For travellers seeking a peaceful and relaxing tropical idyll far from the madding crowd, this is an ideal destination. Centred around the resort town of Malindi, this strip of white sand beaches is surrounded by expanses of tropical forests, ancient historical sites and a fascinating local culture.
Take a Beach safari to Malindi and Watamu- Walk through the Forest, explore the mangroves by boat, dive on the reef or try your hand at big game fishing. At the North coast you have all these choices and more, with the space and freedom to relax, unwind, and soak up the atmosphere.
Water SportsThe coastal resorts here offer a full range of water sports including sailing, waterskiing, jetskiing, parasailing and more. One of the newest water sports on offer in this area is Kite Surfing, using a large kite to tow a windsurfer.
SurfingMalindi is the best spot on the Kenyan coast for surfing. The outer reefs here attract a large swell all year round, peaking in June through September when the seasonal monsoons bring some excellent breakers. Surfers should bring their own boards and wax.
BoatingAn ideal way to spend an afternoon in Watamu is to take an organized boat trip into the mangroves and estuaries of Mida Creek. This creek is home to a fantastic range of bird life, and there are countless winding channels and estuaries to explore. These trips can be locally arranged in Watamu.
SCUBA Diving and SnorkellingBeneath the waves, there is another paradise to explore. There are several world class dive sites on the North Coast. Diving is generally good all year round, although visibility lessens during July and August due to silting and high seas. Some of the best sites are in the Watamu Marine National Park. These range from shallow coral gardens ideal for learners to spectacular outer reef walls. Sea life is always consistently abundant. There is excellent coral, including some impressive Brain coral.
In February-March each year, there are almost guaranteed sightings of Whale Sharks on outer reef dives along the Kenyan Coast. The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, measuring up to 18 metres and weigh up to 20 tons. It feeds on platonic creatures and small fish, and has only tiny teeth.
In Kiswahili, the whale shark is called “papa shillingi” translating as “shark covered in shillings.” There is a local legend that God was so pleased when he created this beautiful fish that he gave his angels handfuls of gold and silver coins to throw down from heaven onto its back. So it goes that whale sharks have their magical markings and swim near the surface catching the sun on their backs as a way of saying thank you to their Maker.
The central Turtle Reef averages 10-15 metres, with plenty of good coral heads attracting shoals of parrot and surgeon fish. There a few white-tip reef sharks in residence on the reef, and the occasional Green sea Turtle.
The Moray Reef has a spectacular overhang dropping 28 metres to a sandy bottom. This is good site for octopus and eel, including a huge semi-tame moray known locally as George. The reef edge has plenty of nudibranch, angel fish, tang, and the occasional grouper or barracuda.
An excellent all round dive site is The Canyon, a long sandy channel at 28m, bordered on each side by deep drop-offs. There is an impressive arch covered with soft corals, and the reef walls are alive with trevalies and snapper. The channel itself is a good place to see the occasional ray or reef shark.
For Wreck Divers, there is a sunken trawler lying in about 14 metres of water near the mouth of Mida Creek. Accessible only in Neap tides, the trawler is an easy shallow wreck drive. The wreck is not penetrable, but worth visiting for the excellent sea life, including several resident grouper.
Also at Mida Creek a series of underwater caves at about 5m are home to massive Rock Cod, and make for a fascinating shallow SCUBA or breathhold dive.
There are many dive operators in this area, both private and those attached to resorts. Equipment, boats, refills and dive guides are all provided. International PADI, NAUI and SSI standards of safety and quality are all maintained. Full courses with qualified instructors and international SCUBA certification are available.
For non divers there are plenty of options for fantastic snorkelling, with plenty of shallow and accessible coral gardens, especially at the Watamu Marine National Park.
FishingBig game fishing is widely available on the North coast. There are many highly skilled local operators in Malindi. Hemingway's Hotel in Watamu is a fishing resort with an excellent international reputation. Excellent boats with state of the art equipment are available for full and half day charter.
The main game fish include Sailfish and Marlin, Kingfish, Wahoo, Horse Mackerel and others. A tag and release program ensures eco-friendly fishing. Big game fishing can be arranged in season (December-March).
TrekkingThere are good walking trails through the Arubuko Sokoke forest, and excellent guides are available from the Forest Station. These walks are the perfect way to explore the reserve, and an ideal way to spend a few relaxing hours.
A series of varied trails and circuits let you walk for as long, and as far, as you prefer. A further board walk along the Mangroves at Sudi Island, Mida Creek has now been established.
Organized 10 kms runs through the reserve are organized each week. Ask at the Forest Station or Park HQ for details. The forest is easily accessible from Malindi, Gedi, or Watamu. The long, usually deserted beaches of Watamu are also ideal for long walks.
Cycling The quiet villages and beachside roads around Malindi and in Watamu are readily explored by bicycle. This gives you freedom, fresh air and exercise.
Bicycles are one of the most common forms of transport in this area, and on most paths and roads you will encounter other cyclists. Local people will always be willing to help out with directions and advice, and are often quite keen to meet and talk with visitors to Kenya.
This is a great way to meet Kenyans, and learn more about life in this area. Bicycles can be hired locally all along the coast either from hotels or private operators. Remember to check the condition of the tyres, chain and frame before hiring a bike.
Horse RidingSeveral hotels in Malindi and Watamu can arrange hire of horses and riding guides. The wide white beaches here are perfect for riding. Late afternoon is a great time to ride, with the sea breeze and the sunset turning the water to gold, galloping the length of this beach is an unforgettable way to end the day.