Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve - Guide, Activities, Attractions, When to Go There, & Accommodation
Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve is an undersea wonderland that will delight and mesmerize you. A dive in the park takes you beneath the Indian Ocean, where you get amazed by more than 150 species of colorful fish and dazzling corals.
Watamu Marine Park protects several marine habitats like sand and mudflats, intertidal rock, mangrove swamps, pristine beaches, and coral reefs and gardens. These habitats are home to various marine animals such as the enormous Wrasse, the smallest clownfish, and the endangered Turtles.
Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve is also a hub for the green turtles and a prolific birdlife with over 100 recorded avian species.
Book Your Safari to Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve Now
Our Most Booked Watamu Marine Reserve Packages and Other Safaris
|Our Most Booked Kenya Safari Packages 2023Price Per Adult SharingThe Detailed Itinerary|
|1-Day Nairobi National Park & Giraffe Center Tour||From USD 119||See the Itinerary|
|1-Day Nairobi National Park & Nairobi Animal Orphanage Tour||From USD 34||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Camp Packages||From USD 1015||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Christmas Packages||From USD 1010||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Easter Packages||From USD 985||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Festive Packages||From USD 1315||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Lodge Safari||From USD 995||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Packages||From USD 955||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Packages from Nairobi||From USD 995||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Ol Pejeta Easter Safari||From USD 1175||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Africa Migration Masai Mara Packages||From USD 1360||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day L. Naivasha & Masai Mara Easter Safari||From USD 1249||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day L. Naivasha & Masai Mara Safari||From USD 1174||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day L. Nakuru & Masai Mara Safari||From USD 1162||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Masai Mara Camp Packages||From USD 1195||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Masai Mara Easter Packages||From USD 1235||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Masai Mara Migration Packages||From USD 1360||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Mombasa & Diani Safari||From USD 937||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Mombasa & Diani Valentine Safari||From USD 1405||See the Itinerary|
|5-Day Flying Safari to Masai Mara & Ol Pejeta Conservancy||From USD 3777||See the Itinerary|
|6-Day Kenya Wildlife Safari from India||From USD 1730||See the Itinerary|
|7-Day Kenya Christmas Safari||From USD 3093||See the Itinerary|
|7-Day Kenya Wildlife Safari||From USD 1884||See the Itinerary|
|8-Day Kenya Wildlife Safari||From USD 4413||See the Itinerary|
|8-Day Wildlife & Beach Safari||From USD 1585||See the Itinerary|
|12-Day Kenya Wildlife & Beach Safari||From USD 4216||See the Itinerary|
|18-Day Kenya Family Safari||From USD 5849||See the Itinerary|
Guide to Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve
Watamu Marine Park has everything from the Ged Ruins to green turtles to unique coral gardens. It is part of the coastal region’s complex tidal and marine habitats that also offers Kisite Marine National Park.
During your visit, you can enjoy snorkeling, sandy beaches, windsurfing, glass-bottomed boat safaris, and water skiing.
Watamu Marine National Park Location
Any Watamu Marine National Park map will show you the park is on the North coast of Kenya, about 120 kilometers north of Mombasa.
How to Get to Watamu Marine Park from Nairobi
By Air: This is the easiest way of reaching this coastal treasure. You can fly to the Moi International Airport at Mombasa. Alternatively, you can connect from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at Nairobi to the Malindi Airport. From here, you drive to Watamu Marine National Park.
You can also fly from Nairobi to Diani Airstrip (Ukunda). Watamu is 28 kilometers south of Malindi and 120 kilometers north of Mombasa. Of the three options above, flying to Malindi, the closest to Watamu, is best.
By train: The new Standard Gauge Railway, which was recently introduced in Kenya, makes railway travel very popular in Kenya. You also get a chance to pass through Tsavo National Park while on the train travel.
Watamu Marine National Park Charges
Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve is managed by KWS and its charges are classified into low and high season fees. Below are KWS Marine park fees for the various travelers.
March to June – Low Season
- Non-Resident – USD 20 Per Adult & USD 10 Per Child
- Rest of Africa – USD 15 Per Adult & USD 8 Per Child
- East Africa Resident/Citizen – Kes. 200 Per Adult & Kes 150 Per Child
July to March – High Season
- Non-Resident – USD 25 Per Adult & USD 10 Per Child
- Rest of Africa – USD 15 Per Adult & USD 5 Per Child
- East Africa Resident/Citizen – Kes. 300 Per Adult & Kes. 150 Per Child
Watamu Marine National Park History
Watamu Marine Park came into existence in 1968. Together with Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve, they were Kenya’s first marine parks and reserves. It is 140 km or 90 miles north of Mombasa and offers a 300 meters or 980 feet above shore coral garden.
