The island of Mombasa is located on Kenya’s coast and is separated from mainland Kenya by Tudor Creek and Kilindini Harbour. There are multiple ways in which you can reach the mainland, including by crossing the Nyali Bridge or taking the Likoni Ferry. The city of Mombasa is located on the island and the city is the second-largest city in Kenya after the capital, Nairobi. The island of Mombasa is known for its coconut trees, tropical gardens, blue skies, white beaches and the warm waters of the Indian ocean which surround it. It’s a brilliant place in which to spend a few days and especially if you’re relaxing on the coast as there are a number of activities which you can get involved in.
Watersports and ice cream galore at Aquadrom Yul's
Aquadrom Yul’s, a watersports club and restaurant, is based on the north coast of the island of Mombasa and is located at Malindi Road, Bamburi Beach. You can access it either from its front entrance and through its car park or directly from the beach in the instance that you’re staying at a nearby hotel. There are approximately 25 hotels around Aquadrom Yul’s and tourists and locals come to Aquadrom Yul’s for two reasons: Italian ice cream and the watersports activities.
Aquadrom Yul’s is known for its homemade ice creams and has over 60 different flavours. However, on a day-to-day basis there are 20 ice cream flavours on sale. The ice creams are delish and a cup with one scoop costs around 350 KES (approximately 3.41 USD). Ice creams are available everyday from 12.00pm to 11.00pm. I would recommend trying the mint and tiramisu flavoured ice creams.
Aquadrom Yul’s offers a number of watersports activities including going on a 1-, 2- or 3-seater jet ski as well as sitting on the banana boat ride. The cost of the jet ski for 20 minutes varies and is usually between 2,800 KES and 3,500 KES (approximately 27.30 USD and 34.12 USD). The cost for the banana boat ride for 15 minutes is 750 KES (approximately 7.31 USD) per person and a minimum of 4 persons are required. The opening hours for the watersports activities are from 8.30am - 6.00pm. I would highly recommend trying out the jet ski and enjoying the adrenaline rush whilst hitting the waves of the Indian ocean.
Cruise in a "moving aquarium"
Across the north coast of the island of Mombasa, you will see a number of little boats anchored in the sea and many of these little boats have partial glass bottoms so that you can see the tropical fish and the coral. These boats conduct tours that vary in respect to their timeframe and cost and the price is usually negotiated on the beach itself. However, if you are staying in a hotel that is offering the partial glass bottomless boat experience, then I would advise that you book through your hotel. This is because you would have more certainty in respect to the quality and price of your experience.
Nevertheless, please note that whether you book through a beach vendor or your hotel, you will have to pay two fees. The first fee is a marine park fee which is owed to the Kenya Wildlife Service which uses the money to protect the sea animals, plants and coral reef. The second fee is the service/experience fee which is owed to the captain and his crew of the partial glass bottomless boat experience.
Travelling in the partial glass bottomless boat is a brilliantly unusual experience and it will feel like you’re in an aquarium that is moving! The duration of this experience is between 2 and 4 hours and may include a visit to Reef island.
Take a dive and see the fish and coral
The glass bottoms of the little boats have a slightly magnifying effect so that you can clearly see all the different types of fish and coral. The captain or his crew may provide you with bread to feed the fish and may also go and swim under the boat itself to feed the fish so that you can see the fish munching through the partial glass. I would advise you to take some bread with you to feed the fish in case the captain or his crew do not have any available onboard.
If you want to see a certain type of fish, the captain or his crew are usually happy to find them and share them with you. Alternatively, if you want to be adventurous and swim amongst the fish yourself, you can try out snorkelling. If you have your own goggles then I would recommend that you take them with you, otherwise you may have to pay a fee to rent the goggles on the boat.
Explore the tiny but exquisite Reef island
From the north coast of the island of Mombasa, there is a tiny island called Reef island which can be reached by taking a partial glass bottomless boat. If you want to make a shape of a starfish in the sand with your body (much like making a snow angel) or hunt for a starfish in the clear blue waters, then this is the place to do it. Whilst this tiny island can be walked around in less than ten minutes, it’s an amazing experience to step on it and be surrounded by the clear blue water and wonder what it would feel like to have your very own island!
Some tips for your trip
If you would like to do some watersports activities, I would recommend that you book in advance otherwise you may find yourself waiting for quite some time as some of the activities, such as jet skiing, are in demand.
When it comes to the partially glass bottomless boat experience, I would recommend that you book it through your hotel and if you are unable to, I would suggest that you find out from the beach vendor(s) the following; what is on offer, whether there will be an opportunity to do snorkeling, the duration of the experience, current location of the boat and how it can be reached, the cost of the experience (and whether marine fees are included) and finally, whether equipment for snorkelling will be available and if so, at what cost.
It is also important to remember that the watersports activities and the partially glass bottomless boat experience are dependent on high tides. This means that you should book these activities (such as the jet ski) during the high tide otherwise you may not be able to do them or alternatively, you will have to walk for around 2 miles (approximately 3.2 kilometres) in ankle- to knee-deep seawater in order to reach an anchored partially glass bottomless boat!
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