The Kenyan Coast - Abbey Travel, Ireland

The Kenyan Coast


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Welcome to The Kenyan Coast

The Kenyan Coast

The Kenyan coast is lined with a mixture of beautiful white sand beaches and tourist resorts, interspersed with Arab and Portuguese forts, overgrown ruins of Swahili outposts and old trading port towns that are the remnants of its fascinating history. The first traders along the coast were Arabs from the Persian Gulf and several settlements developed during the 12th century. The KiSwahili language that evolved as a means of communication between the locals and the Arab traders is still spoken today. Trade continued even after the Portuguese took control of the whole coastal region in 1498 and throughout the towns the architecture reflects the changes in occupation and their cultural differences.

Spectacular coral reefs with colourful plant and fish life provide world-class snorkelling and diving among pristine coral gardens in the pleasantly warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The marine parks at Malindi, Watamu Bay and Shimoni contain undisturbed coral reefs and enormous fish due to the lack of coastal fishing traffic.

Mombasa is the centre of activity in the region and Kenya's second largest town. North of Mombasa the coast is lined with resort complexes catering mainly to package tourists, with luxury accommodation, fine cuisine and excellent services. Calm waters and palm-backed beaches are in abundance. Further north is the resort town of Malindi, as well as Watamu Bay, and the islands of the Lamu Archipelago.

The south coast was once remote and inaccessible, covered in lush forest and renowned for its slave trade and tropical plantations, but today little of the forest remains and it has become part of Kenya's mainstream tourism. The region's popularity is due to its image as an idyllic haven with white beaches and azure waters, where sheltered waters protected by coral reefs invite underwater exploration. The coast is host to a wide range of resorts offering excellent facilities, but also has many less developed getaways. Further south the small fishing village of Shimoni is home to a series of deep coastal caves and is a popular base for diving and deep-sea fishing.

Unfortunately, recent activity by Somalian pirates in the area has raised serious questions about the safety of the Kenyan coast, as several foreign tourists have been killed or kidnapped from resorts. Several governments have issued travel warnings for the Kenyan coast, especially the northern areas near the Somalian border.

Information & Facts

English is the official language but Swahili is the national language, with 42 ethnic languages spoken.

The unit of currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES), divided into 100 cents. It is not advisable to take Kenyan Shillings out of the country, as they are difficult to exchange elsewhere. Travellers cheques in Sterling or US Dollars are recommended for your trip to Kenya. US Dollars in particular have become commonly used in many of the country's main hotels and safari lodges. Foreign currency can be changed at banks, bureaux de change and hotels; easiest to exchange are US dollars, pounds sterling or Euros. Street exchange merchants should be avoided as they are operating illegally. Banks open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm and on the first and last Saturday of the month. Banks and bureaux de change at the international airport stay open 24 hours. Credit Cards (American Express, Visa and MasterCard) are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, and some camps and lodges. ATMs are widely available in Nairobi and the major towns.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selction of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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