A general view of the newly constructed Sh300 million Fort Jesus Recreational Park in Mombasa County. {Photo/Robert Menza}

Residents and visitors to Mombasa can now enjoy a treat on the beach from a recreational park adjacent to the historic Fort Jesus Museum.

The two-acre beachfront park along the edge of the Indian Ocean is expected to revitalise the centuries-old Fort Jesus Museum that fuses unique African, Arabic, Persian and European styles.

‘Fort Jesus Park’ will be an integrated urban picturesque destination for tourism, culture, festivals, dining and relaxation.

This is the second public waterfront in the city after Mama Ngina waterfront which was rehabilitated at Sh460 million by the national government two years go.

The 26-acre seaside park facing the Likoni channel crossing had become a major tourist attraction site before the Covid-19 pandemic dealt the tourism industry a major blow.

The project launched in 2019 by President Uhuru Kenyatta promotes the city’s history, culture of the people and offers an ideal venue for festivals and other social events.

Built by the Portuguese in 1596, the fort was declared a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2011 and is highlighted as one of the outstanding and well-preserved examples of 16th century Portuguese military fortifications.

Fort Jesus provides a fantastic history of the wars that took place between the British, Portuguese and the Omani Arabs for control of the Kenyan coast.

The modern waterfront recreational space will add to the appeal of Mombasa as a world famous tourist resort and is located near Old Town, a Unesco world heritage site.

National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Director General Mzalendo Kibunjia said efforts to build the seafront park began after the completion of a Sh497 million structurally sound seawall at the landmark fort.

Dr Kibunjia said the concrete seawall designed to protect the fort from coastal erosion and the recreational park are hoped to breathe a new life into the ornate historical buildings.

“The park will be a place for leisure, resting, walking, outdoor cultural festivals and beach football,” he said.

Kibunjia added that the ‘scenic beachfront public park’ will greatly enhance the appeal of Fort Jesus as a world heritage site.

Speaking during the inspection of the park, he said the outdoor space features a walkway, benches, a shaded structure and a bit of open space that will allow residents and visitors to take a break and breathe fresh air and relieve their souls.

Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers Coast branch Executive Officer Sam Ikwaye said the waterfront was a huge milestone to the industry.

Dr Ikwaye said the park would not only boost the number of tourists but also spur business and other economic activities in the region.