Watamu Marine Overview

Watamu Marine National Park, located on Kenya’s coast approximately 120 kilometers north of Mombasa, is a pristine marine protected area renowned for its rich biodiversity and stunning natural beauty. Established in 1968, it was one of the first marine parks in Africa, covering roughly 10 square kilometers (about 3.9 square miles) of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests. This park is part of the Watamu Marine National Reserve, which spans a larger area and is designed to safeguard the diverse marine life and habitats found within its boundaries.

Nestled in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Watamu Marine National Park is a haven for a multitude of marine species, making it a premier destination for snorkeling, diving, and eco-tourism. The park’s coral gardens are home to over 600 species of fish, 110 species of stony coral, and countless invertebrates, algae, and marine mammals, creating a kaleidoscope of life that thrives beneath the surface. Endangered species such as green and hawksbill turtles find refuge here, and the park’s waters occasionally welcome whale sharks and manta rays, providing spectacular encounters for visitors.

The clear, shallow waters offer excellent visibility, allowing snorkelers and divers to immerse themselves in the underwater world with ease. The park’s commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism practices helps ensure that the delicate balance of this marine ecosystem is preserved for future generations.

Watamu Marine National Park is not only a biodiversity hotspot but also a place of exceptional beauty. The white sandy beaches, crystal-clear water, and the backdrop of the Kenyan coastline make it a picturesque escape for those looking to experience the tranquility and majesty of the ocean. Whether you’re an avid diver, a marine life enthusiast, or simply in search of a serene coastal retreat, Watamu Marine National Park offers an unforgettable experience amidst some of the most vibrant and diverse marine habitats on the planet.

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Park Map
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Watamu Marine National Park Highlights


Watamu Marine National Park is sea-based and the wildlife species reflect that.  Here are the species found in the area:

Humpback Whale: Majestic and migratory, humpback whales frequent the waters of Watamu Marine National Park, breaching and slapping their tails during their annual migrations, captivating visitors.

Bottlenose Dolphin: Sociable and playful, bottlenose dolphins are a common sight in the waters of Watamu Marine National Park, delighting visitors with their acrobatic displays and curious behavior.

Green Sea Turtle: Graceful and endangered, green sea turtles glide through the crystal-clear waters of Watamu Marine National Park, nesting on the beaches and foraging among the coral reefs.

Manta Ray: Graceful and majestic, manta rays gracefully glide through the waters of Watamu Marine National Park, their large wingspan and gentle movements captivating snorkelers and divers.

Moray Eel: Stealthy and enigmatic, moray eels hide within crevices and caves of the coral reefs in Watamu Marine National Park, their sharp teeth and sinuous bodies adding to the underwater allure.

Giant Trevally: Powerful and predatory, giant trevallies patrol the reefs of Watamu Marine National Park, their shimmering silver bodies and lightning-fast strikes a testament to the ocean’s biodiversity.

Barracuda: Sleek and streamlined, barracudas are common predators in the waters of Watamu Marine National Park, their menacing appearance and swift movements making them both feared and admired.

Blue-spotted Stingray: Camouflaged and serene, blue-spotted stingrays hover over sandy patches in Watamu Marine National Park, their elegant movements and intricate patterns a delight to behold.

Napoleon Wrasse: Colorful and charismatic, Napoleon wrasses inhabit the coral reefs of Watamu Marine National Park, their large size and friendly demeanor making them a favorite among divers.

Parrotfish: Vibrant and essential to the reef ecosystem, parrotfish graze on algae and coral in Watamu Marine National Park, their colorful appearance and constant activity adding life to the underwater landscape

Engaging Watamu

Explore the breathtaking underwater world of Watamu Marine National Park through snorkeling.

Dip into the warm Indian Ocean waters to discover colorful coral reefs, exotic fish species, and other marine creatures in their natural habitat.

Guided snorkeling tours are available for both beginners and experienced enthusiasts, providing opportunities to witness the park’s rich biodiversity up close.

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Watamu Marine National Park to experience an immersive underwater adventure.

Certified divers can explore the park’s diverse dive sites, which include vibrant coral gardens, fascinating shipwrecks, and underwater caves teeming with marine life.

Encounter tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, and even the occasional whale shark while diving in this marine sanctuary.

For those who prefer to stay dry while still enjoying the wonders of the ocean, glass-bottom boat tours offer a unique perspective. Cruise over the park’s coral reefs aboard a transparent-bottomed boat, allowing you to peer into the mesmerizing underwater world below.

Marvel at the colorful coral formations, tropical fish, and other marine creatures visible through the glass as knowledgeable guides provide insights into the park’s ecology and conservation efforts.

