Best Places to Visit in Malindi: Unveiling the Coastal Wonders of Kenya

By Mabel Collins

When one thinks of Kenya, the first images that come to mind are often the sweeping savannahs of the Maasai Mara, teeming with wildlife, or the vibrant culture of Nairobi, the country's bustling capital. However, Kenya is a diverse nation, offering an array of travel experiences, and one of its hidden gems is the coastal town of Malindi. Located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, Malindi boasts a rich history, stunning natural beauty, and a unique blend of cultures that make it a must-visit destination for any traveler. 

In this article, we'll explore the best places to visit in Malindi, revealing the true essence of this coastal paradise.

The Historical Treasures: Malindi's Rich Past

Malindi has a deep and storied history, which is evident in its numerous historical sites and landmarks. One of the most famous is the Gedi Ruins, an ancient Swahili-Arab town that dates back to the 13th century. These preserved ruins offer a glimpse into the life of the Swahili people and their trade connections with the Arab world. The intricate architecture, including the Great Mosque and numerous houses, is a testament to the thriving civilization that once called Gedi home.

Close to Gedi, you can find the Vasco da Gama Pillar, a stone column erected by the Portuguese explorer - Vasco da Gama. This historic site commemorates his first visit to the East African coast. It's a reminder of the early European presence in the region and the beginning of a new era of trade and cultural exchange.

6 Tourist Sites in Malindi That Travelers Must Pay a Visit

Malindi, situated approximately 120 kilometers to the northeast of Mombasa, is a well-known tourist hotspot. The town boasts a wide range of captivating activities for visitors, from exploring historical ruins to experiencing the wonders of national parks, making it a diverse and appealing destination.

Below are the best places to visit in Malindi that are highly recommended to all travelers who should come here and experience the natural beauty as well as the culture in this town.

Watamu - Beaches Beyond Compare: Sun, Sand, and Serenity

This is one of the best places to go in Malindi and of the most beautiful beach in Kenya. Experience the breathtaking beauty of Malindi's unspoiled beaches, where glistening turquoise waters meet soft, golden sands. Indulge in a paradise of sun, sea, and sand that will leave you rejuvenated and refreshed. The most famous beach in town is Malindi Beach itself, offering the perfect setting for relaxation, sunbathing, and water sports. Its crystal-clear waters provide excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving, allowing you to discover the mesmerizing marine life that thrives just beneath the surface.

The hidden gem of Watamu Beach is located just a short drive from Malindi. Watamu Beach is a serene haven with powdery white sands and shallow, calm waters. The nearby Watamu Marine National Park is a must-visit spot for underwater enthusiasts, as it houses an incredible variety of coral reefs and marine species, making it an ideal destination for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Watamu is a popular destination for scuba divers

Watamu is a popular destination for scuba divers

Exploring the Marine Wonders: Watamu Marine National Park

Watamu Marine National Park is a true natural wonder among places to visit in Malindi tourist sites, offering a chance to witness the breathtaking beauty of Kenya's marine life. This protected area encompasses over 10 square kilometers of coral reefs, lagoons, and pristine beaches. It's home to a stunning array of marine creatures, including colorful coral formations, fish, turtles, and even dolphins.

Snorkeling and diving are the best ways to experience this underwater paradise. The park's clear waters make it an excellent destination for both beginners and experienced divers. Don't forget to explore the marine turtle nesting sites, where you might have the chance to see these magnificent creatures laying their eggs or even watch the baby turtles making their way to the sea.

Watamu Marine National Park

Watamu Marine National Park

Swahili Culture and Traditions: Malindi's Cultural Attractions

Malindi is a melting pot of cultures with a rich blend of African, Arab, and European influences. To immerse yourself in the local culture, visit the Malindi Museum, where you can learn about the region's history, art, and traditions. The museum displays artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that highlight the cultural diversity of Malindi and its significance as a historical trading hub.

For a more interactive experience, consider attending a traditional Swahili dance performance. These displays of rhythmic movements and colorful costumes are not only entertaining but also a chance to appreciate the vibrant local culture.

Marafa Canyon - The Unspoiled Beauty

Just a short drive from Malindi, you'll find the Marafa Canyon, often referred to as "Hell's Kitchen" due to its otherworldly landscape. This naturally formed depression is a result of soil erosion and weathering over thousands of years. The canyon's jagged sandstone formations, in various shades of red and orange, create a striking contrast to the surrounding lush vegetation.

Marafa Gorge is one of the best places to visit in Malindi and and one of the places not to be missed when in Kenya. Exploring Marafa Canyon is an adventure in itself, as you can hike through its winding paths and crevices, revealing unexpected oases and viewpoints with panoramic vistas. Sunset is a particularly magical time to visit, as the changing light enhances the beauty of this unique geological wonder.

Marafa Canyon

Marafa Canyon

Mida Creek - Kenya Coastal Oasis

Mida Creek is a serene and picturesque tidal inlet located near Malindi, Kenya. This natural wonder is part of the Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve, making it a vital ecosystem for both marine and birdlife. The creek is characterized by its meandering waterways, mangrove forests, and sandbars. It serves as a critical breeding ground for various fish species and is a haven for numerous bird species, including waders and flamingos.

Mida Creek offers visitors the chance to explore its tranquil waters by boat or kayak, providing a peaceful and immersive experience with nature. Its shallow, clear waters make it an excellent spot for snorkeling, and during low tide, you can take leisurely walks on the exposed sandbars. Mida Creek is not only a place of natural beauty but also an important conservation area, contributing to the ecological balance of the region. It's one of the must-visit attractions in Malindi for those seeking to connect with the coastal ecosystems of Kenya.

A wooden boardwalk in Mida Creek

A wooden boardwalk in Mida Creek

Gedi Ruins - Unearthing the Swahili Past

This is one of the most visited places in Malindi and the country's biggest mysteries. The Gedi Ruins stand as the remnants of an ancient Swahili town situated along the Kenyan coast. This town was deserted in the 14th century, and it wasn't until the 20th century that these archaeological remnants were unearthed. Among the ruins are the vestiges of residences, mosques, tombs, and various other structures.

These historical remnants are situated within the confines of the Gedi National Monument, a protected area under the stewardship of the Kenyan Wildlife Service. The Gedi Ruins have become a favored destination for tourists, providing a unique insight into the historical and cultural legacy of the ancient Swahili people. They offer a captivating and educational visit, allowing visitors to delve into Kenya's past.

Gedi Ruins

Gedi Ruins


Malindi's unique blend of Swahili, Arab, and European influences, as showcased in its culture, cuisine, and handicrafts, offers a fascinating perspective on the region's vibrant heritage. Whether you're indulging in traditional Swahili dances, savoring local culinary delights, or exploring the captivating Marafa Canyon, Malindi provides a tapestry of experiences that cater to a diverse range of interests.

As you venture further into the hinterland, don't miss the opportunity to visit Malindi tourist sites by applying for a Kenya ETA online. With simple steps, you can obtain an e-visa within a few days. Kenya Immigration Services website will support travelers to prepare the necessary documents to be qualified for this type of visa.

While enjoying your stay in Malindi, it's crucial to be mindful of responsible and sustainable travel practices to protect the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. Malindi's history is not just confined to the past; it's an integral part of its identity, making it an unforgettable destination for those who seek to uncover the best places to visit in Malindi town.