Coast for People Who Low-key Don’t Love Mombasa: A Photo Essay
*disclaimer: the title of this post is not meant to dissuade anyone from travelling Mombasa at all, or hate on the city of Mombasa or its residents, but rather to consider different attractions to visit on Kenya’s coast for those who want a different experience.
I went on a mini vacation for a few days in 2019 to the Kenyan coast. Now, if you’re a Kenyan and you tell other Kenyans that you’re going to the coast, it’s typically assumed that you mean Mombasa, the main city of the coastal province. BUT, if you’re like me and get tired of the same same Mombasa tourist attractions (hotel pool, buffet, dirty beach), you might want to know what else there is to see in the coast, and that Mombasa isn’t the only location affiliated with the word “coast”. Here are some photos of the places I visited that I found worthwhile, and none of them include food or a swimming pool lol.
GEDE RUINS, GEDE
A good place to walk around and take in the history of what was once a wealthy community. It’s full of big, old trees with deep roots. Also, great, great, great photo opportunities!
FORT JESUS, OLD TOWN MOMBASA
Ok, I know I threw some shade at Mombasa from this title, but the one cliché thing I enjoyed was Fort Jesus. More than anything, I enjoyed taking photos there during golden hour. If you’re into knowing the history of the fort, it may be worth your while to get a guide once inside. But be warned to take their information with a grain of salt; meaning, do your research to verify information. (Eg. All this time I never knew Maputo was in South Africa!) It’s also a good place to lounge, pass time or wait for the sun to set. If you peek through the openings along the fort’s wall, you get a view that overlooks Mombasa Harbour, providing a serene and peaceful feel. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a football match right by the entrance of the fort. Entrance fees are 200/- for Kenyan adult citizens, 400/- for EA adult residents, and 1200/- for adult non residents. (Check out their website for kids rates.)
MIDA CREEK, WATAMU
Support local! This place is a bit of a gem. Organised entirely by the local community, you can get a small tour of the mangrove forest through a very shaky, somewhat dilapidated, yet somehow supportive boardwalk. There’s even the option to go on a canoe ride to the neighbouring islands or take a walk in the Arabuko Sokoke forest nearby. You’re given lots of information about the forest being an ecosystem and very unique to the area. Worth a visit if you’re in Watamu. Check out more about it here.
HELL’S KITCHEN, MARAFA
Kenya’s own Grand Canyon made entirely of sand. You can take a walk inside and feel like nature truly is a piece of art. More info here.
CHE SHALE, MAMBRUI
AKA The Golden Beach. The best for last. This beach is absolutely magical. Your feet feel like they are being given a royal blessing of some kind. Covered in shining, shimmering glitter, this beach sort of seems like a dream and a real gem, especially since much of it is untouched by human activity.