Postcard from Malindi

Escape to this coastal town of Kenya for the reef and the culture

Malindi, a Kenyan city on the Indian Ocean, has long been a favorite of European tourists, Italians especially. Drawn by the pristine beaches, coral reef, and Swahili culture Guia Canessa Giangrasso—a Milan-based knitwear designer and fashion blogger—bought a house in Malindi recently where she takes her sons Tancredi, four-years-old, and Brando, almost two. Just an hour ahead of Milan, Malindi’s climate (the wind keeps the area largely mosquito- and malaria-free), great food, and inspiring nature have the Giangrasso family smitten by this resort town. A typical day begins with breakfast at home followed by a quick walk to the marine park, where the kids can swim in the natural pools. Then there’s lunch at White Elephant, another dip at Watamu Beach followed by a trip to the dock at Hemingways Resort to catch the fishermen coming home with blue marlins in tow. Make sure to plan a visit to Sardegna Due, an atoll in the middle of the ocean where you can spend the day snorkeling and enjoying a lobster and seafood barbecue. Malindi isn’t just sea and sunshine though. In nearby Mambrui, a smaller coastal settlement, tourists can get a taste of Swahili culture and the Masai Mara (great for a safari with the kids, but not recommended for children under five) is just a jeep-ride away.


The Malindi Market is full of treasures, including Kikoy—colorful woven cotton rectangles great to use as pareos or beach towels. Guia also recommends Kola Beach Boutique and Monica Lupi for great home design items.


La Terrazza, in the Coral Key Beach Resort, offers breathtaking ocean views and great Italian fare and a kid’s menu. Right on the beach and a favorite among seafood lovers, Malindina is Guia’s favorite spot for dinner without the kids. Don’t forget to stop by Andrea and Anna’s on Watamu beach for cannoli, ice cream, and cakes—it’s one of Malindi’s best-kept secrets.


Guia recommends Lion in the Sun for the great food and spa while Coral Key Resort is best for active families who want to play tennis, go on organized excursions. The more secluded Kola Beach Resort, on the other hand, is ideal for a couple’s getaway.