Coastal connections

There are plenty of exciting reasons for visiting Kenya’s coast – from kitesurfing to discovering historical sites and exploring forests, or simply relaxing on some of Africa’s best white sandy beaches – there is something for everyone… Lizzie Williams picks out some highlights:

KenyaCoast■ Learn about Kenya’s coastal history among the crumbling fortifications, mosques and tombs at the mysterious Gedi Ruins, one of Kenya’s most important archaeological sites, dating to the 13th century.

■ Take a day trip to Shimba Hills, where the orchid-dotted rainforest and rolling grasslands offer a refreshing escape from the humid coast. You might spot buffalo, elephant or the rare sable antelope on walks to the Sheldrick Falls.

■ Dive Kenya’s fringing reefs and teeming coral gardens. None of the dive sites are more than a 30-minute boat ride away from the beaches. Non-divers can go snorkelling, or, if you don’t want to get wet, watch the marine life from a glass-bottomed boat.

■ Visit Haller Park, a former cement quarry that has been transformed into a forest and wildlife sanctuary. There are all manner of things to do and see, including a crocodile farm and a reptile house, and you can even feed giraffes.

■ Relax on the south coast beaches at Tiwi, Diani or Wasini Island. Top-class facilities and entertainment can be found in the resorts, and you don’t need to go far to find a quiet spot under a palm tree on the dazzling white sand.

■ Take a guided nature walk along the pretty paths clouded with butterflies in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, the largest patch of coastal forest in East Africa full of rare birds and unusual trees, plants and flowers.

■ Go dolphin-watching by dhow in the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park on the southernmost part of the Kenyan coastline. The clear, warm, turquoise water is a favourite playground for dolphins, turtles and a vast array of fish.

■ Experience the Swahili way of life by exploring the narrow twisting lanes of whitewashed houses and Arabic arches in the old town of Lamu; then take a dhow from the waterfront to some deserted beaches.

■ Climb the ramparts and explore the gun turrets, battlements and houses within the walls of Fort Jesus in Mombasa. Built by the Portuguese in 1593 to protect their trade route to India, the fort dominates the entrance to the old harbour.

■ Learn to kitesurf at the water sports centres at She Shale, Diani or Nyali, where the cross-shore winds, flat sandy beaches and shallow waves make the ideal conditions for this burgeoning sport.

For the latest travel advice, please consult your local agent.