I had promised my nephew a while back that I would take him to Mombasa. I wanted to make it really special because this would be his first trip to this coastal city and so we decided to fly to Mombasa so that he could have a double treat. It would be his first flight ever and we partnered with Skyward Express to make his first trip epic.
We left on a Saturday morning and it was a smooth check in to the flight at Wilson Airport. One of the things I love about Skyward Express is that it is at Wilson so you do not have to deal with the crazy jam going to JKIA. The only bump was when we were asked for Sean’s birth certificate when checking in. We did not have it but luckily my sister had a copy of it on Google drive. We were not asked about it at the security check but its important to carry a copy as immigration officers can ask for it.
The flight was on time and it was fun to watch Sean when the plane took off. He was so excited. That expression priceless. Before the flight we had organized for Sean to go to the cockpit. After all the passengers had disembarked we got to meet the co-pilot. The pilot was shy but we got to hang out in the cockpit for a few minutes. That was awesome and something that Sean could go and tell his friends. Thank you Skyward Express.
The flight takes around an hour to get to Mombasa. We took an Uber to our hotel which was in Bamburi. Thank God for Uber because now you do not have to worry about how you will get to your destination. Mombasa has changed a lot since the last time I was there 2 years ago, it is a lot dirtier with visible garbage on the road but it was still as beautiful and hot as I remembered it.
We were staying at the Kahama Hotel and Sports Bar in Bamburi. We had booked our rooms on Jovago.com where we got a good discount for the 3 nights we were staying there. A good bargain but we got a shock at the hotel when the person at the reception made us add a thousand because apparently although I booked in dollars and thought I would get the price for when I booked they check the price when you are checking in. This is something that Jovago need to look into. One thing to note is that if you book on Jovago they do not have a provision for paying for kids so we did not get a discount on that.
Our stay at Kahama was fantastic. They have beautiful rooms, well stocked if you want to use the minibar, and the rooms are a good size. Their breakfast is good, with enough food items to choose from, it was well worth the Ksh. 750 per day we had to pay for Sean. Kahama Bar and Grill has a pool with slides so it is ideal for families with kids. Their prices for food and drinks are reasonable. The one thing is that if you or your kids are light sleepers this is not the place to stay. They have a nightclub so at night there is loud music playing until early in the morning. Otherwise it has excellent accommodation and it is only a few metres from the beach.
We had made arrangements to meet with our friend and fellow blogger Jammy of Life in Mombasa to take us around Mombasa. Our first stop was at Flames Deli and Grill at the City Mall Nyali. They serve gourmet burgers, buffalo wings, milkshakes etc. We were there for the Death by Chocolate freakshake which Jamila had been posting pictures of on Instagram. It is safe to say I almost died of a chocolate overdose. The death by chocolate freakshake was all we thought it would be and more. Made of chocolate milkshake, chocolate fudge cake pieces, ice-cream and chocolate syrup one milkshake has to be shared by two people because it is too much for one person. I loved it. We ordered two milkshakes, the death by chocolate and the Nutella freakshake which has wafers, icecream and chocolate syrup, but it wasn’t as good as death by chocolate so if you have options go with the first one. The milkshakes are Ksh. 650 and the fish fingers were Ksh. 420. They also have great kiddie meals and their fish and chips are delicious. After that sugar high, it was time to go touring.
First, we went to Fort Jesus. Parts of Fort Jesus have been renovated by the Sultanate of Oman in partnership with the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Arts. The renovations included adding a replica of a dhow at the entrance of the Oman House, painting the building, and including more historical information and displays in the Oman house. There are now mannequin dolls (male and female) dressed in Oman clothes and Jewelry. There is a tv which shows videos on Oman.
The Mazrui Hall got a facelift, one of the most important things for me was the air conditioning which made the room a great place to take a break from the heat outside. There is information on the Mazrui, the first Oman Arabs and general information on Oman rule. The hall has been repainted, and it is now well light.
The rest of Fort Jesus still remains the same but as part of the renovation there are well done displays with information in English, Kiswahili and Oman. The charges are Ksh. 200 for East African Resident Adults, Ksh. 100 for children. For non-resident adults, it is Ksh. 500 and Non-Resident Child 250.00. Fort Jesus is worth visiting with kids as there is a lot to see and learn about the history of the Portuguese and Oman Arabs in the museum. the view of the ocean is just beautiful. They also have some delicious achari (mango strips) at one of souvenir shops.
