your car, smoking some high end stuff while watching the ocean if you’re deep like that. There is also no shortage of tuk tuks when you’ve had enough and need to head to wherever.


6. Ride The Likoni Ferry

I have a fond memory from high school drama festival season when Nairobi schools sought accommodation from our south coast schools. During this time, a bunch of us are from town heading back to school and there’s a group of Loreto Msongari girls ahead of us. After crossing the ferry, one of them exclaims “Haiya! Na hatukulipa!”

Image Credits: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com