Cost was a significant determinant of the shape my trip to the coast was going to take. I had a budget; therefore, I had to get really creative of how I was going to survive within that budget, all while having an epic time. One thing was clear though, this was going to be a backpacking trip. To begin with, I had set out a daily expense budget of Ksh 2500(approx. $25), but the average expenditure ended up being close to Ksh 2700(approx. $27.) The budget was to cover accommodation, food, transport, activities (site visits, dolphin excursion, etc.), drinks, and miscellaneous. I’ll break it down so you can see how we managed to travel for 19 days of an average budget of Ksh 2700.
Note; I traveled with my cousin, so in some cases like staying at a hotel or tuk-tuk transport, the cost was split between the two of us.
Note: I think it’s important I mention that we traveled in May, which is considered low season because of the rains. So accommodation is relatively cheap then.
Malindi – Watamu – Kilifi – Mombasa – Msambweni
These are the towns we visited, and I’ll break down where we stayed and how much we spent.
Malindi – Silver Rock Hotel
We paid Ksh 8,100 for 3 nights, cost split between the two us resulted in Ksh 1350 per person per night (Bed only). Breakfast was available at the property for an extra Ksh 800($8), read on to see how we were able to hack this.
The reason why we opted for a hotel in Malindi was,
- The property was more than value for our money. The room was very spacious, the bed was so big it could comfortably fit 4, there was a mini fridge in the room, and it had a swimming pool.
- The property is ideally located. 10 minutes from the bus stop, a stone throw away from the beach and a walking distance to Vasco Da Gamma monument.
Watamu – Casa Maria
We paid Ksh 3,400 for 2 nights, resulting in Ksh 850 per person per night (bed only). Again, the reason why we opted for this space was that it was right in the middle of Watamu Village (the epicenter of Watamu), it was walking to the beach and better still, it had a kitchen and a fridge!
Kilifi – Distant Relatives Eco Lodge
They have different room packages, but we went with the dorm option, and for that, we paid Ksh 1,000 per person per night (Bed only). The property has a bar and a restaurant from which you can buy food and drinks. It also has a communal kitchen where you can cook, pots and cutlery is provided, but you need your own supplies (cooking oil, tea, coffee, etc.)
Tip: The lodge has periodic offers if you book directly from their website, be sure to contact them beforehand. At the time of our stay, the offer was Ksh 900 for the dorm (We only found out when we were extending our stay)
Mombasa – CDH Backpackers
We paid Ksh 4600 for 3 nights, resulting in around Ksh 767 per person per night (bed only). The location of this place was the major selling point, right in the middle of Mombasa Town, walking distance to Fort Jesus, Old Town, and Marikiti Market.
Msambweni – Mango Lodge
We paid $20.25, split between the 2 of us resulted in $10.125 per person per night (bed and breakfast). We later negotiated to $18 ($9 pp) as we were extending our stay.
The property is beachfront, at the heart of the village and it’s the cheapest in that area.
This was a significant challenge for us, especially since it was the holy month of Ramadhan, so most local places were closed. Lucky for us though, in areas we paid more for accommodation like Malindi and Msambweni, we found cheap foods going as low as Ksh 50 a plate.
Food was most expensive in Watamu and Kilifi (we ordered from the restaurant twice), but I think it’s because we wanted to try as much seafood as we could. We had to part with around Ksh 700 for a plate of calamari or octopus, but the proportions were so large we could easily get two meals out of them.
We bought instant coffee, sugar, and tea bags on the first day, so breakfast was usually about finding “escort.”
Tip: Local markets are your friend when it comes to sourcing fruits and vegetables, which you can easily make breakfast or any meal for that matter. And it’s an excellent excuse to rub shoulders with the locals.
We would usually buy a bottle of vodka from the liquor store (Ksh 700-1500) and easily make our cocktail, which is way cheaper. We did buy a few beers in Malindi and Kilifi, the highest price being Ksh 300 per beer.
Tip: If you want to save on how much you spend on drinking water, buy the 5-liter bottle which retails at around Ksh 100- 150 and then just get small refillable bottles which you can carry around.
From Nairobi to Malindi, we used an overnight bus, which was Ksh 1400. We would use matatus to move from town to town, mostly at Ksh 150-200. We used tuk-tuks to move around, but in most cases, we managed to get around on foot (thanks to the location of most places we stayed at).
The most expensive town for tuk-tuk was Kilifi with the minimum cost being Ksh 200 (which we were lucky, we could split between the 2 of us, but this would not have been the case had I traveled solo). I, however, realized it’s cheaper using a boda-boda (Ksh 50 per person) as opposed to a tuk-tuk.
I will be doing an exhaustive blog about the places we visited and things we did. Basically, the cheapest place we visited was Vasco Da Gamma where we paid Ksh 100, and the most expensive was the dolphin excursion in Wasini at Ksh 3000 per person (which included being picked and dropped at our hotel, which was 30 minutes away).
Leave a comment if you have any question regarding the cost of backpacking across Kenyan Coast.