Southern Palms Beach Resortis an Oceanfront beach hotellocated in Diani Beach, Mombasa, Kenya, the Southern Palms Beach Hotelis a boutique hotel in Diani Mombasa which offers luxurious accommodations in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, unlike typical hotels in Diani Beach, the Southern Palms Resortdistinguishes itself as having the finest amenities with the highest standard of customer service. The Southern Palms Hotelprides itself as going a step beyond the expected, touched by the Indian Ocean, the recently renovated luxury hotel is a beach resort for memorable island holidays, guests are welcome to feel the island’s warmth amidst the lush landscaped gardens, enjoy a great range of high end facilities, benefit from exclusive services and discover the pleasures of Diani in one of the finest Mombasaislands, the hotel is beautifully situated amidst the palm trees offering its guests a breadth of fun and amusing activities to enjoy, the exclusive vacation packages, the fine accommodation choices, the breath-taking ocean view, the various dining options, the relaxing spa therapies and treatments along with the fun sports activities and water sports adventures ensure an unforgettable holiday experience for all guests at this luxury accommodation in Diani beach, catering to all types of travelers the Southern Palms Beach Resort Dianiwelcomes couples to experience romance with breakfast in bed, sunset walks and midnight strolls on the beach and romantic dinners under the stars in our Restaurants, travelers visiting with their family can benefit from a wide variety of complimentary essentials as well as the age-specific children amenities and services provided including children menus, modern comforts, a great range of entertaining and enjoyable activities, happenings, sports and events particularly planned for the younger guests, a series of challenges are also available for the most adventurous travelers such as biking, hiking, sea-kayaking, climbing, diving and sailing along with a breadth of self-guided tours to explore the Diani beach and Ukunda. Let us welcome you with genuine service and laid-back sophistication at our serene oceanfront resort, The Southern Palms Beach Hotel Dianiis one of the best all inclusive hotels in Mombasa, where you’ll find a sense of peace and tranquillity in every corner, surrounded by palm trees, courtyards and exotic gardens, this 5 star hotel boasts a fine beach style with Arabic and Swahili influences and details, there is something magical about staying in Southern Palms, You have the freedom to do what you want when you want - without any dress code, At our resort you can look forward to a high level of privacy without compromising on the standards, you will be surrounded by spacious, elegantly designed interiors complemented by the very best home comforts to ensure your beach holiday is everything that you and your party want it to be, Southern Palms Hotel Dianiis a rare exclusive retreat - combining luxury amenities with the relaxed intimacy of a family home, it is the perfect base whether you want to spend your time exploring Ukunda, enjoying the superb local sporting amenities or simply relaxing in serene surroundings, A light-filled oasis, the hotel has been artistically designed to take full advantage of its luxuriant surroundings and the amazing natural light; its architecture reflects the traditional Swahili style, with whitewashed walls and pale tiled floors throughout; and the tranquil interior is gently punctuated with hues of soft Makuti and aqua, step into the magnificent, double-height atriums and the impact of light and space is immediate - ahead, floor to ceiling doors open onto a tranquil, leafy courtyard with its burbling fountain and panoramic views across the lawns to the enticing swimming pool (with a toddler pool) and floodlit tennis court, to either side are the suites sprawling wings where an open plan, lounge and light and airy, en suite bedrooms await, softly shaded terraces provide generous spaces for whiling away the day reading, sunbathing or dining al fresco; and a book-filled study offer indoor distraction, the fridge stocked with chilled drinks ready for your arrival and supply of essential toiletries available and a housekeeper on hand to help with additional arrangements... you simply arrive, unpack and relax. Staff at Southern Palms Resort Dianiare discreet with an old-school professionalism, which is very refreshing these days, don’t expect ostentatious bowing and scraping at every turn, but there will always be someone close by to take care of any requirements, pristine white sands, stretch far into the distance, the gentle waves slip softly to shore, the turquoise ocean seems endless as it blends into the clouds. Slowly, the golden sun lifts above the horizon – paradise at dawn? At Southern Palms Resort Mombasa, this is just another ordinary morning. Nestled amidst the gardens the luxury accommodation in Southern Palms Resort provides a fine selection of 298 ocean view hotel rooms and including two luxury suites, they are spacious family rooms and romantic