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South Mombasa Coast in Kenya

The beautiful coastline south of Mombasa in Kenya offers palm-fringed white sandy beaches and the calm, clear, warm waters of the Indian Ocean, whilst just inland birds and wildlife live in the coastal rainforests. This exotic combination makes for a truly tropical African paradise.

Of course it will be tempting to just relax on the beach or by the hotel pool. If you are looking for maximum sunshine, time your visit with the dry seasons of December and January and July and August. During the rainy seasons there may be rain most days, but the sun still shines before and after and Mombassa is a good all-year-round destination.

Diani Beach is a 10 km stretch of sands and is where most of the hotels, beachlife and activities are based. There's also a golf course here. Quieter spots include Galu, Msambweni, Tiwi and Likoni, or Shelley beaches.

There is plenty to do in this stunning region to have a great holiday. If you enjoy or want to learn watersports then windsurfing, water skiing, scuba diving, snorkelling, kite surfing and deep-sea fishing are all readily available. Divers are well catered for with reefs, wreck dives and coastal caves to explore. There's plenty of marine life to spot including turtles, dolphins and whale sharks. At the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park and Reserve you will be able to dive and snorkel amongst pristine and colourful corals.

A holiday in Africa wouldn't be complete without a safari and the chance to see some magnificent wildlife. You can combine a safari in another part of Kenya with a beach holiday on Mombassa's south coast but there's also the Shimba Hills National Reserve just 56 km south of Mombasa. The reserve 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. Its proximity to Mombasa makes it easy to include a safari to Shimba Hills as part of your holiday.

You can also visit 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 them with more income than farming did. The revenue has allowed them to build school classrooms and provide a steady water supply and better roads. The sanctuary is just 45 km from Mombasa.

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 an island and is connected to the mainland by the Nyali Bridge to the north and to the west by the Makupa Causeway. There's no bridge from the south coast so you will need to travel on the Likoni Ferry to get to the city. The 16th entury 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 an excellent way to see the city.

If you are looking for lively nightlife then the resorts and hotels have their own bars and often provide their own entertainment. You will also be able to find nightclubs and casinos if you venture into Mombasa.

The south coast is about 20 km from Mombasa and it will take you about one hour and thirty minutes to travel to your hotel. Many hotels have their own buses or can arrange a private transfer for you.

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 sleeping compartments are available and you can spot impala, giraffe and ostrich from the window, making it a very special way to travel.