Click here to find out more about advertising your business on this page

back to Travel Planner search
+ Semi-consistent during summer
+ Warm water
+ Virgin reefs & beachbreaks
+ Good hotels
+ Fascinating wildlife
- Lots of onshore mush
- Mombassa sharks
- Remote reefs with tidal flats
- Robberies and muggings

Swahili Coast, Kenya, AFRICA

Malindi, Michael Kew2

Surf Spots

South Channel
North Channel - Kenya
Malindi Reefs
Malindi Beach
Manda Left

The Surf

Kenya and Tanzania have recently unveiled a few surfing secrets along their considerable Indian Ocean coastlines. Kenya is a prime destination for visiting big-game parks or climbing Kilimanjaro, yet beach lovers have stumbled upon coastal Kenya and like what they have found. A small expat surfing community has been tapping the surf here for decades, but Kenya is now starting to attract inquisitive surfers to the fringing reefs that break consistently during the southern hemisphere winter, since Kenya lies just south of the Equator. Mombasa Island is the crossroads for four major routes, is the commercial centre for many businesses and makes sense as a base for surf exploration, with waves right on it’s doorstep. South of Mombasa, newer hotels have set-up around Diani Beach, but the coastal area to the north features Arab and Portuguese forts, old towns and some of the finest beach hotels in Africa.

When to Go

The area is seriously affected by the monsoon patterns. The NE monsoon from December to March does produce occasional windswells but Kenya’s exposure is far from ideal and while the Seychelles get a decent supply of NE swell, Kenya remains mostly flat during the high tourist season. Then, SW monsoon typically gives a strong high over Mauritius and the SE winds blowing on the edge of the high create a regular 6-12ft (2-4m) windswell, mostly from June to September, which diminishes to 3-6ft (1-2m) by the time it reaches the coast. Most of that swell arrives with the strong SE onshores, so rights wrapping around reefs create the only options for side/offshore conditions. Tides are semi-diurnal with diurnal inequality reaching 13ft (3.9m) max, which is fairly significant at all spots. Most beachbreaks will be better at high tide.

dominant swell NE -NE NE -SE NE -SE NE -SE NE -SE NE -NE
swell size (ft) 1 1-2 3-4 4 3 1
consistency (%) 10 20 60 70 50 10
dominant wind NE -E E -SE SE -S SE -S SE -S NE -E
average force F4 F3 F4 F4 F3-F4 F3-F4
consistency (%) 88 55 83 89 82 63
water temp (C) 26 28 27 25 26 27
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts
Mombassa 900,000

536 km (333mi)


Travel Information


– The climate is tropical dry tempered by the Indian Ocean. The coastline benefits from the effect of the monsoons (NE in winter, SW in summer) which make the temperature pleasant. Average temps range from 21-32°C (70-90ºF) in January and from 20-29°C (68-84ºF) in July. There are no seasons as such, but there are two main periods of rain. The "long rains" extend roughly from March to June and "the short rains" last from October to December. Rain usually arrives in violent downpours but tends to last for only a few hours. Annual average rainfall is about 1000mm (40in). There is a monsoon wind that blows across the ocean all year-round. Boardshorts only.


– North of Mombassa has several world class dive sites, Watamu Marine National Park being a well managed area. Check Gede Ruins, Crocodile and Snake farms and play at Malindi Casino. Safari Day trips to Tsavo Game Park; Nyali Golf & Country Club. Mombassa: Fort Jesus, Old Town, Yuls’ Beach Bar, Pirates (Disco) or Mamba Village. Watersport is Malindi's prime tourist attraction with sailboarding, water-skiing, diving and deep-sea fishing.


Shallow live-coral reefs can be nasty and a shark encounter is likely, especially in the Mombassa Channel. Beware of weed patches in Malindi where thorns, logs, branches and crabs can stop you dead in the water. For security reasons, visitors to Lamu are advised to travel by air. Nairobi is notorious for robberies and muggings, be vigilant in Mombassa.


No surf stuff available. Bring a board and you might sell it. Lots of British tourists. The areas bordering Somalia are all prone to banditry.