honeymoon suites, all offering magnificent panoramic views of the Indian Ocean while exuding an aura of serenity. Perfect for luxury holidays beyond comparison all hotel rooms and suites of the Southern Palms Resort in Mombasawelcome guests to enjoy an extensive assortment of luxury amenities and comforts for top of the line island living. The fine décor with the soft relaxing shades, the quality fabrics and furnishings, the queen sized beds, the private furnished balcony or terrace and bathroom with bathtub or shower welcome guests to relax in a home away from home and treat themselves to a luxury island experience. Personal service and elegance is assured amid our bloom and bird-filled subtropical gardens, which flourish here year round in Diani beach generous climate, all guestrooms and elegant suites for luxury accommodation in Diani beach are set in the jasmine-scented subtropical gardens so lovingly enhanced, spaces include a furnished outdoor terrace overlooking the glorious gardens or views out to sea, Gleaming marble ensuites are all suited to two people or families with separate rain showers and baths, there is a plentiful supply of toiletries, a good hairdryer and an illuminated mirror. By no means all have sea views, but those that don’t look over the lush gardens and feel very private. At Southern Palms Beach Resort Diani Mombasawe take pride in offering the finest food and drink in some of the most pleasant surroundings you can find on Kenya’s coast in beachfront living in glorious seclusion, the ultimate in serenity and spaciousness, with exceptional standards of privacy and personalised service, our bartenders are specially trained to produce the most delicious and freshest cocktails - many of them invented exclusively for the Palms, Our chefs have developed a reputation second to none in the coastal region, whether it is a quick snack, a casual meal or a special occasion, you will find our chefs up to the task, with extensive menus and dining locations to choose from, your wish is our command, Adding to the amazing holiday experience Southern Palms Beach Hotel Diani Mombasaoffers a breadth of dining choices for all tastes and preferences featuring some of the finest restaurants & bars, From a mouth-watering breakfast at the restaurant by the pool to international specialties that guests can enjoy on the beach at our beach restaurant, fusion international and Kenyan cuisine choices including the most flavor some Kenyan salad at the main restaurant, in addition the hotel’s 5 bars and entertainment rooms welcome guests to relax and enjoy their holidays with fine wines, flavour some spirits and exotic cocktails at the pool bar by the pool or in view of the Indian Ocean. The freshest flavours and highest-quality ingredients from our talented chef who carefully creates all of our fine restaurants’ menus, each has its own personality and is suited to the most discerning palates, whatever your mood. Pure beachside bliss and lazy days await you at one of the most luxurious hotels in Diani; Space meets light at our sunny haven in a fusion of ancient and modern design, where myriad corners of quiet beauty are yours to call your own. A vast stretch of glittering sands kiss the rolling surf. The palms sway and beckon you to bring a deck chair, A blazing sun sets fire to the horizon, the gold tipped surf rolls gently to your feet and ebb away as you watch one of nature’s grandest shows from your deck chair on the beach. Is it just another day in paradise? It is indeed. The ultimate in five star luxury and indulgence awaits you at this lavish resort, lush comforts, fine cuisine and leisurely days of sunshine are yours to treasure on a heavenly tropical holiday. Southern Palms Hotel Diani Mombasais the perfect location for a truly individual and exclusive wedding in Mombasa; this amazing beach club gives you privacy that is completely unattainable other Diani Hotels, as this hotel is family owned and run, your individual requirements and needs are catered for offering exclusivity to each wedding and event here in Mombasa, the reason this beach hotel is perfect for your wedding or event here in Mombassa is because there are many different locations and settings for every aspect of your special day including grassed areas that are perfect for a blessing ceremony or cocktail reception, hidden intimate courtyards filled with geraniums that provide shady spots for drinks and music and a large flat area by the pool with a capacity for up to 500pax. Southern Palms Hotel in Dianialso has thatched roof BBQ area and lots of space for dancing! As weddings in Mombasa experts we understand how important it is for a couple to choose the right Wedding Venue, the wedding Venue, after all, ultimately reflects the individuality, style and personality of each couple, serving as the "canvas" for the many aspects to be incorporated into the Wedding Day, the choice of venue is an immensely personal one, and our portfolio of hand-selected hotel Wedding Venues in Mombasa that benefit completely from the beauty, peace and tranquility that Diani beach has to offer, we