Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve is one of Kenya’s first marine parks established in 1968 and it is situated about 140 kilometers north of Mombasa (second largest city in Kenya).
Its coral gardens are merely 300 meters (980 ft) from the shore and the park together with its reserve reside approximately 600 fish species, 110 species of stony coral and countless invertebrates, crustaceans and molluscs.
Water temperature varies from 20 degrees Celsius (June to November) to 30 degrees Celsius (December to May). Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve was established in 1968 and was then designated as a biosphere reserve in 1979.
The park’s coral reefs form the physical and biological backbone of the area boosting over 150 species of hard and soft corals such as brain corals, fan corals and sponges thus it provides for abundant nutrients for fish.
The main park is a home to over 500 species of fish and the reserve itself boosts over 1000 fish species. Besides the variety of fish species, visitors here will view various marine life species such as; whale sharks, manta rays, octopus and barracuda, as some of the larger species in the park.
Watamu also comprises of various species of turtles and a turtle watch program which has managed to secure the main park’s beach as a 99% viable sea turtle nesting site for endangered sea turtles.
This beach is patrolled and monitored vigorously. Some of the turtles nesting in Watamu include the Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley turtles.
The Olive Ridley species is rare but occasionally visits the nesting site and the leatherback turtles always pass there during their migration though they don’t visit the nesting area.
In Watamu and Malindi parks, a local marine conservation organization seeks to protect marine life mostly the sea turtles by the means of a direct payment method program.
The program pays local fishermen to tag and release sea turtles caught while fishing and for every turtle release, the fishermen are compensated for their time, efforts and potential damage to fishing gear thus providing an incentive for releasing the animals instead of killing them.
After the fishermen release the turtles, they notify Watamu Turtle Watch (WTW) volunteers who rush to the landing site and then have an opportunity to measure and examine the animals as well as place ID tags on them before they are returned to freedom.
This program has benefited the research of turtle nesting habits and also the center administering the program provides turtle rehabilitation for sick turtles and has an adopt-a-turtle program and study the socio-economics of fishing communities.
Fishermen are also allowed to fish in the protected reserve as long as they only take out the species of fish allowed by the park and use traditional methods of fishing.
Besides its marine life species, visitors to the Park can also enjoy the white sandy beaches, snorkeling, water skiing, swimming, windsurfing and glass bottomed boat tours.
Thus, the Park is a perfect place for your holiday and most especially the honeymooners due to its exceptional shoreline and its abundance in marine life together with a variety of bird species. Nearby accommodations to the Park include; Temple Point resort, Kobe suite resort, Rock and sea resort, and many others.