Reasons to visitOverview of Mombasa | Geography | Climate | Getting in Mombasa | Passport/Visa Requirements | Main International Airport | Other Routes to Get In and Around | Airlines to Mombasa | Transport and Infrastructure | Places to see in Mombasa | Things to do | Food and shopping: | Nightlife | Travel Tips
Overview of Mombasa
The second largest city of Kenya, Mombasa, has long attracted tourists from around the globe owing its breathtakingly rejuvenating beaches; a spectacular mix of its eclectic cultures reflected in the varied architectures that dot the city and also emanates Kenya’s enthralling history. This city is the perfect place to envelop yourself in all the fascinating colors of majestic country of Kenya and also being the ideal place, sought by many, for a soothing vacation amidst some of nature’s most beautiful surroundings.
Mombasa is the second largest city of Kenya located on the eastern side of Africa sharing a 480 km long coastline with the Indian Ocean. Mombasa’s topography consists mainly of flat coastal plains with the palms outlining the coastal areas.
Mombasa undergoes tropical climatic conditions with temperatures remaining warm most of the year round. The city experiences slight rainfall throughout the year with April and May being the months experiencing the maximum rainfall and therefore humidity levels are the highest during these months.
The temperatures are not as high as would be expected given the onslaught of monsoon winds. Mombasa experiences average monthly temperatures of 26.3 °C with maximum temperatures of approximately 32 to 33 °C reached in the month of March.
The best time to travel to Mombasa with the best climatic conditions are the months of July and August when temperatures remain pleasant making it ideal for travelling and outdoor excursions.
Getting in Mombasa
It is essential for all visitors entering into Kenya to have a valid passport for the next six months starting from the date of entry. In addition to this, your passport should even have at least 2 blank pages for visa stamps etc. citizens of all the countries are required to own a passport to enter. This also applies to most of the citizens with respect to acquiring a visa. British, Canadian, Australian and American are required to obtain a visa before they can enter or obtain one at the point of entry. Other nationals should contact the embassy just to be sure. Return tickets also have to be purchased by the nationals mentioned above. It should be noted that individuals who have applied for multiple-visas have to obtain them before travelling as they will not be given at the point of entry. If you are travelling from Tanzania or Uganda you do not require a multiple-visa as long as one valid visa is in possession for one of the countries. The costs of visas vary however currently single-visit visa costs about £30 whereas the multiple-visa costs £60. Visas should be applied for well in advance, preferably a week before.
Main International Airport
Moi International airport offers cheap international and domestic flights to and from Mombasa. This airport has been recently renovated and helps in connecting numerous countries as it is one of the most visited places. The airport provides for the travelling passengers with various facilities and services such as duty free shops, bars and restaurants, lounges, foreign exchange services, information service, prayer area for Muslims and Christians, post office, mobile phone service, business centers and hotel booking booths. There is also a taxi and car rental service provided by the airport to make your travel to the main city more comfortable.
Other Routes to Get In and Around
Air Kenya which is the domestic airline of Kenya provides cheap flights to Mombasa. Other domestic airlines include Kenya Airways. There are several other cheap routes that you can take to get to Mombasa. If not interested in cheap flights then a train ride would be cheap and interesting. A train leaves daily from Nairobi to Mombasa and is estimated to take around 13 hours to get to its destination.
Airlines to Mombasa
Other international airlines providing cheap flights to Mombasa include:
- Ethiopian Airlines
- BMI British Midland
- Swiss Airline
- Air Italy
- Thomson Airline
- Precision Air
- Air Berlin
Transport and Infrastructure
Mombasa has a wide and extensive form of transport than other cities of Kenya. These include taxis, rickshaws also known as matatu, mini vans and other forms of mass transport that includes trains and buses. Taxis are the best method to get around the city as the fares are reasonable, cheap and costs around 30 to 35 dollars to reach the beaches. The taxis do not have a visible sign but just a licensed paper stuck to their windshields.
The public transport includes local bus-taxis and mini buses. These are usually rather jam-packed and overcrowded however they are quite cheap and it is an easy method of saving money on travel expenses. Make sure you ask the hotel that you are staying at for the rates and where you can get the next bus.
