Although it seems like summer has just finished in the northern hemisphere, with only two months until Christmas it’s definitely time to start planning that winter getaway. For many this means a beach retreat, soaking up some valuable vitamin D in the midst of a chilly grey winter at home. While most people associate Kenya with safaris and wildlife, there are plenty of beautiful beaches on which to lounge about in the sun.
Mombasa is the Christmas destination of choice for many Nairobians, and for good reason. From Diani to Malindi there are beach resorts of all sizes and specialties to suit any type of holiday. Even further afield, off the beaten track, there are some hidden treasures – head north to Lamu or south to the Funzi Keys.
Water sports are the activity of choice and most resorts have a dedicated centre to organise these. Snorkelling is standard fare, as is scuba diving. For those with more time, there is a PADI dive school about midway along the Diani Beach stretch. The course takes 3-5 days and there’s a test at the end… Yes an exam on your holiday! Further south is a dedicated Kite Surfing centre where you can try your hand at this relatively new sport.
Of course if you are coming all the way to Kenya, it would be a shame to skip out on safaris completely. But with the migration having returned to Tanzania the draw of the Maasai Mara is lessened slightly and the flamingos of Nakuru are not around at this time either. Fortunately there are a couple of national parks within a reasonable distance of Mombasa. The closest is Shimba Hills, famous for its sable antelope population. Only 30km from Diani Beach, it is very feasible to do a half day safari, although a full day isn’t that much more expensive. Tsavo East and West National Parks together form the largest park in Kenya and are a half day drive from Mombasa. Allow at least three days for a trip to Tsavo, given its size and the distance from the beach. Adjacent to Tsavo West are Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary and Taita Hills Sanctuary. These parks are smaller, but just as rewarding, with beautiful lodges and stunning scenery. In Lumo you can watch the sun set over Mt Kilimanjaro as you enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day. Or in Taita Hills, you can be deafened by the elephant trumpets during dinner as they come to the waterhole to drink.
The coast is where Kenyans head for Christmas, so if you want to truly experience a Kenyan Christmas this is where to come. And with such a spread of coastline, there is no need to feel overcrowded – Diani Beach might be busy, but you can always go north to Kilifi or Malindi. Lamu is an island in the north and once there you are in your own piece of Swahili paradise. The range of accommodation, activities and vibes along the Kenyan coast gives everyone the opportunity to find something to suit their tastes.