Cruise excursions in Mombasa
Traditional dancers awaiting visitors to disembark from a cruise ship at the Port of Mombasa is the typical welcome one receives in the coastal town of Kenya – Mombasa. Dressed in colorful lesso skirts and wearing painted body art, the dancers sway in vigor following the upbeat African rhythm of the drums and other traditional musical instruments. There will be vociferous ululation and sonorous drumming expressing authenticity of the African spirit.
Mombasa is an island and a port city in Kenya on Africa’s Indian Ocean coast. The city with a population of around 1.2 million has a port located on a bay and features a deep-water natural harbor called Kilindini Harbor. The Port of Mombasa is the only International seaport in Kenya and the largest in East Africa. This makes it a key seaport on the shipping trade routes between Arabia, Africa, India and the Orient, into Uganda and other inland countries.
Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and Zanzibar are three ports that complement one another. Mombasa enjoys a huge market share of the business due to its proximity to wildlife sanctuaries, excellent sandy beaches and hotels. Dar es Salaam is second and then is Zanzibar.
Some of the Prestigious cruise lines calling in the ports of Mombasa and Zanzibar include; Orient Lines, Crystal Cruises, Princess Cruises, Semester at Sea, Windstar Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Regent Cruise Lines, Lindblad Expeditions, Silver sea Cruise Line and Holland America Line Sea bourn Cruise Line among others.
So, what do you do when you have just a day in Mombasa on your cruise holiday?
Mombasa city tour
You could go on a tour of Mombasa city this usually includes a visit to Fort Jesus, the Mombasa old town, go up the winding streets into the market. Afterwards you driver will take you to see the famous ‘Tusks’ by this time you will be hungry, tired and hot! Take lunch at the Tamarind restaurant overlooking the ocean and Mombasa island. If they have enough people you can go on a lunch time cruise on the tamarind dhow.
Alternatively take the evening dhow cruise with Tamarind dhow and enjoy the sights and sounds of Mombasa at night.
Another dhow cruise and evening trip worth booking as a group of 20 or more people, is the Mombasa by night with dinner at the Fort Jesus. the exciting itinerary begins at 5.30pm with atmospheric Dhow Sundowner Cruise which offers an outstanding view of the Old Port from the water.
After docking at the old port, the guide will lead you on a walk through the historic Old Town to the 400year old fortress of Fort Jesus. Built by the Portuguese as a stronghold at the entrance to the harbor, the ancient fort is a stunning example of 16th century military architecture that has survived centuries of attack and conquest. Here you will be welcomed by Portuguese and Arab fire-bearers before witnessing a dazzling sound and light show that is followed by a sumptuous dinner served alfresco within the ramparts of the Fort for a truly unforgettable dining experience. After this memorable experience of a lifetime, you will be taken back to your cruise ship.
Visit Wasini or Funzi Islands
This works if your ship docks early enough for departure at 8.00am. You can venture out south of Mombasa into:
Wasini Island; A visit to Kisite Marine national park, is completely worth it. This is snorkeler’s paradise trip. The marine park is home to dolphins, sea turtles and varied marine life species. Lunch is served in a seafood restaurant at the ocean shore before driving back to Mombasa port to your ship.
Funzi island; this is another island at the south. It is famous for mangrove tours on motorized canoes, up river Ramisi. There is amazing variety of bird life with over more than 500 recorded species. As you cruise up the river, you might even be lucky to see crocodiles basking on the river bank under the shade of the mangrove forest. Another highlight of this trip is swimming in the sandbank that pops up when the tide is low. It makes for beautiful memories which we encourage you to capture with your camera. The trip takes a full- day trip with seafood lunch on the island before the drive back to Mombasa in the evening.
Tsavo East park
If for example your cruise ship docks at noon and will leave the evening of the next day, why not go on an overnight safari in Tsavo East park? This park is only 2.5 hrs drive from Mombasa. Arrange for a pick-up from the quay after lunch on the first day once you’ve settled into your cabin and go straight to the park. You’ll have time for an early-evening game drive, dinner at your lodge or camp, a morning game drive before breakfast, then lunch and a daytime relax, followed by the drive back to the ship.
Tsavo East has some great lodges within reasonable distance from Mombasa port; including Ashnil Aruba Lodge and Ngutuni Lodge as mid-range. Low budget lodges include Voi safari lodge and Voi wildlife lodge. On the higher level we Satao Camp. All these are within game viewing areas especially when on one-night safari from Cruise ships that dock at the Mombasa port.
Shimba and Mwaluganje,
If you are looking for a proper safari then these two small game reserves can be disappointing. It is sad but Mwaluganje elephant sanctuary is almost closed down. A trip to Mwaluganje is not worth it anymore. There are hardly any elephants and a trip there would be simply to view the nature and trees around.
While Shimba has a few animals, there are no cats whatsoever. You might see antelopes, 2 resident giraffes, a few sable antelopes and buffaloes. Elephants are rarity nowadays in Shimba hills, and can only be seen on very rare occasions.
Both the Shimba hills national reserve and the Mwaluganje elephant sanctuary were once great getaways with a loge called Shimba hills green hills lodge overlooking the Mwaluganje elephant sanctuary from the top of the ridge. This is the main reason we recommend Tsavo East and/or west national parks instead.
Diani, a town south of Mombasa has been voted Africa’s leading beach destination for years in a row. The palm-fringed white sandy beaches with clear turquoise water and pristine coral reefs make for a fun-filled list of water sports and activities. From relaxing sunset cruises and family friendly glass boat tours to the Robinson island for snorkeling, to adrenaline-filled sports like surfing, jet skiing and skydiving, there is definitely something for everyone. Alternatively, you could choose to wear your sun cream, go for a swim in the ocean, then bask and laze in the hot afternoon sun. Other activities to do at the beach would include; surfboarding, kitesurfing, windsurfing, diving, deep sea fishing, and whale shark spotting when in season. The Maji Beach Boutique Hotel, Bahari Dhow, Leopard Beach Resort, Hotel Sonrisa, Ocean Village Club, Southern Palms, The Sands at Nomad are among hotels in Diani with modern or ancient Arabic and Swahili architecture gracing the hotels and resorts. Others include the Jacaranda Indian Ocean Beach Resort, Amani Tiwi Beach Resort, Baobab Beach Resort, Swahili Beach Resort, Diani Reef Hotel, Leisure Lodge Beach Resort and Golf-club, Pine Wood Beach Resort and Spa among many others.
Whether you choose the water or the animal park, there is adventure to be had and enjoyed on your one-day stop over at the Mombasa port.