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Top 10 Best Beaches in Kenya

Best Kenya Beaches – Kenya’s reputation as a safari destination is well-deserved, but this East African gem also boasts a stunning Indian Ocean coastline, adorned with palm-fringed beaches, unspoiled coral reefs, and historic Swahili ports. The primary gateway to this coastal paradise is Mombasa, a vibrant city located on an island and surrounded by exquisite beaches such as Diani, Nyali, and Bamburi. Additionally, travelers can explore other beach-holiday options further along the coast, including Watamu, Malindi, and the remote Lamu Archipelago. Here, we present 10 of Kenya’s finest beaches, beginning from the southern shores of Mombasa and journeying northward to the secluded Lamu Archipelago.

Diani Beach

diani-beach

Diani Beach stands out as the premier beach destination near Mombasa and throughout Kenya. With its pristine white sands, swaying palm trees, and crystal-clear turquoise waters, it offers a perfect blend of natural beauty. Home to some of the country’s finest beach hotels, Diani ensures a spacious and uncrowded atmosphere for visitors to enjoy. Additionally, the coastal forest surrounding Diani is home to three monkey species and a variety of forest birds.

Location: Situated 32km/20mi south of Mombasa Activities: Visitors can enjoy windsurfing, diving, and snorkeling trips to Wasini Island, as well as day safaris to the nearby Shimba Hills National Reserve and the community-run Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary. Accommodation: Diani offers a range of accommodation options, from luxurious beach resorts to eclectic backpacker lodges. Popular choices include Baobab Beach Resort and Elewana AfroChic Diani Beach.

Nyali Beach

nyali-beach

Nyali, located in the suburban outskirts of Mombasa, is the nearest beach to Mombasa Island and makes for an appealing day trip destination from the city center. Dating back to the 1940s when a hotel first opened its doors, Nyali has since become Kenya’s longest-standing beach resort. Despite its close proximity to the city, Nyali boasts a beautiful swimming beach and is home to several prestigious hotels.

Location: Situated only 3km/2mi north of central Mombasa in a straight line, although the distance doubles by road. Activities: Visitors can explore local attractions such as the Nyali Golf and Country Club, renowned as the country’s only 18-hole golf course. Accommodation: Nyali offers a variety of accommodation options, including the popular Voyager Beach Resort.

Gazi Beach

Gazi-Beach

The tranquil Swahili fishing village of Gazi is nestled along a stunning bay, sheltered by a slender peninsula that extends to Chale Island. The northern stretch of the bay hosts one of southern Kenya’s largest mangrove swamps, while the eastern shoreline features an appealing and relatively undeveloped swimming beach. The small beach on Chale Island is even more breathtaking, although it is exclusively reserved for guests of the island’s sole lodge.

Location: Positioned 45km/27mi south of Mombasa Activities: Beyond typical beach pastimes, Gazi offers a mangrove boardwalk managed by a local community women’s group. Visitors can explore six species of mangrove trees, spot the amphibious mudskipper fish, and admire the vibrant mangrove kingfisher. Accommodation: The Sands at Chale Island stands out as one of the most exclusive, enchanting, and environmentally conscious beach resorts in East Africa.

Kenyatta Beach

kenyatta-beach

Named in honor of Kenya’s founding president, Jomo Kenyatta Beach is a beloved spot for families and residents of Mombasa seeking a leisurely swimming experience. This beach offers a chance to enjoy a local atmosphere away from tourist crowds, providing a genuine glimpse into Kenyan beach culture. While weekends may see larger crowds, weekdays tend to offer a more tranquil ambiance.

Location: Positioned 9km/5mi north of central Mombasa Activities: Family-friendly amenities include a water-slide park, while glass-bottomed boat excursions offer opportunities to explore the coral gardens of Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve. Accommodation: Unlike most beach destinations, Jomo Kenyatta Beach is not home to any recognized beach resorts or hotels. However, it is easily accessible from central Mombasa, making it a convenient day trip option for visitors.

