The South Coast is by far the most idyllic and fascinating tourist resort of the Kenya coast and stretches from Likoni South of Mombasa to the Kenya/Tanzania border. The resort which is unique for its long white sandy beaches, is linked by ferry to Mombasa Island. The most notable of these beaches is Diani which serviced by well appointed, luxurious hotels, chalets and villas.
Shimba Hills can be seen quite clearly from the beach. The hotels along Diani Beach are located on the cleared beach front areas of the Jadini forest which is still a haunt of wildlife such as leopard, colobus monkeys and a wide variety of birdlife.
Apart from sunbathing, there is a variety of other sports such as water skiing, windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and deep sea fishing. Diani/Chale Marine National Park and Reserve, Kisite Marine National Park as well as Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve are places with a dazzling array of fish and coral gardens which are worth visiting. Viewing the dozens of these marine park animals from glass-bottomed boats or by snorkelling offers one an unforgettable experience.
Tiwi Beach is wonderfully undeveloped and can be reached by two roads that wind through the coastal scrub about 20 km south of Likoni. It’s a tranquil spot and a world away from the beach resorts and bustle of the Diani Beach and most of the places to stay are cottages set in quiet gardens that run right down to the sand.
The Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary is a good example of community-based conservation and most local people are shareholders in the project. Opened in 1995 it creates a corridor along an ancient elephant migration route between the Shimba Hills National Reserve and comprises 2400 hectares of rugged, beautiful country along the valley of the Cha Shimba River. More than 150 elephants live in the sanctuary and you are likely to see a large variety of other fauna and flora including rare cycad forest (this primitive palm-like plant species is over 300 million years old).
There are several worthwhile detours between Diani and Funzi Island. About 20 km south of Ukunda, at the tip of a mangrove peninsula, is a gorgeous Chale Island, a tropical getaway with a fine beach and supposedly therapeutic mud.
Funzi is a small mangrove island about 35km south of Diani. As with other islands along the coast, dhow tours to the village at the southern tip of Funzi are very popular. Crocodiles and dolphins can be spotted in the inlets.
The village of Shimoni sits at the tip of a small peninsula, about 76 km south of Likoni and close to the Tanzanian border. Dhow trips to nearby Wasini Island and the coral reefs of Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park have become a big industry here.
There are some interesting ruins and colonial graves in the village and the villagers have opened up the old slave caves as a tourist attraction, bringing in some much needed income. There is no clear evidence that slavers actually used the caves, but it’s an atmospheric place and it’s interesting to hear about this little-discussed part of East African history.