Malindi is a small town found on the Kenyan coast. Small but full of wonders to behold and beautiful scenery.
It’s located about 120 kilometres north of Mombasa and is quite hidden, the perfect reason for you to go there and unwind, breathe in the fresh air, and make a clean break from the hustles of urban centres.
Malindi has a small population of friendly and hospitable people who will make you feel like you made the best decision in vacationing at the place.
There are a number of unique and pocket-friendly activities you can engage in to make your stay worthwhile, some of which cost next to nothing yet are enough to spice things up for you.
With that in mind, here are the best places to visit and fun activities to engage in when in Malindi;
1. The Vasco da Gama Pillar, Takwa, and Gedi Ruins
These historical sites should be among your first stopovers if you wish to fill your mind with the coastal town’s history.
The Vasco da Gama pillar is named after the Portuguese explorer who set out to look for an alternative sea route to India, and once he arrived in Malindi back in the 15th century, he erected the pillar to guide his fellow navigators on their adventures.
The guides at the site will give you a little tour, explaining in detail how and when it was built and filling your mind with the rich East African Coast history.
One of the most outstanding things is how well the site has been preserved over the years.
The Takwa ruins are a small abandonment of a trading centre that thrived in the 15th century but later diminished in the 17th century by the Swahili group as they moved to a different locality.
If you have the time and patience for a history class, then you should make a stop here and fill your collection of ancient stories.
The Gedi Ruins is both a historic and archaeological site that tells stories of the history of the Kenyan Coast.
Artefacts from as far back as the 14th century are found here. They include evidence of trade, such as coins and beads from the Chinese.
Outside the ruins are where the peasants used to live, isolated from the rest of humanity. Just within there’s a view of the Great Mosque built several hundred years ago and a deep well speculated to have been used for washing purposes.
The depth of it all will shock you, how nothing seems to have changed over the years. The site has friendly guards who don’t hesitate to take you around explaining the significance of every tiny place at the site.
The charges at Vasco da Gama pillar are Ksh. 200 per person and those at Gedi ruins are Ksh. 500 for residents and Ksh. 1000 for non-residents.
2. Watamu Beach
If the historic stuff won’t get to you nicely, then Watamu Beach definitely will.
Located in the heart of Malindi, the white sand beaches with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean are something to contend with. As if that’s not enough, there are numerous activities you can engage in here.
The first is to have adrenaline coursing through your veins by skydiving, going snorkelling in the waters, and having your breath taken away by whale watching.
Snorkelling and whale watching are pretty affordable, but if you don’t mind denting your pocket then skydiving is your go-to activity.
Scuba diving is also available at Watamu Beach, not to mention that the area is considered the best for diving around the East African coast.
If you’re one of those hopeless romantics, then you might want to wait for the sun to set and thank me later. The blend of the orange hue and the blue waters is enough to tingle even the hardest of souls.
The Mida Creek on Watamu Beach is also a spot for sore eyes. It’s a luxurious spot on the beach that offers accommodation to guests.
It has a private pool, private parking, and even a fitness centre. There is no better way to unwind than to sit in a spacious lounge listening to music course through your veins as you get lost in your world; Mida Creek offers you that.
If you fancy a canoe ride, Mida Creek offers the services, albeit at a small fee. It’s all a combination of luxury and comfort.
3. The Falconry of Kenya, Kipepeo Market, and The Bio Ken Snake Park
The falconry of Kenya is home to a wide variety of bird species, and if such fascinate you then this is definitely a stopover. Falcons, eagles, and pelicans are found here, and it’s said to be home to a 200-year-old tortoise.
If you wish you can have the birds perch on your arm for the thrill of it, it’s safe though as the guides take you through it. Information on the origin of the birds, their feeding habits, and their life span is offered.
The Kipepeo Market was introduced to support the Malindi community in selling their merchandise, especially butterfly pupae. The locals also sell silk material to tourists at pocket-friendly prices, though the market mostly deals with insect breeding as a way of preserving the cultural heritage of the area.