The park was established by the government of Kenya and is an UN-recognized World Biosphere Reserve.
Watamu Marine National Park Attractions and Things to See
The park is all travelers’ dream come true as it offers different activities and things to do to keep you engaged. These include:
It is a set of corals in the North where boats can moor. The Ladder is known for substantial 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 the wind makes it unpleasant to explore beyond the reef.
Some of the unique sea animals found here include; starfish, parrotfish, Lobsters, Anemones, Moray Eels, Wrasses, and Sea-urchins.
The Turtles Watch
Watamu Marine National Park is a perfect breeding ground for Turtles. The Turtles Watch programs protect this treasure. You will often see guards patrolling Watamu beaches to ensure no harm to the turtles.
At the Turtle Watch Center, you learn more about the exciting turtles and the great work done to protect these threatened creatures. Turtles Watch runs an incentive scheme that requests fishers to net back turtles that are accidentally caught.
This is in addition to a Rehabilitation Center and Nest Monitoring for the injured or sick turtles. The rehabilitated turtles are later released to the sea, and the hatchlings are allowed to make their way to the sea.
The Turtles Watch is mainly a sanctuary for nesting Green Turtles. However, other kinds of turtles, such as 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 ecosystems worldwide and a recognized birding area with local and migrating birds from Asia and Europe. Mida Creek is a tidal inlet with different habitats influenced by the tide.
The open areas act like breeding and feeding area for many species of fish, including; Snappers, Rabbit Fish, Jacks, Barracuda, and Emperors. The aquatic flora of Mida Creek varies in number and distribution. Thirty-three seaweed species and 11 species of seagrass are found here. Both mangroves and seagrasses trap sediments that benefit the corals and provide a perfect habitat.
Crab-plovers’ population and Lesser and Greater Sandplover at the Creek are internationally significant. Common migrant birds include; Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Greater, Lesser Sand Plover, Little Stintand, Sanderling, and more than 115 others.
Watamu Marine National Park Top Activities
There are different things to do at Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve. They include:
Watamu Marine National Park Safaris (Seafaris)
Watamu Marine National Park is one place where you will enjoy all the water activities. There are diving excursions to the best diving spots in the park. Snorkelers can experience the reefs directly or take a boat excursion to the coral sites for an array of reefs.
Landlubbers can enjoy the reefs from a comfortable glass-bottomed boat. There are also guided tours to the Mida Creek Mangrove Forest either on foot down the boardwalks or by canoe.
Watamu Marine National Park Snorkeling
Undoubtedly, the Coral Reefs and the sea gardens are the most significant features in Watamu Marine National Park. Over 150 species of soft and hard corals can be seen.
You cannot miss spotting 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, making 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.
Marine National Park Big-Game Fishing
Big game fishing is prohibited in Watamu Marine National Park. 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 you can find fish like Sailfish, Marlin, Spearfish, and Swordfish.
There are deep-sea charter companies to choose from, and the setting is perfect for beginners and seasoned anglers. Fishing competitions are held from December to March, the prime fishing season.
Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve Bird Watching
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 in water birds, and the myriad Egrets, Plovers, Sandpipers, and Terns are seen here. Others include migrant birds such as Warblers, Flycatchers, Shrikes, Sunbirds, and Orioles.
Marine Park at Watamu Turtle Watch
At the Turtle Watch Center, you learn more about the exciting turtles and the great work done 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.
Top 3 Accommodations in Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve
Watamu is home to some of the best accommodation options on the Kenyan Coast. Some of the best hotels include:
Hemingway’s Watamu Hotel
The Luxurious Lodge is strategically located near the park and surrounded by soft white beach sand. The 76 well-furnished rooms all have an ocean view. Additionally, there is a bar, restaurant, and business center. We endorse this luxury beach hotel to honeymooners and luxury safari travelers.
This is the ideal place for families in search of some privacy on the beach. It is a small, friendly, and stylish beach hotel. The lodge comprises 28 rooms, self-catering beach cottages, and suites.
If looking for a pleasant stay in Watamu, then Ocean Sports is the place to be.
Watamu Tree House
In Tree House, you can choose between a catered holiday, a self-catered holiday, or yoga and adventure retreats. The lodge has seven-suite bedrooms and offers delicious, nutritious food and a pool. Its architecture gives a 360 degrees view of Watamu.
Other popular Mombasa hotels in Watamu include; Medina Palms, Turtle Bay, Watamu Beach Cottages, and many more.