Islands & Coasts
The coast of Kenya and Tanzania, the so called Swahili Coast, has been for centuries a melting pot of influences where Africa, India and Arabia meet.
Swahili coast and Islands
After a safari, when you need some time to relax before going back home, Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia, Chumbe, Mombasa, Lamu and even Sesse islands in Lake Victoria, are only just a few of the destinations that will reward you with their peaceful beaches and their exotic blend of history and culture.
The coast of Kenya and Tanzania, the so called Swahili Coast, has been for centuries a melting pot of influences where Africa, India and Arabia meet. Trade goods were brought to the Coast from the interior of Africa, including gold, ivory, precious stones, exotic woods, herbal medicines, and shells. These trade goods were transported to Europe, China, and India by traditional sailing ships called dhows. The ships sailed following the winds of the Indian Ocean and the traders lived among the locals during the monsoon periods. Today, the vibrancy of the Swahili Coast lives on, and the Swahili language is spoken by more than 130 million people in East Africa. Explore with us this truly unique culture and live for a while in a place where life’s rhythms are set by the monsoon winds and the cycles of the moon.
Visit Mombasa, the gateway to the Kenyan coast and the country’s second largest city and main port. Here you will have plenty of things to see, as Mombasa is a bustling, multi-cultural city and a place where ancient and modern blend successfully. It’s actually an island, linked to the mainland by bridge and ferries and it is surrounded by two deep water creeks that create the perfect conditions for diving and swimming.
Around Mombasa, you will find a series of palm-fringed beaches: in the north there’s Nyali, Vipingo, Kikambala and Shanzu which all have world-class resorts and to the south of Mombasa apart from the white sand beaches you will see tropical forests and mangroves. If you are seriously into diving we can arrange a visit to the Kisite Mpungani Marine Reserve where some of the best diving sites can be found.
Further into the ocean, you can indulge yourself in the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia Archipelago. The Zanzibar archipelago consists of over 50 islands – which vary greatly in size. The more populated are Zanzibar (Unguja) and Pemba and both have stunning beaches with powdery white sand and palm trees. Follow our expert guides further out into the sparkling, turquoise water and you’ll find great coral reefs for snorkeling and diving. There’s a wide variety of hotels and lodges, from luxurious, all-inclusive resorts to ‘barefoot luxury’ private islands and simple, inexpensive beach retreats. Just opposite Stonetown, Zanzibar’s biggest town, lays the tiny Chumbe island. We suggest you visit this leading example of true ecotourism, privately managed by a non profit organization with whom we collaborate.
While Zanzibar gets most of the attention, the archipelago is also made up of Pemba to the north, plus numerous smaller islands and islets. Pemba is the hillier one and the most thickly-forested island in the north of the Archipelago. Here you will find some of the best diving and big-game fishing spots of the East African coast and our experts will be happy to guide you around. Dedicated lodges and live-aboard boats furnish visitors with the perfect expression of their interests.
We can also arrange for you a trip to the nearby Mafia Archipelago, an off the beaten track destination, known only to the most discerning travelers. Even though you won’t find the same long stretches of squeaky white sand, the few tiny and intimate lodges will offer you a more personal feel. While staying here you can spend your days on deserted sandbars, surrounded only by shallow coral seas so rich in marine life that it the whole area has been designated a Marine Park (Tanzania’s first Marine Park) by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The third great archipelago of East Africa lies two degrees south of the equator, just off the Somali border and is no other than the Lamu archipelago. Chic, bohemian, but very much an old Swahili archipelago, Lamu boasts the best beaches in Kenya, a living African-Arabic coastal tradition and a world class portfolio of houses and villas. Apart from the usual beach holiday pastimes, we suggest you go on a sailing cruise down the Kenyan coast in traditional dhows, swimming with dolphins, historical trips to museums, excavations and ancient sites, and visiting Lamu Town itself – Kenya’s oldest town and a world heritage site. Plus, there are several Marine Parks you can visit, depending on your interests. In Wasini Island and Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park you can swim in your personal aquarium, in Malindi and Watamu Nationals Parks, an area much loved by Ernest Hemmingway, we explore the colorful coral reef with glass bottomed boats and in Mombasa Marine National Park there’s a big selection of water sports.
Last, but not least, Ssesse islands in the northwest of Lake Victoria are the perfect place to discover the wild romantic Africa of your dreams. Also known as the Islands of Gods they are a remote and peaceful destination, ideal for a break from one of our safaris.
The coasts and islands of east Africa are an all-year long destination, with tropical climate, although it is advised to avoid the rainy seasons in May and November. Usually midday is hot, but mornings, late afternoons, and evenings are comfortable.
Beach vacations at the swahili coast are an excellent post-trip extension after your safari or climbing expeditions or can be a destination on its own.
Islands & Coasts