Watamu Marine National park and Reserve – “Haven of the Green Turtle” Green turtles, unique coral gardens, the Gede Ruins – the Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve has it all. The park is part of a complex of marine and tidal habitats along the Kenya’s north coast with rich and diverse bird life, fish, turtles and dugongs. Visitors can enjoy the white sandy beaches, snorkeling, water skiing, windsurfing and glass bottomed boat tours.
Watamu Marine National Park undersea wonderland will delight you. As you dive beneath the sea surface prepare to be amazed by more than 150 species of colorful fish and the dazzling coral. The park protects a number of important marine habitats which are; sand and mud flats, intertidal rock, mangrove swamps, pristine beaches, coral reefs and coral gardens. These habitats act as home to various marine animals such as the enormous Wrasse to the smallest Clown-fish and the endangered Turtles. For all water-babies Watamu is a brilliant destination to be in even if you are a land-lubber because you won’t miss a thing as there are glass-bottomed boat excursions The park is situated on the North coast of Kenya about 120 kilometers North of Mombasa. The beaches in Watamu Marine National Park offer many activities to non-divers like; kite-surfing, wind-surfing, swimming, water-skiing in the Mida Creek and sailing as well. You can also relax while basking on the beautiful clean white sand and soak up the sunshine. Other activities include; cycling, Dolphin-watching. Horse-riding, sailing on a traditional Arabic Dhow and golfing.
It is a set of corals in the North where boats can moor. The Ladder is known for huge fish shoals.
The Coral Gardens
The Coral Gardens entails a 100 meters stretch of coral heads at the end of the lagoon where at least 250 species of fish are found. Coral Gardens is the most popular area for boat based snorkeling activities.
The Turtle Reefs
These are some of the best dive spots with various species of fish. Turtle Reefs are also protected for divers when wind makes it unpleasant to explore beyond the reef. Some of the unique sea animals found here include; Star-fish, Parrot-fish, Lobsters, Anemones, Moray Eels, Wrasses and Sea-urchins.
The Turtles Watch
Watamu Marine National Park is a perfect breeding ground for Turtles. This treasure is well protected by the programs that include patrolling of the beaches.
One of the programs is an incentive scheme that requests fishermen to net back turtles that are accidentally caught. Other programs are Rehabilitation Centre and Nest Monitoring for the injured or sick turtles and the Community Education System Program. The area is mainly a sanctuary for nesting Green Turtles. Other kinds of turtles like the Hawksbill Turtles and the Olive Ridley are increasing in numbers in this area.
The Mida Creek Mangrove Forest
It is one of the most beneficial mangrove ecosystem worldwide and also a recognized birding area with local and migrating birds from Asia and Europe. Mida Creek is a tidal inlet that has different habitats influenced by tide. The open areas act like breeding and feeding area for many species of fish including; Snappers, Rabbit Fish, Jacks, Barracuda and Emoerors.
The aquatic flora of Mida Creek varies in number and distribution. 33 seaweed species and 11 species of sea grass are found here. Both mangroves and sea grasses trap sediments that benefit the corals and provide a perfect habitat.
The population of Crab-plovers and lesser and Greater Sand plover at th
It is without any doubt that the Coral Reefs and the sea gardens are the greatest features in Watamu Marine National Park. Over 150 species of soft and hard corals can be seen. You cannot miss to spot fan corals, sponges and brain corals which all attract over 1000 species of fish. The impressive thing about Watamu is that the fringing reef is 300 meters offshore which makes it possible for everyone to enjoy the underwater. The clear waters offer excellent visibility to snorkelers. For scuba divers there are more than 20 prime dive sites to explore and dive in; these diving sites are just 30 minutes offshore.
The protected waters are a perfect breeding ground for many fish species and this causes excitement among fishers. These protected waters of Watamu are amongst the best spots for game fishing along the African coastline and fish like Sailfish, Marlin, Spearfish and Swordfish can be found here. There are deep-sea charter companies to choose from and the setting is perfect for beginners and seasoned fishermen. Fishing competitions are held from December to March which is the prime fishing season.
Watamu Marine National Park area has four strategic bird areas to watch from. They include Whale Island, Mida Creek, Dakatcha Woodland and Sabaki River Mouth. The interest is on water birds and the myriad Egrets, Plovers, Sandpipers and Terns are seen here. Others include the migrant birds such as Warblers, Flycatchers, Shrikes, Sunbirds and Orioles.
At the Turtle Watch Centre you learn more about the interesting turtles and the great work done here to protect these threatened creatures. The rehabilitated turtles are later released to the sea and the hatchlings are allowed to make their way to the sea.
Watamu’s closeness to the Equator makes it warm all year round. October to April are the best months for diving, snorkeling and fishing. While turtle nesting and hatching is an all year round activity.
There are good accommodation options in Watamu suited to your budget. Some of the best hotels include:
Hemingway’s Hotel, Ocean Sports, Watamu Tree House