Msambweni is a coastal town in Kwale County in the south of Kenya, halfway between Mombasa and Tanzania.
Although it is only half an hour by car from the touristic hub of Diani Beach, package tourism has not arrived in these parts yet - on the long beaches you rarely meet a white person. Msambweni consists of a cluster of ten villages; all together they have about 12.000 inhabitants, predominantly Muslims and members of the locally dominant Digo tribe. People in Msambweni make their livelihood mainly from agriculture, fishing, crafts and trade and some public service. Coconut palms, mango and neem trees, and sugar cane plantations characterize the area. Msambweni is site of the County Hospital in the sublocation of Kisimachande, and of a Medical Training Center in Tumbe.
Msambweni is not only an extremely safe and peaceful place with friendly people for Kenyan relationships. Even as a foreigner, you can move freely and without worries here at any time of the day. At most on the beach you will occasionally be approached by a hawker who seldom has the stubbornness of his professional colleagues in Diani Beach.
For the journey to the south coast by plane, train or bus there is detailed information under Mombasa and Diani Beach.
If you want to drive from Mombasa to Msambweni, you can of course do so by taxi (approx. 5,500 KShs). Cheaper is: with the tuktuk from the city center to the Likoni ferry (approx. 200 KShs), and then on foot for free to the bus station on the other side. By Matatu (shared taxi) or bus via Ukunda / Diani towards Lunga Lunga, get off at the junction to Msambweni (150 KShs). From there with the Boda-Boda motorcycle taxi to the destination (100 KShs).
A lot can be done on foot in Msambweni. Otherwise, public transport is by motorcycle taxi or tuktuk. Msambweni Junction is the stopping point for the numerous matatus and buses on the coastal road between Mombasa and Tanzania; there you can usually get on every few minutes.
There are no real sights. Here you can enjoy nature, the culture of the inhabitants and, above all, the sea.
Msambweni is an interesting destination for travelers who want to switch off in the greatest possible tranquility in an African-village environment. You can walk long stretches on the beach and in the village, go out with the fishermen or just swim, lounge or read. If the wind is right, you can kitesurf with your own equipment. Snorkeling on the reef is possible, but if you are seriously interested in underwater (also for scuba diving) a day trip to the Kisite Marine Park near Shimoni is recommended. Deep sea fishing and fun sports are not there.
In the village itself there are only a few small shops and market stalls with fruit and vegetables, as well as a large local Sunday market in the district of Bomani. For larger purchases and upscale products, you have to go to Ukunda / Diani Beach or possibly to Mombasa.
Except for some very local (inexpensive!) Restaurants and street kitchens, there are few culinary options in Msambweni. To be on the safe side, you should register in advance in the restaurants of the hotels listed below.
There is no tourist night life in the Muslim Msambweni. Anyone who wants to go out in the evening will find one or the other very local beer bar with football broadcasts on the television screen. Weddings are popular and very public on weekends, with live tarab music all night long - taking part is no problem.
There are just four small hotels / bed&breakfasts around, plus some holiday homes (as at March 2018). Two hotels in middle price range are located on the beach north of the county hospital, two upmarket hotels are on the southern beach.
- Mbuyu Beach Bungalows, ☏ +254 707 000 823, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sawa Sawa Beach House. Tel.: +254 714 851129
- The Ocean Spa Lodge [dead link]. Tel.: +44 20 3286 3536
- Msambweni Beach House. Tel.: +254 (0) 723 697 346
The best thing to do is to get a Kenyan SIM card with which you can be online relatively cheaply.