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Malindi in Kenya

Malindi is an ancient town about 120km north of Mombasa on Kenya's east coast. It's an exotic mix of African, Arab, Asian and European cultures, all set against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean.

The main beach stretches for seven kilometres round Malindi Bay and is a mecca for watersports. The outer reefs enjoy a large swell all year round and as a result Malindi is considered the best spot on the Kenyan coast for surfing. You can also go kite surfing, water skiing, jet skiing and parasailing.

The Malindi Marine National Park is just south of Malindi town and was established in 1968 to protect and conserve the precious marine ecosystem. The marine park has a variety of habitats including fringing reefs, coral gardens in the lagoons, sea grass beds, mangroves and mudflats.

Snorkelling and diving allow you to get close and admire and appreciate the variety and abundance of marine life. You can expect to spot plenty of fish – there are hundreds of different species - and possibly dolphins and turtles. A glass bottom boat trip lets you view the underwater scenery without getting wet.

Big game fishing is popular and Kenya holds world records for the size of fish caught here. Ernest Hemingway came to Malindi in the 1930s in search of marlin, sailfish and wahoo.

Away from Malindi's beach life there's plenty more to see. The Portugese explorer Vasco da Gama discovered it was possible to get to India from Europe, via Africa. The Vasco Da Gama Pillar just south of Malindi marks his last stop in Africa before he sailed across the Indian Ocean to India in 1498. The white pillar is one the oldest European monuments in Africa.

Northwest of Malindi is the Marafa Depression, known locally as Nyari - "the place broken by itself". It was once a great sandstone ridge which has been worn over time by wind, rain and floods into a series of jagged gorges. The layers of sandstone reveal whites, pinks, oranges and deep crimsons and the gorge is particularly striking at sunset.

A bit further south, the Arabuko Sokoke Forest is a few kilometres inland between Kilifi and Malindi. It's the last large piece of indigenous coastal forest left in Kenya and an important site for birds and also insects, butterflies and small mammals. Expert Ornithologists can guide you on forest walks.

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 coast of Africa 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.

The Kipepeo Project is based in the Arabuko Sokoke Forest and allows small groups of local people to rear butterflies and export their pupae. Communities earn an income from the forest and have an interest in its conservation. The project is open to the public and visitors have a chance to see a wide selection of butterflies, moths and insects.

If you want to combine your beach holiday with a safari then Tsavo East, one of Kenya's oldest and largest parks, is just 110km from Malindi. Here you should be able to spot 'the big five' – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and black rhino. There's an abundance of other wildlife including leopard, cheetah, zebras, giraffes, antelopes, hyenas and crocodiles. It's also a bird lover's paradise with around 500 species including the ostrich, kestrels, buzzards, palm nut vultures and the white-headed buffalo weavers. You can also go white water rafting on the river.

Once the sun has set there's plenty to do in Malindi. The town has great Italian food and coffee and you can enjoy perfect pizzas and glorious cappuccinos in a tropical setting. The seafood is also spectacular. There are plenty of bars and clubs for late night entertainment and a casino.

Malindi has its own airport and you can fly here from Mombasa or the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. It will take around two to three hours to drive from Mombasa.

To get to Kenya you can fly directly to Mombasa's Moi International Airport from London's Gatwick and can connect easily from regional airports in the UK. There are also flights from Manchester. If you fly into Nairobi you can also take the overnight train to Mombasa. The journey time is at least 12 hours but first and second class sleeping compartments are available and you can spot impala, giraffe and ostrich from the window.