Kilifi Travel Guide

Plan your ultimate vacation in Kilifi, Kenya. Explore its natural attractions, cultural heritages, local cuisines, and much more.

Introduction to Kilifi:

Kilifi, a small coastal town located in the Kilifi County of Kenya, is a tropical paradise for travelers who love to explore the hidden gems of Africa. With stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, Kilifi offers a unique vacation experience for both solo travelers and families alike. Here is our comprehensive travel guide to Kilifi to help you plan your dream vacation:

List of Places to Visit in Kilifi:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums, and Historical Places

  • Gedi Ruins: Gedi ruins are one of the most important historical sites in Kenya, dating back to the 12th century. The ruins showcase the Swahili culture and the history of the East African coast.

  • Kilifi Creek: Kilifi Creek is a picturesque spot located off the coast of the Indian ocean. This historic spot is famous for its scenic beauty, crystal-clear water, and the Mangrove forest surrounding it. Visit for a day trip or a sunset cruise.

  • Kilifi Fort: The Kilifi Fort is a historical monument located in the center of the town. The fort dates back to the 16th century and is a perfect place for history buffs.

Natural Attractions of Kilifi: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Mnarani Ruins: Mnarani ruins are located on a cliff overlooking the Indian ocean. The ruins are famous for their stunning views and unique collection of artifacts. Take a tour with a local guide.

  • Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve: This forest reserve, managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service, is famous for its diverse wildlife, including elephants, buffaloes, and monkeys.

  • Watamu Marine National Park: Watamu Marine National Park is a protected marine reserve located 20 kilometers south of Kilifi. The park features coral reefs, vibrant marine life, and clear waters, a perfect spot for snorkeling, diving, and swimming.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Kilifi:

  • Kilifi Creek Trail: This trail runs across the creek and the Mangrove forest, offering stunning views and a chance to spot various bird species.

  • Kilifi Bridge Run, Walk or Bike: The Kilifi Bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge crossing a creek in East Africa. You can walk, run or bike across it and take in breathtaking views of the ocean.

Best Things to Do in Kilifi: Activities and Tours:

  • Dolphin Watching and Snorkeling: Kilifi has several spots where you can watch dolphins swimming and playing in their natural habitat. Take one of the many boat tours out for a day of adventure.

  • Kayaking in Kilifi Creek: Rent a kayak and explore the Kilifi Creek and its surrounding Mangrove forest while you get some exercise.

  • Kiteboarding in Kilifi: Kilifi is a great place to learn and practice kiteboarding with its consistent winds and calm waters.

Week-Long Itinerary for Kilifi:

Day Activity
Day 1 Visit Kilife Fort, and learn about the town’s history.
Day 2 Explore the Mnarani Ruins and the Gedi Ruins.
Day 3 Visit the Arabuko Sokoke forest reserve and witness local wildlife.
Day 4 Take a day trip to the Watamu Marine National Park.
Day 5 Rent a kayak, take a boat tour, or join locals and walk across the Kilifi bridge.
Day 6 Go kiteboarding or relax on the beach.
Day 7 Sample local cuisine and shop for souvenirs.

Food and Drink Scene of Kilifi:

Must-Try Dishes:

  • Swahili Biriyani: This dish originated from the Swahili coast of East Africa and is made with spiced rice, vegetables, and meat.

  • Mnyazi wa menazi: This dish is made with coconut milk, cassava, and fish or chicken.

  • Chapati: Chapatis are a common food in East Africa, a form of flatbread made from wheat flour, water, and oil.

Local Beverages:

  • Madafu: This is a popular drink in coastal Africa, made from the juice of young coconuts.

  • Cashew Nut Juice: This juice is made from cashew nuts and is known for its health benefits.

Where to Stay in Kilifi: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Kilifi Bay Beach Resort: Located on the coast, this luxury resort offers stunning beachfront views, three pools, and a spa.

  • Mandharini Luxury Apartments: These modern, self-catering apartments are a 5-minute drive from Kilifi town.

  • Distant Relatives Eco-Lodge & Backpackers: This charming eco-lodge is popular for its treehouse accommodations and lively community of backpackers.

What to Buy in Kilifi: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Kikoi: This is a traditional East African clothing item that is popular among both men and women.

  • Kikapu: These baskets are common in Kenya and are great for carrying grocery items or as decorative pieces in your home.

  • Kenyan Coffee Beans: Kenya is famous for its high-quality coffee beans, which make an excellent souvenir.

Local Culture and Customs of Kilifi

The people of Kilifi are the Swahili, a combination of the Bantu and Arab cultures. Their language, Kiswahili, is the primary language spoken in the region. The Swahili people are known for their hospitality and their love of music and dance.

Best Time to Visit Kilifi

The best time to visit Kilifi is during the dry season that spans from January to March or from June to September when the weather is warm and sunny with little to no rain.

Do’s and Don’ts of Kilifi:


  • Respect the local customs and culture.

  • Dress modestly when entering places of worship.

  • Support the local economy by buying locally-made products.


  • Don’t litter or damage the environment.

  • Don’t take photographs of people without their permission.

  • Don’t engage in illegal activities.

Safety and Health:

Safety in Kilifi:

Kilifi is a safe place for visitors. However, it is always advisable to take precautions to avoid petty theft and other crimes. We recommend being aware of your surroundings and avoiding walking alone at night.

Health in Kilifi:

It is advisable to take precautions against malaria, a common disease in the East African region. Before departing, discuss your travel plans with your doctor and obtain appropriate vaccinations.

Getting to Kilifi: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Kilifi:

  • Malindi International Airport (36 kilometers from Kilifi)

  • Mombasa International Airport (56 kilometers from Kilifi)

Bus Stations Near Kilifi:

  • Kilifi Bus Station

  • Mombasa Bus Station

Other Options:

  • Private Taxis

  • Car Rentals

How to Get Around in Kilifi:

The most convenient way to get around Kilifi is by taxi. Boda-bodas, tuk-tuks, and matatus (minibusses) are also common forms of transport in the area.

Where to Go Next from Kilifi: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Mombasa: Mombasa is a bustling coastal city, with several tourist attractions, including the Fort Jesus Museum, and the Old Town.

  • Tsavo East National Park: This park is known for its large elephant herds and is a great place for a wildlife safari.


Kilifi offers a unique vacation experience with stunning beaches, lush landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and outdoor adventures. With this comprehensive guide, you will have everything you need to plan your dream vacation in Kilifi.