Shopping in South Coast, Mombasa
If you love shopping when travelling, then the south coast is your kind of place. In addition to coastal handicrafts and art, there are good selections of art and craft from all over Kenya. Coastal specialities include Swahili boxes, intricately carved and inlaid with brass, copper or marble work. These vary in size from small jewelry boxes to huge chests. Similarly styled candle holders and other wooden objects are often also sold.
Other wood carvings available on the coast are Makonde, a traditional style that originated in Tanzania. These beautiful carvings are almost impossibly intricate, producing detailed single figures, abstract creations and masses of tiny, elaborate figures whose limbs and bodies intertwine into large columns known as the Tree of Life.
One thing every visitor to the coast should buy is a kikoy or khanga. These traditional cloths are worn as a wrap around garment by both men and women all over the East African coast, similar to the sarong of South East Asia.
The kikoy is a bright, usually striped, cloth with knotted tassles along each hem. The khanga is larger, more elaborately patterned and traditionally emblazoned with a Swahili proverb offering a pearl of conventional wisdom.
These cloths are synonymous with the Kenyan coast, and their fabrics are often adapted into clothing, tablecloths, bedlinen, and just about anything else possible. A khanga or kikoy is perfect for the beach and can either be worn or used as a beach towel, or both.
The coast is also home to a range of boutique shops producing modern art objects, paintings, clothing and jewellery.