This ocean location is responsible for the city’s status as an important trading centre. Historically its trade in spices, gold and ivory attracted the attention of numerous countries overseas – the chronicles of such writers as Ibn Battuta and Duarte Barbosa attest to countless bloody battles fought to win control!
To this day, Mombasa boasts an enormous port and a cosmopolitan population including Swahili and Mijikenda as well as peoples from West Kenya, the Middle East, Somalia and the Indian sub-continent. Its position close to a range of beautiful beaches naturally brings a lot of tourism to the area, served by its international airport, Moi. And the city itself is well worth visiting, as its variety of inhabitants over the centuries has contributed to a vibrant township with a rich tapestry of cultural influences!
Music is particularly prevalent in the city. The joyful sounds of Zanzibar’s Taarab are most commonly heard in Mombasa’s bars and clubs, but many local genres are popular too – smooth Mwanzele, hectic Chakacha, blissful Bango. And more recently, hip hop, reggae, soul, blues and even salsa have come to town! This diversity of styles is echoed in Mombasa’s mix of restaurants. The city is famous for its seafood – the Tamarind is considered the best seafood restaurant in Africa! – but there is something to suit all palettes, from the Tarboush Café (authentic African) to Singh Restaurant (Indian) to Yul’s Restaurant (Italian) to Galaxy (Chinese).
There are lots of lovely little coffee shops too, perfect for taking a break and watching the world go by. Mombasa is a very interesting city to explore, especially for its old town and surrounds. Here you will find Fort Jesus, constructed by the Portuguese between 1593 and 1596 to guard the productive port. Viewed from the air, the fort is in the shape of a man, his head pointing towards the sea. Fort Jesus was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 and it is a must-see for anyone intrigued by the history of the city! Otherwise, there is plenty to enjoy in the more modern streets of Mombasa, not least the bustling fruit-and-vegetable markets and the 24-hour entertainment outlets on the northern shore, featuring bowling alleys, cinemas and waterparks. And scuba diving is possible within the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve!
Watersports are available at any of the beaches situated a short drive from the city centre – and we offer the best of all, Diani Beach, on Kenya’s gorgeous South Coast! With its wide expanse of silvery soft sand fringed by tall palm trees bordering brilliant blue waters, Diani is positively iconic, fantastic as one half of a classic bush-and-beach holiday and as a standalone trip. Accommodation options range from bijou guesthouses to medium hotels to large resorts – and everything in between!
Activities on Diani Beach include windsurfing, kitesurfing, diving, fishing, cycling – and simply soaking up the sun! And many of the properties we sell are able to arrange an exciting assortment of excursions too. For example, you can sail by dhow to Wasini Island and Kiste Marine Park – the latter contains spectacular coral gardens and a plethora of sealife species, including delightful dolphins! The Colobus Trust is also highly recommended, home to a habituated troop of the characterful black-and-white monkeys. And safari add-ons are easy, with Shimba Hills Reserve, Tsavo, Amboseli and the Maasai Mara all reasonably accessible from the South Coast.
All in all, this part of Kenya has a lot going on – just get in touch with us to start planning your city break, or beach break, or bush/beach/city combination!