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6 Best Beaches in Kenya (Sandy and Free)

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Kenya, famous for its scenic landscapes, record-breaking athletes, and expansive wildlife preserves, is perfect for a beach getaway. The country has a wealth of sandy beaches dotted on its 490-kilometer (304.47-mile) long coastline. Also, there are palm trees, fishing villages, accommodation facilities, clubs, and food joints along the shoreline.

Besides soaking in the Indian Ocean waters, you’re free to engage in activities such as sunbathing, camel riding, and watching the sunset on the beaches. To help you get the most out of your beach getaway, keep reading for the lowdown on the best beaches in Kenya — all entry-free and accessible year-round. 

1. Diani Beach – Kwale County

Diani Beach - one of the best beaches in Kenya
Tourists sunbathe and kitesurf at Diani Beach, one of the most famous beaches in Kenya.

Diani Beach stretches about 17 kilometers (10.56 miles) and is about an hour and thirty minutes drive south of Mombasa, the second-largest city in Kenya. It has been Africa’s top beach destination for six years in a row, from 2014 to 2019, according to World Travel Awards.

The beach is characterized by fresh air, white sand, blue waters, and tall palm trees. Walking on the beach in the early mornings and late afternoons feels therapeutic. You’ll find honeymooners, families, solo travelers, and backpackers at the destination. Besides driving, tourists fly to Diani Beach from other parts of the country.

What outdoor activities are popular in Diani Beach?

First off, swimming. Put on your swimming gear and dip in Diani Beach’s waters. Thereafter, try camel riding and building sandcastles. Rent a glass-bottom boat to discover the marine ecosystem. Take adventure a notch higher by indulging in windsurfing and snorkeling.

You might come across locals, including Maasai men, selling beautiful ornaments on the shore.

2. Mambrui Beach – Malindi

Sandy and free beaches in Kenya: Mambrui Beach.
Beach lesos drying on the shore.

Do you know you don’t have to travel to Dubai, Morocco, or Namibia for sand dunes? Make your way to Mambrui Beach for that and much more. The ‘golden beach,’ as some people call it, experiences powerful winds from the ocean causing the formation of sand dunes on the mainland.

Aside from sand dunes, Mambrui Beach is dotted with palm trees and is hardly crowded. The unspoiled natural beach is approximately 16.7 kilometers (10.38 miles) from Malindi town. Solo travelers and groups of people occasionally frequent the beach.

While here, take part in picnicking, swimming, or kitesurfing.

3. Nyali Beach – Mombasa

beach goers enjoy a sunny day at Nyali Beach in Mombasa.
A sunny day at the beach.

Appealing to both locals and tourists, Nyali Beach is a must-visit destination in Mombasa. It has soft white sand, blue and green clear water, and palm trees. Gentle winds and breathtaking sunsets lure many tourists to the shore.

The beach is perfect for making sandcastles, swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Those after a romantic date and some alone time are in for a treat in the destination. Where there are people, there’s food. So, don’t leave the tourist site without sampling local snacks such as cassava crisps and viazi karai (fried potatoes).

There’s sometimes seaweed along the shore, but that shouldn’t hinder you from enjoying Nyali Beach. Muthu Nyali Beach Hotel and Spa is one accommodation facility along the beach.

4. Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach – Mombasa

Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach - one of the famous beach in Mombasa and Kenya
Palm trees next to the beach.

Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach is also called Pirates Beach. The palm-lined beach is arguably one of the most famous public beaches in Kenya. It’s off Mombasa – Malindi highway and less than a 30-minute drive from Mombasa’s central business district (CBD). Also, public transport frequents the tourist spot to pick up and drop off passengers.

At its entrance, you’ll find vendors selling food, swimming costumes, and African artifacts. The vendors hire floaters and beach chairs and offer private changing booths at a fee. There are professional photographers, should you need a nice shot at the beach.

Beach boys offer most services here and are sometimes quite persistent. During the festive seasons and weekends, the beach is usually crowded.

Gear up to swim, sunbathe, and soak your toes in the sand all day long. You can also ride a camel and party the night away. When hunger pangs strike, drop by any of the beach’s eateries and eat foods such as chapati, fried cassava, and fish. Wash down the food with some coconut juice.

The good thing is the beach never goes to sleep. End your evening at The New Big Tree Kenya. The resort’s beach bar has a wide selection of alcoholic drinks and plays live music. New Cheers Bar and Restaurant is less than a three-minute drive away. Lido Beach Resort and Kahama Hotel Mombasa offer accommodation near the beach.

5. Watamu Beach – Watamu

Watamu Beach, one of the best beaches for snorkeling and diving excursions in the country.
Fishermen waiting to go fishing.

At Watamu Beach, you will find palm trees, soft white sand, mangroves, and calm waters. It is 2.3 kilometers (1.43 miles) from Watamu town and is an ideal snorkeling and deep-sea diving destination in Kenya. The sandy beach is clean and seldom congested.

It is for people who don’t like crowded beaches. Although sometimes the beach has seaweed, it’s home to diverse marine life, including dolphins and starfish. There are also knowledgeable guides who offer affordable sailing trips through the mangroves. Some snorkeling excursions start right at this beach.

6. Galu Kinondo Beach – Kwale County

Reconnest with nature at Galu Kinondo Beach. Best beaches in Kenya.
A palm tree near the beach

Are you after some sea, sun, and sand? Head to Galu Kiondo Beach on the South coast of Kenya and you won’t regret it. It’s quiet, uncrowded, and on the outskirts of Diani town, within a 30-minute drive away. Here, you soak your toes in the white sand, enjoy a refreshing breeze from the ocean, and swim in turquoise blue waters.

Connect with Mother Nature by joining in the diving, sailing, and snorkeling expeditions on the shore. Watching waves crashing on the beach, playing football, and doing sunrise photoshoots are other activities common here. The beach also attracts those wanting some ‘me time’ or looking to take romantic walks.

A sandy paradise on the Kenyan coast

Visiting Kenya is a bucket list trip for many seasoned travelers, and you can’t go wrong with starting your Kenyan holiday on the beach. Beach destinations such as Mombasa, Malindi, Ukunda, and Watamu promise a treat like no other on the seashore. Escape your daily routine and create unforgettable memories at any of the above beaches.

Frequently Asked Questions About Beaches in Kenya

1. Are Kenya beaches safe?

Yes, it is safe to swim on Kenyan beaches. The beaches are not prone to dangerous tides or infested with sharks and whales. Also, the water is clean.

2. Are there private beaches in Kenya?

Kenya has an array of private beaches, most of them in Lamu. Some resorts and hotels along the Kenyan coast, including Southern Palms Beach Resort in Diani, also feature private beaches.

3. Which is the most beautiful beach in Kenya?

Diani Beach. It was Africa’s Leading Beach Destination from 2014 to 2019 and continues to be nominated to date. There are plenty of activities to do on the beach, including swimming, horseback riding, snorkeling, and boat riding.

4. Which is the best beach in Mombasa, Kenya?

Nyali Beach. While at the beach, you can escape large crowds, enjoy the ocean breeze, and soak your feet in white sand.

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