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Kenya is more than just safari rides and old, colonial cities. The country’s coastline boasts miles of beautiful white sand beaches, clear blue water, colorful coral reefs, and all the beach adventure you want for a unique seaside vacation. From north to south, there are plenty of beaches to choose from, but to find the best one, read more on our list of the top 10 beaches in Kenya.
1. Diani Beach, Mombasa
As the most popular beach in all of Kenya, of course, Diani Beach tops our list. Jump right into the picture perfect aquamarine seas and explore the coral reefs and underwater sandbars beneath your feet. If that’s not your thing, try out the surfing, or just sit back and relax on the beach’s soft white sand. The palm tree-lined beach is perfect for you to get some shade and escape the hot Kenyan sun. Diani Beach, aside from the picturesque shore itself, is also home to beachfront resorts, bars, and restaurants.
2. Shela Bay, Lamu Island
Head to the north of Kenya to explore Lamu Island’s beaches. While Lamu is full of beautiful spots for your day by the water, Shela Bay, on the northern side of the island, is perhaps the best of them all. Shela Bay is known for its tranquil ambiance and picturesque views of the clear blue sea in front of you. Hungry? Food vendors stroll along the beaches selling authentic, local food. Try the samosas, reported to be some of the best you’ll find. Lamu Island is lined with beach resorts as well, giving you the best, peaceful beach vacation.
3. Tiwi Beach, Tiwi
Check out this peaceful, nearly isolated beach, in a sleepy little waterfront town. Tiwi is accessible from Mombasa, Kenya’s southern city, by ferry, which is part of the adventure. Once you arrive in Tiwi, you’ll be unlikely to find many fellow beachgoers, as this spot is typically quiet. Relax in the tide pools formed during low tide, hang out in the white sand, under the shade of the palm trees, and enjoy your (nearly) private experience on Tiwi Beach.
4. Bamburi Beach, Mtwapa
Camel rides, snorkeling, scuba diving, and coral reefs? Sign us up. Bamburi Beach, in Mtwapa, is home to these activities and more. The beach, on Kenya’s northern shores, is lined with beachfront hotels, eateries, and bars with views of the sea. Sit back in the golden sand and enjoy the beauty or submerge yourself in the clear blue-green water. Bamburi Beach is a go-to tourist destination in Kenya, so don’t expect to be the only beach-lovers on the sand. On the other hand, a beach this popular must be good.
5. Kilifi Beach, Kilifi
Looking for the full resort experience? Look no further than Kilifi Beach, just north of Mombasa. Kilifi Beach’s soft “sugar sand” is surrounded on one side by dense thickets of trees, and on the other by the deep blues of the Indian Ocean. Sail away into the water or take a ride on a traditional Kenyan boat, called a dhow. The resort is lined with fresh seafood restaurants with food that’s to die for, as well as bars serving up typical Kenyan drinks called dawas, a drink typically made with sugar cane. A vacation on Kilifi Beach is calling your name.
6. Shanzu Beach, Shanzu
A beach that’s the perfect combination of a built-up tourist destination and a peaceful waterside vacation — that’s Shanzu Beach. The beach, right off Kenya’s Mombasa-Malindi Highway, boasts miles of soft gold-colored sand and clear, refreshing blue water. The palm tree-lined beach gives you plenty of shade — just watch out for falling coconuts from the coconut palm trees. Shanzu’s host of hotels, hostels, restaurants, and bars mean you don’t need to venture far to find a place to sleep, eat, or drink, while the miles of coastline mean if your section of beach gets too crowded, you can walk along the water in either direction until you find a little more privacy for your stay.
7. Watamu Beach, Watamu
Looking for a different beach in the south? Just south of Malindi is Watamu Beach, also known as Turtle Bay. The beach is part of Watamu National Marine Park. If you’re looking for a unique experience, you’ll surely find it here. The clearest of blue seas and the proximity to local coral reefs make Watamu a great place for scuba diving or snorkeling. See what cool marine life you can find swimming below your feet. The calm water also makes it a great spot for swimming and relaxing in the water while the sandy shores are ideal for some sunbathing.
8. Nyali Beach, Mombasa
Nyali Beach is consistently ranked as one of Kenya’s top beaches, so of course, it made it on our list. The beach, just outside of Mombasa, is home to top-notch international restaurants and plenty of hotels for you to choose from for meals or a night in a room overlooking the deep blue sea. The beach is one of the less crowded spots on Kenya’s coasts, making it great for a peaceful day out. Check out the surfing, swimming, or sunbathing at Nyali Beach, or stroll along the coastline and find a private little section of beach — there are plenty of these around Nyali Beach.
9. Kiwayu Beach, Lamu
Why not take a vacation fit for a celebrity? Kiwayu is said to be the spot for all the stars. The secluded beach offers up rustic resorts, fresh seafood and authentic dishes made by local chefs, and plenty of fun-in-the-sun. Dive right into the clear turquoise water and try out the snorkeling. Kiwayu Beach is home to unique marine life just beyond the water’s edge. Or just relax on the shores and soak up the sun. The real draw to Kiwayu, however, is the privacy you get at this beach.
10. Shelly Beach, Mombasa
This aptly-named beach is perfect for those looking to collect a few shells. Shelly Beach is known for the number of shells that wash up along the sandy shores. The beach is often isolated, making it a great destination if you’re looking for a private day along the water’s edge. Since it’s so isolated, however, it might be best not to swim in the turquoise seas, as tempting as it may be. Shelly Beach’s water is often filled with seaweed and can get rough, making swimming without any others present dangerous. This spot is perhaps better for a day on the sand with a picnic or collecting seashells.