Watamu Marine National Park, with its coconut palm trees, beautiful white sand, and calming warm water, is the ideal location to unwind after a Kenya wildlife safari excursion. The unspoiled beachfront beauty is a cultural melting pot of Kenyan, Arab, and Italian influences.
WATAMU BEACH, AT A GLANCE
Watamu is a small town on Kenya’s coast with a population of roughly 30,000 people (2020). Watamu is located approximately 105 kilometers north of Kenya’s oldest city, Mombasa, and 15 kilometers south of Malindi.
The crystal-clear waters of Watamu Beach make it an ideal spot for snorkeling and diving, and the surrounding area is teeming with animals. The Watamu Marine National Park is about 1 km off the coast of Watamu Beach and features 600 fish species, 110 stony coral types, and numerous invertebrates, crabs, and mollusks.
Watamu has a sizable Italian immigrant community that has influenced local food with authentic Italian pizza and ice cream. Watamu is a cosmopolitan town with influences from Kenya, the Arab world, and Italy.
WHERE DOES WATAMU BEACH FIT INTO YOUR KENYAN ADVENTURE?
Watamu Beach is a favorite post-safari destination for travelers looking to relax. If you have a tight schedule and want to explore everything Kenya has to offer, we recommend spending a few days in Watamu.
Travelers looking for a beach vacation can spend a week at Watamu, which has a pleasant ocean breeze and gentle waves. Snorkeling and diving fans, likewise, might make Watamu the focal point of their Kenyan vacation.
THINGS TO DO AT WATAMU BEACH
Snorkeling: Snorkeling is a popular pastime off the coast of Watamu; however, a permit is required. A permit can be purchased from the Kenya Wildlife Service Hut, which is located next to Turtle Bay Beach Resort.
Watamu Marine National Park is an excellent place for snorkeling, and the 1km journey to the park will cost you roughly KSH 2,500. Lionfish, damselfish, and moray eels are common.
During the peak season, dozens of boats moor beside Watamu’s prominent hotels. Snorkeling is best during low tide, but if you don’t want to go to the park, you can still see a lot of fish just off the coast.
Diving: Watamu’s clear waters are warm all year, ranging from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius, with visibility ranging from 5 to 25 meters.
Watamu has 20 fantastic diving spots, all of which are on the fringing reefs that encircle the Kenyan coast. Each site is a half-hour boat ride from town and is part of the Watamu Marine National Park. Diving is an all-year pastime; however, during the rainy season, you may be limited to the neighboring lagoon.
Gedi Ruins: The Gedi Ruins are an ancient settlement located 8.4 kilometers from Watamu along the Gede Watamu Highway. The ruins contain a mosque, a palace, tombs, and dozens of dwellings, and the site was formerly thought to be an important commercial center.
Researchers believe the site was constructed in the early 13th century. Archaeologists have been baffled by the site for decades, and we still don’t know why the Gedi Ruins were abandoned so quickly or what happened to its previous residents.
The Gedi Ruins are an intriguing day excursion from Watamu and are considered one of Kenya’s biggest mysteries.
Mida Creek: This tidal creek, located near Dabaso Village, is ideal for adventure seekers. The 32 km2 stream is popular for paddle boarding and kayaking, and in the central Broadwater, you can also go wakeboarding and water skiing.
The creek is home to a diverse range of species. Its seagrass and coral beds are home to dozens of fish and sea turtles, while the little streams within its mangroves are home to birds and crabs. A hut at the Mida Creek Conservation Community serves crab delicacies. We recommend trying their delectable crab samosas.
Local Ocean Trust: The Local Ocean Trust is at the forefront of conservation efforts in Watamu, and they have spearheaded critical projects to conserve sea turtles.
This non-profit organization is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species, and you may tour their Marine Information Center in Watamu. In the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center, you may learn about local marine creatures and visit patients. At the entrance, a minimum donation of KSH 500 is asked.
GETTING TO WATAMU BEACH
Watamu Beach is easily accessible from Malindi and Mombasa, and both cities can be reached by plane from Nairobi. Watamu is a 30-minute drive from Malindi International Airport, and a cab can cost up to KSH 3,000. Most hotels will provide airport transportation.
The drive from Mombasa is a little longer, taking approximately 90 minutes. The cab ride could cost up to KSH 8,000. Although driving from Nairobi is doable, the long road trip takes roughly 8 hours, so we recommend flying to Malindi or Mombasa to cut the journey time.
ACCOMMODATION AT WATAMU BEACH
Ocean Sports Resort: A popular family-owned resort with a wide selection of accommodations A veranda room, a family ‘nest’ of four interconnected rooms, a two-story cabana room, and a beach home with four bedrooms and three bathrooms are all available.
Ocean’s beachfront restaurant offers a delectable menu that combines Kenyan flavors with traditional pub fare. The beach bar offers panoramic views of Watamu Beach and is ideal for a sundowner. Ocean’s Pub is well-known for its nightlife, with a vibrant environment in the evening.
Turtle Bay Beach Club: This eco-hotel is a favorite among travelers and an excellent alternative for environmentally conscious tourists. Turtle Bay Beach Club is Kenya’s first hotel to be awarded a “Gold Eco-rating” by Eco-Tourism Kenya in honor of its efforts to care for the environment and the local people.
The hotel is located on 200 meters of beach and is surrounded by 10 acres of tropical vegetation. Turtle Bay has the most accommodations of any hotel in the area, with over 145 rooms.
Watamu Treehouse: The white-brick, spiral-shaped Watamu Treehouse has a distinct appearance. The cliff-top hotel offers panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and the lush coastal forest below.
The hotel was built on an existing clearing within the forest without destroying any trees. Watamu Treehouse provides a variety of calming activities, including massages, yoga on the top floor, and cooking demonstrations. Its restaurant has a delectable variety of Swahili, Indian, and Middle Eastern meals made with fresh, local ingredients.
Boutique Hotel Nyumbani Tembo: Nyumbani Tembo, located barely 400 yards from Watamu Beach, is one of the best-located hotels on the beach.
The hotel’s historically furnished rooms surround a central courtyard with a huge swimming pool. A currency exchange desk, a bar, a restaurant, and a communal lounge are also available. Notwithstanding its first-rate facilities and prime location, Nyumbani Tembo provides exceptional value for money.
Is Watamu safe? Visitors to Watamu Beach are completely safe. Most travel advice for Kenya will advise you to avoid the Somalian border and neighboring shoreline; however, Watamu is rather far away from this area.
How far is Watamu from Diani? It takes about 4 hours to drive from Diani to Watamu, but you may cut the journey time in half by taking a 15-minute flight from Ukunda to Vipingo and then a 1 hour, 20 minute cab ride from Vipingo to Watamu.
Is Watamu on the South or North Coast? Watamu is located on Kenya’s North Coast, which stretches from Nyali to Malindi.