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Things to do in Mombasa

Best attractions to visit in Mombasa

1. Haller Park Mombasa - Mombasa

Haller Park Mombasa

Famous for its success story of the land reclamation done by the Bamburi cement factory, the Haller Park, today, is the largest animal sanctuary in Mombasa. The park is situated on the North Coast of Mombasa, next to the cement factory and is well known for its unique and diverse wildlife. Until 1971, the park was a sterile and inhospitable wasteland due to the waste created by the cement factory. Land reclamation efforts were begin by the same factory and hundreds of tree species were planted. The result of vegetation was colonization of wildlife, and today, the park is home to more than 300 plant species, 30 species of mammals, and 180 species of birds. The park attracts thousands of tourists every year as it is home to a variety of animal, bird, and plant species. In addition to this, there are a number of other attractions as well, including the Reptile Park, the Palm Garden, the Game Sanctuary, and the Crocodile Farm. Walking along the long trail located in the park is a great way to witness the diverse wildlife of the park. You may also enjoy the thrilling experience of holding or feeding a snake or reptile under supervision. So, come visit this place which once used to be a barren piece of land but today, is now a home for a large number of animal and plant species.


2. Gede Ruins - Mombasa

Gede Ruins

Buried in lush green trees and located at an idyllic spot on the Indian Ocean, Gede Ruins are one of the most mysterious yet attractive places of Kenya. Gede Ruins are a 12th century Swahili village, which inhabited about 2,500 people and was abandoned mysteriously in the 16th century. Today, the hauntingly beautiful ruins are a famous tourist attraction of Kenya visited by thousands of locals and foreigners interested in exploring historical sites. The historical site was opened for public in 1948 and since then, it has remained in the spotlight because of the ghost stories associated with it. On your visit to Gede Ruins, you will get a chance to visit several historical landmarks. The magnificent Gedi’s Palace is certainly a place to explore. With its remarkable entrance porch, deserted courts, and small rooms, it is certainly the most impressive landmark of Gede Ruins. In addition to the palace, there is a mosque and pillar tomb located as well. The Great Mosque of Gede has a three-step stone minbar (pulpit) and a large ground where worshippers used to pray. Located near the mosque, the elaborated pillar tomb has an epitaph that reads 802 AH (1400 AD), providing visitors an idea of the age of Gede Ruins. So, take a guided tour through the ruins or explore the place on your own to learn interesting things about the fascinating ancient African culture.


3. Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve - Mombasa

Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve

Located a few kilometers north of Mombasa Island, Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve is famous for its breathtakingly beautiful coral gardens, pristine beaches, and crystal clear waters. The park, which was established in 1986, offers safe ocean adventure opportunities to snorkelers and divers. The park is located at a 2,500-acres facility while the marine life reserve spreads out over an area of 210 square kilometers. The diverse marine life of the reserve includes crabs, sea urchins, sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sea jellies. The marine life comes out two hours either side of the low tide, which is the best time to snorkel and explore the blue waters. The best thing about the place is that water is warm all year around, so you can dive and snorkel very comfortably. Besides exploring the beautiful coral garden, you may also consider sunbathing on the pristine sand beach and enjoy the sight of a variety of shore birds diving in the waters and catching their prey. In addition to this, there are a number of luxurious and comfortable hotels and lodges located near the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve. You can reach the park by road from the City Center or use Nairobi-Mombasa Highway if you’re coming from the capital city. So, visit the place and enjoy an unforgettable marine exploration experience.


4. Shimba Hills National Reserve - Mombasa

Shimba Hills National Reserve

Do you want to visit the only place in Kenya where you can witness a Sable Antelope – an endangered animal species? If yes, you should consider visiting the Shimba Hills National Reserve which is also one of the largest coastal forests in Africa. The place is located at a distance of about 20 miles from Mombasa and can be easily reached via ferry at Diani Beach. Shimba Hills National Reserve is famous among tourists because of its herds of elephants, sable antelopes, and guided forest walks. The park hosts unusually high population of elephants and the Kenyan government has plans to relocate up to 400 elephants to another park. Currently, there are approximately 700 elephants in the Shimba Hills National Reserve. In addition to this, the reserve also offers great bird viewing opportunities as it is home to a large variety of bird species. The park offers guided game drives as well. So, on your visit to the park you can get on a 4x4 vehicle and explore the reserve’s wilderness. Probably the best thing about the Shimba Hills National Reserve is that the reserve’s administration offers free guided forest walks. So, visit the place today and take a walk through the lush green forest to witness the beautiful sight of Sheldrick Falls.


5. Mombasa Island - Mombasa

Mombasa Island

Located on Kenya’s coast, Mombasa Island is a small outcrop spreading over an area of about 300 square kilometers. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway and is a part of Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa. Despite being a part of a metropolitan city, Mombasa Island has kept its African character, particularly in the old town. On your visit to Mombasa Island, you can explore a number of famous places, including Fort Jesus, the State House of Mombasa, and the Municipal Council. Mombasa Island is considered as the prime residential area of Mombasa because of its political value. Several governmental buildings and educational institutions are located in this region. The island is divided into six residential areas Kibokoni, Englani, Kuze, Makadara, Ganjoni, and Tudor. Of these six residential area, Kibokoni, Englani, Kuze, and Makadara hold great architectural value as they’re a part of the old town. The buildings located in these residential areas have a distinct Arabic architecture which contains hints of Swahili and Indian influences. Fort Jesus is a must-visit place of Mombasa Island. The fort, which was build between 1631 and 1875, has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its unique architecture and historical value. So, plan a visit to Mombasa Island soon and explore rich African heritage.