After that we went on a tour of Old Town. This is one place that many tourists in Mombasa don’t go to but it is a fascinating place. The alleys have historical building, then there also the beautiful Lamu doors at some of the old houses. There are souvenirs shops in between the houses selling beaded jewelry, carved wooden items, and beautiful glassworks. My favourite place was the Safina crafts which was like Aladdin’s cave because I love glasswork and beautiful glasswork items were there in plenty. If you get a chance you should also visit the fish market. We got there when it was closed but we still got to get a good view of the ocean.
After that we went to Jahazi Coffee House which is one of the best places to eat some bhajias or have some Swahili coffee. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the bhajias were over, so we just had some tea and left. Do check it out if you are in the area.
Afterwards we went to Mama Ngina Drive by tuk tuk for some kachiri ya Mihogo (cassava crisps) and madafu which is good for your urinary system. Those crisps are the truth, they are freshly made and you can add red pepper and lemon. There are also roasted mihogo chucks, and sweet potatoes. There is nothing as fantastic as looking out at the sea and feeling the sea breeze cool you down as you eat kachiri and have some madafu.
Afterwards we went to Forodhani Restaurant to end the evening. It is a seafront restaurant located in old town near the port and it has an amazing view of the sea during the day (we were there at night so we didn’t see much. We had some shawarma with naan bread, but we were disappointed that there was no ukwaju juice. Another great place to chill out, with some tasty food. After this exhausting day it was time to go back to the hotel.
Day 2 was a chilled-out day. Because of all the walking and eating we had done the previous day we decided to chill out in the morning. We hang out in the hotel and swam in the morning. In the afternoon, we hung out on Bamburi beach. The fun thing about the beach is that you can swim, people watch and talk to the people as you catch some sunrays as you watch the sunset. We also managed to get one of those broker guys to get us a glass bottom boat for the next day. He was also nice enough to give us a recommendation for dinner at one of the vibandas near the beach and even talked to the guy on our behalf. We were aware of course that he was getting a cut somehow from the transactions but sometimes it is good to have somebody who is helping you out.
While we were on the beach we got to have our henna tattoos done. Usually they give you a price but if you are like me and you like to bargain, you can get a good deal especially if you are having both your legs and hands done.
Day 2 we were at Bamburi beach for the afternoon.We did manage to get our henna tattoos done. You can ask around and get somebody to do it pic.twitter.com/eMvyjzQIhk
In the evening, we got to have a meal of White Snapper and fried potatoes, and it was finger licking good. If you are looking for a great meal at reasonable prices you can get them at some of the vibandas near the beach.
We went out into the Mombasa Marine Park and Reserve. We had to pay both for the boat and for KWS. The boat charges depend on how many people you are paying for. One of the mistakes we made was going late, we were advised to go at 10 am but we were feeling lazy so we went at 1130. Big mistake as the tide had started coming in. When we got to the place where we were snorkeling we got to see a colourful variety of marine fish, some big and some small. We fed the fish and then went snorkeling. It was fun swimming in the warm azure ocean, looking at the beautiful fish. Well until the floater me and my sister were using got detached from the boat and we started drifting off because of the strong current. We had a few minutes of panic until one of the boat guys came to rescue us. We then went to another spot in the ocean where one can swim, and see some starfish, cucumber sea urchins. Because of the current we didn’t get to see the corals. The marine park is a great place to see crabs, turtles, sea grasses, jellyfish and stone fish.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on the beach making sand castles and swimming. Then it was back to the vibandas, to have another delicious meal of tuna, pilau and ugali.
Day 3 morning was spent swimming in the hotel pool, hanging out the beach, having a good time and having some lunch at the vibandas.
Our flight was at 5 so sadly we had to come back to Nairobi. Skyward Express made our trip back very comfortable and we made it back to Nairobi in good time.
There is so much to do at the coast with kids that you won’t get bored. You can hire somebody to take you around if you don’t have a friend to take you around (please get a recommendation from a friend living there. If you dont have one maybe you can ask @njooro or @jammyeljabry on twitter for recommendations). Luckily, we had our friend Jammy to take us around on the first day. We had planned to do more stuff on this list of things to do with Kids in Mombasa but one of the things that you must realize when travelling with kids is that if you do too much they can get fatigued and not enjoy the holiday when they are tired. So, next time we go we will check out some more places. Like go to town and eat some viazi karai and kebabs, and buy some mabuyu and achari.
Skyward Express flies to Mombasa and Lamu 2 times a day, to Mombasa at 9 am and 3 PM and back at 1230 pm and 430 pm. If you want to know more check out their website. Want to find out more you can follow Skyward Express on twitter at @SkywardExpress, on Facebook and Instagram.
Potentash Founder. A creative writer. The Managing Editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories and stories about the inclusion of minorities. Find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We're all stories, in the end.” ― Steven Moffat