Explore the tranquil waters of Watamu Marine National Park by kayaking along its picturesque coastline. Paddle through mangrove forests, hidden coves, and serene lagoons while soaking in the stunning coastal scenery.

Kayaking allows you to access secluded areas of the park inaccessible by larger boats, providing opportunities for peaceful nature encounters and wildlife spotting.

Whether paddling solo or joining a guided tour, kayaking offers a memorable way to connect with the park’s natural beauty.

Unwind and soak up the sun on the pristine beaches of Watamu Marine National Park. With soft white sands and clear turquoise waters, the park’s beaches offer the perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Lounge under shady palm trees, take leisurely strolls along the shoreline, or simply bask in the tropical ambiance. Whether you’re seeking solitude or enjoying quality time with loved ones, the park’s idyllic beaches provide a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Watamu Marine National Park Trails

Turtle Bay Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2 miles (3.2 km) with minimal elevation gain

Description: The Turtle Bay Trail offers an easy coastal walk along the shores of Watamu Marine National Park, providing opportunities to spot nesting sea turtles.

Hikers will stroll along sandy beaches and rocky outcrops, enjoying views of the turquoise Indian Ocean.

Discover vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life in the clear waters, making this trail a delightful experience for nature lovers and beach enthusiasts alike.

Mida Creek Boardwalk Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.5 miles (2.4 km) with minimal elevation gain

Description: The Mida Creek Boardwalk Trail provides a leisurely walk along a wooden boardwalk through the mangrove forests of Mida Creek.

Hikers will meander through lush vegetation, observing birds such as herons and kingfishers. Learn about the importance of mangrove ecosystems and their role in supporting coastal biodiversity.

Enjoy panoramic views of the creek and its surrounding landscapes, making this trail a peaceful nature retreat.

Watamu Marine Park Trail

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 miles (4.8 km) with minimal elevation gain

Description: The Watamu Marine Park Trail offers a scenic hike along the coastline of the marine park, showcasing its diverse marine ecosystems.

Hikers will explore pristine coral reefs and seagrass beds, encountering colorful fish and other marine creatures. Snorkelers can take advantage of designated snorkeling spots to observe the underwater wonders up close.

Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Watamu’s marine environment on this popular coastal trail.

Bio-Ken Snake Farm Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1 mile (1.6 km) with minimal elevation gain

Description: The Bio-Ken Snake Farm Trail provides an educational walk through the snake farm’s facilities, where visitors can learn about snake conservation and research efforts.

Hikers will explore snake enclosures and learn about different snake species found in the region. Discover the importance of snakes in the ecosystem and their role in controlling rodent populations.

This trail offers a unique opportunity to learn about reptiles in a safe and controlled environment.

Watamu Beach Walk

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4 miles (6.4 km) with minimal elevation gain

Description: The Watamu Beach Walk offers a scenic stroll along the pristine beaches of Watamu, providing stunning views of the coastline and Indian Ocean.

Hikers will traverse soft sands and shallow waters, enjoying the sound of crashing waves and gentle sea breeze. Discover hidden coves and tidal pools along the way, perfect for beachcombing and relaxation.

This trail offers a serene escape amidst the natural beauty of Watamu’s coastal landscapes.


1. What is Watamu Marine National Park known for?

Watamu Marine National Park is renowned for its pristine coral reefs, vibrant marine life, and stunning underwater scenery. This protected area encompasses a diverse range of habitats, including coral gardens, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests, making it a haven for marine biodiversity.

One of the main attractions of Watamu Marine National Park is its exceptional coral reefs, which are among the healthiest and most diverse in East Africa. These reefs are home to a spectacular array of marine species, including colorful reef fish, sea turtles, rays, and a variety of invertebrates. Visitors to the park can explore the reefs through snorkeling and scuba diving, encountering an underwater paradise teeming with life.

In addition to its vibrant reefs, Watamu Marine National Park is known for its resident dolphin population. Bottlenose and humpback dolphins are frequently spotted in the park’s waters, offering visitors the opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Beyond its marine attractions, Watamu Marine National Park also plays a crucial role in coastal conservation and community livelihoods. The park supports sustainable tourism initiatives and provides employment opportunities for local communities, helping to protect the area’s natural resources while promoting economic development.

Overall, Watamu Marine National Park offers a unique and unforgettable marine experience, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in marine conservation, snorkeling, or diving along the East African coast.

  • Kenya National Parks, Watamu Marine National Park,, retrieved March 2024.
  • Kenya Wildlife Service, Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve,, retrieved March 2024.
  • Lonely Planet, Watamu Marine National Park,, retrieved March 2024.
  • Magical Kenya, Watamu Marine Park,, retrieved March 2024.
  • Watamu Marine Association, Watamu Marine Park,, retrieved March 2024.