Life in Malindi: The Good, The Bad and The Oh Good Lord Why On Earth Did I Move Here

Vasco Da gama

I have written about my personal experience in Malindi and also on the top things to do. Now that that is out of the way, it is time to bring you the tea on life in Malindi. The question being, what is it like to live in Malindi? Minus the personal bias and the touristy notions. Here we go:

Malindi people

Malindi has often been referred to as “Little Italy” because of the large population of Italian settlers. Most high-end businesses such as hotels, restaurants, clubs and supermarkets are Italian owned. Most people speak Italians as well, from the beach boys to the vendors. Hotel menus are also loaded with Italian dishes while the supermarkets stock Italian products such as wine, cheese and Gelato. This is to cater for the Italian population.

When you go to the beach, you will often hear “this is not mzungu price” as the vendors try to sell you their products for much cheaper than they would sell to their white counterparts. Even when you house hunt, especially if you are a young lady, you will be asked “Uko na mzungu?” A question that sounded very offensive to me but I later realised that it is part of the Malindi culture.

Away from the Italian population are the locals who are diverse but mostly made up of Swahili people. A visit to the old town and its surroundings will have you introduced to the Swahili homes and Swahili dishes restaurants.

The people are friendly. After staying in Malindi for a while, you find yourself letting your guard down. People will approach you to help, and even at the beach, you can leave your belongings with a vendor in her shop as you go swimming without worries. The first time I left my phone to go swimming, my mind almost exploded out of worry. I could not understand how a stranger would just watch bags with 3 smartphones just like that. Nairobi had taught me the hard way about trusting strangers. However, in Malindi and its surroundings, it is completely possible. Not only that, but people also often greet each other in passing and there is way less heckling for ladies as compared to Nairobi.



There aren’t any of the major supermarkets Nairobians are used to in Malindi. Tuskys closed its doors after a short reign. However, there are a few good supermarkets and retail shops that will cater for your basic needs. My top places included Huzefa, Sunset, and 7to7(most expensive). There are also some good shops inside the old town that you can get your normal goods at normal prices.

The old market is the best place to shop for green groceries. They measure everything from sukuma wiki “Kale” to potatoes in kgs and their prices are very fair. They also have a wide variety of fruits that are even cheaper than most of the other places around Kenya.

The Food

The food in Malindi is almost the same as the one you eat on a normal basis especially if you are cooking for yourself. The ingredients are readily available in the market. Local restaurants will serve a wider variety of Swahili dishes such as Biriani, Pilau and Viazi Karai, while the high-end restaurants will have more Italian dishes such a Pizza and Pasta. Seafood such as prawns, crab, octopus, lobster and tilapia fish are also readily available in both the local and high-end places.



Movement in Malindi is mainly by tuk-tuk and bodabodas. There are no public service vehicles that serve the town. Within the major part of town, a ride on a tuk-tuk or bodaboda does not cost more than Ksh 100. To get to other towns such as Mombasa or Marafa, you can use the matatus. A snapshot of Malindi’s old town during busy hours would only be described as organised chaos among the tuk-tuk and bodaboda riders and the few other motorists on the road.


Like every other major town, there is a district hospital in Malindi. Its amenities are like any other sub-county hospital. Not to put it down but you probably won’t be getting top-notch medical assistance there, but it serves the community well for general medicine. There are other private hospitals as seen on a simple Google Search.


This goes without saying but if you are packing to go to Malindi, pack light clothes. Even if your head tells you to pack just one warm coat, leave it. Malindi is always warm, even when it is raining. It is warmer than most other places in Nairobi all year round. During the rainy season, it has the tendency to rain for just about 5 minutes and that is it. 10 minutes later, you’d have a hard time convincing someone that it rained. The sandy soil always ensures that it never gets muddy. The bottom line is to pack as much sunscreen as you can gather, believe me, you will need it.

Silversands beach
Malindi pier

The beach also has its seasons and times. Sometimes during high tide, you will not be able to walk along the beach as early as 5 pm, while during low tide you would walk seamlessly. This also goes for times when you want to visit the corals or go for a boat ride. The locals are experts on this so ask one of them at the beach.


Pre-covid 19, Malindi was the king of nightlife. With many clubs and beach parties, you were sure that you could enjoy your night. There are still a few places that try to keep the spirit going, but it all depends on the current measures the government has put in place. The places to check out would be, Vintage, Rosada and Tangeri for high-end experience and Sinbad, Thome and Chics for meeting with locals. You can always chat with your tuk-tuk or Boda guy, they tend to always have the latest information,


The population in Malindi is diverse and so is the religious affiliations. There are many places of worship you can go to depending on your preference. The best thing about Malindi is that there is no discrimination based on religion.

The Good, The Bad and The Oh Good Lord Why On Earth Did I Move Here

The good about Malindi is a lot as noted in all these posts. The best thing about it for me was the beach and the serenity it provided. Malindi has a way of drawing you in and keeping you there.

The bad about Malindi is that lack of known supermarkets and also the fact that where I stayed there were no shops around. However, with time, you get used to it and learn to cope with what you have.

The Oh Good Lord Why On Earth Did I Move Here, has to be the sun. My skin ended up looking like a zebra any time I stepped outside. Any exposed skin got darker and the tan lines from dresses and swimming costumes became more and more visible. Even as I write this almost 1 and a half months after I left Malindi, you can still probably trace my swimming costume from my skin. Expect to get darker there, no matter your initial complexion

Last Remarks

Life in Malindi is much slower than that of your average city. Expect vendors and waiters to take their time with your orders. But the slowness also brings some peace and tranquillity. Whether for a short period or long term, I recommend Malindi as a top place to live in.

Ciao! Arrivederci!

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