Come on in: the water’s beautiful! Whether you want to dive through technicoloured coral gardens, fulfil a lifelong dream to snorkel with a whale shark, or simply relax at a luxury spa resort, Kenya’s idyllic Indian Ocean coast is the perfect place to wash away the dust from your safari.
A shoal of lyretail anthias hover over a coral head on a stretch of Kenya’s fringing reef, plucking plankton from the currents, while surgeonfish swim in the deep blue beyond. Easily accessible across shallow lagoons, coral reefs run the length of Kenya’s coast, and provide superb opportunities for snorkelling and diving. Most resorts and hotels run boat trips.
The harmless plankton-feeding whale shark is one of the most spectacular visitors to Kenya’s coast. Reaching lengths of up to 12m, it is most often seen Sep-Oct and Dec-Feb. Although physical contact is forbidden, encounters with these gentle giants can be arranged through reputable operators like Blue Marine Diving at the Serena Beach Hotel & Spa on Kenya’s north coast.
The honeycomb moray eel is just one of the myriad species protected in Kenya’s five marine protected areas (Kiunga, Malindi, Watamu, Mombasa and Kisite Mpunguti). Crucial to the country’s tourism industry, Kenya’s stunning coral reefs also play vital roles in protecting the coast from storm-driven waves and providing a livelihood for fishing communities.
Snorkelling or diving on one of Kenya’s coral reefs is like opening a big box of chocolates: full of surprises and variety!
Where to go snorkelling or diving off Kenya’s coast
1 Kiunga Marine National Reserve
Protecting around 50 islets in the Lamu Archipelago, this reserve is a haven for turtles and dugongs. One for the adventurous.
2 Malindi Marine National Park
Both green and hawksbill turtles are found at Malindi, along with abundant fish. Nearby Gedi Ruins are perfect for some ‘drying out’ time.
3 Watamu Marine National Park
Several hundred species of fish have been identified in this superb reserve, including manta rays and whale sharks. Barracuda Reef is a must!
4 Mombasa Marine National Park
Some of Kenya’s finest coral gardens can be seen here, along with opportunities for wreck and cave dives. Turtles are frequently encountered.
5 Diani Beach
Simply wade from the beach straight into a turquoise lagoon, or take a boat trip to the reef from one of Kenya’s prime coastal strips.
6 Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park
Reached by dhow from the south coast, Kisite Mpunguti is located off Wasini Island and has reefs teeming with angelfish and grouper.