Lonely female tourists beware!
You will meet a handsome man with a long story about the death of his wife and how he is raising his children single-handedly. He will tell you he needs school fees for them and your help to start a business as he is unemployed. He is a smooth talker, you will fall in love with him and give him all your money. He will trap you into proposing marriage, so as to take advantage of your wealth as a 'spouse' or to get a visa to your country to accompany you back as a spouse. The wedding will be arranged at the beach with fake certificate, unlicenced minister but your money will be used to buy the clothes, rings and even pay for the honeymoon, usually to Islands around the Kenyan coast.
Call me a fool for falling into such a trap. This beach boy was so convincing, so affectionate I believed him. Turned out he was married to a beautiful Kenyan woman, very alive. I was heartbroken to discover that I had been duped into a marriage in which I lost over $200,000 in buying him things, rent, holidays and building him a house for his children. I'm still stuck here trying to sort out this mess but now my "husband" has gone missing.
Unique Suggestions: Don't believe anything these beach boys tell you, especially those needy stories where they portray a poor family that needs your help. They only want your money.
Fun Alternatives: ALWAYS Do background checks.
The Tusks that bestride Moi Avenue are probably one of Mombasa's few tourist traps. I suppose we have all been there to take a photo or two. When you get up close the tusks are a bit disappointing (and I don't mean that they are not made of ivory) they are actually made of hollow steel tubes roughly riveted together. During one drinking session I was told by and old boy that the tusks were put up to welcome Princess Margaret on her visit to Mombasa in 1956.
Surrounding the tusks are a gaggle of curio stallholders eager to sell their wares on any unsuspecting camera-toting tourist.
Fun Alternatives: The Wimpy close by may well be a good idea for a bite to eat and a soda if the hawkers are getting a bit on top. Better still would be Sky Bar 5 minutes up the road for the coldest beer in Mombasa.
The locals doesn't wear socks on the beach. So some of them fool tourists about this. Imagine a man doing his trade with souvenirs for tourists on the beach.
He has of course no socks, and could say he want to trade any souvenir with your socks. You might think they can't buy socks in Kenya? So you agree to follow him to his shop. In the shop he will ask for some more money to food for his family, etc, etc. And you end up to give away your socks and buy a souvenir for the same price as you could do without the socks. Or are you strong enough to say no? It happened to me. I gave him my socks, but didn't buy the souvenir.
It really is easy to get literally trapped in one of the all-inclusive hotels. Everything is laid on for you, food, drink, a nice beach side pool and it is all paid for, so why would you go out side of the hotel where you would have to buy food and drink with cash money? A lot of tourists never venture out of their hotels and don't realise that Africa is beyond the hotel gates. In my mind I think that all-inclusive hotels should be banned as it stops tourists from spending money in the surrounding community and will only benefit the hotel owner.
Fun Alternatives: A lot of the hotels north and south of Mombasa offer all-inclusive deals its best to avoid them completely book a flight only and visit Africa instead not a hotel that could be anywhere in the world.
The very next moment, after you step on the public beach, dozen of so-called "beach boys" will get around offering all services which tourist might need while in Mombasa. Doesn't matter wheater it transfer, money change, hair-cutting or buying real estate in the midle of New York. They know everything you need, offering answers to all of your questions.......
Unique Suggestions: ......In case you reject all they offer, which is very advisable, this boyz will insist on some small money. Giving them 100 or 200 shillings, approximately one or two euros, means nothing to you but it will make them very happy.......
Fun Alternatives: ..... Of course, you can avoid such a situation, which might be very annoying, if you stick inside the hotel resort area only. There is rope, which marks hotel resort area from the public beach and "beach boyz" wont risk to enter inside it.
The ocean mussels are very beautiful, big in proportions and nicely coloured. However, you cannot take them out of Kenya because it is not allowed. Some vendors offer them out on the streets asking few euros only for a piece. Buying it is a risk because if found during custom control, these mussles should be confiscated. On the other side, it worth taking a chance because you paid them cheap.
This is ugly picture and there is nothing to see on it! I had the same impression after finishing the city-tour of Mombasa, organized by my tour-operator. The only thing this people realy care is to take your money giving nothing in return. Just to mentioned, our first stop was at jewellery shop where we spent more than one hour for no reason. People from my group was p.... off and nobody bought a thing. Am sure our guide was p.... off too because the provision he expected gonne with the wind.
Fun Alternatives: Instead of going city-tour with uncomfortable and dirthy bus, offered by tour-operator, which at the end of tour had damage in the most dangerous quarter of Mombasa, you should take taxi and make city-tour on your own. It will cost you ten or fiftheen euros, for three or four hours of ride, but you'll see the whole of Mombasa.
The truth is, sandy-beach in Shanzu and Bamburi area looks very attractive, but the sea-water is completely unapropriate for bathing. The shallow is over few hundred of meters long and it ends behind the coral reef (see my picture).
Unique Suggestions: Renting a boat which can take you across the coral reef might be an option, or you can walk over that shallow to get into deeper water.
Fun Alternatives: Those who are enjoyingin sea-bathing, like I do, should go to Malindi Beach which is situated about 100 km north of Mombasa.
If you decide to take the local bus or taxi to Mombasa be aware that most likely your transport will be stopped when the police see a 'whitey'. After a suitable tip you will be allowed to proceed.
Mombasa itself is hectic. Keep your money well hid, pickpockets are rife.
Again a smile goes a long way here and I found everyone really helpful. Mind you I talk to everyone.
Be careful though because like most 3rd World Countries the local people are very very poor so it is not a good idea to go out with your gold jewellery on. The wide boys on the street always know somewhere you can get something you absolutely can't live without! A polite 'hapana' will do.
When you are on the beach you will be confronted by traders trying to sell you wooden key rings and crafts.
They will convince you that the wood is mahogany, but in reality its plain wood which has been dyed/painted.
Nonetheless the craftmenship is very good so haggle alot before you buy.
Unique Suggestions: If you do want to buy something from a trader take your old clothes or trainers with you, they love foreign clothes. They will give you a good discount!
Fun Alternatives: Say NO, and ignore them they will leave you alone after that, but first they'll most likely swear at you in their mother tongue. Don't take it personally!
When we were in Mombasa , the only annoying thing I encountered was the hawkers doing their trade on the beaches.
The beachfront hotels were quite strict about keeping them away from the hotels, but if you wanted to take a long walk along the coast, you had to fight off people trying to sell you various curios and crafts etc.
I made the mistake of having my wallet with me on the fist day ..... the rest of my trip I left my money and wallet in the hotel safe, and the hawkers soon left me alone when I showed I had no money.
Unique Suggestions: One thing I did find out, is that if you took loads of pens and pairs of socks, you were able to barter and trade quite successfully with these hawkers.
Not sure if it still like this, but worth a try anyway.
The Kenyans know the British have money and want a share, make sure you haggle, watch yourself in the back allies. We had no problems, but poverty is extreme. Watch what you buy as some products which look like a bargain are of poor quality, examples are coffee, some carvings (allegedly ebony)