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Kikambala in Kenya

A holiday in Kikambala on the north Mombasa coast centres around its glorious and peaceful beach and with good reason. Fantastic white sands that slope gently down to the Indian Ocean, palm trees and a coral reef which can easily be explored on foot all make this Kenyan resort a truly tropical and relaxing destination.

An array of watersports are available here including diving, snorkelling and windsurfing. At low tide, the sea goes out for over a kilometre, revealing a wonderful coral reef which, as stated above, can easily be explored on foot. Look for brightly coloured fish in the pools.

The Shimba Hills National Reserve is within easy reach of Kikambala. Unlike many other Kenyan parks with their dry, flat landscapes Shimba Hills is made up of grasslands and thick rainforests. There are stunning views to the Indian Ocean as the reserve is less than 50km from the coast. The wildlife here is varied and includes two of Africa's giants - the elephant and the giraffe – as well as hyenas, buffalos and zebras. Unique to the park is a 100 strong herd of sable antelope, Kenya's only collection of these rare creatures. The reserve's ecosystem includes coastal rainforest, woodland and grassland. More than 50% of the 159 rare plants in Kenya can be found here and it is also an important site for birds and butterflies. It's proximity to Mombasa makes it straightforward to include a safari to Shimba Hills as part of your holiday.

No animal lover will want to miss the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary. Just 45km from Mombasa, the sanctuary was set up in the early 1990s with the aim of forming a conservation area for elephants and reducing conflicts between elephants and humans. The project is community owned with more than 200 local families involved. They generate more income from the sanctuary than they previously did from farming. The money raised has gone towards building school classrooms and improving the water supply and local roads.

The Tsavo National Park is further away but still very accessible if your ambition is to see the 'Big Five' – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and black rhino.

Anyone interested in learning more about Kenyan culture should visit Ngomongo Villages. A sustainable eco-cultural project, it is set in a former limestone mine which was saved from being turned into a giant rubbish tip. Instead thousands of trees were planted and nine rural Kenyan villages established, each with their own section of forest. Each village has different activities for tourists to take part in, reflecting the culture of the tribe.

Also nearby is the Arabuko Sokoke Forest, a protected national Forest Reserve covering 420 square km. Situated about 110km north of Mombasa it is the largest and most intact coastal forest in East Africa and an important location for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals. You can go on walks accompanied by expert guides.

The historic and fascinating Gedi Ruins are nestled amongst the forest. The site consists of a ruined fifteenth century Arab-African town. They are typical of a number of such towns up and down the East Africa coast but are the only ones open to the public. The structures at Gedi include eight mosques, more than a dozen houses, a palace and a law court.

It's also worth visiting the port city of Mombasa. After the capital Nairobi, Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya. The alleyways of the Old Town are well worth exploring on foot or take to the seas and get a different perspective of the city from a dhow cruise. The main tourist attraction is the 16th Century Fort Jesus, built by the Portugese.

If you venture into Mombasa there's a range of nightclubs and casinos but Kikambala itself is a quiet place with low key entertainment in the hotel bars. Mombasa has two cinemas. There's also one in Nyali along with a six-lane bowling alley and a well maintained go-karting track.

The most convenient way to get around is to take a taxi. Agree the price first with the driver. Cheaper but much more crowded are the matatus (shared mini buses), whilst the tuk tuks (three-wheeled auto rickshaws) are the bumpy option.

Kikambala is about 30km from Mombasa's Moi International Airport. Many hotels have their own buses or can arrange a private transfer for you.

Mombasa has its own airport - Moi International. Direct flights operate from London's Gatwick, with connections from other airports in the UK making it very easy to get to. There are also flights from Manchester Airport. You can also fly to Mombassa from Nairobi in about one hour. If you have a bit more time you can also take an overnight train from Nairobi. It will take at least 12 hours but first and second class sleeping berths can be booked and meals are available.