Bamburi Beach Beach Resort Guide
Bamburi Beach is an unpretentious resort that is wholly devoted to tourism. Its host of hotels, restaurants, clubs and tour companies ensure that visitors are well catered for over a stay of a week or two. While the beach may not be Kenya's best, it is still attractive, and it lies close to the well-protected coral reefs of the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve. This stretch of the Indian Ocean appeals to watersports enthusiasts, with great sailing, snorkelling and diving opportunities; there are also first-class big game fishing sites within easy reach.
Who goes there?
Bamburi's 6km (4-mile) shoreline is lined with relaxed, middle-market beach hotel complexes catering to package holidaymakers, along with a couple of high-end resort hotels. There are also a few mid-priced lodges consisting of relatively simple chalets or apartments.The type of accommodation on offer means it mainly attracts older holidaymakers. Overseas visitors tend to be from Europe, in particular Germany and the UK.
Where in the world?
Bamburi lies on Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, 12km (7.5 miles) north of the nearest city, Mombasa, which is in turn 487km (303 miles) southwest of the capital, Nairobi. Many of the beachfront hotels have east facing views of the Indian Ocean, which fringes the resort.
When to go?
The best months to visit Bamburi Beach are January to March when the chance of rain is low. Temperatures are fairly consistent with temperatures fluctuating between 27-31°C (81-88°F) during the day and rarely dipping below 22°C (72°F) at night. April to June are the wettest months with frequent and often heavy rainfall.
The beach at Bamburi is a strip of pale sand, backed by palm trees and flowering beach convolvulus and lapped by shallow turquoise water, kept calm by an offshore reef. Narrow in places, particularly at high tide, and strewn with seaweed from time to time, it has a relaxed, ungroomed feel. Watersports on offer include snorkelling, sailing, water-skiing, jet-skiing and sea kayaking. Many resort hotels have their own watersport centers where certified dive courses, windsurfing and fishing may also be available.
Beyond the beach
The Baobab Adventure (at Baobab Farm, 8km/5 miles from Nyali Bridge) is the area's main inland attraction. It is a complex of nature trails, wildlife sanctuaries and game farms.
Offshore, scuba-divers can explore the interesting wreck of the MV Dania, planted on the sea bed by a local diving outfit in 2002; it is now populated by groupers, jacks, lobsters and lionfish. There is more good diving 5km (3 miles) north at Mtwapa. December to March is big game fishing season; a number of outfits organise trips to bag impressive species such as sailfish, marlin, kingfish and wahoo.
Bamburi's relaxed resort hotels welcome children; many have good swimming pools and offer play sessions and babysitting services. Kids will love visiting The Baobab Adventure (see Beyond the Beach above), where they can get close to giraffes, hippos, ostriches and crocs and watch the animals being fed.
Also popular are the waterslides at Pirates (Kenyatta Beach) and glass-bottomed boat trips into the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve. Here, among the coral gardens, you may spot turtles, sea cucumbers and colourful butterflyfish.
Bamburi's resort hotels all have curio shops where you'll find local crafts, such as soapstone sculptures, shell and bead necklaces, sisal baskets and wood carvings. Beach sellers also offer souvenirs, including brightly coloured kangas (sarongs printed with Swahili proverbs), kikois (stripy cotton wraps) and shukas (red Maasai-style blankets).
A night on the town
The area's bars and nightclubs are a mixed bag, ranging from the glitzy to the downright sleazy. Bars and clubs also tend to get rowdy at weekends. The nightly disco at Pirates (Kenyatta Beach) is legendary amongst Bamburi revelers. Another good partying option is the huge Tembo Disco (Mombasa-Malini Road). Most resort hotels have after-dark entertainment aimed squarely at tourists, featuring African dance shows, acrobatics and discos.
Outside the top-end hotels, most of Bamburi's eating options are mediocre, but there are plenty of them. As well as the many mid-range hotel restaurants, there are numerous tourist-friendly eating places lining the main coast road, which runs south to Mombasa and north to Malindi. Typically, these serve local favourites such as grilled fish or nyama choma (barbecued goat or beef); the more imaginative restaurants serve good-quality Swahili dishes, such as snapper with coconut, cloves and cinnamon. You'll also find Indian, Chinese and Italian food here.
Most locals travel by bus or matatu (shared minibus), which often get extremely crowded. They run along the main coast road between Mombasa and Malindi, passing through Bamburi. Hotel staff can book local taxis and airport transfers for their guests. International car hire firms like Avis have offices at Mombasa Airport and in Mombasa itself, driving in Kenya though is hair-raising at best and at worst downright dangerous, with car-jackings occurring away from the main highways.
Exploring further afield
Many visitors to Bamburi build a safari into their stay. With a few days to spare you could head inland to Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, which together form one of the largest game-viewing areas in the world. Far less crowded than Kenya's more popular parks, they are home to lions, hippos, elephants, zebras and a great many species of antelope and gazelle. Alternatively, to experience another side of coastal life, travel north to the beaches and marine parks of Malindi and Watamu (great for snorkelling and diving) or immerse yourself in Swahili culture on the island of Lamu.
To enjoy the beach in peace and luxury book into one of the top hotels, such as the SarovaWhitesands Hotel or the Severin Sea Lodge on Bamburi Beach, or the Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel up the road on Shanzu Beach. All these hotels offer comfortable suites, gorgeously designed swimming pools and first-rate service including waiters to bring you drinks as you relax on your sunlounger. At the Mombasa Serena you can indulge in a little hard-earned pampering at the spa.