both have the fundamental traits of creativity and a paramount attention to detail, and a complete desire to turn our clients’ visions into reality, We are delighted to be considered a leading light in the wedding planning Mombasacreating unique Boutique Weddings and Events along Diani Beach, the Southern Palms Hotel Diani provides the perfect setting for spectacular weddings and banquets that will long be remembered. The beautifully designed interiors and exterior spaces as well as the wide range of restaurants and bars overlooking the Indian Ocean ensure a wedding experience that will excel. The hotel’s experienced staff can plan and organize any wedding and banquet according to the needs and preferences of its guests. From a traditional wedding with Beach Ocean flavours at the hotel’s main restaurant, to elegant banquets with tropical cocktails at the Pool bar all the way to private ceremonies will exceed all expectations, couples wishing to live an actual fairy-tale can plan their wedding and let the hotel’s expert team arrange every single detail, from the music and catering to the outstanding décor and allow the married couple to live the life of royalty with Southern Palmsexclusive wedding package. The wedding package includes a welcoming reception with delicious fruit punch, wedding cake and wedding reception one night stay for the newlyweds and a delicious breakfast to begin their first day together on the most flavorsome note. Southern Palms Hotelis a popular venue for conferences, corporate meetings, workshops, team building and business events. The Southern Palms Hotel provides the perfect venue for the organization of such professional happenings due to its charming location, the high quality services and facilities provided along with the years of expertise in event planning and organizing. Business travellers are welcome to relax by the ocean side while achieving their corporate goals combining the perfect balance of luxury with success, featuring conference halls, the luxury resort can successfully arrange conferences, meetings, workshopsand team buildingsand events for up to 600 delegates in state-of-the art meeting rooms, fully fitted with all high tech equipment such as video, standard flip charts, overhead, slides and video projectors, screens, microphones, dimmers, podiums, laser pointers and air-conditioning . Combining corporate excellence with culinary enjoyment any event is bound to be a delight, complemented by the flavours of Kenyan authenticity. All guests are welcome to enjoy a refreshing cocktail from the Pool Bar or Beach Bar before or after their meetings while gazing at the stunning views to the Indian Ocean sea and the beautiful surroundings, Your stay in Diani beach Kenya’s coastal jewel, should allow you to escape the stresses that dominate so much of our daily lives, Our Ocean Spa is a haven made for pampering. Relax and enjoy our signature organic body treatments from Africology, for anything from a pampering manicure/pedicure right through to a hot stone, vichy or sports massage, Southern palms is the place for you. The international ambience of the coast has gone a long way towards attracting the world’s top professionals, who are pleased to bring the very latest in beauty and health treatments to your doorstep, To turn back the hands of time, who could resist a cryotherapy facial with serum-infused ice cubes at the Spa To delve into a state of relaxation as deep as the centre of the earth, who wouldn’t try the Asian Massage. Guests wishing to treat themselves to an unforgettable Diani Beach holidayexperience are welcome to stay at Southern Palms Hotel Mombasa and enjoy an amusing selection of recreational holiday activities and sports. Ranging from family oriented activities including, archery, table games, scuba diving, trekking, sea kayak and other water sports adventures all the way to extreme sports such as water ski and paragliding, enjoyment at Southern Palms Hotel in Mombasadoesn’t seem to come to an end. With such an extensive range of enjoyable activities for Diani holidays, summer holidays for all guests will certainly exceed expectations. Guests are invited to embark on the most enjoyable biking, hiking, sea-kayaking, climbing and sailing self-guided tours and explore the island of Diani Beach the most pleasant way. The Southern Palms Hotel strategic location allows for holiday activities that guests can enjoy with their family and friends. The tennis courts welcome guests for outdoor adventures while the more daring individuals are invited to test their adrenaline with water ski, wake board, banana and other extreme sports as well as the best scuba diving in Diani beach. Those seeking a more laid back experience are welcome to ride a bike or attend a yoga or stretch-aerobics session and relax in the pools in view of the Indian Ocean. Rightfully regarded as one of the most favourable family resorts in Diani Beach, this luxury family hotel in Dianialso offers a wide range of entertainment choices including theme nights, beach parties and a mini disco to add to the overall enjoyment of its guests.
