Watamu is a wonderful beach set 120 km north of Mombasa, facing a light blue ocean full of incredible fish and water plants. In order to protect this paradise, in 1968 the government of Kenya established the very first marine park of the nation – maybe of the entire Africa! Watamu Marine National Park is thoroughly underwater, but it is part of a larger protected area which also includes Malindi Marine Park and the Arabuko Sokoke Forest, on the coast. You can both explore the shores and the sea, but Watamu Marine is mainly the favourite place for scuba divers.
When to go, what to see at Watamu
Watamu coast and its marine park are warm places with temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. Rains are mostly in spring and autumn, so the best period to visit and dive is January-March or June-October. Underwater you will admire the beautiful 150 species of coral, pride of the Kenyan coast, and 11 different water plants and algae. As for the fauna of the Park, turtles and sharks are the most important and beautiful animals to see.
You can also watch manta rays, barracudas, sea urchins, starfish, crustaceans as they live and move throughout their proper habitat. Many birds fly over the Marine Park and most of them also go to the coast, landing along the shores of Mida Creek. There, among mangroves, you can spot waders, Calidris Albae, Calidris Ferruginea, Sterna birds.
Activities at Watamu Marine National Park
Tourists who come to visit Watamu Marine National Park usually love diving. They will go underwater, following their local guides, and admire the ocean fauna. Local tour operators organize many sea safaris like that but also boat tours: the boats have glass bottom so you can admire the fish without touching it nor entering the sea.
You are allowed to go snorkeling in the Marine Park, and you can also practice windsurf and water ski. Fishing, picking corals or touching animals is forbidden. Strict controls against the action of man on the reserve may result into heavy fines or even jail. So please be respectful! Safaris can be organized also to visit the forests and the Mida Creek environment, on the coast.
Watamu is not far from Malindi. So you could also go and visit the city, find some time for your shopping and tasting some local food at the restaurant. Or you can enjoy other typical tourist activities which do not concern nature. You can also reach Mombasa, which is 120 km south of the beach.
More information about the Park
Tourists shall pay a entrance ticket, in order to use the services of the Watamu Marine National Park. The main ticket is 15 US Dollars, 10 for children. To reach Watamu, you can go by airplane – landing at Malindi Airport; or by car, driving along the Mombasa-Malindi Road. The reserve is 120 km away from Mombasa and just 28 km away from Malindi. When you get to Gede – halfway – you turn following the indication to the Indian Ocean, or to the beaches. Drive for 11 km more and there you are at Watamu Beach.