- The Kenyan-Tanzanian coastal region in the western Indian Ocean faces several environmental challenges including coral reef conservation, fisheries management, coastal erosion, and nearshore pollution. The region lacks hydrodynamic records and oceanographic studies at adequate spatial and temporal scales to provide information relevant to the local environmental issues. We have developed a 4 km horizontal resolution ocean circulation model of the region: the Kenyan-Tanzanian Coastal Model (KTCM) that provides coastal circulation and hydrography with higher resolution than previous models and observational studies of this region. Comparisons to temperature profiles, satellite-derived sea surface temperature and sea surface height anomaly fields, indicate that the model reproduces the main features of the regional circulation, while greatly increasing the details of the nearshore circulation. We describe the seasonal ocean circulation and hydrography of the Kenyan-Tanzanian coastal region based on a climatology of 8 years (2000–2007) of the KTCM simulations. The regional monsoon seasonality produces two distinct coastal circulation regimes: (1) during December–March, there are relatively sluggish shelf flows and (2) during April–November, there are strong northward transports. Simulations from the model will be useful for examining dispersal of pollutants and spatial connectivity of coral reef species.