Kenya is home to some of the most stunning beaches with powder white beaches flanked by beautiful barrier reefs sitting by Mombasa and neighbouring islands in the Indian Ocean in eastern Africa.
Its eastern shores are where the best beaches are located, all with coral white sand and gently lapping waters, perfect for some rest and relaxation with honourable mentions to Tiwi beach and Shanzu beach.
Visitors should be aware of the best time to visit Kenya to take advantage of this incredible selection of the 10 best beaches in Kenya to relax after a Masai Mara safari.
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Diani beach is noted in our best things to do in Kenya and with coconut palms and wide, white sandy stretches, it’s easy to see why. Coral reefs protect the beach from heavy surf, creating perfect conditions to swim, float or snorkel whilst beachside bars and restaurants provide snacks and delicious cocktails.
After dark, some of Kenya’s best coastal nightlife is on offer here. Diani also makes it easy to combine surfing with safari at nearby Shimba Hills National Reserve and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, both a little over an hour away.
It’s also an adventure sports hub, renowned for kitesurfing, skydiving and deep-sea fishing. Overnight digs run the full range, from backpacker hostels and modest B&Bs to beachside boutique hotels like AfroChic, and upscale private villas such as Alfajiri.
Kenya’s only private island resort floats less than the length of a soccer field off the mainland but feels like it’s a million miles away.
Surrounded by coral reefs and covered in thick tropical vegetation, Chale island has one main beach as well as several small secluded strands where yours are likely to be the only footsteps in the sand.
Chilling by the beach is the main activity, but the resort can also arrange snorkelling or scuba diving in Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park, kayaking in the nearby mangroves, catamaran sailing, deep-sea fishing and excursions up the coast to Diani Beach.
Perched along the coast road between Diani and the Tanzanian border, this secluded sandy stretch is known only to the most ardent Kenya beach freaks. Sheltered by Chale Island, the waters are calm and the sand backed by old coconut groves which provide shade for those who find the equatorial sun too strong.
Mangroves thrive at the north end of the beach, accessible via the Gazi Women’s Mangrove Boardwalk, a landmark coastal ecology and ecotourism project.
Women from the village manage the site and provide guided tours of the mangroves. The closest hotel is the Cove Treehouses, on the far side of the mangroves from Gazi village.
This lovely stretch of coast between Mombasa and Malindi is a different beast to the rest of the best beaches in Kenya. Until a few years ago, the shoreline was more renowned for its sisal (agave) plantations than fun in the sun.
Several new mega-resorts have transformed the beach area into something more resembling the Caribbean.
Foremost among these is Vipingo Ridge, a sprawling hilltop compound with incredible Indian Ocean views and the top-rated golf course in Kenya. Also new is the daily Safarilink air service connecting Kikambala with Nairobi and Diani Beach.
Most international flights arrive into Kenya via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) for visitors wondering how to get to Kenya. Tourists will typically have to obtain a Kenya visa and adhere to the latest Kenya vaccine requirements.
The old Swahili town of Lamu is a living museum of the hybrid African-Islamic-Arabian culture that dominated the East African coast for hundreds of years.
Shela Beach on the island’s windward side is long, soft and entirely undeveloped. And because there’s no barrier reef, this is one of the few places along the Kenya coastline where you can hang ten on fairly surfable waves.
Crash at Kizingo resort and spend your evenings wandering the waterfront, popping in for drinks on Peponi’s breezy terrace or the rooftop bar at the old and venerable Petley’s Inn.
A short drive north of Malindi on the coast road, Mambrui flies under the beach-going radar, a hideaway for those who know the coast well.
Steady offshore winds make this another kitesurfing nirvana, but Mambui also lends itself to deep-sea fishing, snorkeling at Malindi Marine Park, long strolls on virtually empty beaches, and quick jaunts into nearby Tsavo East National Park.
Located on Mombasa’s North Coast is Bamburi Beach, a wonderful beach retreat for those who want to spend time in the sea and in the sun.
Right off the coast there is a coral reef, which makes the spot a great place for anyone who wants to do some snorkelling or scuba diving.
For a truly unforgettable experience, you can ride on the back of a camel along the sands of Bamburi Beach. If that’s not for you, just sip a cold drink and enjoy the beautiful views over the water.
One of Kenya’s most popular coastal getaways, Watamu beach is actually a series of the best beaches in Kenya set around cerulean coves on the sandy peninsula that separates Mida Creek from the Indian Ocean.
Located just 10 miles south of Malindi, the beach area offers chic retreats like Lonno Lodge, some of the best restaurants along the Kenya coast, and plenty of opportunity for water sports — scuba and snorkel, kite- and windsurfing, sailing and deep-sea fishing.
There’s history too, the stone ruins of a medieval Swahili town called Gedi, nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status.
Located across the creek from Mombasa, Nyali beach is Kenya’s most metropolitan beach. Happily, though, the lack of high-rise hotels and urban traffic makes it feel farther away from the big city than it really is.
Behind the long white-sand strip lie upscale homes and beach resorts like Whitesands and the Serena. The coral reefs and seagrass meadows of Mombasa Marine National Park are ripe for exploration by scuba or snorkel.
Just off the northeast coast of Manda is a small island called Manda Toto. To get there, you’ll need to ride in a small boat for about 40 minutes from Lamu beaches.
Most visitors come for a full day tour, and there are plenty of opportunities to snorkel and do some traditional hand line fishing along the way. Once you arrive, settle into the secluded beach and enjoy a packed picnic lunch.
What is the best beach in Kenya?
Diani Beach is considered the most popular beach in all of Kenya based on the number of visitors each year and regularly voted Africa’s leading beach destination.
What is the best time to visit Kenya?
October to January is usually considered the best time to visit Kenya’s beaches as these months offer the best conditions for diving and snorkelling.