Top 10 Best Tourist Attractions in Mombasa
Are you looking for exciting places to visit in Mombasa? Don’t worry I got you. Mombasa is one of the coastal cities in Africa with the most beautiful and exciting sceneries. In this article, you’ll learn about the top 10 best tourist attractions in Mombasa.
Mombasa, a vibrant coastal city in Kenya, boasts a rich history and an array of cultural influences due to its strategic location along major trade routes. This diverse city is renowned for its stunning beaches, bustling markets, and historical sites that chronicle its past as a center of trade and commerce.
1. Fort Jesus
Constructed between 1593 and 1596 by Portuguese builders, Fort Jesus stands as a distinguished UNESCO World Heritage Site and ranks among the premier tourist destinations in Mombasa. The renowned Italian architect, Cairati, masterminded its design, rendering it an exemplar of 16th-century Portuguese military architecture on a global scale.
Resembling the form of a human figure, the fort was christened “Jesus” in a deliberate nod to religious symbolism. Over the span of 1631 to 1875, the fort underwent nine transfers of ownership before ultimately finding its place under British control.
Though bearing some signs of deterioration, Fort Jesus accommodates a museum ingeniously incorporated into the former garrison’s quarters. Among its displays, an extensive assortment of ceramics and pottery offers insight into the diverse cultures engaged in coastal trade.
Within its compound, Fort Jesus encompasses numerous ramparts and dilapidated edifices, including the Omani house, a construction from the late 18th century, now housing exhibits of Omani jewelry and depictions of Swahili life. The Passage of Arches, a coral-cut pathway, was forged to provide a passage to the sea.
2. Haller Park
Haller Park in Mombasa is a beloved destination for animal enthusiasts. Originally named Bamburi Nature Trail, this impressive venture was initiated in 1971 by Dr. René Haller, who converted abandoned limestone quarries into thriving nature reserves.
Dr. Haller revitalized the soil, planted trees, established a fish farm, and crafted a wildlife sanctuary where each animal plays a vital role in the flourishing ecosystem. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including giraffes, Cape buffalo, zebras, waterbucks, and hippos. A notable experience is the giraffe feeding activity, although visitors should confirm the schedule beforehand.
The park gained online fame for its unique interspecies relationship between a 130-year-old tortoise named Mzee and an orphaned hippo named Owen.
The avian population is also abundant, with over 160 species introduced, including weaver birds, cranes, pelicans, and storks.
Visitors can explore the area through walking and cycling paths amid the casuarina groves. Other attractions include a reptile park, palm garden, butterfly pavilion, and crocodile enclosures.
For those seeking more wildlife encounters, Nguuni Wildlife Sanctuary is a short 15-minute drive from Haller Park. Here, visitors can observe giraffes up close, as well as spot ostriches, eland, oryx, and various bird species. The sanctuary is also a popular spot for picnics in Mombasa.
3. Mombasa Marine National Park
Mombasa Marine National Park is a bustling offshore reserve in Kenya, safeguarding various ecosystems like mangroves, seagrass beds, sandy beaches, and coral reefs.
The area is renowned for activities like diving and snorkeling, particularly from Mtwapa Creek to Likoni’s entrance, where the marine life includes seahorses, stingrays, and eels.
Exploring the wreck dive of MV Dania is a highlight, and if you’d rather stay dry, observing the marine diversity from a glass-bottom boat is an option. Access to the park is facilitated by the well-liked Nyali, Bamburi, and Shanzu beaches.
4. North Coast Beaches
The beaches on Mombasa’s north side are more vibrant compared to the south coast. They offer palm-fringed shores, clear waters, coral reefs, and various water sports, resorts, and entertainment options for tourists. These resorts are conveniently situated near the airport and Mombasa City.
The Mombasa Marine National Park, which features colorful coral gardens, drop-offs, and great wreck diving on the MV Dania, borders the coastline.
Beginning the journey north from Mombasa, Nyali Beach is the initial destination. The shoreline is lined with shops and hotels, and the soft white sand creates a pleasant environment for leisurely walks.
Continuing further north, Bamburi Beach serves as another popular tourist destination, providing a wide range of accommodations, from luxurious resorts to cozy beach bungalows. One of the favorite activities here, as with many Mombasa beaches, is camel rides along the coastline.
