Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park, Shimoni Kenya
Home of the Dolphin, Coconut Crab
Kisite Marine Park was established to protect the scenic islands and special habitats of a wide range of endemic marine animals and breeding migratory birds. It lies in the coral gardens beginning about 1 km south of Wasini Island and encompasses four small, and arid coral islands, each with considerable areas of fringing reef. Kisite Island features an exposed sand bar and the surrounding pellucid waters offer the most rewarding of the snorkeling sites.
Essentially unspoilt (there are no roads or cars) and entirely different in terms of culture and landscape from the mainland, this peaceful island invites exploration. It features a picturesquely sculptured rocky coastline, low rag coral forest cover, numerous venerable baobab trees and two small villages. Once below the waves, but now merly washed by the incoming tide, these rather surreal grey-white coral gardens lie directly behind Wasini Village. Run by the friendly ”Wasini Women’s Cooperative Boardwalk” (offering guided walks, cool drinks and a handicraft shop), the two and a half acres of petrified coral gardens and mangrove swamps can be explored by means of a meandering timbered boardwalk leading in a circuit around the site.
What to see
The Kenyan Barrier Reef
The most outstanding feature of the Kenyan Coast, the pristine and well-developed coral barrier reef extends all the way from Shimoni in the South to Malindi in the North, without significant break, expect at the mouth of the rifers. The coral reefs referred to as the rainforests of the sea, are one of the most fascinating ecosystems on earth, sheltering nearly one million types of marine life.
Enchanted Underwater Kingdom
An enchanted realm of living coral gardens, sculpted islands, wheeling seabirds and sparklingly clear seas, this world famous Marine Park promises and underwater world of unbelievable color, discovery and vibrancy. The reef provides food and shelter for an entire community. A shifting rainbow of small fish, octopus and calms hide in the gaps between the rainbow coral, celestial blue parrotfish use their hard beaks to chew off lumps of coral while a kaleidoscope of soup plate sized snappers, rubber fish, zebra fish, butterfly fish, angel fish and scorpion fish shimmer in the clear waters. Hunting sharks, rays, turtles and starfish also prowl the reef in search of prey while moray eels hide in holes alongside small crabs and wrasses (long, spiny finned fish). Sea cucumbers, brittle stars and numerous species of mollusk also feed on the plentiful algae of these warm coastal waters. The reef features 12 species of sea grass and numerous sponges.
The Park is famous for its population of Turtles: Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Ridley and Leatherback.
Dolphin and Whale Spotting
The reef offers sanctuary to over 200 dolphins (spinner, humpback and bottle-nosed)which can be encounterd singly or in schools, above and below the waves. You may even be fortunate enough to see a humphback whale (October-December). Whale sharks meanwhile are often seen around the Mpunguti Islands.
Kisite Island, Realm of the Seabirds
Kisite Island is flat, treeless and often only visible as a sandbar. At its tip is a rocky outcrop, which makes an ideal seabird habitat supporting an abundance of pelagic-feeding birds including a breeding colony of roseate terms and nesting sooty terns.
Divers and Snorkellers Paradise
Due to its warm shallow waters, exceptional clarity, pristine coral and extraordinary breath of marine life, the Park and the Reserve offer an excellent dive venue for beginners and professionals alike. The warm dear waters, spectacular soft corals and kaleidoscopic marine life make this Park one of the finest snorkeling venues in Kenya, the most popular areas lying in the main coral garden towards the outer edge of Kisite anchorage area.
Visitor Tip: The best time to snorkel is two hours either side of low tide, when the great amount of marine life is revealed.
The Shimoni Slave Caves
Only five minutes from Shimoni Pier, and well worthy a visit, are the ancient coral caves of Shimoni. Vast, cavernous bat-filled, they are reputed to extend 5 km inland and served for centuries as ”Kayas” or scared sites of worship and sanctuary for the local community. Later, in the 18th and 19th century, the caves are also believed to have served as the holding areas for the thousands of slaves captured in the African interior, who were in transit to the infamous Arabian slave markets of Zanzibar. The caves, which are run as a community project, are open from 08.30 am to 06.00 pm (entrance fee is payable)
Altitude: Sea level to about 5 meters.
Area: 39 sq km (Kisite Park: 28 sq km Mpunguti Reserve: 11 sq km)
Location: Kwale District, Coast Province, The Marine Park lies 6 km off the Kenyan Coast (at Shimoni) and 8 km north the Tanzanian Border
Distance from Nairobi: 550 Km
Distance from Mombasa: 120 km
Climate: The Coast is humid with mean annual temperatures ranging from 22-34 degrees centigrad. Rainfall is around 500mm pa.
Vegetation: Sea grasses and marine algae
Marine Life: Comprises more than 250 recorded species, including fish, dolphins, sea turtles, whales, corals, sea grass and gastropods. Many seabirds in large nesting colonies and internationally significant numbers of crab-plover and roseate tern.
Sporting facilities: Swimming, sailing, snorkeling and diving