Discover an oceanfront hotel that captures the essence and allure of Mombasa and The Indian Ocean. Feel the warmth of the sun and the friendliness of Mombasa from your home away from home that is, Southern Palms Beach Resort. Escape from the norm with endless options and all the comforts of a full-service hotel, ideally suited to couples and families alike. Relax, unwind and fall in love with all that makes Kenya and Mombasa uniquely unforgettable. Southern Palms Beach Resortconsists of 298 air conditioned rooms including 2 "luxury suites", set in almost 10 acres of beautifully tended tropical gardens. We have two enormous free form swimming pools, probably the largest in Eastern Africa, adding a unique feeling of space and majesty to our Resort! You may choose to simply relax on the resort, enjoying the warmth of the African sun and the soothing sound of the waves, or you can explore Diani and Mombasa, an island rich in history and culture. At Southern Palms Beach Resort Kenya, the excellent service and superior facilities make for an unforgettable stay. Private balconies are featured in all rooms overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean. Southern Palms Beach Resort guarantees guests a pleasant stay whether in Mombasa for business or pleasure. The Swahili atmosphere at is enhanced by the Pili-Pili carved four-poster double beds in each of the rooms and Swahili easy chairs on the balconies. Rooms overlook the swimming pools and gardens and arrangements can be made beforehand for the ocean front rooms, of which there are 36. All rooms have TV and DVD Player, with DVD’s available for loan from the Business Center. Further facilities include: direct dial telephones, fridge, coffee and tea making facilities and electronic safe. The two luxury suites are both furnished with king-size four-poster beds, mini bar, T.V. and video, a spacious sitting area, shower and bath and large balcony. If you are travelling with friends or children you can also arrange to have interconnecting rooms. The staff at Southern Palms want to make your stay as stress-free as possible and if you are with young children, accommodation on the ground floor can be organized to ensure their safety. Southern Palms Beach Resort is known for its great seafood and meat platters and offers six restaurants to choose from, all serving a variety of International cuisine. Dress Code: Gentlemen are asked to wear long trousers in the evening
Inspired by the Swahili style with a grand Makuti roof and the floor decorated in mosaic. The restaurant operates buffet-style for all three daily meals. The cuisine is international, with courses changing every day. The restaurant features a themed buffet which changes nightly. The menu boasts such dishes as crab, prawns and steaks and by special request delicious Spiny Langouste (clawless lobster).
With six bars in various locations around the resort, you can be formally dressed enjoying cocktails by candlelight, laidback in swimwear right on the beach, or just soaking up some rays at the pool, with a cold drink in hand. Whatever your choice, long and cold, short and strong on ice, tropical fruit or just a lemonade, you won't go dry at Southern Palms Beach Resort
Overlooking the Indian Ocean and the coral white Diani Beach. The Boriti Restaurant offers all day snacks and light lunches of pizza, burgers, sandwiches and salads. With such a wide variety of meals and snacks The Boriti Restaurant keeps your taste buds alive throughout the day! Feel like cooling off with a cold beer or lemonade? No problem. The Boriti Bar serves long cold Tusker Beer, Wine, Lemonade and other soft drinks for you to enjoy either at the table or by the pool. All are available from 10.00am. to 5.30pm.
