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10 Interesting Mombasa Facts & Why to Stay in Msambweni

Tourism in Kenya
Container traffic at the Mombasa Port in Kenya from 2010 to 2021.

Image credit – Statista.

Tourism in Kenya has increased over the years. Kenya’s capital and main port, Mombasa, is located on a coralline island in an Indian Ocean harbor. In 2021, the Kenyan port of Mombasa processed 1.44 million TEUs of cargo. The island has an area of 5.5 square miles and is connected to its municipal territory of 100 square miles on the mainland by a causeway, bridge, and ferry.

There is so much to learn about Mombasa! This coastal city of Kenya has a metro area population of 1,440,000 as of 2023, a 3.67% increase from 2022. But do you know about its rich and diverse cultural life? Are you aware of the stories behind its historic sites? Why are the elephant tusks located in the middle of the road? Here are 10 Mombasa facts that you didn’t know. Want to stay at the best 5 star hotels in Mombasa Kenya? Wondering about the best time to travel to Kenya? Keep reading.

Did You Know These Interesting Mombasa Facts?

Mombasa, the second-largest city in Kenya, has stunning scenery that is defined by the Indian Ocean. Do you know the best time to visit Mombasa? This lovely hot town, known for its white sand, palm-lined beaches, history, and ancient structures, draws a great deal of visitors each year. Here are 10 amazing Mombasa facts that everyone should know before they visit. But if you also want to know about the best hotels in south coast Mombasa, read till the end.

best time to visit Mombasa
Mombasa was Kenya’s capital till 1906.

Image credit –

1. The Former Capital of Kenya

Kenya’s capital is Nairobi now, but Mombasa used to be the nation’s most important city in the olden times. Mombasa served as Kenya’s Protectorate capital from 1887 to 1906. Later on, the capital was relocated due to medical concerns. Since that time, Nairobi has served as Kenya’s capital. It is one of the most well-known Mombasa facts.

2. Mombasa Fort Jesus – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Searching for famous places in Mombasa? The Portuguese built Fort Jesus in Mombasa between 1593 and 1596, using Italian architect Giovanni Battista Cairati’s plans. It was vital in nine wars between states over control of Kenya’s coast, including Oman, England, and Portugal. In those conflict-filled years, Mombasa earned the nickname “Island of War.” It is now a museum after being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. Unable to find the best beach resorts in Kenya? Keep reading.

3. Ancient Trading Hub

famous places in Mombasa
Mombasa and other ancient trade centers.

Image credit –

Mombasa was once upon a time a major trading hub for gold, ivory, coconuts, sesame, and many other spices. The city’s trade activities linked Europe, India, and China. The city began creating many of the goods on its own because of the quantity of goods moving through the port.

For a sizable part of its history, the city served as one of the primary ports for the slave trade. This was in full force for a very long period before fading away in the middle of the 19th century. As a reminder of the trade, shackles are still evident around the city. There remains a bell that once served to warn residents about slave ships.

4. Elephant Tusks at Old Town

The large aluminum elephant tusks that span the length of Moi Avenue in Old Town’s Mombasa, Kenya, are well-known. These tusks are not just beautiful. They were built to honor Princess Margaret’s 1956 trip to Kenya, which took place during the British Empire’s rule. It is one of the most affordable places to visit in Mombasa.

places to visit in Mombasa
Mombasa Old Town.

Image credit – Wikipedia.

5. Unknown Founding Date

The 10th century saw the first settlers in Old Town Mombasa. Arab academics also mentioned the city in documents from the 12th to the 14th centuries that have been found. In sub-Saharan Africa, Mombasa is without doubt one of the oldest cities, despite the precise year of its inception.

The amazing Old Mombasa Town is filled with the aroma of spices, lively bazaars, Arab and Portuguese structures, and minimal antique shops. Everyone wants to enjoy its old-world charm. It is one of the most unknown Mombasa facts.

6. A Strong Historic Importance

Mainly due to its position, Mombasa in Kenya is a city with a significant past. The coastal city has seen action in a number of wars in the past. It was one of the most important ocean trading hubs in the early days. It played a valuable economic role in getting supplies from the outside world to the first settlers and royal families.

For instance, Jumba la Mtwana is a village in Kenya that is 15 km from Mombasa and has ancient buildings and artifacts as well as breathtaking vistas. You shouldn’t miss the once-in-a-lifetime experience of visiting the sea turtle hatcheries at the Jumba ruins.

Suggested Read: Ultimate Guide to Mombasa Carnival & Vacation in Msambweni]

7. A Hub for Music & Culture

Music is infused in every aspect of daily life in Mombasa. In the city, people like listening to Bango, Chakacha, and Mwanzele music. It is well-known for the Taarab music of Zanzibar as well. The city’s vibrant pubs play this music all night long, filling the air. Our #1 option for things to do in Diani is to visit locations that feature traditional music.

things to do in Diani
Vasco da Gama was the first European to see Mombasa in 1848.

