Kiunga Marine National Park
An enchanted underwater world A Pristine string of rugged coral isles, ringed by rainbow coral reefs the reserve offers living coral gardens, sculpted coves, wheeling seabirds, rare turtles, magical dugongs and an underwater world of unbelievable color, discovery and vibrancy The Reserve is part of Lamu archipelago, a cluster of hot low-lying desert islands that run for some 60km parallel to the coastline of Northern KenyaAn enchanted underwater world
A Pristine string of rugged coral isles, ringed by rainbow coral reefs the reserve offers living coral gardens, sculpted coves, wheeling seabirds, rare turtles, magical dugongs and an underwater world of unbelievable color, discovery and vibrancy. The Reserve is part of Lamu archipelago, a cluster of hot low-lying desert islands that run for some 60km parallel to the coastline of Northern Kenya. The last survivor of one thousand year-old civilization, Lamu was founded by the Arabs in the seventh century and traded for centuries thereafter in ivory, rhino horn and slaves. Today it offers a unique showcase for traditional Swahili culture, a bustling historical town with some of the most pristine beaches in Africa.
The Kiunga Marine National Reserve is made up of a chain of 51 coral islands lying some 2 km offshore of the fringing reef. They run adjacent to the mainland Dodori and Boni National Reserves. Varying in size, the islands are composed of old, eroded coral and shelter lesser kudu, bushbuck, monkey, porcupine and wild pig.
Reefs, the rainforest of the sea
Coral reefs are one of the most fascinating ecosystems on earth, sheltering nearly one million different types of marine life. Forming only in warm seas, corals are made by battalions of tiny polyps, miniscule sea anemone-like creatures that live together in colonies, some create a hard skeleton outside their bodies which eventually forms into stony coral. Corals come in many shapes, sizes and colours including the open-branched stag shorn coral, the pincushion-like acropora coral, the wavy-branched plate-like pavona coral, the massively solid favia coral and the convoluted brain coral.
Diving and Snorkeling paradise
Thw best time for snorkeling over the reefs is two hours either side of low tide, which is the time when the greatest amount of marine life is revealed. Kenyas coastal waters are warm all year round so diving without a wet suit is also rewarding.
What To See
A shifting rainbow of small fish, worms, shrimps, octopus and clams hide in the gaps while blue and yellow parrot fish use their hard beaks to chew off lumps of coral. Snappers, zebra fish, butterfly fish and scorpion-fish shimmer in the clear waters while sharks, rays, turtles and starfish prowl the reef in search of prey. Fierce moray eels hide in holes, while small crabs, wrasses(long, spiny-finned fish) and sharks lurk in the caves, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars and numerous species of mollusk feed on algae and transparent prawns dance through the waters alongside shifting clouds of tiny demoiselle fish. The Reserves creeks and inlets also serve as a substantial breeding ground for the rare mermaid-like creature called the dugong. A completely aquatic, warm-blooded mammal, the dugong is thought to share a common ancestry with the elephant, dugong have an average length of 2.5-3.2 meters, may weigh anything from 140-170kg, and live on the marine grasses growing in the shallower waters of the Reserve.
The outer islands of the Reserve host many seabirds. Species nesting here include roseate tern, sooty gull, white-cheeked tern, bridled tern and brown node. Crab plovers are also plentiful while other migrant waders frequent the more sheltered flats and creeks.
Where To Stay
Kiwayu Island is the only inhabited island to be included in the Kiunga Marine National Reserve.
What To Take With You
Footwear(to protect your feet from the reef), T-shirt, snorkel, mask, fins, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, guidebooks and plenty of drinking water.
When To Go
The Reserve is open all year round.