Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city, where fun, exploration, and new experiences make for an unforgettable trip to Africa’s coastal region. Settled along the southern coast, the unofficial Kenyan capital is laced with beautiful beaches (namely Diani and Lamu) that summon travelers to embark on a relaxing sunny getaway.
Since the 15th century, Mombasa has been a very influential trading port, and its history decorates every corner of the city. A stroll through the streets introduces you to fruit vendors, bright buildings, and vibrant people. A stroll along the old section of town will connect you with the city’s Swahili roots, and a visit to one of the 16th century forts will teach you about the country’s painful past during the slave trade, and how the area’s progress was built on a treacherous history of inequality.
On the brighter side, its proximity to the Indian Ocean provides it with exotic beaches, beautiful marine life, and world-class hotels. During your travel to Mombasa, make sure to take advantage of all the outdoor excursions possible from safaris, to camping trips, to swimming, fishing, and sports.
The exquisite nightlife is incomparable, and cuisine ranges from British, Chinese, Italian, and Indian, not to mention traditional Kenyan seafood, spices, and concoctions.
Mombasa simmers in the summer time, from December until April, and its tropical humidity is the reason for its lush green vegetation and gorgeous, addictive landscapes. If you’re planning on booking your flights between December and April, you might be a bit uncomfortable with the heat and humidity, not to mention the onslaught of precipitation. A better time to go is between May and November, when milder conditions prevail, and a little less sunlight calls for less humidity and calmer daytime temperatures.
Since Mombasa always boasts temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s, it’s never a bad time to visit. Booking flights and accommodations in July when things cool and calm down a little is recommended.
Although the heat never completely leaves, the month of July cools down and dries out a bit, beckoning the most travelers to book Mombasa flights in pursuit of outdoor activities, trekking, and exploration.
Less travelers book flights to Mombasa in the hotter months of February and March during the sticky wet season, but if you can deal with the heat and humidity, then you’ll be able to find great deals on accommodations and cheap flights in either month.
Taxis are the best way to get around Mombasa. If you’re looking to explore outside of town, this busy hub has trains running to Nairobi several times a week. Mombasa taxis are generally cheap, but rates can change. It’s a good idea to ask a local what a fare should be, so you can negotiate with your driver if needed. You can identify a taxi by its paper license plate posted in the window, as lighted signs are rare. The most common form of public transportation in Mombasa is a mini bus/taxi called a matutu which can hold more people than you’d expect, so don’t be afraid of getting separated from your group.
Fort Jesus: For history buffs booking flights to Mombasa, a visit to Fort Jesus will fulfill both a historic and aesthetic criteria. Built by the Portuguese in 1953 and designed by an Italian architect named Cairati, the structure symbolizes Italian fortresses built in the 16th century. It’s built in the shape of a man, and with a clearly religious name, the fort has drawn religious enthusiasts by the thousands. Now partially ruined, the site still has a museum built over former quarters for the battalion, and one building, called the Omani house, displays Omani jewelry, and accurately displays Swahili life through a passage of arches, which is a passage that cuts through coral in order to get to the city.
Bombulu Workshops: Just north of Mombasa, eight traditional farmhouses have been set aside for an admirable cause. Founded in 1969, the Association for the Physically Disabled began a project to help employ disabled residents of Kenya, and allow them to work toward a purposeful life built on a foundation of learning, utilizing, and creating. The center, which employs more than 100 workers, is run by the association, and produces jewelry, hand printed textiles, wood carvings, and leather crafts. Visitors from all over the globe travel to Mombasa to see the works of these amazing people, and their products on display in an enormous showroom.
Hindu Temples: If you’re booking flights to Mombasa for a taste of religion and culture, be sure to visit the gorgeously ornate Hindu temples. Flooded with tourists and locals on a daily basis, these religious establishments are known from all over to retain an astounding elegance and unsurpassed beauty. Tours can be taken inside the temples, or you can self-guide your way to wherever your interests lead. All over the walls and ceilings, you’ll see elaborate idols and stone carvings as well as breath-taking, free standing sculptures.
Old Town: Stroll passed ancient buildings, absorb the beautiful art designs, and pick up souvenirs at the curio shops to forever remember your Mombasa travel. Vendors selling antiques and Kenyan souvenirs are on every corner, and the only way to truly experience the area in its truest fashion is by foot. You can choose to have an experienced guide to bring you through Old Town, but wandering around is often the best way to experience the area.