Mtwapa Travel Guide

Discover Mtwapa, a little-known gem on the Kenyan coast. Explore its culturally significant attractions, natural wonders, activities, and food scene. Learn about local customs, safety and health, transportation options, and nearby destinations.

Introduction to Mtwapa

Mtwapa is a coastal town in Kenya, located about 10 kilometers from Mombasa city. It is situated on the north shore of Mombasa Island and overlooks the Indian Ocean. The town is known for its pristine beaches, coral reefs, and mangrove forests, making it a haven for snorkelers, divers, birdwatchers, and nature lovers. Mtwapa also has cultural attractions that showcase the town’s Swahili and Arab influences.

List of Places to Visit in Mtwapa

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Jumba la Mtwana: This 14th-century Swahili settlement features mosques, tombs, and palaces that highlight the architectural and cultural heritage of the region.
  • Mtwapa Cultural Village: This museum showcases the lifestyle, traditions, and customs of the Mijikenda people, who are the dominant ethnic group in Mtwapa.

Natural Attractions of Mtwapa: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Mtwapa Creek: This tidal waterway is surrounded by mangrove forests and is a popular spot for boat excursions, fishing, and birdwatching.
  • Haller Park: This nature reserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, and monkeys. Visitors can explore the park through guided walks, cycling, or a train ride.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Mtwapa

  • Mtwapa Trail: This 15-kilometer hike takes you through the heart of Mtwapa’s rural hinterland, traversing farms, forests, and villages.

Best Things to Do in Mtwapa: Activities and Tours

  • Snorkeling and diving: Mtwapa has a thriving coral reef ecosystem that provides excellent opportunities for snorkelers and divers.
  • Sunset dhow cruise: Experience the magic of the Kenyan coast on a traditional dhow sailing boat as you watch the sun sink into the horizon.
  • Swahili cooking class: Learn the secrets of Swahili cuisine and try your hand at preparing local delicacies.

Week-Long Itinerary for Mtwapa

Day Activities
1 Arrival and check-in at your accommodation
2 Visit Jumba la Mtwana and Mtwapa Cultural Village
3 Snorkeling or diving at the coral reef
4 Explore Haller Park and go on a sunset dhow cruise
5 Learn Swahili cooking and visit the Mtwapa market
6 Hike or bike the Mtwapa Trail
7 Departure

Food and Drink Scene of Mtwapa

Must-Try Dishes

  • Biriani: a spicy rice dish with vegetables, meat, or fish.
  • Pilau: a fragrant rice dish flavored with spices, vegetables, and meat.
  • Samosas: savory pastries filled with minced meat, vegetables, or cheese.

Local Beverages

  • Fresh coconut water: a refreshing drink made from young coconuts.
  • Madafu: fermented coconut water that is a popular alcoholic beverage.
  • Tusker beer: a lager beer brewed in Kenya.

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

Mtwapa has a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Some popular choices include:

  • Hotel: Serena Beach Resort and Spa
  • Hostel: Mtwapa Backpackers
  • Guesthouse: Milele Cottages

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

  • African crafts: woodcarvings, beaded jewelry, and textiles are typical souvenir items.
  • Spices: Kenya is known for its aromatic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom.
  • Coconut oil: This multipurpose oil is extracted from fresh coconuts and is commonly used for cooking, hair care, and skincare.

Local Culture and Customs of Mtwapa

Mtwapa is a predominantly Muslim town, and visitors should dress modestly, especially when visiting mosques or public places. It is also customary to remove shoes when entering homes or places of worship.

Best Time to Visit Mtwapa

The best time to visit Mtwapa is during the dry season, which runs from December to March and July to October. This season offers excellent weather conditions for outdoor activities and is the peak tourist season.

Do’s and Don’ts of Mtwapa


  • Dress modestly when visiting public places or places of worship.
  • Try the local cuisine and beverages.
  • Respect the culture and customs of the local community.


  • Take photographs of people without their permission.
  • Engage in public displays of affection.
  • Carry valuables or large amounts of cash openly.

Safety and Health

Safety in Mtwapa

Mtwapa is generally safe for visitors, but it is important to take precautions such as:

  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Use reputable taxis or public transportation.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables out of sight.

Health in Mtwapa

Visitors to Kenya should take the following health precautions:

  • Get vaccinated against common diseases such as hepatitis A and typhoid.
  • Use mosquito repellent and wear protective clothing to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Drink only bottled or purified water to avoid water-borne diseases.

Getting to Mtwapa: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Mtwapa

The nearest international airport to Mtwapa is Moi International Airport in Mombasa, which is about 20 kilometers away. There are regular flights to Mombasa from Nairobi and other major cities in Africa.

Bus Stations Near Mtwapa

Mtwapa is well-connected by road to other parts of Kenya. There are several bus companies that operate regular services to Mtwapa from Nairobi, Mombasa, and other major towns in Kenya.

Other Options

Visitors can also hire private cars or taxis to travel to Mtwapa. It is also possible to rent a car in Mombasa and drive to Mtwapa.

How to Get Around in Mtwapa

Mtwapa is a small town and can easily be explored on foot. Visitors can also use public transportation such as matatus (minibusses) or tuk-tuks (three-wheeled taxis) to get around.

Where to Go Next from Mtwapa: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Malindi: This town is known for its beautiful beaches, marine park, and cultural attractions such as Vasco da Gama pillar and Gede Ruins.
  • Watamu: This coastal village offers excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities and is home to the Watamu National Marine Park.
  • Lamu: This island town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for its Swahili architecture, narrow alleys, and donkey transport.


Mtwapa is a hidden gem on the Kenyan coast that offers a unique blend of natural, cultural, and culinary experiences. From its pristine beaches and coral reefs to its museums and historic sites, Mtwapa has something for everyone. With this guide, you are ready to explore Mtwapa and discover all its wonders.