Away from the safaris: Mombasa’s stunning palm-fringed beaches

When you think of Kenya holidays what will instantly spring to mind is the dramatic backdrop of the Masai Mara and the ‘big five’ African animals, but what you may be less familiar about is the country’s stunning array of beaches in the resort of Mombasa.

Boasting some of the finest powdery white sand beaches on the whole continent, this palm-laden paradise comprises luxury hotels, a wide variety of marine activities and the perfect spots for fishing.

Holidays to Kenya are now more multi-faceted than ever before; you are sure to fall in love with the four distinct beach communities surrounding Mombasa – Bamburi, Shanzu, Mtwapa and Kikambala.

Some of the region’s best accommodation is right on the beach and this stunning environment lies on the East African barrier reef that stretches right from the Horn of Africa down to Tanzania.

If coral reefs take your breath away, you may want to locate yourself close to the beaches of Watamu and Malindi where arguably the best marine park in the country can be found.

This northern outpost, and the Malindi-Watamu Marine National Park to be precise, is wondrous in the fact that at low tide across the coral beds visitors can witness all kinds of vibrantly coloured sea life – slugs, crabs, starfish and more.

This very own world of its own is a beauty to behold and a must see for those wishing to gain from some impressive photographic opportunities.

Food lovers can also rejoice with Mombasa catering for more tastes than first anticipated. The region boasts a whole host of cuisines, whether you prefer British, Chinese, Indian or Italian, let alone local delicacies.

And if you like your food fresh, it doesn’t come more authentic than straight out of the ocean onto your dish. Many eateries specialise in freshly caught seafood if you fancy broadening your horizons for an evening or two.

Mombasa comes alive after dark with a generous variety of entertainment, whether you fancy spending your time at a casino or visiting one of the many night clubs in the area.

Throughout your stay near Mombasa, you will realise that the region has a lasting sense of colonialism, with Portuguese, British and Arab influences traceable within the city limits and beyond. One of the best places to further explore this history is Lamu – a small island off Kenya’s north-east coast.

With no cars on the island, Lamu remains detached from development and this is no bad thing. Visitors will be overwhelmed by the deep Swahili culture, and the Arabic buildings and narrow streets make for a unique experience.

Back on the mainland, near Watamu beach, visitors can explore Gedi, a ruined town dating back to the 15th century. The settlement features a giant mosque, sultan’s palace and several tombs.

Alternatively, you could visit the Arabuko-Sokoke national park and harbours that protect many endemic species sacred to the region, such as the Amani sunbird, spotted ground thrush and sokoke scops owl.

A nature lover’s haven, if you have seen the ‘big five’ before, this park gives you the perfect opportunity to witness other rare and endangered species within their natural environment.

In short, Kenya has it all, and the beach resorts around Mombasa provide countless fulfilling day trips.