Mombasa Kenya Ultimate Guide

One of the must-see and essential cities to visit on any trip to Kenya is to visit the authentic city of Mombasa. The country's oldest and second-largest city is one of the most important if not the most important city in Kenya.


Mombasa or Mombassa, the exotic paradise in the African tropics, guarantees its visitors that they will never get bored. The city is filled with fun activities that will get everyone excited. Know more about Mombasa, one of the best places to visit in Kenya, through the following topics:

Mombasa Kenya Ultimate Guide

History and Importance


Mombasa Kenya is not only a city steeped in history, but also an amazing commercial and cosmopolitan port city. It is a place where both history and progress are valued. Being the second largest city in Kenya, Mombasa is one of its major tourism centres. Modern Mombasa is a diverse city, where everyone is welcomed and absorbed into this great coastal city, where numbers of shopping districts, restaurants, lively nightlife are catered. 


Being an island connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries, the city overlooks a wide harbour, where commercial shipping combines with traditional sailing dhows. Over the harbor, stands Fort Jesus at the water’s edge, dating back to the 16th century. 


The high gun turrets, battlements and underground passages of the fort were the centre of a historic struggle for control of the Kenya coast between the Portuguese army and the Shirazi Arabs. However, the fort is a testament through history to this past, as the war continued over hundreds of years.


The original Arabic name of Mombasa is Manbasa. It is called “Kisiwa Cha Mvita” in Swahili and means “Island of War.” The reason behind its name is the many changes in possession the city went through, getting a great impact in long history.



Most of the Mombasa Kenya population comprises of Muslims and Swahili people. The migrants and merchants from Iran, Middle East, Somalia and the Indian subcontinent are the majority in the city.



The weather in Mombasa is similar to the rest of Kenya, however, the city tends to be more humid. As well as other areas in Eastern Africa, Mombasa has two rainy seasons. The longest is in April and May. It is when heavy rains are expected during the day, but not all days of the week. 


The rainy season is followed by a long dry season from July through October, which is the best time to visit Mombasa. The short rains start in November and last until the end of December when the shorter hot-dry season begins.


January, February and parts of March are the warmest months in the year  with average day temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), whereas the coolest months are June, July and August with average day temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius). Humidity level can be high, ranging between 80% to 85% year round.

Best Time to Visit


The water temperature is quite comfortable even during the cooler months, serving the aquatic activities of the city. In addition, the sunshine hours vary a little throughout the year, ranging from seven to nine hours. The end of August to October is a perfect time for anglers to catch a yellowfin tuna. For scuba divers and snorkelers, October to March is the best time to discover the marine life of Kenya. 


Beach hotels reduce their prices during the long and short rain period from April to June and November with the first 3 weeks of December. The peak seasons start from January, February and from July through October.


Where to Stay in Mombasa 


For first-time visitors, the perfect area to stay is near the northern beaches of Nyali, Mombasa, Shanzu and Bamburi, where visitors can sightsee the Haller Park Nature Reserve, walk the Old Town, and snorkel the coral reefs of Mombasa Marine National Park. 


Here are some of the best hotels where you can stay in Mombasa:


Luxury Hotels


1- Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa: On the beautiful Bamburi Beach, Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa features four swimming pools, tennis courts and a PADI dive center.

2- Serena Beach Resort & Spa: Escape to the peaceful beachfront escape. This hotel fits the bill and offers family rooms with free breakfast. 

3- Voyager Beach Resort: It offers great value of Mombasa Beach, featuring multiple pools, kids club and water sports. 


Mid-Range Hotels


1- Severin Sea Lodge: Lying on Bamburi Beach, the lodge offers thatched bungalows and two lovely swimming pools.

2- Travellers Beach Hotel & Club: It is a value-packed hotel with warm and friendly service. You would like to stay there.

3- Bahari Beach Hotel: The rooms offer guests great views into coral cliffs along Nyali Beach.


Budget Hotels


1- BEST WESTERN PLUS Creekside Hotel: Near Nyali Beach and Fort Jesus, it overlooks Tudor Creek, with Swahili accents. It is a perfect spot for those who want access to both attractions.