The Manyatta ‘Nyama Choma’ (African Barbeque) Restaurant which is under a domed canopy next to the pool serves enticing grilled meat, game and fish. Using special Kenyan mixed spices in our dishes, gives a great twist to a traditional barbeque. If you have never tried a Kenyan Barbeque before here's your chance and to be sure, once tasted you will be back trying it again and again. Not so keen on spicy? Don't worry! There is a wide variety of salads and lighter dishes for the less carnivorous diners. Opening Hours : 7.30pm to 9.30pm
For dining under the stars, choose the Italian restaurant, La Via Romana. Offering a menu of delicious table d’hôte Italian specialties. The restaurant is next to the ocean and makes for a very romantic setting. Sit back and enjoy the evening, take in the aromatic scent of the Italian Herbs of the lovingly prepared dishes, accompanied with a glass of Chianti. Reservationsare recommended for this tantalizing treat. Opening Hours: 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Restaurant Located just off the coral white sandy beach and specializing in succulent fish, seafood and meats our Samaki Restaurant offers an exclusive menu full of exciting and mouth watering dishes. Whatever you’re fancy, be it our tasty succulent King Prawns, char-grilled Sea Bass or our Famous Beef Steaks. We've got something in store for everyone, all grilled on a roaring charcoal fire. Residents should make an early reservation for this popular dining experience. Opening Hours: 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.
Dine to the sounds of Jabali music at the atmospheric El Nomad Lebanese Restaurant. Located at the Fountain Bar and specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine. Share stories over mouthfuls of spiced mezza and, when you can’t eat another bite, relinquish yourself to the intensity of the night as belly dancers entice you to revel until dawn. Open for Dinner only providing waiter service from a 3 course menu selection. Opening Hours: 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Our air-conditioned fitness centre is well equipped with the latest cardiovascular and strength training machines, including free weights, stair climbers, weight machines, treadmills, elliptical cross training machines and exercise balls. Join our aerobic classes for an exceptional cardiovascular workout or try a yoga class to relax, strengthen, lengthen and tone. For fitness or fun, our championship-sized hard tennis court is available for daytime or floodlit evening play.
Beauty treatments are available for every part of the body to enhance and improve the condition and general wellbeing of many different areas. One of the universal benefits of all of the beautician’s treatments is the positive mental lift you have following a treatment. With our beauty salon you can enjoy many treatments, like hot oil cleansing for your hair or exfoliation leaving your skin feeling fresh and renewed. Face packs and massage therapies can also improve the skin condition and lead to improved circulation.
If you're feeling tired or tense, a soothing massage is the ultimate way to unwind and make you feel 100% yourself again. With so many types of treatment out there, simply take your pick and book some Swedish, Thai, deep tissue, hot stone or relaxing aromatherapy massage and have relief in minutes. Body treatments are essentially a facial for your whole body and leave your skin feeling velvety smooth and soft. The idea behind a body treatment is that is just as important to cleanse, exfoliate, and hydrate the skin on your body as it is the skin of your face. The most popular body treatment is a body scrub, sometimes called a body polish. Get ready for a brand new style and be inspired by the hottest hair trends. From looks that are straight off the red carpet, to the perfect style for a wedding, party or just for a change. Hair is something you wear every day so why not transform how you feel with a visit to our salon. Do you feel that your skin would benefit from a professional facial treatment? Then book in with one of our skincare experts. We can offer you the best facial treatments and advise you on how to solve your skin problems. We can highly recommend Dermalogica, CACI and Glycopeel treatments. Why not book in for your facial treatment and start looking better and feeling younger today? The ultimate in pampering! Replenish and revitalise your hands with a luxurious manicure. Replenish your skin with essential moisture with a soothing hand treatment. Our treatments will hydrate and nourish hard working hands. We hold enormous tension in our extremities and the massage elements of these nurturing treatments will help alleviate tension and melt away stress. By breaking down the congestion at the reflex point, the body is helped to rebalance any disorders. Your feet will look and feel fabulous! Formulated with nature's most soothing and effective botanical ingredients, this treatment will renew and restore feet to silky smoothness.
Honeymooners deserve to indulge in the pleasures of a tropical paradise while being treated like royalty. Lose yourself in pure luxury with our honeymoon packages available in one of the most exotic destinations in the world. Indulge in Kenyan hospitality with first-class amenities, sumptuous cuisine, rejuvenating spa treatments, and much more. Celebrate your wedding in style with honeymoon for just 180 usd. This includes Fruit Basket, Flowers, Bottle of sparkling wine on arrival and a romantic beach dinner with 4 course menu by our executive chef. You can also upgrade to ocean front room for an additional fee of 50 usd per person per night.
