What are the top things to do in Malindi?
There are so many of them such that one trip will not be enough. But first, you need to know a few things about Malindi.
Where is it?
Malindi is a small tropical, beach town in the north coast of Kenya. It is popular for its idyllic, postcard beaches. Also, it is a town steeped in history. Imagine, it even has a monument to Vasco da Gama – the popular Portuguese explorer, erected in 1498.
Getting to Malindi is simple. If you are in Nairobi, you can travel to Mombasa by train and then catch a bus to Malindi, which is 120 KM away.
You could also catch a domestic flight to Malindi Airport, which is a couple of kilometers out of the town. There are daily flights from Mombasa-Malindi, Lamu-Malindi and Nairobi to Lamu.
What is the best time to visit Malindi?
Mid-April through October is the best time to visit. Definitely warmer than Nairobi, even in the rainy season, Malindi is still a lot of fun.
This is a safe destination for tourists. It has remained safe even when Mombasa and other coastal places have had Al Shabaab attacks.
Affordable things to do in Malindi
Over the years, Malindi has earned the name “Little Italy.” It is simple to see why. When you hit the beaches, you are likely to hear many buongiorno signoras flying about.
There is a supermarket run by an Italian, Italian restaurants and located offshore is an Italian-Kenyan run space center.
If you have been to Italy, do not be surprised if you feel as if you are in Naples or Palermo. Whether this is good or bad is a story for another day. The Italians came, saw the beautiful beaches, loved them and loved them forever.
1. Mayungu Public Beach – free things to do while in Malindi
You cannot visit this town and not have time on the white sandy beaches. You need to take a dip in the calm blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
One of the best spots to do this without paying a dime is on the Mayungu Public Beach. It is about a 10 minutes’ drive from the town of Malindi to the south.
There, you will enjoy stretches of white beach with the clear blue waters lapping at your feet.
Most of the time, this beach is never too crowded so it is a perfect place to lie down with a book and just chill.
2. Gedi Ruins
If you love history, this is one of the places to visit in Malindi. Gedi, (also called Gede) Ruins are the remains of a town established in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in the 1400s.
However, scientists have never found evidence of people having occupied this town.
3. Bio-Ken Snake Center
If you would like to see a fully-fledged reptile center where scientists study snakes and their venom, this is the place to be.
It is less than 10 minutes’ drive from Watamu and it is the biggest facility of its kind in East Africa.
4. Arabuko Sokoke National Park
Arabuko Sokoke is one of the largest coastal forests in Africa. It is home to varied bird life, reptiles, insects such as butterflies and a selection of mammals.
Bring a pair of binoculars to watch birds.
5. Take a glass bottom boat ride in the Marine National Park
As its name suggests, this national park is dedicated to showcasing varied marine species from the Indian Ocean.
These include turtles, jellyfish, crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, mangrove forests and shore bird life. This is definitely one of the fun things to do in Malindi.
6. The Vasco da Gama Monument
Classified as one of the historical sites in Malindi, this pillar was erected in 1498 by the great explorer himself, on his way to India.
The purpose of this pillar was to guide mariners. You will be awed by its location, which enables you to see a wide part of the Indian Ocean from the top.
7. Perch an Eagle at The Falconry
Definitely one of the top things to do in Malindi, you must visit The Falconry. Let an eagle perch on your wrist like an Arabian Sheikh.
There is a collection of a wide range of birds of prey such as peregrine eagles, falcons, goshawks, owls and others.
If the slithery species are your kind of thing, there is a well populated snake chamber with pythons, green mambas, cobra and others.
Make sure you also spend time with the 200-year old tortoise in the park. He has seen more things than you have. Crocs, monitor lizards and monkeys are some of the other must-see species in this private zoo.
9. Hell’s Kitchen – Marafa
It is not called Hell’s Kitchen for nothing because the daily temperatures can get to searing levels. The best time to visit Hell’s Kitchen is during the evening. The natural sandstone columns change colors and display their beauty in full glory.
The locals (Mijikenda) used this place for sacred rituals and folklore has it that once, a town existed in this gorge. Of course, there has been no archaeological evidence to support that.
9. Watamu Turtle Watch
The Watamu Turtle Watch is one of the fun places to visit in Malindi if you have kids. It is home to Green and Hawksbill turtle species that actually lay their eggs on the sands of Watamu.
This is also a rehabilitation center for turtles. The sick turtles are treated, recuperated and released back to the sea.
10. Take a dhow excursion
While the dhows are not anything like what the Arab mariners and traders used to sail from Arabia to East Africa centuries ago, they are close.
Get a local tour guide to arrange a dhow ride itinerary with Sawa Sawa dhow excursions. You can enjoy a day cruise and a seafood lunch. Packages start with a minimum of two people.
11. Visit the Kipepeo Butterfly Farm Project
Here, you will see different species of butterflies in their different stages of development. You will also be able to buy local honey, which is a great way to support the local communities.
Kipepeo, which is a Swahili word for butterfly, also supplies many butterfly farms in Kenya.
12. Portuguese Church
Vasco da Gama built this church in the 15th Century. Although it has gone through many restorations, it retains much of its past architecture, including its thatched roof.
13. Eat Seafood at The Old Man & The Sea
Such a fancy name, looks like something that you would find out of a Treasure Island, Moby Dick, Pirates of The Caribbean or a similar adventure story.
However, this establishment serves seafood from the Indian Ocean. After a long day engaging in Malindi excursions, a seafood supper should replenish your energy levels very well.
You can also read: Street food to try in Nairobi.
15. Rosada for Chilled Cocktails
Malindi is a hot, slightly humid town. Thus, nothing winds the day any better than a chilled cocktail such as you will get at Rosada. Rosada Bar overlooks the Marine Park, so you can catch plenty of action there and still enjoy a chilled drink.
16. Malindi Museum
It is small but has many artifacts to tell you of the history of the local people. You can learn about the history and lifestyle of the Mijikenda People. You can also see the ageless, Swahili and Portuguese-inspired architecture.
Conclusion for Top Things To Do In Malindi
The fun activities in Malindi pretty much include a little of everything from beaches, natural gorges, cocktail and seafood spaces to animal sites. You will be spoilt for choice and tell you what, one visit might not be enough.
This is an all-family destination with plenty of things to do and see for kids as well as grownups. The idyllic, laid-back and Swahili inspired architecture is eye-catching and photo-worthy.