|The Beaches south of Mombasa are an earthly paradise of tropical forests, white sand beaches and coral reefs. |
On the South Coast there are beaches to suit any travellers tastes and interest. There are busy resorts with plenty of organized activities and non- stop nightlife. and quiet beach destinations offering the chance to relax and experience nature.
Whether you are looking for a base to actively explore this fascinating region, or just somewhere to unwind and find peace, Kenya’s south coast has everything you could wish for.
The area is serviced by World Class resorts, centred around Diani Beach, letting the visitor relax in style and comfort. The beaches here are broad expanses of pure white sand, while the ocean is warm and inviting, with protective reefs creating perfect calm havens for swimming.
Watersports enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice on the South Coast. Most of the resorts and hotels ranged along the beaches offer a wide range of watersports. Water-skiing, Sailing, Jetskiing, parasailing and much more can all be arranged easily at most of the hotels.
A range of boats can be hired to explore the coast, including Hobie cats and sailing skiffs. Sea Kayaks are also widely available, and are ideal for exploring remote coves and sheltered bays.
Shimoni is a good place for those looking to charter yachts. Both yachts and crews are available for private charter. the coast of Kenya is a great place to explore by yacht, or the perfect base from which to set sail for Zanzibar to the South or the Red Sea to the North.
SCUBA Diving and Snorkelling-
Beneath the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean lies a world of undersea wonders. There are plenty of excellent dive sites all along the South Coast. Diving is generally good all year round, although visibility lessens during July and August due to silting. There are dive sites ranged along the coast from Tiwi south to Shimoni. Some of the best sites are centred around Kisiite Mpunguti Marine Reserve. This area is home to large Manta Rays which are occasionally encountered on dive expeditions.
In February-March each year, there are almost guaranteed sightings of Whale Sharks on outer reef dives along the Kenyan Coast. The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, measuring up to 18 metres and weigh up to 20 tons. It feeds on platonic creatures and small fish, and has only tiny teeth.
In Kiswahili, the whale shark is called “papa shillingi” translating as “shark covered in shillings.” There is a local legend that God was so pleased when he created this beautiful fish that he gave his angels handfuls of gold and silver coins to throw down from heaven onto its back. So it goes that whale sharks have their magical markings and swim near the surface catching the sun on their backs as a way of saying thank you to their Maker.
Based in Diani beach, the East African Whale Shark Trust (EAWST) was founded in 2005 in response to the increase in the whale shark population along the Kenyan coast as well as increased interest from the tourist sector.
One of the best dive sites is Nyulli Reef. A good deep dive site with strong tidal currents, this dive is best suited to experienced divers. Spectacular coral and plunging drop offs are home to excellent sealife, including snapper, barracuda, rare zebra sharks and massive Napoleon wrasse.
An easier dive is Kisiite Point. There is plenty of large, tame shoals to be found here, with average dive depth at around 12 metres. Divers at the point often encounter hawksbill turtles and bottlenose dolphins.
Wreck Diving is possible at the Northern end of this strip of coast, on the MV Unfunguo, a former trawler, which has now become a thriving artificial reef. Since the wreck split open some years ago, the inner hull has become a massive haven for sea life, and makes for a truly spectacular dive.
There are many dive operators in this area, both private and those attached to resorts. Equipment, boats, refills and dive guides are all provided. International PADI, NAUI and SSI standards of safety and quality are all maintained. Full courses with qualified instructors and international SCUBA certification are available.
Many operators offer Night Dives and specialist Nitrox Diving.
The best option is a day trip on a diveboat, catamaran or dhow with one of the many dive companies operating in this area.
For non divers there are plenty of options for fantastic snorkelling, with plenty of shallow and accessible coral gardens, especially at the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Reserve.
A day dhow trip to Wasini Island, within the reserve, is easily arranged from Diani or Shimoni. This usually includes snorkelling and/or diving, and a seafood lunch on the island.This is an ideal way to spend the day. Dolphins often accompany the dhows through the reserve, and the island itself is well worth exploring.
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Shimoni has a long standing reputation for big game fishing. The Pemba Channel is the best fishing destination, and there are many highly skilled local operators. Fully equipped and stocked boats with the best available equipment and tackle are available for full and half day charters. The main game fish include Sailfish and Marlin, Kingfish, Wahoo, Horse Mackerel and others. The best source of local information for fisherman is the Pemba Channel Fishing Club in Shimoni. A tag and release program ensures eco-friendly fishing. Big game fishing can be arranged in season (December-March).
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