Situated about 15 kilometers north of Mombasa, Shanzu Beach is a highlight in Mtwapa. It offers opportunities for scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, and glass-bottom boat excursions, making it a top choice for visitors.
5. Mamba Village Centre
Mamba Village Centre, located in Nyali, stands as East Africa’s largest crocodile farm. It provides an educational opportunity to explore the life cycle and behavior of these captivating reptiles. Children particularly enjoy the chance to interact with young crocodiles, while many visitors find the crocodile feeding sessions enthralling.
Apart from its crocodile-focused attractions, Mamba Village Centre offers horseback riding and boasts a botanical garden housing an aquarium. While the primary focus is on orchids and aquatic plants, the gardens also showcase carnivorous species.
For enthusiasts of carnivorous delicacies, the on-site restaurant specializes in serving game meats like crocodile, ostrich, and zebra, making it a haven for those with an adventurous palate.
6. South Coast Beaches
The southern coastline of Mombasa is a haven of natural beauty, featuring stunning turquoise seas, sun-drenched beaches, and lush rainforests teeming with wildlife. Coral reefs provide a protective barrier against ocean swells, making it a favored spot for swimming.
Among the top attractions are the renowned south coast beaches, with Diani Beach standing out as a popular destination. While it is the most developed area in the region, it maintains its picturesque charm and draws European tourists who engage in a variety of water sports.
For a quieter escape, Tiwi Beach, located 17 kilometers south of Likoni Ferry, offers serene sunbathing, snorkeling, and breathtaking views, making it a romantic getaway near Mombasa.
7. Bombolulu Workshops and Cultural Centre
Looking for shopping opportunities in Mombasa while supporting disabled individuals? Check out Bombolulu Workshops, an initiative by the Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya. This non-profit project comprises sheltered workshops, a cultural center, and a restaurant.
The cultural center offers tribal dances and traditional homestead displays. At the workshops, you can buy handcrafted souvenirs like jewelry, textiles, wood carvings, and leather crafts, with proceeds benefiting the center. Don’t miss the chance to try Kenyan cuisine at the on-site restaurant after your tour.
8. Mombasa Go-Kart
Mombasa Go-Kart is a sensation among both adrenaline enthusiasts and children spanning all age groups. Race across the sleek concrete circuit in go-karts, experience the thrill of off-road buggies, and even master the art of excavation in a Bobcat.
Following the exhilarating activities, treat yourself to a delightful snack at the welcoming family-oriented eatery, complete with computer games, an expansive playground, and a sizable display for broadcasting sports events. Moreover, the Go-Kart track is brilliantly illuminated for nighttime enjoyment.
9. Old Town
Located on the southeastern side of Mombasa Island, the Old Town harks back to the era when the Portuguese held sway over this significant harbor. The town’s populace mainly comprises individuals of Arab, Asian, and European descent, and the architectural styles bear the imprint of their respective cultures.
Elaborately adorned doors and balconies grace the historic edifices that crowd closely together along the slender lanes. Enthusiasts of history can easily dedicate a couple of hours here, leisurely wandering through the evocative pathways and perusing antiques, aromatic oils, spices, and keepsakes. If you’re on the lookout for dining establishments in Mombasa, an abundance of restaurants and cafés can be found within this vicinity.
Gazing over the harbor, the Portuguese-constructed Fort Jesus stands as one of Mombasa’s premier attractions for tourists.
10. Mombasa Tusks
Are you thinking about embarking on a city sightseeing adventure? Make sure you include a visit to the renowned landmark that simply can’t be overlooked. The Mombasa Tusks were ingeniously erected to honor Queen Elizabeth’s 1952 visit to Mombasa. Crafted from aluminum, these tusks serve as a grand gateway to the city center, where you’ll discover a hub of banks, shops, and markets.
These tusks offer the perfect opportunity for an Instagram-worthy photo, though mastering the bustling road traffic is the first challenge before capturing both sides. Additionally, you’ll observe how the intersecting tusks cleverly create the letter “M” for Mombasa.
There are more places you can visit in Mombasa and in the country. If you want more places to visit, here are some of the best tourist attractions in Kenya.