Mombasa County

Discover Mombasa County

View of Nyali Bridge, Tudor Creek and Indian Ocean.  Photo Courtesy of Travel Kenya
Nyali Bridge, Tudor Creek and Indian Ocean. Courtesy of Travel Kenya

Brief Overview of Mombasa County

Visitors to Mombasa County and the Coast Region of Kenya are generally one of two kinds. Either they are foreigners who fly into Mombasa Airport or sail into the passenger harbour at Mombasa as a base from which to enjoy the coast; or they are residents or expatriates from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda who travel to Mombasa for one or two week’s relaxation, of sun and sand. For some, Mombasa City is less of a holiday destination that a necessary logistic, nevertheless it has plenty to interest the travellers. Communications are fairly good, most parts of Mombasa County being served by standard motorable road in addition to the Mombasa International Airport and S.G.R Railway Terminus.

No matter the origin, travellers find that Mombasa and its surroundings have splendid attractions.  Despite Mombasa County being the smallest in Kenya, it packs a catalog of destinations. On the Island itself are found the picturesque Old Town, with its narrow, winding streets and tiny mosques, and the nearby Fort Jesus.  Attractive beaches and outdoor parks lie within easy reach of the island and many prefer travel into the city during the cooler parts of the day. Mombasa City is located on the Island, separated from the mainland by Tudor and Kilindini Creeks. It is connected to the mainland by the Nyali Bridge in the north, the Likoni Ferry in the south, and the Makupa Causeway in the west-end.

Its location along the coast, where the coral reef is broken and where ships can safely reach the coast, makes Mombasa County an excellent port base, which handles most imports for East Africa.  Just a short distance from Mombasa City are found Shimba Hills National Reserve and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, where wildlife can be seen in plenty, and the spectacular South Coast beaches. The coastal roads from Mombasa to Malindi and from Mombasa southwards to Diani run along the centre of the Coast Plain throughout much of their lengths.

Salient Features of Mombasa County

  • County Number 1
  • Area – 230 km2
  • Altitude – 160 ft
  • Major Towns – Mombasa
  • Borders – Kilifi, Kwale

Brief History of Mombasa County

Perhaps, no town on the East African Coast has had such a varied history as has Mombasa.  Africans, Arabs, Portuguese, Arabs again, and the British all thrived here, before finally the wheel turned back to the native Africans, gaining back sovereignty over Mombasa Island.  Little is known of the earlier years prior to the arrival of the Portuguese.  It is since their period that we have many of the enchanting chronicles of her history. Every newcomer to island, including the Portuguese, faced the formidable people of Mombasa (also known as Mvita or the place of war) who vehemently defended their turf, to their death. Mombasa patently played an important role in the development of Coast Region of Kenya.

View of a section of Mombasa City.  Photo Courtesy of Daily Nation
View of a section of Mombasa City. Image Courtesy of Daily Nation

Places of Interest in Mombasa City

1. Old Town Mombasa

The historical Old Town Mombasa, covering 180-acres at the southeast corner of Mombasa Island, across from Tudor Creek, the A.S.K Mombasa Grounds and English Point Marina on the mainland, is a most enchanting antique town with centuries old houses, stunning historic architecture and unadulterated Swahili culture. This is roughly demarcated by Fort Jesus to the south, Makadara Road to the west, Mombasa Hospital to the north and the Indian Ocean to the east. Although the 21st Century has indeed reached Mombasa County, it is certainly not over-much in evidence at Old Town. Here Taarab Music, one of Swahilis’ oldest music (which means music that makes the heart fly) heard all around, sets the mood for a cultural passage akin to walking through a living museum. Old Town consists of a maze of alleys and grey coral-rag houses sometimes enlivened with ornate carved doors, which have hardly changed for centuries. It is emblematic of an ancient Arab town. Arabs, who were first to use the island for settlement, pieced Old Town in their unique ways, and left an indelible relic.

Old Town Mombasa makes for a pleasant afternoon walking adventure. A trip which could last two to six hours, or more. The crown-jewel at Old Town is, of course, Fort Jesus Museum, which is the preferred starting-point. From here, the narrowed pathway goes past the epic small mosque, along Mbarak Hinawy Road, taking one deep into the illustrious Old Town. And there is plenty to see and enjoy here to include: Mombasa Club (the oldest club in Kenya), The Africa Hotel (the oldest hotel in Kenya), Mandhry Mosque (built in 1830), Old Post Office (founded in 1899), Old Port Mombasa (with a 1,000 years of history), Sanaa Gallery (once the office of Allidina Visram), Bohra Mosque (built in 1892), Leven House and Steps (named after HMS Leven that toured Mombasa in 1824), Reitz House (former Portuguese warehouse), Mombasa House (built in 1880), White House (base for the Church Missionary Society), Lookmanji Curio Shop, Jubilee Hall (built in 1850 to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee), Mazrui Graveyard, Old Law Courts (opened in 1902 by Sir Charles Eliot), Pigott Place, Treasury Square, and Swahili Centre, among umpteen sites.

Map of Old Town Mombasa Courtesy of National Museums of Kenya
Map of Old Town Mombasa Courtesy of National Museums of Kenya

2. Fort Jesus Museum

Rising incontrovertibly over the entrance to Mombasa Harbour since 1596, Fort Jesus is an unbroken memoir of the disruptive history, wars and reprisals of the Portuguese Occupation of Kenya, from 1498 to 1600. Romanticized as an early European fortification, it existed at a huge cost to life and liberty of the people of Mombasa, and holds a long history of immeasurable disruption and violence on the local community. Its subsequent occupants, the Omani (1698-1898) and British East Africa Company (1900-1948) extended its dark history with their twist on tales of brutal torture, vehement subjugation, ruthless retributive acts and the worst kind of human suffering. In 1948, during its transformation to a museum, the dark history was conveniently framed and smoothly grossed over.

For the casual visitor, sitting on the antediluvian carronades to get a better sea view through the turret-holes, Fort Jesus is a sophisticated historic ruin. For the intrepid explorer, there is nothing unpretentious about the brutal intention of this citadel, which must have stood like a colossus seen from miles out in the undeveloped and unpeopled Mombasa Island, whose population by the turn of the 15th Century had stood at 10,000. The earliest known plans of Fort Jesus is in a manuscript Atlas by Manuel Godinho de Heredia, dated 1610, that shows its original design. Its layout consists of a central court with bastions in the four corners and a rectangular gun platform facing Indian Ocean. “It was designed in such a way that it was impregnable during any attacks”. Within it, it had a chapel, cistern, a captain’s house, barrack rooms (north and south), firing steps, guard rooms, 10 watch towers and gun ports. All in all, it covers six acres and has only one main entrance, in the rear, and two passages facing Indian Ocean.

