Kenya is full of surprises: just when you thought it was all about safaris and wildlife, you find out that it also has some of East Africa's greatest beaches and Indian Ocean island getaways.
Picture brilliant blue water lapping against fine white sand - an invitation to stretch out and soak up the sun. When the mood takes you, pick up a snorkel or set sail on a dhow; Kenya beaches are lined with protective coral reefs creating ideal waters for swimming, sailing, watersports, and - for the more adventurous - diving and snorkelling.
There is also drama: Kenya's warm tropical waters, especially around Diani, are famous for hosting migrating whale sharks, the gentle giants of the ocean. Whale shark safaris run between October and April and give you the chance to see these magnificent creatures in an unspoilt environment.
The Kenya coast is so easy to experience. From Diani, through Mombasa and Malindi and north to the islands of Lamu Archipelago, there’s a wide range of Kenya beach holiday destinations to choose from: bustling activity-packed resorts will appeal to families and fun-in-the-sun lovers while the more intimate and exclusive island lodges are perfect for honeymooners and romantics.
But don't worry if you can't decide between a wildlife safari and a beach vacation: the beauty of Kenya is that it's simple to arrange a safari and beach holiday combination. Smooth-running logistics and tried-and-tested destinations make for hassle-free and rewarding itineraries - simply browse our range of holidays and safaris or just ask one of our African Safari Experts to tailor-make the perfect package for you.
A Summit Trails Adventures expert gives her advice on where to go on the Kenya coast for the ultimate safari & beach combination in the Kenya Beach Guide.
From climbing Kili to experiencing Kenya's Swahili Coast, The Big Escape is all about iconic African experiences.
The beaches of Kenya can be divided into four main regions, each of which offers a unique experience.
Whether you are looking for a solitary spot to spend your holiday, family friendly shores or an intimate place for a romantic beach safari, beaches in Kenya have all these and more. The sun-kissed shoreline has an expansive stretch of silky white sand to explore.
Kenyan beaches offer unforgettable beach safari complete with fine dining, lavish accommodation and adrenaline-pumping water sports. The 6 most popular beaches in Kenya are:
Diani Beach is Kwale County’s pride. It is an award winning beach, voted as one of the top 25 beaches in Africa as well as one of the top beaches in the world, in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards. The weather in Diani is favourable all year round.
A holiday in Diani is incomplete without a visit to the famous Forty Thieves Beach Bar. Pop in for lunch, a drink and a dance on the beach.
Diani is the best destination for sky diving adventures. Tandem skydiving is also available.
If you love kite surfing, you need to visit Diani Beach.
Diani Beach is adjacent to Galu Beach so you have more sand and sea to explore.
Exquisite resorts and villas dot the spectacular Nyali Beach. It is one of the top destinations in Mombasa County.
It is close to Mombasa Town.
Nyali has shopping malls and numerous entertainment spots.
Nyali Beach has the most luxurious resorts in Mombasa County.
Watamu Beach is the most popular destination in Kilifi County, and also one of the top 25 beaches in Africa. It is accessible from Malindi, making it a popular destination for visitors who fly to the coast through Malindi Airstrip.
It is the best deep-sea fishing destination in Kenya.
There are a number of historic attractions such as Gede Ruins.
Watamu has posh villas and resorts on the beach.
Malindi is a town in Kilifi County, a two hours’ drive from Mombasa. It has a rich history, with a number of races and communities having settled there centuries ago.
It is a haven for sky surfers.
There are exciting glass-bottomed boat rides in the marine park.
A number of historic attractions surround the beach, such as Malindi Museum and Vasco da Gama Pillar.
Malindi has the best Italian cuisine in the region.
Lamu is quite popular because of the annual Lamu Yoga Festival and Lamu Festival.
The town is one of the oldest in Kenya.
There are no cars in the town, just donkeys.
Wasini Island is about 75km from Mombasa. Attractions in the island include a fishing village and Shimoni Slave Caves.
KisiteMpunguti Marine Park is located here.
You can explore the marine park by snorkelling and scuba diving.
Kenya's Indian Ocean coast is generally humid and hot all year round with Mombasa's annual daytime temperatures averaging between 27 and 31°C. There is the chance of rain on the coast throughout the year though it's wettest and hottest during the mid-March to late May rainy season - indeed, we'd recommend avoiding Kenya's coast at this time.
October to January (especially November) is usually considered the best time to visit Kenya's beaches as these months offer the best conditions for diving and snorkelling. If you want an opportunity to see and swim with whale sharks, then visit the Kenya coast between October and April - the best whale shark sightings occur between January and March.
For further advice on planning your Kenya beach holiday, simply enquire with one of our Africa Safari Experts.