Some historical nuggets about my first home, Mombasa

Some historical nuggets about my first home, Mombasa

I have so many versions of home, having moved so many times in Kenya and the UK, but my very first one was by the coast in Kenya, which is where my love for the ocean has stemmed from. I was born in the coastal city of Mombasa, literally in a hospital with a sea view!

Mombasa is a laid back island with swaying coconut trees, the balmy Indian ocean as a backdrop and white powder soft sandy beaches.

Here are some historical nuggets about this stunning isle.

Mombasa was first visited in 1331 by the Arab traveler Ibn Baṭṭūṭah and in 1498 by the renowned Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama. Because of Mombasa’s strategic position, it was continually fought over, passing among the Arabs, Persians, Portuguese, and Turks until 1840, when the sultan of Zanzibar finally gained control.

It was a well established important port for trade across the Indian Ocean due to its location and still is today!

The British administration took control in 1895 and it was the capital of the East Africa Protectorate until 1907. Mombasa became a municipality in 1928 and assumed council status in 1959.

The Old Town area with its narrow streets, old buildings, gorgeous doors and antique shops is a wonderful place to explore to see the influences of the various residents, such as Asians, Arabic and European. There are some great cafes and coffee shops where you can take a break too.

It is also where you can find the site of Fort Jesus, a gorgeous fortress built between 1593 and 1596 by the Portuguese and which is now classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the perfect spot for history enthusiasts as it has so many artefacts and remains to see such as cannons, a skeleton and it has the most amazing views of Mombasa.

When you drive through town, you will come across the famous ‘Tusks.’

These were built to commemorate the visit of Princess Margaret in 1956, back when Kenya was part of the British Empire. They still stand tall on Moi Avenue today.

You can find Kenya’s only floating restaurant, Moorings, in Mombasa too! Yes a floating restaurant which is just stunning and a great place to spend a lazy afternoon.

You can even take a dhow from here if you fancy something special! They make incredible Dawas, which is a must try local cocktail.

Photo credit: AFK Travel

A sad aspect of the history of Mombasa is that it served as one of the prime ports for the slave trade. This thrived for a long time and slowly came to an end midway through the 19th century. You can still see remnants of the trade throughout the city in the form of shackles. There’s also a bell that remains standing at the end of the bridge which was used to warn locals of passing slave ships.

Today Mombasa is a thriving city, still a major port and definitely a place to consider for a beach break as the beaches are fabulous!
You can read more about Mombasa here:

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Binita Shah-Patel

Hi, I’m Binny – a writer, dreamer, serial wanderluster and travel addict. I am originally from Kenya but now live in London. I set up this blog to share my experiences eating out as well as travelling.

I love packing my bags and going off on adventures as one of the best things about travelling is the ability to just get lost in it. To set aside the maps and itineraries and just see where the road takes you, learning and evolving and living in the moment along the way.

It’s my goal to get swept off my feet as often as possible.

Find me on: Web | Twitter

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12 Comments

  1. Emma
    June 1, 2020 / 9:29 am

    I would love to go to Mombasa – my Dad lived there from the ages of 5 – 11. I’ve got a great photo of him sat on a zebra…as you do!
    Em x

    • June 1, 2020 / 9:37 am

      Oh wow! So interesting that he lived there! Do you have details of where in Mombasa? I can get you pics on my next visit! But if you do visit let me know!! I’ll give you all my tips!

  2. June 1, 2020 / 10:13 am

    A great bit of history on your first home town! Coast was always such a an exciting trip for us. The old town definitely brings back memories of endless market trips and made to measure sandals. Great read Binny

  3. June 2, 2020 / 5:06 pm

    Hi, Your post brings back some lovely memories of a visit to Mombasa many years ago. Looking at your photos I guess I must have been to Fort Jesus, as I have one exactly the same! I definitely haven’t been to the Moorings though – I think I would remember that – looks so lovely.

  4. June 6, 2020 / 3:15 pm

    Such a fascinating read Binny! Our experience of Mombasa was driving through from Diani on the way to our safari in 2011, with all the colour and crazy driving going on around us! As a much braver traveller now I’d love to spend more time exploring x

  5. June 7, 2020 / 8:52 am

    I didn’t realise you lived there! That floating restaurant looks magical. It must feel such a long way away at the moment, hope you can visit again soon

  6. June 7, 2020 / 11:11 am

    I always thought that Kenya would be the country African country that i explored, that turned into a trip to Ghana. I’ve done a bit of northern Africa… But Kenya is still very much on the list.

  7. June 7, 2020 / 12:58 pm

    Brilliant Post Binny! I would absolutely love to visit one day and loved your facts about your first home. (sorry of this is a duplicate comment, it keeps tellign me its not gone through!) Fab read x

  8. June 9, 2020 / 7:42 pm

    I love the look of the floating restaurant!! Mombasa looks like such a great city to visit.

    C x

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