Spatial Location of Fort Jesus in Mombasa County
Spatial Location of Fort Jesus in Mombasa County
Fort Jesus UNESCO World Heritage Site

Fort Jesus was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, as one of the most outstanding and well preserved examples of 16th Century Portuguese military fortification and a landmark in the history of this type of construction. During the 16th Century the Swahili towns remained generally independent of Portugal’s control and under the government of their traditional Shirazi ruling families. However, due to Portugal’s disruptive commercial policy, the 16th Century was a period of decline. During the second half of the century a new oceanic power, Turkey, made two brief appearances on the Swahili Coast and succeeded in inciting local revolts against the Portuguese. After defeating the Turks, the Portuguese decided to consolidate their power in East Africa by keeping a permanent garrison in order to ensure continued control on their dominions. The construction of Fort Jesus of Mombasa began in 1593 to the designs of Jao Batista Cairato, an Italian architect in the employ of Portugal in India. It is a heavily fortified building with elaborate outworks, moats and salients to counter the effectiveness and accuracy of the new projectiles. The salients were so arranged that any bastion could come to the aid of the other by means of crossfire. Its plan consists of a central court, with bastions at corners. Gunports and turrets were placed to control entering ships, and the main street.

3. Fort Jesus Gift Shop

One of the best places to procure a souvenir while touring Mombasa is at Old Town. And Fort Jesus Gift Shop is one of the best stocked. While it’s customary to take home a few essential ornate shells, this outlet goes beyond selling shells. Some of the best-selling items include brass antiques, elegant sisal strewn hats, herbs and spices, battiks, coastal-wraps, kikois, khangas, abstract sculptures, art, paintings, and much more. Some of the other noteworthy souvenir outlets include Safina Crafts, Yusufi Antiques, Mavisa Shop, Old Town Antiques and Crafts and African Corner Shop, all found along Old Town’s two main streets – Ndia Kuu and Mbarak Hinawy – which converge at Fort Jesus. Fort Jesus Gift Shop is located within Fort Jesus next to the Audience Hall, at the top left edge.

4. Mombasa Butterfly House

Situated immediately south of Fort Jesus and abutting with Swahili Port Hub, Mombasa Butterfly House expositions a cornucopia of opalescent butterflies which include varietal species endemic to Kenya from the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. Its open-plan conservatory allows visitors to appreciate the razzle-dazzle of the comely butterflies, with an emphasis on educating, provided in useful informational didactic panels that render in-depth details on almost all of the exhibited species of butterfly. This spectacular staging brings to life many intriguing facts often overlooked about butterflies and, it also resolves many misconceptions about them. Going through many particulars exhibited in the conservatory and seeing the beauty in each, of its motley collection, Mombasa Butterfly House has a long-lasting effect on one’s stance of these fragile insects.

5. Santo Antonio de Tanna

Santo Antonio de Tanna was a Portuguese India fleet’s frigate that was sank on October 20, 1697, in front of Fort Jesus, after it came under unshakable attacks from the Omanis’ occupying it at the time. It was discovered in late 1960’s and subsequent excavation was carried out between 1976 to 1980 by a team of local divers and the Nautical Archaeology Society. More than 15,000 artefacts were recovered from the ‘trenches’, indexed, and displayed at Fort Jesus. It was one of the early maritime excavation done in Kenya and amongst the few successful nautical excavations in Africa. The Santo Antonio de Tanna Wreck, which was gazetted in 1977 as a National Monument, is Kenya’s first-rate wreck diving site.

6. Old Port Mombasa

If, from Fort Jesus, one takes the Mbarak Hinawy Road to delve into Old Town, they will find themselves in a head-turner alley full with charming antiquities, before the road terminates at Old Port Mombasa, which is contiguous with the Government Square, 250 ms from Fort Jesus. Along Hinawy Road, one goes past Jubilee Hall, Mombasa Club, Africa Hotel and Mandhry Mosque. The first impression on arrival here is the beauty of the handful of outmoded traditional sailing dhows that still dominate the Old Port. For millennia, hundreds of such boats swayed trade in East Africa and beyond, sailing to as far as Egypt, Oman, Arabia and Europe. The dhow, or dau, is a longstanding emblem of the Coast Region of Kenya, and bears its root in Lamu. Up until 1986, Old Port Mombasa was the first-line port of call for Mombasa prior to the construction of Kilindini Harbour. Today, it serves as a base for local daus sailing along the Tudor Creek.

English Point Marina – An Aerial Tour. Published by Micro Drone Pictures

Opposite the Old Port Mombasa at Government Square sits the Sanaa Gallery. This was once the office of famed Ismaili merchant and philanthropist Allidina Visram who arrived in Mombasa in 1898, and worked his way to become one of the wealthiest and most respected businessmen of his period, nicknamed “the uncrowned king of trade in East Africa”. Allidina Visram was born in Bombay, India, where he spend most of his childhood years, before his family moved to Zanzibar when he was 12 year old to escape poverty and find livelihood. It is while living in Zanzibar that he horned his knack for organizing trade caravans. On arrival at Mombasa he started out as a shop’s assistant. The rest is history! At his prime, Visram became the sole supplier of food to the Indian workers along British East Africa Railway Line (Mombasa to Uganda) as one of more than a dozen enterprises he ran across Africa, that included, shipping, factories, plantations and real estate. Despite his filthy riches, Allidina was gregarious and neighbourly, and devoted a lot of his time and money to indiscriminately improve the welfare and development of his communities. A monument in his honour can be seen at the Treasury Square, 350 ms east of Fort Jesus Museum.

8. Masjid Burhani

Since the 13th Century Islam expanded rapidly across the East Africa Coast, engendering the fabrication of numerous beautiful mosques which adopted the architectural influence of consequent eras. Among the prominent Mosques in Mombasa is the imposing edifice of Burhani Mosque, Mombasa’s largest, which overlooks Tudor Creek just 50 ms from Sanaa Gallery and Old Port Mombasa. Mombasa has 20 Mosques (Masjids). Its oldest, the Mandhry Masjid, thought to have been established in 1570, is in vicinity of Basheikh Mosque; also among its earliest Masjids. Both these early Mosques are heavily influenced by the old Arab architecture. The latter-day Masjid Burhani represents a more recent and contemporary design. A comparison of the evolution of the designs of Mosques on the Island is an engaging way to explore the fascinating history of Mombasa.

