Kilifi is a little known town around two hours drive north of the coastal city of Mombasa. Hidden and tucked into an estuary leading to the Kilifi creek, this lesser-visited corner of the Kenyan coast remains largely uncharted thus escaping the development that has affected beach-side towns like Mombasa and Diani.

You can get to Kilifi from Mombasa either by road or by boat, we traveled by road, the boat option is undoubtedly more costly. As we traveled from Mombasa towards Kilifi the busy roads gave way to the lush countryside with coconut palm and monstrous baobab trees lining the horizon. As we crossed the Kilifi bridge we were greeted with an expanse backdrop of azure dotted with a few yachts nonchalantly floating about.

The town is relatively small, characterized by little traffic, with tuktuks and motorcycles being the main mode of transport. There are various things to do while in Kilifi and this being my third visit courtesy of Bountiful safaris our plan was to experience a boat ride down the creek.

To hire a boat or dhow (a traditional wooden sailing boat with long thin hulls and a single sail), you can either go to the nearby Mnarani club or the other club popularly referred to by locals as ‘Members’. Our host managed to contact a local ‘broker’ who told us to meet him at Members. Kilifi being a small town, getting lost is close to impossible, the locals are very friendly, they eagerly offered us directions and even flagged a tuk tuk for us. We boarded the tuk tuk, (the most convenient way to get around if you do not mind the spine-jangling experience) and headed to Members. At Members we met our guy who arranged for us a speed boat and our captain for the journey.

Kilifi creek boats

Boarding the boat, was a bit scary for me, bearing in mind I am not a good swimmer, my fears were however allayed once the ride began. The sail down the creek was a calming and rewarding experience – at this evening hour, the waters were completely still with the estuary teeming with life. Plants sprouting from the riverbanks, cliffs jutting up out of the water, hermit crabs scooting along the shoreline and birds skimming across the water.

The boat ride (a small boat that can roughly fit 6 people) cost us Ksh 3000 ($30). Remember to wear a sunhat the sun can be a bit unforgiving.

Kilifi isn’t home to the huge resorts other parts of the coast are popular for, but there are plenty of decent options for all budgets. The town also offers a convenient base location if you are planning to visit other coastal tourist destinations such as Mtwapa, Malindi and Watamu.

There are plenty of other attractions in Kilifi such as sampling the exotic and delicious street food scene, the Watamu Marine National Park which is about an hour and a half drive from Kilifi and visiting the local villages where you can learn about and experience the local Agiriama culture.

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