© Creative Commons / nijaba
Bamburi Beach is an unpretentious resort that is wholly devoted to tourism. Its host of hotels, restaurants, clubs and tour companies ensure that visitors are well catered for over a stay of a week or two. While the beach may not be Kenya's best, it is still attractive, and it lies close to the well-protected coral reefs of the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve. This stretch of the Indian Ocean appeals to watersports enthusiasts, with great sailing, snorkelling and diving opportunities; there are also first-class big game fishing sites within easy reach.
The beach at Bamburi is a strip of pale sand, backed by palm trees and flowering beach convolvulus and lapped by shallow turquoise water, kept calm by an offshore reef. Narrow in places, particularly at high tide, and strewn with seaweed from time to time, it has a relaxed, ungroomed feel. Watersports on offer include snorkelling, sailing, water-skiing, jet-skiing and sea kayaking. Many resort hotels have their own watersport centers where certified dive courses, windsurfing and fishing may also be available.
The Baobab Adventure (at Baobab Farm, 8km/5 miles from Nyali Bridge) is the area's main inland attraction. It is a complex of nature trails, wildlife sanctuaries and game farms.
Offshore, scuba-divers can explore the interesting wreck of the MV Dania, planted on the sea bed by a local diving outfit in 2002; it is now populated by groupers, jacks, lobsters and lionfish. There is more good diving 5km (3 miles) north at Mtwapa. December to March is big game fishing season; a number of outfits organise trips to bag impressive species such as sailfish, marlin, kingfish and wahoo.
Bamburi's relaxed resort hotels welcome children; many have good swimming pools and offer play sessions and babysitting services. Kids will love visiting The Baobab Adventure (see Beyond the Beach above), where they can get close to giraffes, hippos, ostriches and crocs and watch the animals being fed.
Also popular are the waterslides at Pirates (Kenyatta Beach) and glass-bottomed boat trips into the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve. Here, among the coral gardens, you may spot turtles, sea cucumbers and colourful butterflyfish.
Many visitors to Bamburi build a safari into their stay. With a few days to spare you could head inland to Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, which together form one of the largest game-viewing areas in the world. Far less crowded than Kenya's more popular parks, they are home to lions, hippos, elephants, zebras and a great many species of antelope and gazelle. Alternatively, to experience another side of coastal life, travel north to the beaches and marine parks of Malindi and Watamu (great for snorkelling and diving) or immerse yourself in Swahili culture on the island of Lamu.
To enjoy the beach in peace and luxury book into one of the top hotels, such as the Whitesands Hotel (www.sarovahotels.com) or the Severin Sea Lodge (www.severin-kenya.com) on Bamburi Beach, or the Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel (www.serenahotels.com) up the road on Shanzu Beach. All these hotels offer comfortable suites, gorgeously designed swimming pools and first-rate service including waiters to bring you drinks as you relax on your sunlounger. At the Mombasa Serena you can indulge in a little hard-earned pampering at the spa.