9. The Africa Hotel

If one begins their of tour of Old Town along Ndia Nkuu Road, then a meal at Africa Hotel rounds off the perfect trip. Started in 1904 and owned by Goans, Diaz and Junior who ran a grocery and tailoring enterprise that doubled as a Portuguese Counsel, it was later transformed to a hotel. At the onset, it had fine sea views from the balcony. Since then, well over a century ago, up until now, it has been continually serving authentic Swahili cuisine. It’s widely thought this could be oldest operational eatery in Kenya. What’s more, its history has been assiduously tracked, and all along its wall are mounted photographic records of different periods in the history of Mombasa. Its Swahili cuisine, its laid back ambiance, and the infectious Swahili mannerism are no less impressive. It is located midway between Old Port and Fort Jesus, along Mbarak Hinawy Road. An additional word of advise is warranted here about Old Town Mombasa. That although the common circuit loops around the triangle area enclosed by two main roads alluded to, there’s much more to see at Old Town. Some of the other noteworthy roads include Kibokoni Road, which is connected to Ndia Nkuu by Nyeri Street and Old Kilindini Road, and Samburu Road, which is connected to Kibokoni Road by Old Kilindini Street, Wachangamwe Street and Ncheru Road.

10. Old Law Courts

Leaving Old Town Mombasa along Nkrumah Road past Fort Jesus and Mazrui Cemetery, one may be interested in making a quick stop at the Old Law Courts before arriving at Treasury Square en-route Nyerere Avenue – the main road on Mombasa Island which literally cut through it from Likoni Ferry to the Makupa Causeway. Officially launched in 1902 by Charles Elliot, then British Governor, the Mombasa Law Courts were continually in use for 81 years until 1983, when they were decommissioned after the completion of the Mombasa Law Courts just 350 ms away. Subsequently, the property was placed under the aegis of the National Museums of Kenya who reorganized it into offices, library and gallery. Of particular interest is the gallery space on the ground floor that hosts regular exhibitions of local art and crafts, school art and craft competitions, and expos around varied cultural artefacts especially from the native coastal communities.

11. Treasury Square

What little influence of the British Era there is at Old Town Mombasa is wholly made up at the Treasury Square, situated 50 ms from Old Law Courts. Obvious perhaps, but, by the time the British arrived at Mombasa in the early 1900’s, Old Town was fully developed, and they had to settle on the next best suitable area nearest to it at Treasury Square, which contrary to its name is a large oval. The houses are built around the Burhani Gardens, which sits in the middle of Treasury Square. Here, like at Old Town, time has almost stood still. And the elegant, carefully-planned, quintessentially British large angular brick holdings with the underlying ethos of muscular pillars, round-headed arches, classical detailing and superior workmanship, are a perfect expressions of the English. Dissimilar to the British and Arabs, the Portuguese left very little evidence of their presence in Mombasa. “In East Africa the Portuguese have left nothing behind them but ruined forts, palaces and ecclesiastical buildings.  Nowhere is there to be seen a single trace of any real development” – Johann Kraph. Fort Jesus, completed in 1596, is their most outstanding legacy. Their only other veritable legacy on Mombasa Island is set 1.3 kms south of Treasury Square, inside Mombasa Gold Club. It is reached via Mama Ngina Drive, a road which terminates at one of the revered parks in Mombasa simply dubbed as the Mama Ngina Drive Park or the Mombasa Waterfront, 1.6 km past Mombasa Golf Club.

Spatial Location of Treasure Square on Mombasa Island
Spatial Location of Treasure Square on Mombasa Island

12. St. Joseph’s Fort

More impressive for its history rather the site itself, the decrepit St. Joseph’s Fort perched on the very edge of a coastal coral bluff within Mombasa Golf Club, along Mama Ngina Drive, is thought to predate Fort Jesus. It is thought to have been originally erected by Ali Bey, the influential Turkish buccaneer who arrived in Mombasa in the early 1500’s. He marshaled the Zimba Tribe to quell the early attempts by the Portuguese to rule Mombasa. Ali Bey built this Fort in 1550 alongside one at Ras Serani to defend himself and his Turkish comrades. Later that year, the Portuguese arrived in force and effortlessly crushed Ali Bey. The Portuguese enlarged Ali Bey’s Fort and renamed it Fort St. Joseph. They also built a small chapel dubbed as Nossa Signora das Merces. A few yards from the fort, they burrowed an underground passage which, as legend has it, runs to the central courtyard of Fort Jesus. The outlet, if one ever existed, has never been discovered. Although the fort is in a broken-down state of disrepair, this is undeniably an outstanding historic landmark of Mombasa. A trip here is easily combined with an outing at Mama Ngina Drive Park found 1 km down the road.

13. Mombasa Golf Club

The scenic Mombasa Golf Club backdropped by the city line with wide-angled sea-facing views is the pinnacle of golf on Mombasa Island. Set at southeastern corner of the Island, along Mama Ngina Drive, this course places a premium on careful shot selection and putting. It’s a combination of beautiful natural setting with a golf course that is both challenging and fun. Launched on June 27, 1911, and over the years spending considerable sums of money on the 9-hole course, the beautifully manicured fairways and greens are bordered by sweeping dunes mixed with native grasses and bunkers. Its longstanding tournament, the Barry Cup, was foremost played in 1913 and won by Mr. Percy Berry, then honorary treasurer and captain, who went on to win the cup in the preceeding four years. The Barry Cup has been played under the aegies of the Kenya Golf Union since 1928 but only two local coast based golfers have won it in the past four decades.

14. Mama Ngina Drive Park

Every coastal town deserves an easy-going upbeat sea-facing outdoor park full with bubbling laughter, cheerful patrons, light-hearted vendors, stalls selling traditional delicacies and the joys of mingling with cultures from all walks of life. The south-end of Mama Ngina Drive is Mombasa’s answer for a no-frills all thrills waterfront park. “The area was an early settlement and a battleground during the Arab-Portuguese wars. It has a rich history. In fact, the baobab trees are grave markers” – Nation Media. Mama Ngina Drive was gazetted in 2005 as a National Monument to preserve and perpetuate its integrity. Further in 2018, the Government of Kenya approved a huge Sh 460 million upgrade of the park. The waterfront view is the star here and the main activity is walking across the parkways, sampling different local delicacies and resting at its well designated sitting areas. From here, trippers can watch ferries at Likono making unending rounds, like clockwork, across the channel, in an unvarying praxis only broken by the occasional jumbo cargo ships headed for Kilindini Harbour. There are around 150 traders at Mama Ngina Drive Park selling food, artefacts and other products. After the upgrades, 300 traders will be allowed to operate at the park.

My Mombasa: A trip around the Kenyan city with Hanifa – BBC What’s New?

15. Shelly Beach

Located across the channel from Mama Ngina Drive Park and just a hop east of Likoni Ferry Service, Shelly Beach is the nearest to Mombasa City and notable as its only beach along the South Coast. Shelly eventually links to Tiwi Beach in Kwale County, 17 kms southward. Unlike Shanzu, Bamburu and Nyali beaches in Mombasa’s North Coast, Shelly Beach lacks an illustrious list of beach hotels and resorts. The few and far between hotels found here are mostly located along the Likoni to Ukunda Road. Some of the hotels include Talentos Resort, Qwetu Resort, Shelly Beach Hotel, Consolata Guest House and the A.C.K Guest House.