Kilifi Beach

Kilifi-beach

Located along a serene creek, this charming town serves as the hub of Kenya’s yachting community, yet it boasts a stunning palm-fringed beach that remains relatively undiscovered by travelers. Adjacent to the town lies the Mnarani National Monument, home to Kenya’s largest baobab tree and the remarkably preserved ruins of a medieval Swahili trade port.

Location: Situated 70km/42mi north of Mombasa Activities: Visitors can enjoy excellent swimming during high tide, while marine excursions can be arranged through local hotels. Accommodation: Distant Relatives Ecolodge and Backpackers offers fantastic budget-friendly lodging options, while Kilifi Bay Beach Resort provides more upscale accommodations for those seeking added luxury.

Shanzu & Bamburi Beach

Shanzu & Bamburi Beach

Shanzu and Bamburi are among Kenya’s most sought-after beaches, stretching for over 5km/3mi south of Mtwapa Creek. Similar to Nyali, these beaches offer a somewhat suburban ambiance but boast picturesque settings ideal for swimming during high tide.

Location: Positioned 10km/6mi north of central Mombasa Activities: Visitors can partake in windsurfing, diving, and snorkeling excursions to explore the Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve. Additionally, there are opportunities for wining and dining at various upscale seaside restaurants. Accommodation: Along the shores of Shanzu and Bamburi, numerous upscale resort hotels await travelers, including the renowned Serena Beach Resort & Spa, known for its popularity and stunning aesthetics.

Watamu Beach

watamu-beach

Watamu stands out as my favorite beach resort in Kenya, offering a unique and captivating beauty characterized by spectacular coral outcrops that rise like mushrooms from the bay. Its proximity to attractions such as Malindi Marine National Park, Gedi Ruins, Mida Creek, and Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve makes it an ideal retreat for adventurous and inquisitive travelers.

Location: Situated 110km/66mi north of Mombasa and 23km/16mi south of Malindi Activities: Visitors can enjoy swimming, as well as a variety of beach and water sports. Off-beach snorkeling in Turtle Bay’s stunning coral gardens is a must, or you can opt for a diving excursion into the marine national park for deeper exploration. Don’t miss the enchanting medieval ruins at Gedi, the scenic trails of Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve, or the community-built bird hide and boardwalk at Mida Creek. Accommodation: Watamu offers accommodations to suit all budgets, with long-standing favorites like Turtle Bay Beach Club providing a range of options for travelers.

Malindi Beach

malindi-beach

Malindi, Kenya’s second-largest coastal town, holds a rich medieval history as a prominent port that reached its zenith during a 16th-century alliance with Portugal against Mombasa. Historic landmarks, including a 15th-century pillar tomb, a 16th-century Portuguese chapel, and a windswept limestone cross erected by Vasco da Gama in 1499, dot the landscape. The town’s attractive swimming beach, coupled with a strong Italian influence, sets the stage for a plethora of seafront restaurants.

Location: Positioned 120km/75mi north of Mombasa, with Malindi airport situated on the outskirts of town. Activities: As Kenya’s most urbanized resort, Malindi boasts a vibrant culinary scene and a host of amenities. Visitors can easily arrange snorkeling and diving excursions, as well as safaris into Tsavo East National Park located 100km/60mi to the west. Accommodation: Malindi offers a wide range of lodging options. Families may enjoy the Driftwood Beach Club, while history enthusiasts can opt for The Lawford Kenya, a historic hotel once frequented by Ernest Hemingway.

Shela Beach, Lamu

Shela-Beach-Lamu

Separated from the northern mainland by a narrow channel, the Lamu Archipelago stands as one of the most captivating destinations along the Kenyan coast. Lamu Town serves as its cultural hub, an atmospheric medieval trading post preserving a strong Swahili architectural identity. Moreover, the archipelago boasts stunning beaches, with Shela Beach emerging as a standout, featuring a 10km/6mi stretch of pristine white sand just a 40-minute walk from Lamu Town.

Location: Situated 215km/130mi north of Malindi, with most visitors arriving by air to Lamu. Activities: Shela Beach offers an untouched and serene environment, ideal for sunbathing and refreshing dips in the ocean. Accommodation: Lodging options abound in Lamu Town, with Peponi Hotel in Shela standing out as a beachfront boutique property operated by the same family since its establishment in 1967.

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