Matatu is the major transport providing service in Mombasa. These are mini-buses as well and contain fourteen seats and are quite renowned and liked by the citizens. You are supposed to purchase the ticket before travelling and you have to wait till the vehicle is full in order for the driver to start driving meaning you’d have to wait for more people to share a ride.
Places to see in Mombasa
Following are some of the places that are a must see during your visit to Mombasa:
- Mombasa boasts some of the most pristine and breathtaking beaches in the world. Sharing its coast with the beautiful Indian Ocean, this town is home to the some of the most scenic of environments for a soothing and rejuvenating experience. Be sure to visit the Nyali Beach for some great fun-filled action and a myriad of things to do.
- Visit the Old Town for an enthralling journey back in time and to envelop yourself in Kenya’s fascinating cultural heritage. Revel in the exquisite architecture of the Fort Jesus, built as early as the 16th century by the Portuguese, and other captivating cultural sites of the Arabic and the Portuguese that are sure to captivate you. Also take a tour of the museum here that showcases exquisite relics from Kenya’s history.
- Take a tour of this spectacular city and find yourself marveling at the city’s numerous historic and cultural sites. Some of the sites include the Mombasa’s Tusks and the beautiful Hindu Temples.
- Stroll through the famous Haller Park in Mombasa, a sure paradise for all the nature enthusiasts. The park features exotic botanical gardens with a myriad of animals, birds and reptiles for a thrilling and an adventurous experience.
- Visit the Gedi Ruins built as early as the 15th century and a perfect place to revel in the inhabitants fascinating history. The site is built entirely by the age-old rocks and stones that are definitely a must see.
Things to do
Following are some of the activities and sports that Mombasa is famous for:
- windsurfing andsnorkeling
- jet skiing
- camel riding along the coastal shores
- dive to see what lies under the water at the Mombasa Marine National Park
- bike riding along the trails
- East African Safari
Food and shopping:
Mombasa is well known for showcasing Kenya’s exquisite works of art and the various art forms. So if you’re looking to get your hands on some of Kenya’s traditional cloth and artifacts, then Mombasa is the place to be. Be sure to collect the brightly colored “khanga” cloth that the country is famous for. Also, items that might be of interest to you and are definitely ideal for collecting as souvenirs include their wooden carvings, baskets and sculptures. Shopping in Mombasa will provide you the essence of life in Kenya and is an experience in itself. Even better place to get your hands on some high class traditional works of art and artifacts is the Bombolulu Workshops & Cultural Centre, where you can witness these exquisite works in the making.
Apart from the local shops selling these traditional items, Mombasa also boasts bigger shops for the travellers.
As far as indulging in tantalizing cuisines goes, Mombasa is sure to satisfy you. The city is famous for its freshly cooked sea food, be it lobster, crab or fish, marinated and served with the most delicious of sauces. Mombasa also offers a number of restaurants serving all sorts of mouth savoring international cuisines. Some of the places that you must try out are the following:
- Thalassa restaurant and lounge to revel in delicious French cuisine
- Jumba Ruins Monsoons for some of the best sea food and international cuisines
- La Marina serving mouthwatering sea food
- Chinese Galaxy for the best Chinese food
Mombasa is blessed with a thriving and exciting nightlife as it has several nightclubs, pubs and casinos that make sure you have the time of your life. If you’re in the mood to relax with a box of popcorn and watch a romantic movie then head out to the cinemas and watch almost anything. If this wasn’t enough the city even offers entertainment such as bowling. Mombasa’s nightlife has a lot enstored for its prestigious guests and offers everything from pubs to casinos and various other entertainment forms to cater to your every need.
- It is said that this city is usually unsafe at night
- Do not go out alone or unprotected.
- Keep pepper spray
- It is advisable to carry a mosquito repellent to protect yourself from diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever which are prevalent in Kenya
- Internet cafés are easily available at every corner
- Homosexuality is against the law.
- Do not wear flashy jewelry that would attract unwanted attention
- Do not go to deserted areas especially at night
- Women should not go without company especially at night