Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city, offers visitors an exotic flavor of the African tropics steeped in centuries of seafaring heritage. This cosmopolitan tourist hub is actually an island connected to the Kenyan coast by bridges and ferries, and we have a list of things to do in Mombasa and places where you wish to spend the best times of your holiday below:
1. Fort Jesus
Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese between 1593 and 1596, guards the entrance to the harbor and the Old Port of Mombasa. It is one of the greatest examples of Renaissance military fortifications from the 16th century. It was also one of the few Portuguese forts along the Swahili coast, despite being taken and recaptured nine times as it passed through the hands of the Portuguese, the Omani Arabs, and lastly the British, who would ultimately colonize Kenya.
The fort has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011, and it is one of Mombasa’s most famous tourist attractions. Numerous relics are housed at the fort’s museum. From this museum, you may also have a great view of Mombasa Harbor.
2. Old Town
Close to Fort Jesus is the Mombasa Old Town which spans 180 acres (40.5 hectares) and features narrow alleyways that are lined with antique buildings with ornately carved wood and architecture that combines Arabic, Asian, European, and African elements. The Old Port of Mombasa, located in the Old Town, once welcomed commercial dhows (traditional sailing boats) from Arabia, Persia, India, and Somalia, making it not only a melting pot of cultures but also an important element of the old maritime Silk Route trade. Here you can stop by one of the many antique stores or try some Swahili cuisine at one of the many Swahili restaurants while strolling through the streets of the Old Town.
3. Mombasa Tusks
The elephant tusks, which were originally formed of canvas stretched over wooden frames on Kilindini Road but were later re-built out of aluminum and stand tall on Moi Avenue, will be your next stop. The history of these tusks, as well as the various things they symbolize and represent, has made them famous. They were commissioned to honor the visit of Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s sister) in 1956 when Kenya was still a British colony and they were intended to symbolize the city of Mombasa’s entry and so to welcome Princess Margaret during her visit.
4. Bombolulu Workshop & Cultural Centre
The Bombolulu Workshop and Cultural Centre, founded in 1969 by the Association for the Physically Impaired of Kenya (APDK), provides services such as education, housing, medical aid, and employment to the physically disabled and blind. It is only a short drive from Mombasa and here you will get to witness craftsmen as they make handcrafted jewelry and other items for both the domestic and international markets. The center is well worth a visit not only to see but also to purchase some of the handicrafts produced at the workshops.
5. Experience a Tamarind Dhow Dinner Cruise in Mombasa
The Arab dhow has been a long-standing presence on the East African coastal waters, traditionally utilized for trading on the Indian Ocean, and today you can enjoy an evening of sailing, dining, and romantically dancing along the coastline onboard one of these antique sailing vessels. The Nawalilkher, an authentic Swahili dhow built in 1977, is the largest of its kind on the Mombasa coast, spanning more than 75 feet long. Your nighttime tour begins at the Tamarind Pier, where you join this lovely wooden boat and feel transported back in time. A friendly waiter dressed in traditional attire greets you and leads you to a private table where you can sip “Dawa” a house cocktail prepared with vodka, lime, honey, sugar, and crushed ice, or you can choose your favorite non-alcoholic beverage or the cocktail without the alcohol. The atmosphere could not be more idyllic as the dhow sails around Tudor Creek, providing beautiful views of Old Town and Fort Jesus before landing at a secluded harbor where the feast begins with the initiation of a live band! A four-course supper of delectable gastronomic treats such as grilled lobster, salmon, steak, and much more is presented! When your stomach is full, the waiter delivers you a lovely cup of Arabica coffee or tea, or you can choose your favorite cocktail, and then you can dance with your partner or relax while the dhow cruises back to the port.
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