Kenya’s coastline offers about 500 km of pristine Indian Ocean beaches, and Islands which boasts of rich marine life. One of them is Malindi. You, probably, have been there if you’re a beach-holiday fan. It’s a beautiful town with exotic hotels and pristine beaches. It’s also a family-friendly destination with fun activities for tourists, little wonder why the town is usually tipped as Kenya’s paradise. In this piece, I am going to share my experience in the town.
Just like most visitors, I arrived in Nairobi, and headed to Mombasa – where I stayed for two nights. Then, I travelled from Mombasa, up the coast to Malinda via a smooth highway that cut through sisal plantations and majestic baobab trees to arrive at my final destination. As a journeyed this route, I could almost feel the mix of civilizations that lies ahead. Malindi was the landing site of Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama; he was not the only one to have been drawn here, Arab traders, other Portuguese explorers, European settlers—especially Italians, Indian immigrants, etc., also fell for the town’s diverse ‘magic’.
After what seemed like a long journey, I arrived in Malindi. It’s a relaxed town with views of historical monuments and fantastic stretch of about 96 miles of sandy, palm-shaded beaches. The prized experience for me though is at the town’s protected coral reefs in Malindi Marine National Park.
To me, Malindi strikes a chord with Florence, not like it is Florence per se, but the city has a reverberating Italian presence—with Italian imprint everywhere from the language, the food, the hotels, to even its casinos—this is another defining factor in my Malindi fun Experience.
We all know that Italians are good when it comes to food, and I can attest to it that that expertise seemed to have influenced the food in Malindi
On my first night, my host treated me to a unique seven-course menu. Thanks to his Italian chef who made the perfect choices. We started with Asparagus Cappuccino and Asparagus Tempura. Don’t ask me how it tasted—it’s better experienced than imagined. The chef made it with just the right bite and crunch that made you want more! Octopus with Madagascar Vanilla, Fennel and lashings of Parmesan came next. The Octopus was tender and perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the vanilla and the peppery fennel pulled all the flavours together.
So much for gastronomy! There is a lot more to see and do in Malindi in addition to the mouth-watering Italian delicacies, and the next day launched me into the town’s life, sight and sound. My host took me out first to the Malindi old town.
“It’s an interesting place”, he told me. He was determined to show me a bit of history and culture and I was all in for it. The old town is an interesting historical site, as we strolled around, I paid attention to every little thing starting with the greeting. We finally got to the Jumaá Mosque and stopped to take in the history. “Slaves were auctioned here about two centuries ago”, my host said. He was pointing at a particular point where traders would have mads their bids for slaves. Then he touched my shoulders and said “you’ll probably be worth 12 pounds”, laughing off as he said so.
Standing alongside the Jumaá Mosque is a pair of 15th-century pillar tombs, the type unique to the Swahili Coast. We moved close and took some shots.
We also visited the Tourist Market. The market has over 50 stalls where craftworks are sold—including innumerable woodcarvings, paintings and trinkets, I doubt if there is any better spot for craft shopping in Kenya.
The Malindi Waterfront was the other interesting spot we visited. Opposite the main jetty is the Malindi Museum where various rare wooden totems, credited to the creativity of the Gobu subtribe of the Mijikenda, are housed. The collonaded three-storey building itself is historic, having served as an Indian trading centre in 1891.
Almost everybody visiting Malindi gets to the Malindi Marine National Park and I won’t be among those breaking the unspoken rule by not visiting. The park is a protected area teeming with tropical fish, turtles and the occasional shark. most visited come here for snorkelling
Although I have no expertise in snorkelling nor diving, I was, nevertheless, fascinated by the snorkelling and diving opportunities that the Park offers for enthusiasts of the sport. Going there requires some perseverance though. The park is far from town, but I was lucky to have set out early enough and got there with ample time to catch some fun.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention one of the town’s leading monuments, my host said everyone takes a picture of it so I had to do so too. It’s the Vasco da Gama Pillar. The Pillar is a bell-shaped coral and stone monument erected in 1498 by the famous Portuguese explorer as a navigational aid. Here is the shot.
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