Friday, 11 March 2011

Kayaking Mombasa

Mombasa on the Kenyan coast has some of the best white coral sand beaches in Africa. Growing up in Kenya meant Mombasa was where we spent our summer holidays, so it was the obvious place to round off a safari holiday when I went back for the first time in years.  I was surprised to find it is still a fairly lawless place. There were guards at the airport armed with sub-machine guns and we were advised not to leave the hotel without an escort.

Mombasa’s coral reef

I had never kayaked the Indian Ocean before so we hired a double ‘sit-on’ and paddled out towards the reef a couple of miles offshore. There was quite a swell but the water was warm and very blue.  Although Mombasa has a major deep water port, the coral the reef provides a sheltered and fairly shallow lagoon, marked by a line of white breakers, running the entire length of the beach.

I wished that we could have hired proper sea kayaks, as the double sit-on was heavy and made it a hard paddle to do any distance.  As you get closer to the reef you can see where it actually breaks the surface. Although we didn’t get out of the kayak we returned later on a snorkelling trip and you could walk on it in ankle deep water.

Poverty and seaweed

Although Mombasa is an affluent city, there is serious poverty, so the locals tend to give you the hard sell for shells and carvings as soon as you set foot on the beach. The warm water and the reef also means that the black seaweed grows in a thick band just offshore.

The enduring memory, however, is of blindingly white sand, palm trees and some of the bluest ocean for kayaking you will find anywhere in the world.

Mombasa Fisherman

1 comment:

  1. I was attracted by the tropical-looking waters and curiosity about whether Mombasa is a peaceful place to visit. (An English boyfriend from long ago spent part of his childhood there.) Sad to hear it's still a lawless place and poverty-stricken too.

    I loved the part about "blindingly white sand, palm trees and some of the bluest ocean . . ." Glad you got to kayak offshore from some of your old stomping grounds.

    ~ Milli