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The coast of Kenya is a tropical paradise on the shores of the Indian Ocean. With its white-sand beaches, fabulous underwater marine environments and calm, warm waters, it should be no surprise that Kenya's coast draws beach lovers and scuba divers from throughout Europe and beyond.

Many visitors to the Kenyan coast head straight to the resorts, which come in all shapes and styles and are scattered up and down the shore. Several high-end resorts are located around Diani beach along Kenya's south coast and Nyali, Vipingo and Shanzu beaches in the north. Those looking for a spot off the beaten track can head to places like Tiwi beach, Mtwapa and Takaungu. Some Kenyan resorts are almost totally self-contained, and it's possible to spend weeks playing on the beach, in the pools or on the tennis courts, relaxing in the spas, and feasting in the restaurants without ever having to leave the grounds. Thanks to the many services available here, the Kenyan coast is a popular place to relax after a safari in the interior.

Though the resorts are fabulous, don't make the mistake of ignoring the rest of Kenya's pristine coast. The south, once nearly inaccessible because of the lush forestland that covered it, is home to many picturesque towns. You can get a taste of Kenyan life by exploring smaller fishing villages like Shimoni, where deep-sea fishing and scuba diving are both popular.

Kenya's second-largest city and its most important coastal city is Mombasa, a bustling place with a pleasant historic centre. This harbour town feels much more Arabic than African; Arab architecture and bazaars fill the twisted streets of the old town. Don't miss the interesting historical museum housed in Fort Jesus, a fort built in 1593 by the Portuguese.

Mombasa makes a great base for exploring the coast, but even more interesting than the city sights are the fantastic natural areas here on Kenya's coast. Head to the Marine National Park of Malindi to see a variety of tropical fish, or to remote Wasini island, where you can visit the beautiful Kisite Marine National Park. The archipelago of Lamu is a pristine area with some of Kenya's best beaches.

Kenya's coast has long been a bridge between Africa and Asia, and the area's importance as a trading centre has made it the centre of many battles through the centuries. Today the people of the coast reflect their mix Arab, African and European heritage.

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The warm, tropical climate of Kenya's coast makes it a great beach destination. Temperatures are high, ranging from 26?C-31?C year-round, and when the sun is shining this is the perfect weather for beach lounging and swimming in the Indian Ocean. The Kenyan coast has a rainy season from April through June, when the wet and muggy weather is less appealing. It may also rain in October and November, though the rains tend to be lighter.

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The Kenyan coast's gateway city is Mombasa, and chances are good that you'll have to pass through this hub even if you don't plan to stay. Though there are no direct flights from Europe, there are several daily flights from Nairobi. Total travel time from London is at least 12 hours. From Mombasa, you can take a ferry, a private taxi or a bus to destinations across the Likoni Channel.

If you're headed to the north coast, it's also possible to fly into Malindi from Kenyan destinations like Nairobi and Lamu.

To get around you could rely on the regional bus services, but it's much easier to have your own car. Taxis are a good way to get around resort towns, but they can be quite expensive long distance.

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Activities on the coast of Kenya are naturally centred around the beach and waterfront. Big game fishing is extremely popular, especially in southern fishing towns like Shimoni. Kenya's coast is also an excellent destination for scuba divers. The warm, calm waters of the Indian Ocean is an idyllic place to scuba, and the abundance of coral and colourful marine life make this a world-class diving destination. The marine reserves are particularly popular places to dive. Windsurfing and of course old-fashioned sun bathing are readily available as well. In resort towns, you'll find the usual holiday offerings of golf and tennis.

Inland are more nature reserves and the chance to spot large wildlife, do bush tours or visit traditional towns.

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