16. Mbaraki Pillar

The popular route from Mama Ngina Drive waterfront Park is through Nyerere Avenue which commences at Likoni Ferry in the south area of Mombasa Island and terminates at Makupa Causeway in the northern part of the Island. Shortly after leaving Mama Ngina Drive one may be interested in exploring Mbaraki Pillar, 3 kms away, found in the the southwestern part of the Mombasa Island at the entrance of Mbaraki Creek. Mbaraki Pillar is a 14 ms free-standing tower constructed around the 1400 AD, which appeared in ancient Portuguese maps as an ‘ancient pyramid’. Some argue that the Mbaraki Pillar dates to the late 17th Century, because it was illustrated on maps of 1728 but not those of 1636. West of this medieval obelisk is a close by mosque, build around 1890. The base of this tall monument, almost certainly a tomb, is square and hollow, with a low arched doorway, once recessed, in its north side. Above, the hollow tower rises to its great height. Rectangular slits ascend the tower in four uneven rows; close to the top there is an offset course, above which are four arched openings in line with the four rows of slits. Above these rise four inward curving stone supports that uphold three stepped squares of masonry. At the summit is a round-topped finial. It is located in the area generally known as Kilindini; east of Likoni Ferry.

Spatial Location of The Mbaraki Pillar on Mombasa Island
Spatial Location of The Mbaraki Pillar on Mombasa Island

17. Mombasa (Mbaraki) Cemetery

Mombasa (Mbaraki) Cemetery located on the southern side of the island along Mbaraki Road is a large civil cemetery which contains war graves plots as well as scattered war graves. The Cemetery fronts directly onto the road, from which the Cross of Sacrifice by the Second World War graves plot can easily be seen. The WWI graves are scattered on either side of the path running from north to south within the civil cemetery, either individually or in plots. “During the First World War, Mombasa was home to No.1 Base Hospital. Numerous wartime activities took place there during the Second World War and it was of some importance as a minor naval base. Mombasa (Mbaraki) Cemetery contains 51 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 146 of the Second World War. There are also 28 non-war and two French war graves. The base of the Cross of Sacrifice in the cemetery forms the Mombasa British Memorial which records the names of 81 officers and men of the United Kingdom Corps and Regiments, of South, West and East African units and the West India Regiment, all of whom died during the First World War and were buried at sea off the East African coast” – CWGC. This cemetery is open daily between 06:00 and 18:00.

18. Kilindini Harbour

Kilindini, which in Swahili translates to a channel of deep water, is one of three harbours in the Coast Region of Kenya whose name bears meaning to its deep quays. It is 25-30 fathoms (150-180 meters) at its deepest center. The other two are Kilifi and Malindi. Kilindini Harbour is as old as trade in East Africa and many pioneering explorers, including Vasco da Gama, arrived at this harbour. It was inaugurated in 1896, when work started on the construction of the epic Imperial British East Africa Kenya-Uganda Railway, and is managed by Kenya Port Authority. At present, Kilindini is the busiest in Kenya and handles most of the shipping for East Africa; both passenger cruise ships and cargo. Mtongwe Ferry crosses the Kilindini Channel which extends north to Makupa Creek and west to Mteza Creek and Port Reitz. Kilindi is situated west of Mombasa Island.

19. A.C.K Mombasa Memorial Church

The study of the rise and spread of Islam and Christianity in the Coast Region of Kenya, especially in Mombasa, its largest town, has been one of consuming interest for anthropologists and ethnologists. Mombasa, being the major port of call, was an epicenter for both these religions. Islam, which is more widespread in the Coast Region, predates Christianity by five centuries. Both these religions have many impressive edifices which are a testament of their influence in this society. One of the iconic Churches at Mombasa City, located just 500 ms from Fort Jesus past Treasury Square and off Nkrumah Road, is the A.C.K Diocese of Mombasa. Established in 1898, on the sub-division of the former Diocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa, it is one of the oldest Cathedrals on Mombasa Island. One of the interesting histories at the A.C.K Mombasa Memorial Church is that of its Church organs. Its first organ was a large Harmonium, donated by the Governor-General in 1904, which served until 1919 when a Pipe Organ built by Henry Bevington in 1902 was brought in from U.K. and installed in the South Transept in late 1919. This Pipe Organ was given through public donations in memory of all those Military and Civilian personnel who lost their lives in the East Africa Campaign during World War I. The Organ served the Cathedral until 1960 when it was dismantled and donated to the Kampala’s Namirembe Cathedral to celebrate the Foundation of the new Anglican Province of Uganda. This is still in use. A donation was made in 1960 to the Memorial Cathedral of a state-of-the-art Hammond–Compton Electronic Organ.  It was expected to last at least 25 years. Astonishingly it survived, partially functional until early 2016.

In 1921 Kavirondo was added and in 1927 Central Tanganyika was separated off. In 1960 Maseno, Nakuru and Fort Hall was separated and in 1964, the Diocese of Nairobi was carved off and the Diocese of Taita-Taveta, separated in 1893 from the Diocese of Mombasa.

20. Holy Ghost Catholic Cathedral

Equally impressive, just 600 ms from A.C.K Mombasa Memorial Church near the junction of Nkrumah Road and Nyerere Avenue, is the Holy Ghost Catholic Cathedral. Holy Ghost Fathers were the first Catholic missionaries to arrive on Kenyan soil, coming in 1890 from their first East African base in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Interestingly, they opted to set up their first base at Bura, in Tana River County. Founded in 1892, Bura Mission Church was the foremost inland Catholic Mission in Kenya. It was started in 1892 by Monsignor De Courmont who was an Apostolic Vicar and Father Jean Flick of the Holy Ghost Fathers, to serve as a halfway-house or stopover for missionary and caravans. In 1898, the Holy Ghost Catholic Cathedral was founded at Mombasa Island by Alexander Le Roy, a French Holy Ghost Missioner. In 2001, it was gazetted as a National Monument; not only for its stunning architecture but also for its history and its role of spiritual fulfillment, and as a plat for many national religious campaigns.

Spatial Location of Holy Ghost Cathedral on Mombasa Island
Spatial Location of Holy Ghost Cathedral on Mombasa Island

21. Lord Shiva Temple

As one of three Hindu Temples open to the public on Mombasa Island, the Lord Shiva Temple offers a great insight into the magnificent architecture of Hindu Temples and into the spiritual belief and faith of close to 900+ million Hindus worldwide. The origin of Hinduism in Kenya dates back to the late 1800’s, when the Imperial British East Africa Company brought in laborers from India to build the Uganda–Kenya railway. Many of the laborers, rather than travel back to India resettled in Kenya, and slowly brought with them a host of hopefuls willing to start a new life. Although Hinduism is a minority faith in Kenya, only constituting 0.14% of Kenya’s populace, it was officially recognized as the 44th tribe of Kenya in 2016. At Shiva Temple, one gets to enjoy its extravagant idols and carvings, its stunning architecture, its lovely gardens and its guided tours of the temple that elaborate the pillars of this faiths; which also demystifies many misconception. The enormous Lord Shiva Temple is airy, open and set off by an interesting sculpture garden – Lonely Planet. Other temples in Mombasa are Swaminaraya along Haile Selassie Road, and Gombeshwar Mahadev at Nyali. Shiva Temple is located along Nkurumah Road then off Mwenye-Abound Road.