Southern Palms Beach Resort conference facilitiesoffers a blend of comfort and flexibility that makes it equally well suited to small or large corporate events, exhibitions, product launches, awards ceremonies, training days, AGM's, to name but a few events we have hosted. Our Event Co-ordinator will work with you to ensure you get the most from the extensive facilities on offer at Southern Palms Beach Resort. Away from the conference room, you can easily catch up on day-to-day operations at our business centre, featuring internet access, PCs and printers. Meanwhile, our modern restaurants, offering a range of mouth-watering lunch and dinner options, will keep delegates fuelled, both day and night. Please see below some further detail about Southern Palms Beach Resort’s key attributes and why your conference, meeting, training days are set to be a success when held at our facility. Alternatively, please click here to contact our Events team with your initial requirements - we will be happy to give you a competitive quotation
An experienced and dedicated member of staff will work with you every step of the way in organising your event, to ensure that on the day it is a roaring success! Meeting space at Southern Palms Beach Resort includes all of the equipment you might need to deliver your event – as standard.
A wide choice of meeting space for up to 80 delegates is available at Southern Palms Beach Resort with adjoining break out/syndicate rooms.
Whatever your requirements take advantage of our conference & event catering. We know that good catering can be essential to the success of your event and that’s why at Southern Palms Beach Resort all food is prepared on-site by our team of experienced caterers. Full day catering including breakfast, lunch and dinner or just breaks can be arranged. Please contact our Conference and Events organizer to discuss your requirements. For your conference itself, our chefs prepare delicious menus using fresh, seasonal ingredients. If you have any special requirements, we can provide whatever you need –from a nutritional packed lunch, to an alfresco barbecue. Your Event Manager will always be happy to arrange any bespoke catering needed.
298 hotel standard en-suite bedrooms are available at Southern Palms Beach Resort and benefit from more amenities than you would expect to find in a four star hotel. Including complimentary Wi-Fi access, spacious desk area, towels, toiletries and room service.
Guests to Southern Palms Beach Resort benefit from a range of facilities including lively bars and choice of six restaurants plus relaxing indoor and outdoor spaces. Southern Palms Beach Resort has a fitness centre, games room and squash courts and residential delegates have complimentary access to the sports facilities including the two swimming pools.
Inspiring Your Evening
Maybe your guests would enjoy some fine dining, an awards evening, or even a themed event. We’re well-versed in organising something special for your delegates and your Event Manager can talk you through the most suitable option to complement your conference and events programme.
The Kenyan coast is an area stretching from the Lamu archipelago at the northern end in a horseshoe shape encompassing the island of Mombasa to the south coast which stretches to the Tanzanian border – a distance of nearly 500 km. This stretch of coastline comprises, bays, rocky coves, inlets which are harbours for boats of various types, and beaches of glistening white sand, fringed by the aquamarine waters of the Indian ocean. All are idyllic but listed in the top 20 best beaches in the world by an independent survey conducted by a travel website called Expedia who held a competition and the winner was financed on an all expenses paid trip to research the beaches of the world - are those in Diani! The colours of the tropics are unbelievable, so vivid and intense – the shades of aquamarine, crystal clear sea water close to the shore, merging into the deeper azure shades beyond the reef, the glistening sandy beaches fringed by swaying, whispering palm trees, and the colours of the rioting bougainvillea, pink and white frangipani, red hibiscus, and orange flame trees are an artist’s palette painted by a Master Hand. And not only the colours, but the indescribable scent of the tropical coast – a mix of salty sea breezes, scented blossom, dried grass, coconut oil, blistering heat on red soil roads, the subtle smells of foods from little eateries and charcoal braziers - all add to the unforgettable ambience that is, Diani, the coast of Kenya. Diani can only be reached either by plane or road by passing from the mainland onto Mombasa island and from thence on a picturesque ferry which crosses the sea inlet to the docks, land on the south coast mainland, and from there a drive of about 20 kms to this small paradise. Diani was just a fishing settlement about 40 years ago, but saw a boom in the 70s when tourists wishing to come to Africa found Kenya the ideal place, as there was so much strife and problems in other African countries. Hotels mushroomed along the 5 mile coast road, which was tarmac at that time from a dusty track; a small airport was built by literally by hand (and blessed by the late first Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta); and