Cheap things to do in Mombasa
September 14, 2018
by Natalie Lumumba
Mombasa is one of Kenya’s oldest and second largest city. It is a city full of rich cultural heritage thus a hub for tourism. Although many people may think that the city is an expensive place to visit, many would be surprised at how easy it is to find cheap and affordable things to do. Listed below are 11 things to do without necessarily breaking the bank and save some coin in the long run.
Take a walk down the beach.
The city’s shoreline is full of beaches waiting to be explored. Kenya boasts of having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are a number of popular beaches to explore along the coast which includes Nyali Beach, Bamburi, Diani beach, Shanzu, Mtwapa among others. The beaches in Mombasa have really fine sand with beautiful blue and cool water with palm trees aesthetically lined a few meters away from the shoreline. It is also a good way to meet new people whether local or foreign and get to know where others come from.
Take a trip to Old Town Mombasa
Mombasa’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site inhabited by a rich and diverse mix of cultures such as locals, Arabs, Portuguese and British. It’s called Old Town because the buildings date back to the 18th century, an era when there was a lot of trade going on between the locals at the coast, Arabs, and Portuguese on their way to India. The centuries-old buildings that are majorly white have beautifully carved doors, intricate balcony patterns, wooden and aged window shutters and rustic door knobs and knocks. It is the area where the first ethnic group at the coast, believed to be the Swahili people, first settled.
Visit Kongowea Market
When I went to the market I was astounded at how cheap the clothes are. Considering they are second-hand clothes, bags, and shoes, the clothes are really great and a perfect place to find vintage clothing. It is probably best to go early to midmorning considering it is an open-air market, therefore, it is tiresome to shop in the humid heat of the coast. I got tops and t-shirts for as low as Ksh 50 to 100(literally 50 cents to 1 in USD) and definitely, there is pricey stuff like leather bags or shoes which are not too expensive. It is the perfect balance of chaos and street fashion. There are also street vendors who sell food and vegetables at equally cheap prices such as onions, green maize, capsicum, sweet potatoes and many more.
Visit Mama Ngina Drive.
You haven’t really been to Mombasa if you haven’t taken a trip down to Mama Ngina drive and had the yam or potato chips freshly fried as you watch ships from all over parts of the world carry imports for docking at the coast. They are really inexpensive yet so delicious. At the drive, you can also watch the sunset which is one of the beautiful things you can ever see. Huge ships docking at the ports also pass through there which is a sight to see therefore the occasional blaring of horns is expected. Kids can also engage in a number of activities such as riding horses and face painting. During holidays and festivals, the drive is always full of people coming out to celebrate on occasions such as Eid, Christmas, New Year or even some of the local festivals hosted in Mombasa.
I know, why to swim while there is a whole ocean. This is for people who fear large masses of water, or those who do not really want to swim in the salty sea. There are a number of really cheap hotels in Mombasa lining the coast which also serves as an entrance to some of the best spots on the beach. This is also the perfect outings for kids where they can snack on some fries and options in the kiddies menus offered at the hotels.
Go for a Tour at Mamba Village.
One of the things that Kenya prides itself on is wildlife. Mamba translates to a crocodile in English. It is a village where crocodiles are kept and fed and it is one of the largest in East Africa. The highlight of the trip is watching as the hungry scale skinned fellow feed at the end of the day. They are a sight to behold with their bulky bodies, scaly skin, and tall tails. It is also the perfect spot to take kids for a little outing.
Take a Ferry ride
The Likoni ferry ride carries passengers, vehicles, and tuk-tuks across Kilindini Harbour form the island to the mainland. For passengers it is free but machinery has to pay a certain fee for transportation. It’s a captivating experience where you meet characters from all over.
Visit the Marine National park.
The experience is not completed if you have not visited the park. There are a number of activities to do such as snorkeling, diving, surfing, and skiing. There is also a range of beautiful marine species which are a sight to behold.
Clubs and Mombasa Nightlife.
The bustling nightlife of Mombasa is definitely one to be experienced. There are a number of clubs, bars and pubs where one can just sit back and enjoy a nice cold Tusker beer or dance the night way to the throbbing and gyrating music. You can also take dinners and trips on the dhow at night for those who yearn for a more private and romantic candlelit night.
Visit Fort Jesus
You haven’t really been to Mombasa if you have not visited the famous Fort Jesus. It was built by the Portuguese, between 1593 to 1596 at the Old Port of Mombasa. It served to protect the port during the Indian Ocean trade that was undergoing at the coast in the 16th century among the peoples of African, Arab, Turkish, Persian and European origin.
The tusks lets you know that you are finally in Mombasa, code 001. The Tusks are made of aluminum and mark the entrance to the heart of the city where most of the commercial activities take place, this landmark was built to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 1952.