22. Mombasa’s Tusks

Also known as Pembeni or Pembe za Ndovu, this ornamental aluminium tusks located along Moi Avenue (which branches off Nyerere Avenue near Mombasa Sports, due west and north, to terminate at Chagamwe Refinery) and opposite Uhuru Gardens, commemorates the visit of H.R.H Princess Elizabeth’s to East Africa in 1952, to a cordial and cheerful welcome from a large crowd lining Moi Avenue Road. H.R.S Princess Margaret also passed under the archway at 6:00 pm on September 22, 1956, on her tour of East Africa. Ivory symbolized luxury and an exquisite commodity at the time. Up until now, the towering Mombasa’s Tusks, depicting letter “M” for Mombasa, have been an emblematic landmark.

The island was first referred to as Manbaca or Manbasa in 1502, when the Sultanate became autonomous from Kilwa Kisiwani. Manbasa is the Arabic form of the Swahili idiom Mvita, derived from Shehe Mvita, the founding father of the island city. Mombasa was originally known as the “Island of Mvita.” It is thought that Mvita is derived from its violent history over the centuries. The history supposedly earned the city its famous Swahili nickname of ‘Kisiwa Cha Mvita’.

23. Suli Suli Fishing

Maestros in deep sea fishing and avid anglers can enjoy exciting adventures of big-fish angling here, that ranges from four to eight hour excursions, for a go at some treasured species such as black marlin, striped marlin and sailfish. Suli Suli Fishing provides equipment, assistance, and glass-bottomed boats. Callers to this fishing mecca also enjoy native and international cuisines at their well liked restaurant, and Beach Bar. Suli Suli is situated off Jomo Kenyatta Anenue.

24. Makupa Fort

Unlike its famous counterpart, Fort Jesus, very few documents on the history of Makupa Fort exist. Nevertheless, its history and role as a military installation reflect the strategic importance of Kilindini Harbour and of the East African coast. The now dilapidated Portuguese Fort of Makupa near the causeway to the mainland (north, en route Nairobi) was rediscovered in 2006 by Hans-Martin Sommer while working as a marine archaeologist with the National Museum’s Department of Coastal Archaeology. Official inaction has since led to the site becoming overgrown. According to historian James Kirkman a battle between the Portuguese and two ships belonging to the Turkish pirate Mirale Bey took place in 1589 AD at the Makupa Fort: “He (Mirale Bey) sent two of his five ships to hold Makupa Fort with their cannon, and with the remaining three awaited the Portuguese at the harbour mouth … the Portuguese first captured the three ships in the harbour, then sailed round and sank the two ships at the fort”. An early description of Makupa Fort (1634 in G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville): The three forts of Makupa are three buildings, erected in a quadrangle alongside the harbour on the island of Mombasa on the side by the mainland at a place where one can cross on dry foot, as can be seen on the plan. They are used to prevent the Mozungulos (a people living on the mainland) from crossing into the island.

Spatial Location of Makupa Causeway in Mombasa County
Spatial Location of Makupa Causeway in Mombasa County

25. Mombasa (Mayimbo) War Cemetery

Mombasa (Mayimbo) War Cemetery is located in northern area of the island, in the area now known as Tudor, 3 kms before Nyali Bridge. At the junction where there is a pronounced bend on the road, turn right in front of Tudor Inn. Take the next turning left at the small roundabout and left again at the CWGC road direction sign. After about 100 metres turn right at the route confirmation sign. Mombasa (Manyimbo) War Cemetery is about 20 metres down this track on the left, and the Mombasa (Manyimbo) Roman Catholic Mission Cemetery will be found about 30 metres to the left of the War Cemetery. It is open daily between 06:00 and 18:00, but is locked at other times. Mombasa’s importance as a big trading hub owes its advantage to its natural deep water habour, the only one of its kind in East Africa, which also attracted conflict since medieval times. Three centuries after the Portuguese left the East Africa Coast Mombasa became the capital of British East Africa, while immediately south lay German East Africa (Tanzania). “During WWI the importance of defending Mombasa’s coast and the entrance to its ports again came to the forefront. Six naval guns from the British cruiser HMS Pegasus, which had sunk off Zanzibar in a German attack, were salvaged and restored, and one of these became the first gun position on Azania Drive (as Mama Ngina Drive was then called), at the site of present day Florida Club” – Hans-Martin Sommer. Numerous wartime activities took place in Mombasa during the Second World War and it was of some importance as a minor naval base. This civil cemetery holds 19 Commonwealth burials of WWII.

26. Nyali Bridge

Commissioned in 1976, the prominent concrete girder Nyali Bridge crossing the Tudor Creek to connect Mombasa Island to Mombasa mainland in the north is arguably the most important bridge in the Coast Region of Kenya. It replaced a floating bridge which was located 800 ms downstream. For holiday-makers to Mombasa, crossing Nyali Bridge marks the start of the North Coast Region of Kenya. Holiday-makers interest in the North Coast area is on the five principal beaches of Nyali, Kenyatta, Bamburi, Shanzu, and Kikambala Beach. And the highlight of Mombasa is its developed 12 kms North Coast Beach and Mombasa Marine Park, which draw-in hundreds of thousands each year for the sun and sands. Owing to the fast-growing economy of Mombasa, plans are underway to develop a second Nyali Bridge just west of the existing one, to aptly connect the Island with the mainland north and de-congest the ever-busy grey Nyali Bridge.

27. A.C.K Emmanuel Church

Located just 1 kms from Nyali Bridge along Nyali Road (also known as the Ras Kisauni Road) is the historic A.C.K Emmanuel Church which evokes a sense of heritage indubitably more than any other in Mombasa. Completed in 1889, and the second-oldest Church in East Africa, it was inspired and built by the freed slaves. In fact, the area around Kengeleni was first known Frere Town, named after Sir Bartle Frere who was instrumental in the de-establishment of Zanzibar slave trading. Although Mombasa was not a hot spot for slaves it was a spiffing pad for exchange. Some lucky slaves on board cargo ships, that were ambushed by the Royal Navy, found themselves relocated to the freed slave village. Beside the ecclesiastical function this Church it is a time-honoured historic monument.

