Watamu Marine National Park

Unlike the usual terrestrial parks, tourists interested in marine attractions can actually visit Kenya’s Watamu Marine National Park. Is it the green turtles, Mangrove forests, pristine beaches, exceptional coral gardens near the shores (about 300 meters away), exploring the Gede ruins or participating in marine activities such as diving and boat rides that you desire? Then Watamu Marine National Park is where you have to be for your Kenya Safari.     It extends for 10 square kilometers (3.8 square miles) and boasts of best beaches in the World thus the reason it is frequented by sun-worshipping tourists.

This Marine National Park is situated at Watamu, at approximately 300 meters (980 feet) off the shores of the Indian Ocean and was established in 1968 thus making it one of the country’s first Marine Parks. This destination was designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1979 and is currently governed by the Kenya Wildlife Service (the State Corporation that manages and conserves the country’s wildlife).

The temperature of the equatorial waters are quiet warm and comfortable throughout the year and vary from 20 Celsius degree (wet season) to 30 Celsius degrees during the dry season from December to February.

What to see within Watamu Marine National Park

Watamu Marine National Park is part of a complex marine and tidal habitats found along Kenya’s North coast with abundant turtles, birdlife, dugongs and fish species. The coral gardens found near the shores of the Ocean offer shelter to over 600 species of fish, more than 150 species of soft and hard corals including fan and brain corals as well as sponges in addition to a number of invertebrates, Molluscs and Crustaceans among others. If you are someone that loves watching whale sharks, then you have to visit this Marine Park. There are also barracuda, manta rays and octopuses which are some of the larger wildlife species within this site.

There are over 100 species of migrant as well as aquatic birds that inhabit the bushes and cultivated gardens within and around Watamu Marine National Park with the notable ones being the Lilac breasted rollers, black kites, common bulbul, the beautiful Yellow Canaries, Lizard buzzards, speckled mousebirds, white-browed coucal, Osprey, African pygmy kingfishers, Golden palm weavers, lesser Sandplovers, and many others.

There are also pristine white sandy beaches that can be visited to enjoy different beach activities such as sunbathing, relaxation, beach volleyball and football walks and bowls among others. Some animals are found on the mainland and they include Mongoose, monkey species, Dik-dik, the giant monitor lizards and many others.

What to do when you visit Watamu Marine National Park

If you are someone looking for endless adventure and excitement, make a trip to Watamu Marine National Park where you will enjoy activities like;

Scuba diving

Do you love or enjoy diving? Then you will not regret visiting Kenya’s Watamu Marine National Park due to its several world class dive sites. Divers descend for about 10 to 30 meters deep into the bottom of the sea. However, there is also a lagoon close to Watamu that offers perfect conditions for novice divers as well as night divers depending on the weather and conditions. This activity offers the opportunity of occasionally sighting the white-tip reef sharks as well as the endangered green sea turtles that are common on the reefs.


Watamu Marine National Park offers extraordinary snorkeling conditions that allow tourists to easily access the magnificent undersea life such as the shy black-tipped reef sharks, Hawksbill turtles, fish species such as Butterfly fish, Damselfish and Angelfish and the bluestripe snapper among others.

Bird watching

With over 100 species of birds including the migrant and aquatic species, Watamu Marine National Park is worth exploring during birding safaris. The bird species you won’t miss seeing include Whimbrel, Lilac breasted rollers, black kites, little stints, common bulbul, the beautiful Yellow Canaries, Sanderlings, Lizard buzzards, Curlew sandpipers, great sand and Mongolian, speckled mousebirds, white-browed coucal and many others.

Game and Bill fishing

Another interesting activity you can enjoy at the Kenyan North Coast, especially when you visit Watamu Marine National Park is game fishing where you will be able to catch different fish species such as the striped and black marlin, sailfish, broadbill swordfish and blue marlin found within the waters. Alternatively, you can go for deep sea fishing although it is only for the strong-hearted tourists.

Canoes rides

Canoe trips are adventurous activities you can actually enjoy within this popular Marine National Park. You can actually visit one of the many verdant romantic Islands and relish some picnic lunch.

Visit to Gede Ruins

From 1884 when Gede Ruins was first explored by Sir John Kirk, the historical site is recognized as an important archaeological place and is presently one of the most highly studied artifacts on the Kenyan Coast. You can therefore visit the ruins during your historical tour of Watamu with a typical African Mecca. There are houses, mosques, Palaces as well as other structures that show the rich growth of wealth that were relished by the Towns people until the end of the 15th Century.

Other adventurous activities to enjoy include glass bottomed boat rides, visiting the historical Mida Creek Mangrove Forest (home to mangrove species such as Sonneratia Alba, Ceriops Tagal, Bruguiera Gymnorrhiza, Rhizophora Mucronata and Avicennia Marina among others), Dhow excursions, water skiing and windsurfing among others.

Best Time to Visit Watamu Marine National Park

This spectacular Marine destination is open for visitation all year round. Whether during wet or dry season, you will achieve a maximum safari experience.

Where to stay when you visit Watamu Marine National Park

The commonest accommodation facility is Temple Point Resort at about 3 kilometers from the Park. Others are found within Watamu Marine National Reserve or within Watamu Town and they include Plantation House and Cottage, Arcadia, Acacia cottage, Jonjoloka Guesthouse, Abora Cottages, St. Thomas Royal Palm Watamu, Doum Palm and Eco Tower, Watamu Tree house, Granchio Villas, Al Hamra and Amani Beach House among others.

What to carry or Pack when visiting Watamu Marine National Park

What to carry sometimes depends on the activities you plan on engaging in but the basic items that shouldn’t miss on your packing list include t-shirts, long sleeved and short-sleeved shirts, footwear (such as flip-flops or sandals and hiking boots), hat, camera, binoculars, insect repellant, guidebooks, snacks, bottled water, snorkel, fins and masks (although can be hired from within the site) but don’t forget to go with a friend.

How to Access Watamu Marine National Park

This Marine National Park is situated at about 140 kilometers (90 miles) North of Mombasa City, Kenya’s second largest City after Nairobi. It can be accessed through air and road whereby with the former, you can use Malindi Airport as the arrival point. Watamu is about 120 kilometers north of Mombasa and 28 kilometers south of Malindi and while at Gede (the main Mombasa-Malindi road).

Due to its close proximity to Tsavo National Park-largest and oldest Park in Kenya, tourists to Watamu can also combine the two destinations for unforgettable wildlife viewing experiences.

In conclusion, Watamu Marine National Park is one of the first and most interesting Marine destinations in Kenya where tourists can enjoy adventurous activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, glass bottom boat rides, windsurfing, Dhow rides, visit to the historical Gede ruins, water skiing, exploring Mida Creek mangrove forest and bird watching among others.