This romantic coastal area of Kenya has a history stretching back over 1,000 years. At one time Greek, Persian and Arab traders frequented these shores sending gold, ivory and slaves to distant lands from here. In 1498 the balance of power along the coast changed, when Vasco da Gama ordered his fleet of Portuguese ships to anchor at Malindi. Seemingly this ended a 200-year-old struggle for control by the Portuguese and the massive fortification of Fort Jesus in Mombasa, was completed. However, over the next half decade the struggle for this coastline continued with Arab and Portuguese dominance fluctuating until the arrival of the European expeditions in the middle of the 19th century when the jostling began to subside. The evidence of this cosmopolitan history is still apparent today in the fascinating patchwork of race, religions, tribes, languages and customs that comprises the peoples of the Kenyan coastal region. Nowhere is this more evident than here in Malindi.
By the 1930s Malindi had become a popular holiday resort and in 1963 the Driftwood Beach Club was founded, for many years remaining the only hotel in this bay. Today it maintains its individuality with the kind of warmth, friendliness and welcome that only a family run establishment can offer.
The long and varied history of this small settlement makes it rich with a culture that is truly unique. Consequently Malindi has an atmosphere that is quite unlike anywhere else in Kenya. Aside from the many historical sites that include the Gedi ruins and Malindi old town, there remains an ancient feel to this now more modern settlement. The higgledy piggledy streets and squares are home to many ancient mosques and churches that characterise what is home to a large Catholic and Muslim community. It is very much a living history that you can experience through the rich culture of these amazing people, with a sense of time having stood still and what is more, the charming and friendly nature of this town means that it is all here to be discovered on your own terms in a very personal way.
Food and shopping
Malindi town is unique in that it offers, with a short Tuk Tuk ride from the Driftwood, the chance to wander the old town and to browse the local traditional shops for curiosities. Swahili spices and traditional materials, as well as handmade jewellery and sandals are popular gifts to take home. The town also has a wide range of restaurants and coffee houses that are a possible alternative to our own restaurant for those that want the variety that this town offers so much of. We are happy to advise and guide on what is best for personal tastes, but you can be sure of a warm welcome both here and amongst our community who value visitors hugely.