Know Kilifi

Kilifi in Brief

Kilifi attracts thousands of tourists every year and the number keeps growing. The beautiful county in Kenya, lies on the Kilifi Creek and sits on the estuary of the Goshi River. It was formed in 2010 as a result of a merger of Kilifi District and Malindi District. Its capital is Kilifi and its largest town is Malindi. It borders the counties of Tana River to the North, Taita Taveta to the West, Mombasa and Kwale to the South and the Indian Ocean to the East. 

There are seven constituencies in total; Kilifi North, Kilifi South, Kaloleni, Rabai, Ganze, Malindi, and Magarini. The most popular towns in the area include; Mtwapa, Malindi, Watamu, and Kilifi. 

The county is a hub for tourism and fishing given its proximity to the Indian Ocean. Some of its beaches have been rated the best in Africa and are found in Kilifi, Kikambala, Watamu, and Malindi. The wealth of history in the region is overwhelming with historical sites such as the Mnarani Ruins dating back between the fourteenth and seventeenth century. It also has some of the best resorts and hotels suited to your accommodation and food preferences.

Over the years the place has transformed from a sweet, laidback coastal region into a stunning place renowned for its beautiful beaches, cool culture, and amazing food.  There are 1001 reasons to love Kilifi


People of Kilifi

Kilifi is basically paradise. The people always seem so happy and relaxed, and it’s such a breath of fresh air to see that these days.

Kilifi’s people recollect their history from Singwaya (or Shungwaya), which was to the north of the Somali Coast. The belief is that they were escaping the constant attacks from the Cushitic tribes and Oromo people and ended up settling in the coastal ridges where they built their kayas within a protective setting. During their settlement they had visits from Persians, Arabs and the Portuguese who came to the region for trade purposes. This brewed social interactions, and intermarriages resulting in the development of the Swahili language popularly used today in Kilifi and the Coastal regions.

Therefore, the popularly spoken languages are Kiswahili and Mijikenda. The Mijikenda is further divided into 9 sub-tribes including; the Giriama, the Digo, the Chonyi, Duruma, Jibana, Kambe, Kauma, Rabai and Ribe. They share a common linguistic and cultural heritage. Their villages are built in cleared areas atop heavily wooded hills. Their main occupation is farming, with more and more land being devoted to cash crops in modern times. Coconut palms are their most important crop.

The diversity of Kilifi people goes beyond their history and culture into their religion. The most popular religions in the region include; Islam, Christianity, Hindu and the African Traditional Religion (ATR). While change has come to the Mijikenda, they have maintained many of the beliefs and practices of their traditional culture. They adhere to many beliefs that were derived from their traditional religion, which was a form of ancestor worship. An interesting cultural taboo, they practice to date is the the Kaya Taboo. It prohibits the cutting down of specific trees in the area. This has seen the preservation of several rare and endangered plant species.  

Ultimately being in Kilifi and meeting its people will  just make you happy and carefree. 

Food and Cuisine

Going to any cafe, or restaurant, everyone has smiles on their faces and there is something about their vibes that makes you feel so welcome. There are many local sellers, so many different food stands and standalone shops to go to! On the side of the road you can find a tiny shack selling the BEST cassava crisps ever. An amazing fact is that, the Mijikenda tribe are considered some of the best cooks among the 47 Kenyan tribes. Here are some of dishes you should sample when you are down in Kilifi: 

Seafood Platter
The raw oysters always come fresh and amazing.

Ugali and Beef

Fried fish & Cassava
Your rare combination of happiness in one plate.

Coconut Bean Soup (Maharagwe ya nazi)
A popular choice for lunch commonly taken with chapati or ugali

Pweza is swahili word for Octopus; loved for its health benefits and amazing taste

Nyama Choma
Roasted meat sizzled in Swahili spices.


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