Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park

Ever since 1970’s, Kenya has been investing a lot more towards creation of magnificent conservation marine reserves and national parks. Today, Kisite and Mpunguti Islands make up the magical Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park that was established in 1978. The Kisite Marine Reserve stretches up to 11 square kilometers and Mpunguti stretches for about 28 square kilometers making total area coverage of about 40 square kilometers. This park features as the most spectacular of all the marine protected areas that exist in Kenya. Beside its 4 magical Islands, the park also comes with magnificent coral reefs with its main tourist attractions being Dolphins both bottlenose and humpback, sea turtles featuring both green turtle and hawksbill, countless coral fish species, sea birds and many more. Kisite Marine National Park was founded mainly to offer refuge to its stunning scenic Islands and the habitats which offer refuge to a wide range of endemic marine species and breeding migratory birds. In most cases, the humpback whales can be sighted while relaxing in the shallow water of the Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park prior proceeding to their migration route. A visit to this remarkable conservation area and Wasini Island rewards travelers with incredible views of the several pods of resident dolphins or participate in snorkeling in the coral reef and scuba dive.

Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park is located in the shallow Indian Coastal waters of Southern Kenya, 10kilometers off from Mombasa. It can be reached by boat if you are at Shimoni which features as a small fishing village in Kwale town just near the borders of Tanzania. The distance from Shimoni to the coral reefs in Kisite Mpunguti ranges from 4 (four) to 8 (eight) kilometers on boat ride and along the way, you will have a chance to catch a glimpse at the virgin Wasini Island. Given the visibility, depth, waves and winds, intending travelers are advised to at least visit the reef for snorkeling during low tide. The actual period between high and low tides differs each day and this requires you to first cross check with the tide time table at your respective hotel prior embarking for dhow cruise to Kisite Mpunguti.

The dhows anchor at the rim of the reefs in the depths between 4 and 8 meters offers you opportunity to swim forth and back to the reef although the dhows need to have safety jackets and other floating gears to help give support visitors with or without swimming experiences. After some time of snorkeling, you can have sea food lunch whether while you are still on the boat or on Wasini Island based on the company that you will make your reservations for wind and tide permits but the dhows always come back to Shimoni by sail in the afternoon. This also gives you a chance to explore the old slave caves where thousands of slaves from the inland were kept in captivity.

Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park refuges over 250 distinct marine fish species and more than 65 different coral species. The park provides chance to tourists to participate in diving and snorkeling. As well, it is also one of the best parks for you to engage in watching marine life and the notable species to spot include trigger fish, parrot fish, butterfly fish, angel fish, groupers, rays, wrasses, scorpion fish, puffer fish, damselfish, snappers, moray eels as well as see green sea turtles, more than 200 dolphins (spinner, humpback and bottle nosed) that can be sighted ins schools above and below the waves, hawksbill turtles and many more. Dolphins are known to visit the marine protected area nearly each day and it is possible to jump in from an engine powered boat and take a swim with the dolphin within shortest time possible.

Shimoni caves and Nyuli reef feature huge number of marine species and sharks as well as stingrays are easily spotted. Between August and October, you can also sight the humpback whales and whale sharks at this marine reserve. The corals that exist in the park include the brain, mushroom, liliac blue, stag horn, and lavender coral offers the best photography experiences and the most incredible views at the coral plus the massive yellow and red tuna and snappers. However, fishing is not permitted within this marine protected area and for sea fishing enthusiasts; they can travel as far as the Pemba channel is concerned where you will find species like marlin, sailfish, barracudas and kingfish. For travelers who are planning to visit the park for water sport activities, consider packing items like masks with well built in dioptrics to fit you well, contact lenses, camera (underwater camera), hat, sunscreen, sun glasses, binoculars and many more.

How to access Kisite Mpunguti National Park

Kisite Mpunguti National Park is accessible from Mombasa about 500 kilometers from Nairobi and visitors can take on Nairobi-Mombasa highway. By air, Mombasa is nearly 45 minutes from Nairobi. The national park headquarters is reachable by road and it is 90 kilometers from Mombasa. You can use a ferry to reach to southern coastline through Likoni to Ukunda which is 35 kilometers, through Likoni to Ukunda to Kanana for about 32 kilometers and Kanana to Shimoni for about 13.5 kilometers. By boat, it is 5 kilometers offshore at the jetty.

Best time to visit Kisite Mpunguti National Park

In terms of its climatic conditions, the park experiences average temperatures from 21 to 33 degrees Celsius with average annual rainfall of about 19 inches and overall humid conditions. Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park is best visited from October to January.

Accommodation in Kisite Mpunguti National Park

For night stay at Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park, there are no lodges in the park but the near by ones include the blue monkey beach cottages, Fish Eagle Point, Shimoni Reef lodge, the Sands at Chale Island, Ocean Village Club, the Villa Luxury Suites, Hill park Hotel Tiwi Beach, Tiwi Villas for budget travelers. Camping is the best alternative for you to spend a night at the park and the notable campsites include Shimoni Cottages, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) self catering, Betty’s camp, Wasini Island Guesthouse, and Mpunguti Campsite.

In conclusion, Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park features as the most stunning marine reserve out of all the marine protected areas that are in Kenya. This park comes with several unique marine creatures that are worth exploring while you are on safari in Africa. A visit to this protected rewards travelers with lots of exiting activities like viewing marine life, birding, guided walks, sun bathing, diving, boat rides and sailing and others.