Combining a safari with a beach holiday makes perfect sense in Kenya with its idyllic coastline. We love the white powdery sands, palm-fringed beaches, equatorial climate, warm Indian Ocean waters and the beautiful barrier of coral reef that protects the length of the shoreline. It’s the perfect place to wash off the safari dust and indulge in some downtime.
Only a short flight from the Masai Mara, the Kenyan Coast is the ideal place to relax after the intensity of a safari. Those looking for warm turquoise waters and endless stretches of fine white sand will not be disappointed. The beaches are shaded by coconut palms, while a stunning barrier of coral reef runs parallel to the coastline. So, if you tire of soaking up the sun, there are plenty of opportunities for snorkelling and diving.
We would also recommend taking a short cruise on one of the lateen-rigged dhows that sail beyond the coral reef, as it gives an interesting perspective of the coastline, which is dotted with mangrove-lined creeks. Alternatively, you could experience the excitement of deep-sea fishing and for those visiting in February and March, there is even the chance to spot whale sharks, one of the most elusive of the marine giants.
But for those with a yearning for land mammals, we suggest you head to Shimba Hills National Reserve. Just a short drive from the southern coast, Shimba offers beach lovers the chance to sample the safari experience.
If you are more culture vulture than lounge lizard, we suggest heading to the northern coast where you can explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lamu. Here you can explore the most complete Swahili settlement in the world, before heading to one of the small islands in the Lamu Archipelago for a tranquil beach retreat.
Further south is the small town of Malindi, one of the older coastal centres with some interesting Arabian architecture, or if you prefer to stay in a smaller village, Watamu is a 30-minute drive further south. Both have stunning beaches and marine parks, with opportunities for exploring the coral reef.
Continuing down the coast and south of Mombasa, you will find the beaches of Diani and Msambweni, which we think are picture perfect examples of Indian Ocean beaches. Here you can expect luxurious accommodation, excellent levels of service and a great range of water activities to enjoy.