Mombasa On a Budget
SightsAt the entrance of the city, you'll find the Mombasa Tusks, aluminum tusks built in 1956 to celebrate Princess Margaret's visit. The tusks are positioned to form the shape of an "M", which is considered to shaped in honor of Margaret's first initial. Mombasa boasts a wealth of history, especially thanks to their history of Portuguese occupation. Explore the history of the city with a walk through the historic Old Town district to see the blend of Portuguese and Swahili architecture sitting side by side. Nearby are the beautiful Hindu Temples where a guide will tour you around to enjoy the ancient artifacts, Hindu idols, and paintings.
Take a walk through the Bombolulu Workshops, founded in 1969 by the Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK). The workshop employs over 150 disabled people from the local community to create jewelry, textiles, leather goods, and many other crafts. Bombolulu is the largest rehabilitation center in Kenya and is a great place to find stunning souvenirs while also supporting the community.
NeighborhoodsMombasa is quite a large city and is divided into three different regions that are relevant to tourists: Mombasa Island, North Coast, and South Coast.
The main part of the city and the old town are located on Mombasa Island, which is divided into multiple districts, with the key districts being:
Kibokoni: Part of Old Town where there is a lot of Swahili Architecture and the famous Fort Jesus area.
Kuze: Part of Old Town with a strong Swahili culture and is quickly becoming a popular modern part of town.
Makadar: Part of Old Town which was home to former Baluchi soldiers who settled in the area before it became a town.
The North Coast region is home to many beautiful beaches and hotel resorts and is divided into the following major districts:
Nyali: Known for their beach front hotels and shopping.
Bamburi: Home to Bamburi Beach and the Haller Park Nature Trail and Wildlife Conservatory.
The South Coast region is best known for it's stunning beaches, with just one key district there:
Diani Beach: A popular beach resort and major tourist attraction because of the gorgeous beaches there.
ActivitiesMombasa offers incredible natural scenery, especially on Avicennia Island. The island offers kayaking through sunken mangrove forests, swimming in emerald waters on the Funzi Sandbar, and dining on fresh seafood in a wooden banda-or beach house. Continue exploring with a trip to the Shimba Hills National Park, where you'll find elephant habitats, free roaming antelopes, a waterfall, and the Mwalunganje forest which offers incredible views of the entire area.
A trip to Mombasa wouldn't be complete without a trip to one, or a few, of their beautiful beaches. Some of the best beaches include:
English Point: This beach overlooks Old Town in the area of Mkomani. It is best for walking on the sand rather than swimming.
Nyali Beaches: Nyali offers beautiful sandy beaches that are perfect for walking on. Due to being so close to the city, water tends to be polluted and not suited for swimming.
Bamburi Beach: Lovely white sand beach with palm trees and nice water quality, making it great for swimming. There are restuarants nearby to eat, drink, and people watch from.
Shanzu Beach: Another lovely white sandy beach with palm trees, although a little less busy than Bamburi making it great for swimming and relaxing on the sand.
Tiwi Beach: Located on the South Coasst, Tiwi is very quiet and has few tourists. During low tide, you can swim in the water and catch glimpses of the beautiful tropical fish swimming around you.
Food and DiningMombasa boasts very diverse cuisines, including Swahili, Indian, Chinese, Korean, and Italian. There are a large number of restaurants throughout the area, especially in the Fort Jesus area of the Mombasa Island. No matter the cuisine, seafood is very popular throughout the city. The seafood here is fantastic as it is caught fresh daily from the Indian Ocean. There is a big nightlife scene, especially on Mombasa Island and on the beaches. You'll find a range of bars, pubs, and entertainment clubs.
TransportationMombasa has an international airport as well as a domestic airport located near Diani Beach. Trains offer a more scenic route to the city and can transport you from Nairobi to Mombasa in about 13 hours.
To get from the city center on Mombasa Island to the beaches, you can take a taxi. Keep in mind that taxis do not have traditional signs on them, just license papers in the windshield. Buses are abundant, although can become quite crowded and difficult for tourists to understand. A popular option for short distances, under a few miles, is to rent a rickshaw-also called a tuk tuk. Rickshaws are often just as inexpensive as buses and offer more scenic routes while also allowing you to meet great locals!