6. Watamu Marine National Park - Mombasa

Watamu Marine National Park

Established in 1968, Watamu Marine National Park is Kenya’s first and probably the most beautiful marine park. The reserve which boasts a rich marine life, white sand beaches, and clear waters, is visited by large numbers of tourists and locals. The park is officially recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO because of its wildlife diversity and scenic beauty. Only the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, has a bigger species list than Watamu Marine National Park. Inhabited by rich marine life, it is rarely possible to snorkel without witnessing at least a dozen of exquisite aquatic animals and plants. The marine reserve contains rich concentrations of angelfish, lionfish, groupers, parrotfish, filefish, and snappers. In addition to this Manta Rays and whale sharks are also occasional visitors of the reserve. In addition to diving and snorkeling, you may also sunbath on the exceptionally beautiful beach, which has been ranked as the second most beautiful beach in Africa by CNN Travel. Fishing is also a popular activity among tourists from July through May. If you’re looking for even more adventure, you may take a canoe trip to one of the closely located islands and enjoy your private time with family and friends.


7. Nyali Beach - Mombasa

Nyali Beach

With a number of resorts, entertainment venues, and marine reserves and parks, the coastline north to Mombasa is probably the liveliest coastline in Kenya. When you travel north from Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa, you get to experience the scenic sight of white sand beaches and blue waters of Nyali Beach. Nyali Beach is located on the coastline of Kenya’s most westernized residential area, Nyali. In addition to world-class amenities, the city is home to a number of tourist attractions, such as Mamba Village, which is the biggest crocodile farm in Africa, a famous Hindu temple, the Nyali golf club, and of course, the Nyali Beach. All these tourist attractions, particularly Nyali beach, have contributed to the tourist attraction of Nyali. The white sand beach of Nyali is particularly loved by tourists. The pristine beach is protected by a coral real which is a major attraction for snorkelers and divers. In addition to the beach-side activities, you may also consider going on a ‘Bike the Coast’ tour to explore the most well-preserved areas of the coastline. The guided tour takes you through safe roads and allows you to explore African beauty at your own pace. A number of shops, restaurants, and resorts line the beach, so on your visit to Nyali, you don’t have to worry about accommodation and food.


8. Arabuko Sokoke Forest - Mombasa

Arabuko Sokoke Forest

Spreading over an area of about 420 square kilometers, Arabuko Sokoke Forest is the largest and most well-preserved coastal forest in East Africa. The forest’s rich and diverse wildlife is the biggest reason why thousands of tourists visit this coastal reserve every year. It is reported that the forest hosts 20 % of Kenya’s bird species, 30% butterfly species, and over 20 rare and endangered animal and bird species. Some of the most notable animal species found in Arabuko Sokoke Forest include Sokoke scops owls, Amani sunbird, Sokoke pipit, and spotted ground thrush. The forest also has baboons, golden-rumped elephants, bushy tailed mongoose, and savannah elephants. In addition to the diverse wildlife, the park also offers a number of other tourist activities, such as bird watching, guided forest walks, butterfly watching, camping, forest drives, and cycling. One can easily reach the Arabuko Sokoke forest by road from Mombasa or via flight from Malindi or Mombasa. While the reserve currently does not offer accommodation, the hotels and resorts located along the coast offer a number of accommodation options suitable for all budgets. It is advisable that you carry food, drinks, and picnic items with you on your visit to the forest, and if you plan to stay overnight, don’t forget to carry camping equipment.


9. Menengai Crater - Mombasa

Menengai Crater

Located on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, Menengai Crater is the largest volcano crater in the country and second largest in Africa. The spectacular natural landmark attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world with its plunging cliffs, unique terrain, and enormous circular rim. Menengai Crater is located almost 2,500 above sea-level and it is thought to be a place of violence and legend. This is the place where a massive battle was fought between Moran and Maasai over grazing land. The battle resulted in the defeat of Masaai and since then, as said by locals, souls of dead warriors wander over the valley. Getting to Menengai Crater is difficult, but once you’re there, you are sure to have an out-of-the-world experience exploring scenic beauty of the place and hiking the caldera. The place holds great spiritual value as well. Many of the visitors have reported feeling the presence of God here. There are others who say that they have seen the land being plowed, planted, and harvested by unseen creatures. So, if you’re interested in exploring this untouched, mysterious place, plan a visit today and make your trip to Africa even more memorable and enjoyable.


10. Rusinga Island - Mombasa

Rusinga Island

Want to take a relaxing break from your hectic everyday life? Plan a visit to Rusinga Island to nourish your mind and body in the pleasantly secluded environment of this untouched place. Located on the shores of Lake Victoria, the island is a popular choice among tourists who are looking for a relaxing holiday with their friends and family. The unspoilt, uninhabited island not only offers great views of the Lake Victoria from comfortable thatched cottages located on the shore, but also a number of other activities, such as fishing, waterskiing, hiking, biking, and even archaeological tours. An archaeological rig is located in close proximity of Rusinga Island. So, during your visit to the island, you can go on a guided tour and know more about this rig where thousands of fossils have been discovered. In addition to the traditional water activities, you can cycle around the island on a mountain bike or you may relax and get sunbathe on the pristine beach and watch exotic bird species flying high in the sky. Probably the most unique thing about Rusinga Island is the restaurants which are located along the beach. Many of these restaurants serve home-grown and home-cooked food to make visitors feel at home. So, plan a visit to Rusinga Island at the end of your exciting yet rigorous experience of exploring Africa to rejuvenate your energy.


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