Kenya’s idyllic 480-kilometre coastline stretches south from its northern border to the boundary with Tanzania. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean lap sandy beaches fringed with coconut palms and tropical islands lie offshore. Much of the coast is sheltered by coral reefs, which offer good scuba diving and provide natural protection for swimming and watersports. The consistent winds and the warm, uncrowded waters have made the Kenya coast one of the Indian Ocean’s premier kitesurfing destinations in the last five years. The average temperature is 28ºC, tempered by the monsoon winds. The Kenya coast is north of the cyclone belt, so the traditional weather pattern is short rains in November and long rains in May. March and November are generally the hottest months. Divers generally avoid the windy season, June – August.
Towns and islands reflect the history and intermingling cultures of the Swahili coast: from the 9th century, Arab and Indian traders mingled with the indigenous people, creating the vibrant Swahili culture which continues to this day. The World Heritage Site of Lamu was a thriving port for four centuries and you will find fine examples of traditional Arabic architecture along its narrow streets. While Mombasa is modern Kenya’s second city and principal port, the old city is a place of winding alleys with intricately carved doors, Arab verandahs and bazaars. The 15th-century Gedi ruins, south of Malindi, are the most impressive, but remains of old Swahili settlements are found the length of the coast.