Kenya’s attractive coast offers more than just opportunities to laze on the beach…
- Visit the turtles in Watamu
The Watamu Turtle Watch and Local Ocean Trust is a not-for-profit organisation that works to protect Kenya’s marine environment. Watamu Turtle Watch is a rehabilitation centre in Watamu, on Kenya’s northern coast. Visitors are taken on a tour of the facilities and taught about the myriad threats turtles face, including pollution and development of the beaches where they nest.
The turtle project was started by local residents and includes a nest monitoring programme. Sick and injured turtles are also rehabilitated at the centre and then released into the ocean.
Centre opening hours: Tuesday to Friday (09h30 to 12h00; 14h00 to 16h00), Monday afternoons (14h00 to 16h00) and Saturday mornings (09h30 to 12h00).
- Snorkelling and diving
Kenya has four marine parks: Malindi, Watamu, Mombasa and Kisite Mpunguti, with dive operators based at each. The coral reefs boast a diversity of fish and marine creatures, as well as wrecks and caves that can also be explored. Larger species that can be spotted on a dive include green sea turtles, dolphins, reef sharks and manta rays. There are also plenty of tiny species such as seahorses and leaf scorpion fish. Recommended dive spots include the Vuma Caves near Kilifi Creek outside Watamu, the purpose-sunk MV Dania off the coast of Mombasa, and the Pinnacles, which offer an advanced deep dive, north of the Mombasa Marine Reserve.
Although diving is offered year-round, October to February is considered the best time.
- Explore the Gedi ruins
The Gedi ruins can be found in a tropical forest about 15 kilometres south of Malindi and 10 kilometres north of Mombasa, on Kenya’s northern coast. Local guides offer tours of the ruins, which date back many centuries. The crushed coral and cement ruins were inhabited by a nomad Ethiopian tribe (the Aroma people) between the 12th and 17th centuries, after which they were abandoned. It is not known why the area was abandoned, although theories include the lack of fresh water and possible conflicts in the area. The archaeological site has yet to be fully excavated due to a lack of funding.
- Discover Mombasa
Kenya’s second largest city after Nairobi is the historic Mombasa. Kenyan school history books suggest it was founded as far back as CE* 900, while it is mentioned as a trading town by Arab geographer, Al Idrisi, in CE 1151.
The city is also a cultural melting pot, with immigrants from Portugal, Britain, Asia and the Middle East influencing its architecture and cuisine. The old town offers spice markets and ancient buildings, including the World Heritage-listed Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese and dating from the 16th century.
*Note: BC has been replaced with BCE (Before Common Era) and AD with CE (Common Era).
Source: Tessa Reed. Image: Pixabay