On our last visit to the Kenyan coastline and Lamu, we have really had to re-think its importance as an East African beach destination. We used to recommend Zanzibar and the Tanzanian coastline over Kenya, but on further inspection we are not so sure! Aside from the fabulous Lamu in the north, there is plenty to be said for the quality of beaches and in particular, accommodation on the mainland coast – you just need to know where to go!
The Kenyan coastline stretches for about 300 miles from Lamu
in the far north of the country, down to the south of Mombasa. In some areas, the stretch from Malindi down to the south of Mombasa boasts picturesque white sand, palm-fringed beaches – everything seems to epitomise the Indian Ocean ideal. Absorbing the famous coastal Swahili culture has never been so easy to do, all with a cocktail in hand and your feet in the sand. There are so many draws here after the ardour of safari…
Where to stay on Kenya's Beaches - The Best Beaches on Kenya's Coast
There is a lot in a 300 mile coastline… so let’s start from the top!
To the North is the Lamu archipelago, a UNESCO world heritage site, boasting beautiful islands, beaches and stunning blue seas. As it is technically an island, although we want to talk about it the whole time please see our Lamu page!
Just south of Lamu, on the mainland coast is Milindi and Watamu. Both have their attractions but generally we prefer the beaches south of Mombasa. Milindi is, putting it bluntly, a bit big and soulless and has more Mombasa hustle vibes than being an Indian Ocean dreamboat! Watamu is better as a charming coastal town, yet suffers from its lack of accommodation options. We used to recommend Hemmingways, but after it’s rebuild it has since slipped into the theme of the surrounding big and commercial hotels…
Dodging Mombasa, the first beach to notice when heading south, is Tiwi - a really quiet spot, yet unfortunately with no real accommodation options. This would be a shame, if it weren’t for the fantastic Diani Beach just south of Tiwi, which boasts the same marble effect of turquoise waves lapping white shores – the Indian Ocean dreamboat which the northern Mainland is missing. Diani Beach is home to some great accommodation options with the luxurious and ultimate beach-chic Alfajiri Villas
collection and the less costly but very comfortable Waterlovers Beach Resort
. For something funkier here, take a look at the vibrant and quirky Sands at Nomad
… For the amazing beaches, sometimes accommodation options have to be slightly sacrificed… Yet, Alfajiri offers complete luxury, so if you are willing to push the boat out, there are options here for all.
Further south sits the areas of Galu and Msambweni with some really luxurious accommodation options… however, the sacrifice for great housing, is great beaches! It is your call, but whatever your preference – luxury over beaches, or vice versa - we can suggest the best place to lay your head after a tiring day of drinking cocktails and basking in the inviting African sun. First on our list in this area is Kindono Kwetu
, offering a variety of different beach experiences for the adventurers out there. Another fantastic option for an open, breezy and family run preference is Msambweni Beach House
, or maybe you fancy a bit of style in the tranquil Ocean Spa Lodge
When to go to Kenya's Indian Ocean Beaches
Alike with most African safari beach time, the best time to go is in the months from June to October when the weather is sunny – particularly important as a guarantee if you are a Brit! Be warned, October is particularly hot… so if you are the type to get aggie in the sun then think about going earlier… Another option, which is a real perk, is to go in December time – an extremely tempting festive break…