Mombasa is Kenya's second largest - and oldest - city, with a history that dates back nearly 2,000 years. Mombasa is located on Mombasa Island and has been an important trade and port city since its first estimated origins. It is a mystical mixture of the ancient and the modern with a cosmopolitan population of African, European, Arab and Asian. The old town is a maze of narrow streets and pedestrian lanes lined with quaint shuttered houses and open fronted shops, a delightful mix of architectural styles, and Hindu and Muslim temples nestle comfortably beside Christian churches. The smell of spices is always present. Dominating the entrance to the Dhow harbor and overlooking the old town is Fort Jesus built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. A museum in the fort displays antiques from the length of the Kenyan coast, and is always open to visitors. The main tourist attraction is undoubtedly its spectacular beaches, lapped by warm, crystal clear waters. These sandy white beaches stretch out along the coast on both sides of the city, but south is Diani Beach, which is one of the most popular resort towns just 30km from the city. Diani Beach stretches for 25km down the southern Kenyan coast, much of which is protected by coral reefs. This stretch of coast is perfect for kite surfers, swimming, snorkelers and divers. Alternatively there is the traditional dhows, which can take guests on a sailing trip along the coast, where they might spot a pod of dolphins.
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