The partly excavated, atmospheric ruins of the Swahili city of Mnarani are high on a bluff just west of the old ferry landing stage on the southern bank of Kilifi Creek. The best-preserved ruin is the Great Mosque, with its finely carved inscription around the mihrab (prayer niche showing the direction of Mecca). Under the minaret lies the skeleton of the supposed founder of the town.

The site was occupied from the end of the 14th century to around the first half of the 17th century, when it was abandoned following sieges by Galla tribespeople from Somalia and the failure of the water supply.

Don’t miss the monstrous old baobab trees on the edge of the bluff and just beyond the walls of the main complex. The largest is a right-royal 900-year-old beauty.

Sometimes, a guide is available to show you around the ruins (tip of around KSh100 expected).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kilifi attractions

1. Kilifi Creek

0.71 MILES

This might be the only place where we wouldn't mind being up the creek without a paddle. It's just gorgeous, from the cliffs jutting up out of the water,…

2. Vuma Cliffs

3.61 MILES

Just outside the village of Takaungu, you fly on the back of a motorbike down dirt roads, past spiky fields of sisal and giant baobabs towering above…

3. Bofa Beach

4.23 MILES

Bofa Beach is a wide slash of white sand, with swaying palms and rolling Indian Ocean surf. It's the stuff of which fantasies are made. A path to the left…

4. Watamu Marine National Park

19.57 MILES

The southern part of Malindi Marine National Park, this reserve includes some magnificent coral reefs, abundant fish life and sea turtles. To get here to…

5. Sudi Island

20.34 MILES

This uninhabited island on the far side of Mida Creek makes an interesting excursion. It is very green (at least during the rainy season) and there are…

6. Watamu Turtle Watch

20.61 MILES

This excellent organisation protects the approximately 50 hawksbill and green turtles that lay their eggs on Watamu Beach. The centre provides much-needed…

7. Jumba la Mtwana

21.99 MILES

These Swahili ruins, just north of Mtwapa Creek, have as much archaeological grandeur as the more famous Gede ruins. Jumba la Mtwana means ‘Big House of…

8. Kirepwe Island

22.46 MILES

Mida Eco-Camp organises day trips (KSh3500) to this quiet island just across the estuary. The ruins are atmospheric and you can visit a Giriama village…