Kenya’s coastal strip extends from the Tanzanian border south of Gazi to the Kenyan-Somali border in the north.
With a climatic zone 10 miles wide, the coastal weather system is influenced by the Kaskazi and Kuzi monsoons. The first of these, the Kaskazi blows in from the north-east during the months of November to March inclusive. Reasonably benign, these relatively dry winds, though warm, help mitigate the effects of an otherwise very humid atmosphere. The second monsoon, the Kuzi, lasts from April through to September, and brings with it the long rains, which last from April through to June, with May being the year’s wettest month. The short rains, though present, are less significant, and occur between October and November.
While slightly drier in the north, rainfall all along the coast is reasonably constant, with Lamu experiencing an annual average of 800mm, Malindi – a third of the way down – around 1050mm and Mombasa coming in at 1160mm. In the coast hinterlands – west of the belt – the picture is markedly different, drier, less predictable, and more subject to the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) than it is the Kuzi monsoon winds (see South and eastern Kenya). May to September is the windiest period, March and November the calmest.
The average annual temperature throughout is 26°C, though it is not unusual during the months of December, January and February to experience temperatures of up to 30°C.
In terms of visiting the coast, the period between late November and early March is the hottest, calmest, and it is when the sea is at its clearest. This said, and apart from April and May, when it is wet, the rest of the year is also relatively fine, with the short rains limiting themselves to short late afternoon and night time downpours. For snorkling, diving and swimming, late November through to March is best, when the sea is clearer, while fishing depends on type – marlin arrive in the last week of November, with the Kaskazi monsoon, and the tuna season is September through to October.*
*For further information with regards to fishing the Pemba Channel, go to http://www.bigame.com/kenya_fishing_statistics.htm