Malindi is located north of Mombasa Island and can be reached by driving on the Mombasa-Malindi road. The town's history is reputed to go back a thousand years but it can only be reliably dated to the 13th century by Arabic records and dated pottery shards. Many hotels serve the town whose main beach sweeps for 7 km round Malindi Bay. The long white sandy beach to the south of Malindi town is called Silver sands, once only occupied by private villas but now hosting a panorama of small, mostly Italian owned hotels. A casino, nightclubs, fascinating ancient mosques, a colorful market, a nine hole golf course and, of course, the renowned Malindi Marine National Park all add to the resort's many attractions. So does the fish market and the fishing club from which stalwarts from all over the world set forth in search of giants of the sea. Kenya holds several world records for big game fish and it was here that Hemingway lingered in the 30's to enjoy his favorite sport.
All fishing within the Malindi Marine National Park is forbidden; so is the extraction of shells, starfish and coral. It is the coral gardens in the middle of the park, seen by skin diving, snorkeling or peering through the hull of a glass-bottomed boat, which is the fascination. Technicolor fish of various sizes and impossible shapes swim in a dazzling array. Flute mouths, thornheads, halfbeaks, zebra and parrotfish, hawkfishes, lizard fishes, trigger fishes, porcupine fish, puffers and hundreds of others bejewel the reef. Octopus pulse away in fear, rays wriggle to conceal themselves under a coat of sand; these and many more marvels live in abundance and safety within the Park's boundaries.
On the north side of Malindi is an extensive salt pan system for evaporating sea water for salt; an eroded wasteland of sandstone cliffs and precipices, near Marafa, known as Hell's Kitchen and a small Arabian Night's town called Mambrui complete with its Islamic and Chinese relics, and beyond that Ngomeni, a small village and harbor at the entrance to Formosa Bay. This great bay sweeps in an expansive arc encompassing the wide delta of Kenya's biggest river, the Tana near Ngomeni, and set on piles in the shallow waters of the Bay is a rocket-launching site where weather satellites are launched from time to time. The entire coastline from Mabrui to Lamu Island has minimal development, in terms of tourism, although wonderful beaches, coves and seascapes exist in plenty.