SOUTH COAST The South Coast is by far the most idyllic and fascinating tourist resort of the Kenya coast. The resort which is unique for uts long white sandy beaches, is linked by ferry to Mombasa Island. The most notable of these beaches is Diani which serviced by well appointed, luxurious hotels, chalets and villas.
The South Coast resorts stretches from Likoni South of Mombasa to the Kenya/Tanzania border.
Shimba Hills can be seen quite clearly from the beach. The hotels along Diani Beach are located on the cleared beach front areas of the Jadini forest which is still a haunt of wildlife such as leopard, colobus monkeys and a wide variety of birdlife.
Apart from sunbathing, there is a variety of other sports such as water skiing, windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkeling and deep sea fishing. Diani/Chale Marine National Park and Reserve, Kisite Marine National Park as well as Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve are places with a dazzling array of technicoloured fish and coral gardens which are worth visiting. Viewing the dozens of these marine park animal from glass bottomed boats or by snorkeling offers one an unforgettable experience.
This wonderfully undeveloped beach can be reached by two roads that wind through the coastal scrub about 20 km south of Likoni. It’s a tranquil spot and a world away from the beach resorts and bustle of the Diani Beach and most of the places to stay are cottages set in quiet gardens that run right down to the sand.
Best time to visit: Easter / August to early September / Christmas and New Year)
Beach boys are fairly prevalent at the southern end of Tiwi, but are almost unheard of on the private beaches at the northern end of the strip.
SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL RESERVE
MWALUGANJE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY
This sanctuary is a good example of community – based conservation and most local people are shareholders in the project. It was opened in October 1995 to create a corridor along an ancient elephant migration route between the Shimba Hills National Reserve and comprises 2400 hectares of rugged, beautiful country along the valley of the Cha Shimba River.
More than 150 elephants live in the sanctuary and you are likely to see a large variety of other fauna and flora including rare cycad forest (this primitive palm – like plant species is over 300 million years old).
The main entrance to the sanctuary is about 13 km northeast of Shimba Hills National Reserve on the road to Kinango.
ISLANDS BETWEEN DIANI BEACH & FUNZI ISLAND
Chale Island and Gazi Beach
There are several worthwhile detours between Diani and Funzi Island. About 20 km south of Ukunda, at the tip of a mangrove peninsula, is a gorgeous Chale Island, a tropical getaway with a fine beach and supposedly therapeutic mud. Most visitors come here on health retreats.
A few kilometers further south, is Gazi Beach.
Funzi is a small mangrove island about 35km south of Diani. As with other islands along the coast, dhow tours to the village at the southern tip of Funzi are very popular. Crocodiles and dolphins can be spotted in the inlets.
SHIMONI & WASINI ISLAND
The village of Shimoni sits at the tip of a small peninsula, about 76 km south of Likoni and close to the Tanzanian border. Dhow trips to nearby Wasini Island and the coral reefs of Kisite – Mpunguti Marine National Park have become a big industry here.
There are some interesting ruins and colonial graves in the village and the villagers have opened up the old slave caves as a tourist attraction, bringing in some much needed income. There is no clear evidence that slavers actually used the caves, but it’s an atmospheric place and it’s interesting to hear about this little – discussed part of East African history.
There are several interesting things to see, including ancient Swahili ruins and the coral gardens’, a bizarre landscape of exposed coral reefs that you can walk around (except at certain times of the year when the sea floods it). Dhow trips to here can be organized from Diani.
KISITE – MPUNGUTI MARINE NATIONAL PARK