Diani has continued to develop to the cosmopolitan resort it is now, without losing its charm and simple ambience. Most tourists who don’t get sucked into the Mombasa resorts head to Diani Beach a popular choice and are considered the busiest and most exciting of all the Kenya beaches. Here you can find resorts, beachfront hotelsand a wide variety of fun activities including camel riding, sailing, and scuba diving. If you have been hard at work game viewing in one or more amazing safari parks on your Kenya safari, what better way to finish your exploration than in the country’s hotspot for relaxation. Offering nearby beach resorts, as well as cultural and active pursuits, Mombasa is the perfect safari destination, Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city after Nairobi, and the main part of the city is an island linked to the mainland by a bridge as well as a ferry service, The Kenyan coast is an attraction to visitors from all over the world, commanding more than 60% of all visitors to Kenya. The tourist hotels stretch along the north and south coast’s either side of Mombasa Island – to the north as far as Malindi and offshore islands on the Lamu archipelago; on the south coast as far as Shimoni, a deep sea fishing centre and to the Tanzanian border. Diani is situated about half way between the crossings from the island along the main road to Tanzania, some 20 kms. from the ferry crossing. The coastal architecture is outstanding. Magnificent beach hotels with soaring makuti (coconut leaf thatch) roofs front the beaches which, on the south coast, have miles of clean white sand and safe lagoons, protected by an offshore reef all along its shore, which keeps dangerous sea predators like sharks at bay. Diani is a renowned as a beautiful venue, yet 50 years ago it was just a fishing village, and there was no tourist development at all. In fact, tourism in Kenya as a whole had not taken off, and there were only about 6,000 beds in the capital and about 1000 at the coast. There were some hotels in Mombasa geared for businessmen, but there was nothing on the beaches, north or south. The north coast was the first to develop beach hotels in the late 30s - 40s; what is now White sands, part of the Sarova chain, was first built as a simple hostel for upcountry residents; Nyali being next, but Diani remained a quiet peaceful spot until the tourist boom in the 70s when hotels sprang up along the 5 miles stretch of newly built coastroad, the first being Jadini, then Tradewinds and Two Fishes. Now there are around 20 of varying styles and designs, all an idyllic venue for tourists from abroad and national visitors too, offering a sumptuous relaxing beach holiday, with magnificent pools, pristine beaches, safe sea swimming and a wide variety of sea sports, as well as good shopping and evening entertainment, and sea and land safaris. Unfortunately much of the indigenous forest was destroyed and no longer do wild animals roam the area, but efforts are being made to maintain the natural beauty of the coast, and tours such as Diani Bikes organise sightseeing trips in the surrounding countryside which still retains charm and naturalness. The Marine park concept didn’t arise until the ‘70s when an Italian resident in Diani, came up with the idea of creating a protected area for guests to see the marine life on the south coast. He felt the only way to to do this was to gazette this area of the Indian Ocean as a marine park, so he made a proposal to the government of the day who were forward thinking enough to accept the idea. So Kisiti Marine Park and Mpunguti Marine National Reserve were gazetted as nature reserves. Lying a varying distance of 3 to 8 m. off the shoreline, extending to about 6 km north of the Tanzanian border, it became the first gazetted marine park in Kenya (there are now 4 around the Kenyan coast). This decision did not please the local fisherman who had lost their livelihood with this action, so they made representation to the government, creating quite a conflict at the time; but eventually it was settled by reducing the area of the park to 11 sq. km. and 18 sq. km for the marine reserve. Now managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service, the only people who have a right to fish in the reserve are these local fishermen who all have to have licences and they have to fish using traditional methods only. The main central area, the marine park, is inviolable, and it is a water wonderland containing a high diversity of marine species, seagrass beds, extensive mangrove areas and submerged coral reefs. Three islands within the Reserve are important nesting areas for seabirds and marine turtles and they have spectacular fossil coral deposits, and very old graves indicate the influence of an ancient Chinese culture. The collecting of shells and other organisms in not permitted in order to preserve the delicate ecosystem and, over the years, this protected area has become a water paradise for snorkellers and divers as it is visited by many marine giants, including the sea turtles which can live to over 100 years, two kinds of dolphins, humpback whales and whale sharks (which are actually fish). A sea safari to see these creatures is a unique and thrilling experience.