Spatial Location of ACK Emmanuel Church in Mombasa County
Spatial Location of ACK Emmanuel Church in Mombasa County

28. Kengeleni Monument

Even though at present time there is little to distinguish Kengeleni Monument, which is overshadowed by a patchwork of taller buildings developed around it, this was at one point the tallest structure for miles around it. The bell (kengele) hanging from a concrete tower reignites memories of slave trade in Mombasa. Built in 1886, at the pinnacle of rampant slave trade in East Africa, it served as a high-priority outdoor warning alarm set-off on sighting of Arab Slave ships. Depending on how it rung, it sent out a variety of messages. “Kengeleni outdoor alarm was rung to warn the people when an Arab slave ship was spotted. There was not much slave raiding along the Kenyan Coast, but, it was a critical transit point for slaves who were captured further inland due to its proximity to the main market in Zanzibar” – Standard Media. Kengeleni Monument is located at the junction of Kongowea Market and Nyali Road, just 1 kms from Nyali Bridge.

29. Bahari Club

Also known as Bahari Beach Resort, Bahari Club is a modern Marina, located conveniently on the Nyali Beach of Kisuani Creek just up from the Old Dhow Harbour. The Club was founded by three avid local fishermen, James Adcock, Peter Hutchence, and Elijo Bhattia, before delving in separate charter boat operations. Bahari Club records show that ample trophy fish are caught in the area around Mombasa; Black Marlin at 151.5, 470, and 502 pounds, and a record Cobia weighing 110 pounds, 5 ounces. A very large Rockcod (grouper) weighing 220 pounds, was caught on 50 pound test line in the creek in front of the clubhouse in 1976. Large quantities of Yellowfin Tuna, Dolphin, Kingfish, Wahoo, and Barracuda appear on Club catch stats in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. Bahari Club has a few fully equipped, cabined boats and experienced crews for hire: with 6 rods and capacity for 5 – 7 anglers. Clients can be accompanied by a professional anglers, when available, at an extra cost. The minimum hire period for game fishing is 4 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon, while the inshore fishing, goggling, and harbor trip minimum period is 2 hours. It is a short drive from town center. After crossing Nyali Bridge, turn right on the first main road, less than 1 kilometer will bring you to the Club grounds on the right.

30. Tamarind Dhow Cruise

Oozing the old-world Zanzibar flair, masterful Swahili kitchen and centuries old charisma and historic sailing traditions, the Tamarind Dhow Cruise boarded at Tamarind Restaurant along Nyali Beach offers two daily cruises, and a relaxing and exiting way to experience the sights and sounds of Mombasa as well as to enjoy freshly prepared Swahili (seafood) cuisine. Both dhow cruises have space for up to 70 patrons. The lunchtime cruise departs from the Tamarind Jetty at 1:00 pm, cruises gently up the Tudor creek to a secluded spot where the dhow moors. The evening (sunset) cruise departs at 6:00 pm. All meals are prepared on-board and the evening cruise has plenty of music and dancing to usher in the mellifluous and salubrious tropical evenings. Pick-ups and drop-off can be arranged for trippers living in resorts at Mombasa Island, Bamburi, Nyali and Shanzu Beaches as well as at Diani Beach. Tamarind Dhow Cruise is run by the Tamarind Group who operate the respectable Tamarind Restaurant. Abutting with Tamarind Restaurant is Tamarind Village – a luxurious collection of fully serviced apartments overlooking Tudor Creek and parts of Old Town Mombasa. A word of advise: Tamarind Dhow Cruises only run when a minimum threshold quorum gather. Tamarind is located 1 km south of Kengeleni, along Links Road.

31. Kraph Memorial Heritage Park

Located 2.3 kms south of Kongowea Market, off Links Road and Cement Road, the Kraph Memorial Heritage Park memorializes Johann Ludwig Kraph, the German explorer and missioner who made huge-steps forward, by overcoming a great many odds and ends, to introduce and advance modern Christianity in Kenya; under Church Missionary Society. The obelisk monument and beautiful gardens celebrate the singly achievement of one of the most famous missioner in Kenya. Soon after his arrival at Mombasa in company with his family (wife and daughter) tragedy struck, as his young daughter died from malaria. Krapf moved to the higher grounds of Rabai, on the coastal hills, where he started a station. It is here that Kraph translated the English-Swahili Dictionary, and later the Arabic and Roman scripture to Swahili. He also started studying other African languages, drafting dictionaries and translating sections. As an ardent explorer, Kraph made history as the first European to sight the white capped Mount Kenya – atop the Yatta Plateau – on his inaugural journey to Ukambani.

32. Mombasa African Memorial

Also known as African Memorial Park situated 2 kms east of Kraph Memorial Heritage Park off Nyali Road and Jomo Kenyatta Road, adjacent to Mombasa Academy, it commemorates the native and Arab soldiers who fought in the 1914 to 1918 wars.  Redolent of the Statue War Memorial along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi, this is a solemn reminder of the brave fighters who bore arms “for King and for County”, as was the norm in this era.  It embodies a ‘more recent era’ in Mombasa’s beguiling history that dates back to 900 AD, as a lighthouse centre. “At the outbreak of the First World War Tanzania was the core of German East Africa. From the invasion of 1915, Commonwealth forces fought a protracted and difficult campaign against a relatively small but highly skilled German force under the command of General von Lettow-Vorbeck. When the Germans finally surrendered on November 25, 1918, fourteen days after the European armistice, their numbers had been reduced to 155 European and 1,168 African troops. The African troops and followers who died with the Commonwealth forces during the East African campaign of WW One are for the most part commemorated by the triad of memorials, at Nairobi, at Mombasa and at Dar es Salaam – CWCG.

33. Bombolulu Workshop

Located 4 kms from Nyali Bridge, Bombolulu Workshop which was established in 1969 care of the Association for the Physically Disable of Kenya (APDK) employs upward of a hundred artisans, artists, carvers, engravers who fabricate exquisite handmade crafts. On arrival most people are surprised at the level of workmanship in the crafts exhibited here, and the high spirits of the residents. Every year, thousands of different designs are produced for items of jewelry, wood, leather and soft furnishings. The workshops have a production capacity of nearly 250,000 separate items per year. Many years of successful exporting have established the workshops as a reliable supplier and is today a member of the World Fair Trade Organization. Some of the main highlights at the centre include an exhibitions, a shopping area, its cultural centre and the guided tours.

