The Kenya Beach Area: The Other Highlights
After the safari parks, the Kenya beach resorts are the country’s second biggest tourist attraction. The beaches of Kenya look everything like the tropical paradise archetype: powdery white sand beaches lined by palm trees, ever shining sun and beach resorts where you’re being pampered in all conceivable ways.
But the coast area has a lot more to offer than most tourist brochures would have you believe: culture, historic towns and ruins, beautiful islands and nature, some fantastic diving and other water sports, and more. This page lists the ‘other’ highlights. Why not enjoy everything the Kenya beach area has to offer!
Mombasa Old Town and Fort Jesus
According to ancient Egyptian and Roman sources, Mombasa (Kenya’s second city and the portal to the beach region) is over 2500 years old, making the city one of the oldest settlements of East Africa. The Mombasa area has been invaded for thousands of years by the Arabs, the Portuguese and the British.
A major attraction in Mombasa is Fort Jesus, which is overlooking the Indian Ocean. It was built by the Portuguese who invaded the region at the end of the 15th century, mainly as a defense against the local population, but used also as a prison for slaves and a trading posts. After two centuries, the Portuguese domination was ended by the invading Omani Arabs. Nowadays, the fort is a museum about the rich history of the region. You are more or less required to hire a guide there, but they are helpful and very knowledgeable.
The Fort Jesus guides can also show you around in Mombasa’s Old Town. The remarkable architecture shows the influences of all foreign invaders of the city. You can walk around here for hours and do some great shopping. A tip: contrary to the Kenyan-owned, most Indian-owned shops will give you the actual prices they want to sell at right away. It saves you a lot of bargaining hassle.
The wonderful island of Lamu is regarded to be Kenya’s oldest living town. It’s been inhabited since the 15th century and, like the rest of the coast region, it has been invaded many times by Turks, Arabs and European traders and colonizers. Lamu’s well-preserved Old Town was responsible for getting the UNESCO World Hertitage Site status. It’s old houses, mosques and markets are an impressive testimony to it’s rich history.
There are no motorized vehicles on the island, making it a very tranquil and pleasant place to be. Besides the Old Town, the main attractions are the beaches, making dhow trips and the annual dhow race on January 1st that lasts well into the night.
The Gedi Ruins are the remains of a Swahili town, covering no less than 45 acres, ten miles from the town of Malindi. Gedi was a blossoming town from the 13th to the 17th century. It had some 2500 inhabitants, and findings have shown that they traded with people all over the world. Products from China, Venice (Italy), Spain and India have been found in Gedi. In the 17th century, the town was abandoned and it’s still a mystery why. There are no traces of wars or disease outbreaks.
These days, the remains of Gedi have been declared a National Park. You can see well-preserved remains of houses, a mosque, mansions, cemeteries, and more. There’s a museum at the spot, and many tour operators organize guided tours to this lost city.
Kenya Beaches - General Introduction Page
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Beaches Of Kenya: Top Things To Do
A Beach Safari In Kenya – A Wonderful Experience
Highlights Of Your Kenya Beach Tour
Beach Hotel Kenya: My Personal Recommendations