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Nyali Beach in Kenya

Nyali Beach is just north of Mombasa in Kenya. A suburb of the city, it's a tropical escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life, with several miles of white sands.

Mombasa Marine Reserve was established to protect coral and marine life from damage by over-fishing and trophy collecting and Nyali Beach has direct access to its waters. There's a daily snorkelling trip out to the corals. A ten minute boat ride will take you to just inside the protective reef. After a quick talk and view of the underwater garden from the boat you can swim or snorkel amongst the tropical fish. The boat is glass bottomed for those who don't fancy a dip but still want to see the marine life below.

With flat seas and waves on the reef, kitesurfing and windsurfing are popular here. Diving is also available and you can take a PADI course to learn how to dive. The more energetic can paddle a canoe out to the reef at low tide, or if you want someone else to do the hard work then take a catamaran trip round the lagoon.

If you fancy a break from the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean then Nyali also has a golf course. You can play 18 holes under the watchful eyes of the occasional monkey, small buck or dik dik.

At Nyali it is easy to combine your beach holiday with a safari. The Shimba Hills National Reserve is just 56 km south of 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. It's proximity to Mombasa makes it straightforward to include a safari to Shimba Hills as part of your holiday on Nyali Beach.

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 45 km from Mombasa.

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 of 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.

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 and is just 18 km from Nyali Beach. 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 Old Town, Hindu Temples and the Gedi Ruins 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.

Apart from the bars and nightlife in the hotels Nyali has a great range of entertainment. There's a two-screen cinema with current movies and a six-lane bowling alley. You can also enjoy go-karting at a well maintained track. The Swiss karts even have remote controlled regulators so the speed can be reduced for children.

It should only take around 15 minutes to get to Nyali from the airport and many resorts will provide their own bus or arrange a private transfer.

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 take an overnight train from Nairobi. The journey time is at least 12 hours but first and second sleeping compartments are available.