Mombasais the oldest city in Kenya. Set on a 14 sq. km/9.5 sq.m island, it has a population of around half a million people, a thriving cosmopolitan city of many cultures, all living in harmony in a blend of antiquity and modern day culture. It is the biggest sea port between Durban and Suez. Widely referred to as The Gateway to East Africa, Mombasa is the main point of access to cargo coming by sea on route to landlocked countries like Uganda, Ruanda and Sudan. Huge container ships and passenger liners enter the channel which once was the passageway for the ocean going dhows. Visitors en route to Diani whilst at the Likoni ferry can witness these huge seagoing vessels sailing majestically along the channel to dock at Kilindini harbour, often accompanied by small, bustling, hooting tugs. Mombasa has been a port of call to sea explorers and traders for thousands of years. From Milton’s book ‘Paradise Lost’, it is clear that settlements now known as Mombasa and Malindi were in existance as early as 4000 B.C. and the region now known as East Africa was once a thriving civilization back then and had trading links with the Chinese, Phoenicians, Romans, Persians, Greeks and Arabs. ‘The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea’ written by Diogenes, the Greek merchant who explored south from Egypt around the year AD110 described places for sailors in the Indian waters, recording sailing times from one place to another. He also traveled inland as far as the great lakes and snowy mountains from where the Nile River drew its source, which features were included in the world map drawn by Ptolemy, important to historians. By the end of the 2nd century A.,D when merchants from the Roman Empire frequented the coast, there were already established trading villages where some Arabs had settle and inter-married with the local people. By the 9th century Mombasa, and Malindi and Lamu were important commercial and trade centres between India, Arabia and Africa. The coastal traders did not travel far inland and relied upon the people of the interior to bring them goods for trade, exchanging items such as grain, oil, ghee, glass, beads, cloth, metal tools for ivory, slaves, spice like cinnamon, frankincense, gum araabic, tortoisehell and live animals.(It is recorded that in the year 1415 the ruler of Malindi sent a giraffe to the Chinese Emperor as a gift accompanied by a caretaker to look after the animal). Its rich cultural history was largely developed from the trading with Asian and Arabian countries by dhows which crossed and re-crossed the Indian Ocean, sailing with the prevailing monsoon winds, guided only by the stars. Occasionally working dhows can be found in the small harbour in Mombasa Old Town, but sadly they no longer conduct trade as they have done for thousands of years. They mainly transport mangrove poles for use in the building industry, and many are adapted to carry tourists on sea safaris. These three townships were centres of all that was new then in technology, business, literature, arts and crafts. They were bustling, thriving communities and during this time Kiswahili - now now the national language of Kenya, was developed; being a mixture of Arabic and the vernacular (English is the official language). Arab architecture and the Islamic culture developed at this time, spreading far reaching tentacles which still dominate Kenya’s coastal towns today. The British arrived at the end of the 19th century, and the 20th century was one of development and colonial administration; the railways being built from the coast as far as Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria, opening up the interior, but build with great hardship (the film Lions of Tsavo reflects this period of Kenyan history). At this time workers from the British protectorate of India were brought over to work on the railway, and many stayed and make up part of the mixed population found in Mombasa today. White settlers came in to develop commercial farming and business interests, especially trade through the port of Mombasa, up until the 1960s when Kenya achieved independence. Because of these visitations and invasions by people from many different cultures, the Kenyan coast, and Mombasa in particular, has developed its own remarkable style of life, blending both the indigenous people and the immigrants’ languages, food, religion, culture and architecture. Side by side it is possible to see, alongside each other, attractive modern structures and ancient buildings from the past still preserved and in good condition. The National Museums of Kenya have a renovation programme to maintain Mombasa Old Town, with its narrow streets, overhanging balconies and carved doors and window shutters, and many old buildings in the city are now gazetted to preserve Mombassahistorical past.
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