Situated at the mouth of the Galana River where it spills into the Indian Ocean north of Mombasa, the beach town of Malindi marks the spot where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama stopped during his ground-breaking voyage from Europe to India in the 1400s. Today, the resort city is a major holiday destination and is particularly popular among Italian tourists. The coral reef of the Malindi Marine National Park located to the south of the city is a strong draw. The first marine park to come under protection from the Kenyan government, the park features a broad array of sea life, from turtles and shore birds to marine mammals like whale sharks.
The marine park stretches from a pillar erected to honor Vasco da Gama to the beautiful beaches of Watamu to the south. Beach safaris by foot or on horseback from Malindi to Watamu are popular pastimes. Visitors can also explore Watamu’s mangrove forest by boat. Other activities include snorkeling, diving, deep sea fishing and kite surfing, an increasingly popular activity that attracts thousands of visitors each year. The region is also known for its Swahili cuisine, which features seafood spiced with cinnamon and curries made with coconut milk.
The Gedi Ruins south of Malindi feature the remains of a Swahili town built in the 13th century, offering visitors a rare glimpse into Kenya’s past. Today, the ruins are home to guenon monkeys that readily interact with visitors. The town was once a trading community that housed as many as 2,500 people. The adjacent museum features artifacts unearthed in the ruins, including Venetian coins, Chinese vases and lamps from India.