Kilifi is a breath of fresh air. Halfway between Mombasa and Malindi on Kenya’s south coast, this unassuming market town has become something of a hideaway for expats and artists. Through the middle of town runs Kilifi Creek, a wide, bird-filled estuary, crossed only by ferry until the 420-metre bridge was completed in the Nineties. On its north bank is the town centre, while the Swahili village of Mnarani dominates the south.
Bofa Beach, widely believed to be the finest beach in all of Kenya, runs northwards from the town centre. Its soft, power-white sands, fringed by nodding palm trees, go on for miles and miles, and its gentle, bath-warm waters are sheltered by a vast coral reef. Much more compact is Kilifi Beach, tucked inside the south side of the creek. It has a wide portfolio of watersports, plus a dive school, and is scattered with sunloungers and parasols that cast sundial-like shadows on the sand.
Even by Kenya’s standards, Kilifi likes to take things nice and slow. The commercial activity is concentrated on the north side of the creek – the daily market, the banks and the bigger shops. On the south side, Kilifi Boatyard welcomes luxury yachts from all over the world. And set back from the shore is Mnarani, a traditional tribal village where you can learn about poetic traditions, shop for hand-made crafts and visit the bizarre 14th-century Swahili ruins.
Arabuko Sokoke National Park is just a 15-minute drive north of Kilifi. These lush, semi-tropical forests are criss-crossed by walking trails where mongoose, elephant shrew, and a huge number of bird species can be spotted through your binoculars. For more major sightings, Tsavo East National Park, Kenya’s largest safari park, is a few hours’ drive away. Home to the Big 5, there’s a good chance you’ll see lions stalking the prairies and elephants gathering at the watering holes in the dying light of day.
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Our hotels and apartments in Kilifi include Mnarani Club.