The Bio Ken snake park is home to numerous snake species. Now, this is not for the faint-hearted, and it takes courage to see the reptiles slither at such close quarters.
Pythons and all kinds of snakes are found here. The park is thought to have the largest collection of snakes in the whole of East Africa.
4. The Malindi Marine Park And Arabuko Sokoke National Park
As the name suggests, here you have all kinds of marine life at your disposal. Crabs, oysters, lobsters, coral reefs, etc. They’re quite fascinating to watch as they feed and go about their activities.
At the Malindi Marine Park, you are allowed to engage in physical activities such as glass-bottom boat rides at a small fee, and scuba diving where you get an opportunity to cruise the waters with all kinds of marine life.
Adjacent to the Malindi Marine Park is a camping site in case you are worried about accommodation facilities. If you fancy a night out breathing in every aspect of nature at night you should put this into consideration.
The Arabuko Sokoke park is home to reptiles, mammals, and a variety of birds. The park is very peaceful and the perfect spot for a nature trail. It offers crisp air with an aura of serenity
If you’re looking for the safest place to get lost in your thoughts, then this is the place for you.
The friendly guides will take you through, and getting lost in the middle of a forest will be the least of your worries.
5. Marafa-Hells Kitchen
You’d be forgiven to think that Marafa-Hells Kitchen is some restaurant of sorts. Located a few kilometres from Malindi town, the Marafa hell’s Kitchen is a surreal-looking canyon of sandstone, but in an intriguing way.
It forms an awesome spot for exercise through trekking, so get your hike shoes ready and go explore this mysterious place.
Upon paying a small entrance fee you’ll be given a guide who’ll give you a tour of the place as they satisfy your thirst for knowledge about the area.
The locals will agree that the place is a site to behold and are more than willing to tell the story of ‘the place that breaks’ and even call it Nyari in their local dialect.
The most fascinating thing about Hell’s Kitchen is how the sandstone changes colour to amazing shades depending on the temperature.
It can take on amazing hues ranging from white to red, pink, and yellow. You don’t want to imagine what a marvellous combination that would form when the sun begins to set. It’s simply a piece of heaven.
6. Travellers Inn and Silver Rock Resorts
In case you want to be indoors during your stay in Malindi and just enjoy the quiet, these resorts will do for you.
From as low as Ksh. 2,000 a night, you will enjoy security, comfort, and luxury all in one package. Both are located at the heart of Malindi and have exemplary services that will see you want to extend your holiday.
The Travelers Inn has an outdoor pool so you won’t have to go looking elsewhere for a place to swim. Their strategic location allows an adequate view of the Indian Ocean, a view that would leave you stunned by the sheer beauty, not to mention the site to behold at night with all the bright lighting.
The staff have impeccable manners and will be at your beck and call, ready to assist in case of any eventualities.
7. Explore Malindi’s Portuguese Chapel
Vasco Da Gama is mostly associated with the Vasco da Gama pillar but that is not the only thing that still stands in Kenya about him. Little is known of the first church in Kenya, and the oldest in East Africa.
The chapel has carried through for many years and withstood the Islamic worship that was paramount in the area then. You will learn that the chapel environs served as a graveyard for British administrators and Portuguese explorers. Being here will give you the feel of a time traveller as you will learn history spanning hundreds of years.
8. Visit The Sand Dunes In Mambrui
You have to visit the sand dunes in Mambrui because they are the only dunes in Kenya. This is a site often mistaken for the Dubai sand dunes.
They are approximately 50 minutes away from Malindi town. You need to be barefoot and let your feet sink into the sand for that satisfying feeling.
For an awesome tour here, you can book a tour guide for a fee from Ksh 1000 to Ksh 5000 depending on the activities you want to have. After enjoying the dunes, find a good spot for a picnic and for a swim where the dunes meet the ocean.
Have a good one at Malindi, won’t you?
If you would like to visit the heart of Kenya, hope over to our guide to Nakuru, located on the floor of the Great Rift Valley and surrounded by beautiful lakes.