Watamu is a small town that lies on the wonderful coast of Kenya, 2 hours drive from Mombasa and 1h from Malindi. There, it is a postcard landscape : you will find white sand beaches and coral formations in the different bays and beaches of the town. The area is considered as the third most beautiful beach of Africa and is a true gem, not yet ruined by massive tourism. And it is so much more than just a stunning beach! Follow the guide for a great experience in Watamu!
1. Low tide walks on the beach
One of the things that I found amazing was the extreme low tide in Watamu. At this moment, the beach seems to become immense. And you can easily walk to the different rock islands in front of the beach shore. The view is amazing, and you will also see a lot of sea life. Differents seaweeds, some seastars, snails,… You can also admire the erosion on the rocks, and the beautiful vegetation on it. You can check easily the tide on internet. Put some plastic sandals, some corals are quite sharp and can hurt badly!
Established in 1968, Watamu was one of Kenya’s first marine parks. Its coral gardens are merely 300 metres from the shore and are home to approximately 600 species of fish, 110 species of stony coral and countless invertebrates, crustaceans. Water temperature varies from 20 degrees Celsius (June to November) to 30 degrees Celsius (December to May). The park was designated as a biosphere reserve in 1979. You can go to the Watamu marine wildlife directly to book your snorkeling trip. It can be a full day, with differents spots to see and do snorkeling, and with a barbecue on an island. From November to March, you can also swim with dolphins! If the full day excursion is not possible, you can just go for 2,5 hours snorkeling. We have choosen this option with the kids, but definitely the full day must be more amazing! From the bottom glass boat, we jumped into the clear water where thousands of fish were waiting for us. We paid 35 dollars for each adult , and 25 dollars for our 6 years old girl. The toddler, who is 2 years, didn’t pay.
3. Visit Midacreek
Mida Creek is a recognized International Bird Area and together with Arabuko-Sokoke Forest forms a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is not only a paradise for national waterfowls, but also migrating birds from Europe and Eurasia find a place to rest during their journey or they choose to stay at Mida Creek to over-winter.
Mangrove deforestation however threatens the whole basis of the creek ecosystem. WMA members are working together to prevent this and frequently organise mangrove replanting events.
At mida creek, you can come to just enjoy the sunset and eat some crabs at the Crabshak, or you can do a walk at low tide into the mangrove. This is absolutely stunning. If you have missed the low tide, you can rent a canoe and do a tour. This kind of mangrove forest is very unique and worth the visit!
The Mida Creek Boardwalk & Bird Hide are open from 6 am to 6 pm daily. If you want to stay for a while, it is best to arrive before high tide which brings in the wading birds. However, if you have only short time, the ideal time to visit is just after the receding tide. Enjoy the views and the birds!
Canoe trip will cost you around 10/15 dollars following duration of the excursion. More info on their website .
4. The Gede Ruins
My favorite excursion during our stay in Watamu.
Gedi was a small town built entirely from rocks and stones, which was inhabited by Swahili people of East Africa. This historic town was built around the 15th century, and through careful preservation most of the original foundations can still be seen today. In 1927, the Gedi historic town were declared a historic monument and much excavation and preservation work carried out such that large areas of this ancient town are now revealed, including the pillar tombs, the palace and a great mosque. This town was apparently a well known place at this time, where Portugese, Chinse, Italian, went to do some trade. But in the 16th century, people of Gede run away from the town.
It is not quite clear why the town was deserted. Several theories exist :
One of the theory suggests that the plague infest the population and the one who were still valid preferred to leave the place. It is also theorized that Gede inhabitants where suffering from a lack of water making life difficult.
The site is really beautiful and well maintened. It is also so interesting to learn about the swahili culture which is a mix of this diverse influence of the Arabs, the Portuguese and the local bantu population. Entrance is about 8 dollars, and for 5 dollars you can have a guide, and I totally recommend to make the visit with a guide! More info on the official website .
5. Watamu Turtle watch
Watamu is well known for its turtles, which featured on David Attenborough’s BCC series Africa. Watamu Turtle Watch, which appears in the series, has been hosting eco visitors for years now.
Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as endangered according to WWF .
There is few of them in Watamu as hawksbill, leatherback, green, loggerhead and olive ridley. Turtles often get caught in fishing nets, which is why Watamu Turtle Watch has formed a partnership with local fishermen, who are paid a nominal fee to admit turtles for rehabilitation, instead of killing them and selling them for food. Tourism also can have a bad influence over the turtle nest, so LOT organize patrols on the beach to protect a maximum the nest. You can visit the Local ocean trust , and if you are lucky enough maybe help them to release a sea turtle . For more info, contact them through their website.
To go to Watamu from Kigali, you can use Rwandair, fly to Mombasa and then take a taxi for 40 USD.