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Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park

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The Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park, established in 1978, encompasses the Mpunguti and Kisite Islands. The Mpunguti Reserve spans 28 square kilometers, and the Kisite Island covers 11 square kilometers. Located 100 kilometers from Mombasa, visitors can access the park by boat from Shimoni, a small fishing village in the Kwale County near the Tanzania border. The park is managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park

From Shimoni to the reefs in Kisite-Mpunguti, it’s a 4-8 km boat ride, and on the way, you pass beautiful and unspoiled Wasini Island. Due to visibility, depth, wind, and waves, arriving at the reef for snorkelling around low tide is preferable. The exact time of the high and low tides varies daily, so it’s a good idea to check the tide timetables at the hotel before booking a dhow trip to Kiste-Mpunguti.
The dhows anchor at the edge of the reefs at depths between 4 and 8m. From here, you will have to swim forth and back to the reef, but the dhows should carry safety jackets and other floating devices to support the less experienced swimmers. If the wind and tide permit, the dhows usually return to Shimoni by sail in the afternoon. After a couple of hours of snorkelling, an excellent seafood lunch can be had – either on the boat or on Wasini island, depending on which company you book with. In Shimoni, there is an opportunity to visit the old slave caves where thousands of enslaved people from the inland were being held captive.

Marine Life in Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park
© Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Currently, around 250 varieties of marine fishes and over 40 varieties of coral species have been documented in Kisite-Mpunguti marine park. The area offers excellent opportunities for diving and snorkelling, and some of the marine species include parrotfish, triggerfish, moray eels, butterfly fish, angelfish, groupers, wrasses, scorpionfish, pufferfish, damselfish, rays, and snappers. You can see green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, and dolphins.
Dolphins visit the marine park almost daily, and it’s possible to jump in from an engine-powered engine-powered boat and swim with the dolphins for a limited amount of time.

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park
© Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Sizeable marine life is always seen at Shimoni caves and Nyuli reefs, and sharks and stingrays are familiar sights. Also, there are chances to spot humpback whales and whale sharks in Kisite-Mpunguti between August and October.
Corals like staghorn, brain, mushroom, lilac-blue, and lavender coral present great photo-taking opportunities. The coral’s colourful beauty is complemented by many yellow and red tuna and snappers, which are virtually unmatched.
Fishing is not allowed in the marine park, but deep-sea fishing lovers can travel further to the Pemba channel to catch large barracuda, marlin, sailfish, and kingfish.

Suppose you are not much into diving or snorkelling. In that case, we still recommend visiting Kisite-Mpunguti because the surroundings are so beautiful. Despite being costly, it is lovely to spend a day on the sea and maybe see some dolphins playing in the Indian Oceans’ deep blue waters.

Practical guidance

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park
Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski
  • Booking a trip to Kisite-Mpunguti marine park can be done at some of the larger hotels along the (south) coast, and they will provide transportation to Shimoni by bus, and from there, you will board on the dhow to reach the marine park. You can save a bit of money by booking with someone on the beach, but chances are they need to be authorized.
  • If you book with one of the dhow tours, the crew will provide you with a mask and snorkel of reasonably good quality (fins are discouraged as they might harm the corals), but if you want to be sure to have equipment that fits you well, you might consider bringing your own.
  • A camera and maybe binoculars would be great to bring with you on the boat and when you snorkel or dive.
  • If you haven’t yet become acclimatized to the scorching African sun, the ultraviolet exposure from a whole day on the sea in the tropics can give you severe sunburns that can ruin the rest of your holiday. Therefore you should bring a hat, sunglasses, some sunscreen with a high UV protection factor, and light clothes to shield exposed body parts from the sun. Also, some medicine to prevent sea sickness can come in handy while on the boat, as the sea can sometimes get rough.

Activities to be enjoyed at Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park

Diving, sunbathing, snorkelling, Bird watching, camping.

What to take with you

Footwear, e.g., sandals or flip flops (to protect your feet from the reef) and T-shirts (to protect your body from sunburn)
Snorkel, mask, fins, all of which are available for hire Camera, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent Friends Plenty of drinking water

Best time to visit.

The best time to visit the Kisite-Mpunguti marine park depends on each tourist’s activities, budget, and interests. For anglers’ enthusiasts, the period from August to October is excellent. June to December is perfect for observing Humpback whales as they migrate. For scuba divers and snorkelers, October to March is the best time to enjoy marine life. Low seasons will be preferable for those traveling on a budget or seeking quiet time.

PLEASE RESPECT THE MARINE WILDLIFE CODE

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park
© Mikkel Alexander Grabowski
  • Check local weather and sea conditions before entering the reserve.
  • Some marine life is dangerous; do not touch anything underwater.
  • Do not damage or remove the coral; it’s a living organism that takes many years to form and is host to many rare and endangered species.
  • Do not remove shells, starfish, or any other sea Flora or Fauna. Not only is it illegal, but also it can seriously disrupt the ecosystem, and some marine life is dangerous. The areas outside the park and reserves are threatened by excessive shell collection. Empty shell provides a home for hermit crabs and some fish.
  • Do not buy shells and other marine animal products as souvenirs, as this encourages further plundering of reefs.
  • Never dispose of litter on the beach or in the sea. It is illegal and environmentally unfriendly. Marine turtles can confuse clear plastic waste with jellyfish and die if they eat it.
  • Hand-feeding fish is discouraged. It disrupts standard feeding patterns.
  • Hook and line fishing is allowed in marine reserves but prohibited.
  • Support traditional coastal livelihoods and industries, and do not give money to children on the beach, as this can encourage them to stay away from school.
  • Respect the cultural heritage of Kenya, never take pictures of the local people in their habitat without asking for their permission, respect the cultural traditions of Kenya, and always dress decently.

Admission fees

Admission fees for the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park are as follows:

For Citizens:

  • Adults: 215 KSH
  • Children: 125 KSH

For residents:

  • Adults: 215 KSH
  • Children: 125 KSH

For non-residents:

  • Adults: 17 USD
  • Children: 13 USD

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