Image credit – Shutterstock.

8. Vasco De Gama Discovered It

In 1848, the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama became the first European to visit Mombasa. The Portuguese came back two years later to capture it because what they saw left them in awe.

which is the best beach in Mombasa
Diani Beach is one of Africa’s best beaches.

Image credit – Freepik.

9. Diani Beach (South Coast Mombasa)

Looking for south coast beach resorts? The most luxurious hotels and resorts on the island may be found in Mombasa, which is located in Kenya. Which is the best beach in Mombasa? Diani Beach offers breathtaking views of sunsets, a paradise for surfing in crystal-clear waters, huge palm trees, and gorgeous coral reefs. Diani Beach is not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Africa but also one of the best beaches in the entire globe thanks to its lush greenery. The Diani Beach nightlife is also great. It is one of the best-known Mombasa facts. You can also visit the Diani Beach Shopping Centre.

fun activities in diani
Kilindini Harbour is a natural deep-water harbor for ships.

Image credit – Alamy.

10. Kilindini Harbour Mombasa

Kilindini Harbour, which opened in 1896, is the focal point of Kenya’s Port of Mombasa. It is the largest port in East Africa and the sole global seaport in Kenya. An old Swahili word ‘Kilindini’ means ‘deep’. It is a large, natural deep-water harbor. Along with cargo ships, all cruise ships anchor here when they arrive. Kenya, as well as nations in East and Central Africa, depend on this port for import and export. Searching for tourist places in Kenya? Read our other articles. 

[Suggested Read: 11 Books by African Authors & Travel to Msambweni in Kenya]

Stay at Msambweni Beach House to Explore the Interesting Mombasa Facts

best beach hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Looking for the best beach hotels in Mombasa Kenya? Do you like remote, pristine, and discreet? Msambweni Beach House is a luxury resort in Ukunda Kenya, and only a 30-minute drive from Ukunda Airstrip. Your Kenyan Safari can be well paired with a visit to our tranquil resort, or you can just come to stay with us for a week or less to unwind by the Indian Ocean. Msambweni weather is pleasant all year round.

Since it is located near Mombasa, you can uncover its rich and diverse culture, history, Mombasa facts, and much more while staying away from city life. Welcome to paradise and here are some amenities and activities you will enjoy.

msambweni beach hotel

1. Private Beach Access: Why are you searching for a private beach in Mombasa? Msambweni Beach Hotel offers a private 3km stretch of white sand. The beach allows you to enjoy the stunning coastal views and the sound of the ocean from your private villas.

swimming pools in Mombasa

2. Opulent Suites & Private Villas: Why are you searching for swimming pools in Mombasa? Msambweni Beach Resort offers 4 suites at the Main House sharing a 14 m infinity pool and 3 opulent Msambweni villas with private pools. All are designed with a blend of modern facilities like AC, digital TV, etc., and authentic Kenyan aesthetics. All have stunning views of gardens and the Indian Ocean.

best swahili restaurants in Mombasa

3. Dining Experiences: Fresh seafood is often a highlight, given the proximity to the coast. Finding the best Swahili restaurants in Mombasa? Try our Swahili, Belgian, and French delicacies as well. Our trained kitchen staff by a Belgian celebrity chef ensures that every meal is a pure delight. Dine by the pool or by the beach under the African sky for the perfect barbecue, breakfast, or dinner.

spa treatments and wellness activities

4. Spa and Shopping: Our Msambweni Hotel offers spa treatments and wellness activities to help guests unwind and pamper themselves, often by the beach. We also have a Curio Shop so you can take a souvenir back home.

water activities and excursions

5. Water Activities & Excursions: Given its beachfront location, we offer many water activities and excursions such as snorkeling, mangrove and sandbank adventure, Kisite Mombasa Marine Park & Reserve, scuba diving in Kenya, and much more. Some of the indoor activities also include ping pong, beach tennis, etc.

Know About Interesting Mombasa Facts Before You Visit

Mombasa offers a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that promises a memorable journey through time. From its diverse influences to its iconic structures like Fort Jesus, the city offers a glimpse into its storied past. As you wander through its bustling markets, indulge in its delectable cuisine, and soak in the sun on its white sand beaches, Mombasa becomes even more interesting. It reveals itself as a place that bridges tradition and modernity, leaving an indelible mark on all who venture to explore its unique charm.

Planning a holiday to Kenya? Do you want to stay close to Mombasa but away from its hustle and bustle? Do you want to know more about the Mombasa facts? Where is Msambweni in Kenya? What is the distance from Mombasa to Msambweni? Just 30 minutes from Diani (Mombasa South Coast), Msambweni is a small fishing town in Kwale County. Stay at the iconic Msambweni Beach House (the best Kenya beach house) in the south of Kenya for a private 3km stretch of white sand, blue oceanfront, and adventures you will love! Contact us today!

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