2- Kenya Bay Beach Hotel: It features a sweeping Bamburi beachfront location, offering a great value.

3- Kahama Hotel: It offers bright spacious rooms overlooking the white-sand shores. 

Things to Do in Mombasa Kenya


The city of Mombasa is known for its exotic beaches and luxurious hotels, being a coastal city. However, it is not limited to beach activities. Here are things to do while being in Mombasa. 


1- Mombasa Beaches


You can’t miss the tropical beaches in Mombasa. It has several beautiful beaches that are popular for sun-bathing, swimming, walking or relaxing. Diani beach, Bamburi beach and Nyali beach are three fantastic beaches with great hotels and eateries along the shore. 

Mombasa Kenya Ultimate Guide

2- Fort Jesus


The UNESCO World Heritage site was constructed by the Portuguese in 1593-1596 and was designed by the Italian architect Cairti, making it a great attraction for visitors to enjoy. The Fort reflects the Portuguese military architecture, being built in the shape of a man. It is where you can enjoy a collection of ceramics and pottery that reflect the various cultures. Within the compound, there are amazing battlements and derelict buildings, including Omani house, a building with Omani jewelry and displays on Swahili life.

Mombasa Kenya Ultimate Guide

3- Walk around Mombasa Old Town


Strolling into the old town is a great way to meet people from different cultures. Most of the current residents are Asians, Arabs and Europeans. It is also a way of discovering the narrow streets bordered by old buildings. It is a local experience where you can go shopping at one of the many shops that sell antiques, souvenirs, fragrance oils and spices and have a bite at one of the cafes around. 

4- Go Scuba Diving and Snorkeling


Marine activities are a joyful experience in Mombasa Kenya. Kayaking and swimming are held every day on the beaches. Those who want to experience a more adventurous activity can go scuba diving and snorkeling. The Mombasa Marine National Park offers such services where visitors can see mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs. They can also meet stingrays, lionfish seahorses and eels.

Mombasa Kenya Ultimate Guide

5- Mamba Village Center


See East Africa’s largest crocodile farm at Mamba Village Center and get to learn about these fascinating reptiles. In addition, take a horseback ride and enjoy the amazing botanical garden and its aquarium. The garden exhibits orchids, aquatic plants along with carnivorous species. One of the great experiences is watching crocodiles fighting for food. 

6- Haller Park 


Haller park is a hit for bird enthusiasts and animal lovers. It is a great experience for family and friends where wildlife exhibitions of giraffes, Cape buffaloes, zebras, waterbucks and hippos can be seen. More than 160 species of birds reside in the park. 

Mombasa Kenya Ultimate Guide

7- Trip By Dhow to Wasini Island


Wasini Island lies south of Mombasa and has an area of only five square kilometres. It is very popular to take a dhow trip from Mombasa. It is exciting to see dolphins cruising by along the way. It is a great idea to stop and snorkel near the coral reefs. Besides, the trip provides a cultural experience since ancient Swahili villages lie around. Discover the Shimoni Caves which is thought to have held slaves before shipment to Arabia. Finally, stop by Wasini Island for a seafood pleasure.

Mombasa Kenya Ultimate Guide

8- Shimba Hills National Reserve


For those who want to escape and have a quiet gateway from the commercial hub, Shimba Hills National Park is a great way to do so. It is home to a number of plant species, birds and animals. Visitors will get amazed by the beauty of the surroundings and the beauty of the waterfalls, woodlands, savanna and a rich rainforest. It is a must live experience to witness elephants, leopards and sable antelopes. 

9- Mombasa Tusks


Built to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1952, the Mombasa Tusks are a very famous landmark in the city. The tusks are constructed of aluminium and mark the entrance to the centre of the town, where visitors find most of the banks, shops, and markets. 


10- Mombasa Go-Kart


Mombasa Go-Kart is suitable for all ages. Enjoy a smooth concrete track in go-karts and bounce around on the off-board buggies. After this, one can enjoy a smack at a family friendly restaurant with activities like playing computer games, enjoying the playground, watching the big screen of sporting events. 


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