34. Haller Park

Located near Bombolulu Workshop and the junction of Nyali-Links Road and Nyali-Malindi Road, just north of Nyali Bridge, is Rene Haller’s remarkable achievements in the rehabilitation of the Bamburi cement quarries. Haller was hired as a manager of the garden department of Bamburi in 1950 and given the task to beautify the area. In the early 1970’s he embarked on the reforestation project, which would be his masterpiece. Up until now, Haller Park is a rare success of land reclamation in Kenya, yet, it is also much prized for remarkable scenery and a place to begin or renew a romance with nature. It receives over 160,000 visitor each year. Quite a lot of game can be sighted: hippos, giraffes, buffalos and antelopes as well as smaller mammals like the vervet monkeys. Today there is nothing that gives away its former tumbledown wasteland, even for the most discerning intrepid. In its place, Haller Park (formerly known as Bamburu Nature Trail) is consisted of a game sanctuary, reptile park, small demonstration fish farm area, palm garden, crocodile pens and a giraffe viewing platform, offering a variety of attractions and at the various points to educate and entertain. “The diversity of flora is considerable, from mangrove palms and majestic indigenous shade trees to coastal forests where several of these plants are rare and endangered; a haven for botanist. Yet each plant plays a crucial role in the overall harmony of the Haller Park ecosystems” – LaFarge in Kenya.

35. Mombasa Butterfly Pavilion

Mombasa Butterfly Pavilion, an extension of Haller Park, is best known for its 4 kms fitness trail. It is salutory to mention that Butterfly Pavilion was part of the reclamation and rehabilitation project by Bamburi Cement Company. While the experiences at Butterfly Pavilion and Haller Park are different, there’s the sure delight of walking in nature at both these locations. The main emphasis at the Pavillion is to provide a fine day’s walk for people of all ages. Infact the whole course is designed as a Vitaparcours fitness trail, with various fitness stations. At each station, there’s a useful pictographic step-by-step panel guide showing varying exercises. Vitaparcours was launched in 1968 by Zurich in Switzerland to provide a simple fitness regiment available for everyone, anytime and free of charge. What’s more, there are over 25 species of butterflies to be spotted along the fitness course. Visitors here can also opt to jog or ride around the pavillion.

The Zurich vitaparcours offer: you exercise when you want, where you want and for as long as you want. Depending on your needs, you can choose to work on your stamina, your flexibility or your strength. And your body will thank you!

36. Nguuni Nature Sanctuary

Situated about 5 kms east of Haller Park at Kiembeni, using Quarry Road and Kiembeni Road, the 100-acres Nguuni Nature Sanctuary is a pretty resposeful escape where trippers can sight plenty of wildlife in their natural habitat. The stars here are the confident giraffes which go about their business oblivious of humans. The area is scenically pleasing and its verdant moderate hills offer the element of surprise. The concentration of birds and butterflies around the large man-made dam is wild and savage. Owing to its close proximity to Mombasa Island (city), it comes to life late in the afternoon (around 4:00 pm) when sun-downer funs bring in music and light and merriment into the early night hours.

Spatial Location of Nguuni Nature Sanctuary in Mombasa County
Spatial Location of Nguuni Nature Sanctuary in Mombasa County

37. Mamba Village

Mamba Village harbours one of the largest assemblage of crocodiles in Kenya with a total of 7,400 crocodiles aged between 1 and 13 years, which is believed to be among the largest of its kind in Africa. The star here are the crocs and the spine-tingling tour that takes visitors appreciably close to these bizarre ancient creatures, in an educational tour demonstrating their life cycle. Yes, visitors to Mamba Village can delight in farm to fork crocodile meat, however, rather more interestingly, is getting to watch the lawless feeding frenzy at dinner time for the crocs, at 5:00 pm. “The 17-acres farm in Mombasa, is home to a crocodile named Big Daddy, a man eating monster aged over 110 years, billed as one of the oldest crocodiles on earth” – Standard Media. It weighs over one tonne and measures over 6 metres. Mamba Village is located 4.5 kms from Nyali Bridge via Nyali Road and Links Road. It sits across from Nyali Golf and Country Club.

38. Nyali Golf & Country Club

When it comes to ocean holes, the first that often comes to mind is the Nyali Golf and Country Club in stirring sequence along a bluff overlooking the Indian Ocean. The ocean itself doesn’t come to play, but it makes its presence felt throughout your round of golf with an influence in the the lick of salt spray and stirring breezes. Nyali is a true seaside paradise – its perfectly formed greens flanked by flamboyant flame trees, its fairways alive with troops of velvet monkeys – and it’s no wonder golfers rank it among the best courses in Kenya. “And at the impeccably maintained fairways, they have planted the durable Bermuda grass from South Africa and mixed it with indigenous varieties. At Nyali, the picturesque golf course is lined with flowering trees, desert roses, oleander flowers, towering flame trees which house the monkeys.” – Business Daily. Expanding over 160-acres, its inceptive nine holes were commissioned in 1956, with the second nine completed in 1980. The 18-hole course’s men’s tee yardage is 6,510, and the ladies is 5,431 yards. It has a club house and pro-shop.

39. Wild Waters

Away from the ocean, for those who prefer something less salty and infallibly thrilling, a tumble-down one of the exhilarating slides at Wild Waters is on the most basic level a simple way to return to a younger and a more fun-loving kind of yourself. It has a variety of slides built for all ages, from short to long thrilling slides. A visit here should not omit a go at the flume bowl where you slide down a tube and spin in a bowl several times before being dropped into the middle, down to the pool. Some of its other thrills include multine and harakiri, spirals, lazy river, rain dance, and the water play station. Wild Waters is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm. It is located about 500 ms from Mamba Village.

40. Mombasa Marine Park and National Reserve

Covering 210 km2 between Mtwapa Creek to the north and Tudor Creek to the south, Mombasa Marine National Reserve is the most visited marine reserve in Kenya. The park covers 10 km2 while the reserve covers 200 kms. The enclosed parts of the lagoon, the reef with a vibrant underwater life and the varied water-sports are the main highlights here. MMNR covers the four principal beaches of Nyali, Kenyatta, Bamburi and Shanzu. Almost all of the highly-lauded middle-budget sun-lovers resorts set at North Coast are within the Marine Park. They include: Nyali Beach, Voyager Beach Resort, Bahari Beach Hotel, Pride-Inn Beach Resort, Reef Hotel, Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach, Sai Rock Beach Resort, Whitesands Beach Resort, Travellers Resort, Flamingo Beach Hotel, Severin Resort, the Sun Africa Beach Resort, Serena Mombasa and Bahari Beach Hotel.

