Malindi: A Popular Beach Destination in Kenya


Here is your travel guide to Malindi to help you explore this popular coastal town in Kenya,

One of the best things about visiting Kenya is easy access to the country’s beach destinations. In Kenya, you do not have to go far to find your own little tropical paradise.

Just a two-hour drive from Mombasa is Malindi, a beach town famous for its pearly white-sand beaches, palm trees, and tropical setting. If this sounds like a tropical destination you would like to visit, read on to learn more about Malindi and my experience there.

History of Malindi

Malindi is an ancient coastal town located on the Kenyan coast where the Galana River spills into the Indian Ocean. The town was founded around the 1st century and was an Arabic settlement and a trading port before it fell under Portuguese influence in the 16th century.

Two hundred years later, the town was ruled by the Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar. This special town apparently went through many changes, booms, and declines before becoming what before it is today – a popular coastal destination that welcomes tourists from all over the world.

How to get around Malindi

The best way to get around Malindi is by tuk-tuk. This is especially true when it comes to a trip to the airport, bus station, certain beaches, downtown, and the Pillar of Vasco da Gama. It is easy to hail a tuk-tuk on the street or call for one from your accommodations to pick you up.

You can also walk to the beaches, shops, and restaurants, provided they are not too far away from where you are staying. The city is easy to navigate, and most routes are straightforward.

Travel guide to Malindi Kenya

downtown Malindi | Photo credit: Amy the Nurse via Flicker 

If you plan to visit the Gedi Ruins and(or) Marafa (also known as Hell’s Kitchen), taking a bus is the better option.

Malindi weather

Malindi is sunny most of the year. You can expect a high of 30 Celsius and a low of 22 Celcius. While I was there, it was scorching hot and dry in the city but cooler at the beach.

What to do in Malindi


One of the best things to do in Malindi is to enjoy its laid-back pristine beaches. During my time in Malindi, I walked to Chui Beach, which was across the street from my hotel. I did this every day simply to take in the beautiful ocean view. You can easily spend hours relaxing and relishing in the laid-back vibe without thinking about anything else.

Chui Beach in Malindi Kenya

Chui Beach in Malindi Kenya

However, it is difficult not to notice that Chui is popular among international travelers, especially because many Brits and Italians made Malindi their new home back in the 19th century. Since I was there daily, I was able to notice that some visitors spend their entire vacation at Chui Beach, which is understandable thanks to the sun lounges and pleasant and attentive service provided by the onsite Osteria Beach Bar and Restaurant.

You can walk along the seashore and swim in the ocean at this beach, and you will find others scattered around, lounging and swimming. The water is fairly calm and clean, and you can see the fishing boats far off in the distance. If you do not mind the long walk and the heat, you can eve stroll all the way to the Pillar of Vasco da Gama.

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Pillar of Vasco da Gama

The Pillar of Vasco Da Gama is a landmark in Malindi. It can easily be reached on foot or tuk-tuk.

A bell-shaped monument, the Pillar of Vasco da Gama is the namesake of a Portuguese explorer, the first to sail directly from Europe to India. For many years, this monument  has guided those navigating the sea route to India.

Pillar of Vasco da Gama

This is Pillar of Vasco da Gama, a landmark in Malindi

Apart from its historical significance, what makes the Pillar of Vasco da Gama worth visiting is its seafront location. From there, you will have easy access to the white sandy beach and crystal clear water.

Pillar of Vasco da Gama

View from Pillar of Vasco da Gama

Admission to the Pillar of Vasco da Gama is KES 500 for foreign visitors and includes a tour guide and entrance to a museum, and a Portuguese chapel.

Golden Beach

Golden Beach is my favorite beach to visit in Malindi for a few hours of relaxation. This beach is 2 kilometers north of Malindi and features a long stretch of golden sand that is pleasant to walk on barefoot.

Travel guide to Kenya

Golden Beach in Malindi

Compared to Chui Beach, Golden Beach is more serene and natural, making it perfect for those interested in experiencing the real Kenya. While it is not commercialized for tourists, you can still relax, swim, and enjoy some kitesurfing or windsurfing.

There is a bridge next to the Golden Beach that you can walk on to enjoy the panoramic ocean view. Unfortunately, this bridge was originally built for the slave trade; during that time, those considered to slaves, who refused to get on the boat from the bridge faced life-threatening consequences.

Golden Beach in Malindi Kenya

This bridge was built for slave trade.

Hotels and restaurants

There are plenty of affordable and high-quality restaurants and hotels in Malindi. I booked my stay at Villa Mela Hotel, which features a beautiful pool garden where I enjoyed a cold beer and a swim every afternoon.

If you go downtown, you will find street food and restaurants aplenty. Two restaurants I highly recommend are Simba and Jabreen. They both offer authentic delicious Swahili dishes in a laid-back atmosphere. The best part is that the meals at both Simba and Jabreen are extremely affordable and worth every penny.

Travel guide to Malindi

A delicious meal at the Simba Restaurant

What to know about visiting Malindi

Malindi is a safe place to visit, but be aware of your surroundings and always stay on guard. There are lots of mosquitos and insects, so make sure to bring mosquito spray with you. Most hotels are equipped with air conditioners but expect some blackouts.

From Malindi, you can take a day trip to Marafa (as known as Hell’s Kitchen), or the Gedi Ruins, or you can travel to Lamu for a multi-day visit.

Marafa, Kenya

Marafa, also known as the Hell’s Kitchen | photo credit: Alessandro Ceci via Flicker 

Have you visited Malindi before? Share your travel information and experience below. 

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Travel guide to Malindi Kenya

Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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