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Set on the Indian Ocean, the north Mombasa coast in Kenya is a tropical paradise of white sandy beaches, coconut palms and inviting turquoise waters. There are a number of fantastic beach resorts, a great mix of things to do and the historic city of Mombasa itself to explore.
The Mombasa Marine Reserve was established to protect the marine environment from over-fishing and trophy collecting. With a coral reef stretching for around 230km there's plenty of underwater scenery to see. You can access the marine park at Nyali, Bamburi and Shanzu beaches.
Watersports are popular here with diving, snorkelling, kitesurfing, windsurfing, canoeing and deep sea fishing all available at various sites along the coast. The less energetic can take a glass bottom boat trip out to the reef.
For a great family fun day out visit Wild Waters Kenya, a water theme park with pools, slides, rides and even its own river, which you can leisurely navigate on top of a giant rubber ring. The park is near the Nyali golf course, where you can play 18 holes under the watchful eyes of the occasional monkey, small buck or dik dik.
From the north Mombasa coast it's also easy to combine your beach holiday with a safari. The Shimba Hills National Reserve is just 56km from Mombasa and has elephants, leopards, zebras, giraffes, buffalos, hyenas and many other animals. The reserve is also home to Kenya's only herd of rare sable antelope and there are around 100 in the park.
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.
There's also the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary which was established in 1993 as a community-based project to reduce human/elephant conflicts and manage and conserve the elephant. More than 200 local families contributed land and agreed not to farm. They now live nearby and look after the sanctuary which provides more income than farming. The revenue has allowed them to build classrooms and provide a steady water supply and better roads. The sanctuary is just 45km from Mombasa.
Back on the north coast, Ngomongo Villages is an award wining sustainable eco-tourism park set in a reclaimed quarry which has been planted with 15000 trees. Close to Nyali, it is well worth a visit and a great way to understand more about the Kenyan culture and way of life.
The park consists of a group o f nine rural tribal homesteads each with huts, crops, animals and even a village witch doctor! Each tribe has different activities for visitors to take part in such as grinding and pounding maize, archery, rafting and tasting traditional foods.
Further north from Mombasa and south of Malindi the Arabuko Sokoke Forest is the last large piece of indigenous coastal forest left in Kenya and an important site for birds, 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. The structures at Gedi include eight mosques, more than a dozen houses, a palace and a law court.
It's also worth a trip to Mombasa city itself. A vibrant, bustling port, Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya after the capital Nairobi. Mombasa is actually an island and is connected to the mainland by the Nyali Bridge to the north and to the west by the Makupa Causeway.
The 16th Century Fort Jesus, historic maze of alleys in the Old Town and Hindu Temples are all interesting places to visit. Luxury dhow cruises around Mombasa's harbour are also a popular way to explore and a relaxing way to see the city.
The hotels and resorts along the coast all have bars and often entertainment on site but in Nyali you will find a two-screen cinema with a six-lane bowling alley and a well maintained go-karting track. If you venture into Mombasa there's a range of nightclubs and casinos and two more cinemas.
Taxis are the easiest way to get around and will normally be waiting outside hotels and tourist attractions. Agree the price first. Less comfortable but cheaper and more authentic are the matatus (shared mini buses) and tuk tuks (three-wheeled auto rickshaws).
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. It's also possible to fly to Mombassa from Nairobi. The flight takes about one hour. For the more adventurous you can also take an overnight train from Nairobi. The journey time is at least 12 hours but first and second class sleeping compartments are available.