Marine life at Mombasa Marine National Park. Published by Shazaad Kasmani

41. Shimo la Tewa Prison

Shortly before crossing over Mtwapa Bridge, marking the unofficial boundary between Mombasa and Kilifi just 15 kms north of the city of Mombasa, sits the infamous Shimo la Tewa Prison. More impressive for its history rather the site itself, the monastic facade gives away very little of its forbidding history. Shimo la Tewa is symbolic of a ruthless finality that could not have been achieved by any other form, to overcome many obstacles through suppression and suffering. Avowers insist the punishment does not always fit the crime at Shimo la Tewa. The action-packed history of Shimo la Tewa – which loosely translates to “Hell Hole or, Hole in the Ground”, dates back to the 14th Century, when the Omani Arabs established Jumba la Mtwana, later framed as “the large house of slaves”, at Mtwapa. “Shimo la Tewa, just across the creek from Mtwapa, was used as a holding ground for slaves headed to Jumba la Mtwana. Historians have claimed that an estimated 8 million African slaves were shipped to foreign lands during this time – D. Kiereini. Forthwith, it became a holding den for pirates who were unlucky to get captured in the Kenyan waters. During the British Era, its main role’ was as a prison for the hardened offenders. A legacy it has pursued to date.

42. The Moorings

The floating Moorings restaurant raised on a wooden deck resting on a buoyant platform at Mtwapa Creek and seen as you cross Mtwapa Bridge – which marks the unofficial boundary between Mombasa and Kilifi Counties – has a delightful waterfront setting overlooking the Mtwapa Marina and Mtwapa Bridge. “What is there not to love about a floating restaurant that sways a little as you sit back, relax and sip on a drink and have a bite to eat?” – Puja. The Moorings has been a tradition for many visitors to Mombasa and is one of its most lauded, specially for its seafood. Aside from its venerated seafood delicacies, it has a landlubber menu which includes steaks, chicken, pastas dishes and a pizzeria. Since 1994, The Moorings has been a must go to place and its latter-day Moorings Dhow – a refurbished Arab sailing boat – offers perfect sun-downer dining voyage. It is reached via Nyali-Malindi Road and taking a turnoff (left) after Mtwapa Bridge.

The Moorings seafood restaurant is one of the oldest, well known restaurants and your first choice for fish, lobster, crab and prawns. Situated on the North Coast of Mombasa, the Moorings is a wonderful floating on the Mtwapa Creek.

43. La Marina Restaurant

Much of a muchness is La Marina, a sea-front restaurant that features a floating restaurant combining the very best of the cheerfully exuberant day and nightlife of Mtwapa – which is fittingly dubbed as “the coastal village that never sleeps”. By day, La Marina Restaurant is cherished for its excellent sea food, merriment and stunning outlook of Mtwapa Marina. By night, it is one of the most popular watering-holes, which carries different theme nights.  Found nearby La Marina Restaurant are Mooring Restaurant, Jumba la Mtwana, The Porini, Bhari Gates and the Mumtaz Restaurants. La Marina is located 16 kms from Mombasa City.

View of St. Joseph's Fort near Mama Ngina Park.  Photo Courtesy of The Star
St. Joseph’s Fort near Mama Ngina Park. Image Courtesy of The Star

Geography of Mombasa County

The Indian Ocean and the shoreline are arguably the most notable features of Mombasa County, Kenya’s smallest county.  Mombasa covers a land area of 229 km2, with 65 km2 of water mass (200 nautical miles seawards.)  Mombasa County has about 300 hectares of natural forest cover and it hosts three main mangroove forests managed by Kenya Forests Service.  Generally speaking, the landscape of Mombasa County can be categorized into three:  1. The coastal plain, covering parts of South Coast and the Island; 2. The hilly areas that rise gently from 45 ms to 132 ms asl in the western parts of the county and parts of Changamwe and the North Coast areas; 3. The Indian Ocean and the shoreline.

Land Use in Mombasa County

Mombasa County’s rapid population growth has resulted in high urbanization and mushrooming of informal settlements like Bangladesh, Likoni, Magongo, Longo and Bamburi. Current estimates indicate that almost 38% of population in Mombasa County are existing below the national average poverty index line.

Highlights in Mombasa County

Owing to its unique geography and history, Mombasa County is a very popular touring destination in Kenya.  There are over 200 registered hotels and lodges in Mombasa County with a capacity of about 8,000 beds and average annually occupancy of 64%.  Mombasa is also the unofficial capital of the Coast Region of Kenya and it serves as a jumping-off base for many travellers across the region.

Population in Mombasa County

The population density for Mombasa County as based on the 2009 census was 6,131 people / km2, estimated to rise to 6,646 people / km2 in 2017, which translates to a total population of 1,051,825 up from 939,370 in 2009.  The most densely populated areas in Mombasa County are Nyali, Changamwe and Mvita, owing largely to the developed infrastructure and access to employment opportunities. The youthful population (24 to 35 years) comprises 41% of the total population and accounts for approximately 61% of Mombasa’s work force.

View of a section of Haller Park along Nyali-Malindi Road.  Photo Courtesy of Haller Park
Inside Haller Park along Nyali-Malindi Road. Image Courtesy of Haller Park

Airports in Mombasa County

Mombasa County is served by the Moi International Airport, Kenya’s second busiest airport, with numerous flights from Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi, Ukunda and Lamu.  Some international airline also land at Mombasa Airport.

Roads in Mombasa County

Mombasa County has a total of 257 kms of bitumen roads, 129 kms of gravel roads and 91 kms of earth roads.  Despite good road coverage, most roads were designed for low traffic capacity resulting in congestion during peak hours.  But, there are adequate plan to built new by-passes and routes to de-congest traffic. 

Climate in Mombasa County

Climate in Mombasa is heavily influenced by the monsoon winds. The heaviest rainfall occurs between April to June, and moderate rainfall between October to December.  Mean annual temperature is 28 Degrees C, with February being the hottest, averaging 33 Degrees C, and July, the coldest, averaging 22 Degrees C.

Mombasa County Distance Chart
Mombasa County Distance Chart

View of the Holy Ghost Cathedral in Mombasa City.  Photo Courtesy of Trip Advisor
Holy Ghost Cathedral in Mombasa City. Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor

National Monuments in Mombasa County

  1. Bwana Tamu
  2. Kisauni Bell Tower
  3. Mbaraki Pillar
  4. Old Law Courts
  5. Old Town Mombasa
  6. Mama Ngina Drive
  7. Leven House
  8. Mombasa Golf Club
  9. Trumpet Metal
  10. Trumpet Ivory
  11. Old Watch Towers
  12. Jumaa Mosque
  13. Luziwa
  14. Riadha Uwani
  15. Bwana Shali Patani
  16. Pillar Tomb
  17. Fort Jesus
  18. Sante de Tanna Wreck
  19. Ras Mtandanda Mosque
  20. Castle Hotel
  21. Holy Ghost Cathedral
  22. St. Emmanuel Church
  23. Babu Motors
  24. Kilindini House
  25. Ivory House
  26. Issar Thawar House
  27. Mombasa Dispensary
  28. Central Police Station
  29. District Officer’s Office
  30. Anglican Cathedral
  31. Mackinnon Market
  32. Alidina Visram School
  33. Gridlay’s Bank
  34. National Bank, Mombasa
  35. Shekh Mwinyime House

Map of Mombasa County

Mombasa County Map