The Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve were established in 1986 with the aim of protecting coral reefs and marine life from over-fishing and exploitation. The marine park was created to support local hoteliers and prevent the negative impacts on the coral reef ecosystem, while the marine reserve was developed to protect the coral reefs, marine life, and trophy collecting. In 1994, the area became fully protected due to night patrol, which reduced the amount of spawning in 1992. The park and reserve are managed by Kenya Wildlife Service and the Fisheries Department.
The park lies between the Mtwapa and Tudor Creeks, and its blue waters are ideal for windsurfing, water skiing, snorkelling, and diving. They also provide a home to a colourful variety of marine species, including crabs, starfish, stonefish, cucumbers, sea urchins, corals, turtles, sea grasses, and interesting migratory birds, including crab plovers.
The park can be reached by road from Mombasa city centre and then by boat from various points along the beach, such as the Serena Gate, Severin Gate, Travellers Gate, and Voyager Gate.
The Mombasa Marine National Park is 10 km² in size, and the National Reserve is 200 km². The climate is hot and humid, with surface water temperatures ranging from 25°C to 31°C.
Floral and Fauna
The fringing reef that is found in the national park and reserve extends the entire length of the low areas, where three types of coral have been found: Acropora, Turbinaria, and Porites.
In this area, there are seven different types of seagrass: Thalassia hemprichii, Thalassodendron ciliatum, Halophila stipulacea, H. ovalis, Halodule uninervis, Cymodocea rotundata, Syringodium isoetifolium.
Marine life: Crabs, corals, sea urchins, jellyfish, sea stars, Sea Turtles (Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, and Ridley), Dolphins (Spinner, Humpback, and Bottle-nosed), sea cucumbers, Bluefin Kingfish, Blue and Green Parrotfish, Striped Zebra fish, Butterfly fish, and the Leopard Moray) among others.
Birds: There are many seabirds in large nesting colonies and internationally significant numbers of crab plover and roseate tern.
Activities to Enjoy in Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve
Diving, sunbathing, snorkelling, windsurfing, and water skiing.
What to take with you
- Footwear, e.g. sandals or flip flops (to protect your feet from the reef)
- T-shirts (to protect your body from sunburn)
- Snorkel, mask, fins, all of which are available for hire
- Camera, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent
- Plenty of drinking water
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the marine national park depends on each tourist’s activities, budget, and interests. June to December is perfect for observing Humpback whales as they migrate. For anglers’ enthusiasts, the period from August to October is excellent. October to March is the best time to enjoy marine life for scuba divers and snorkelers.
Low seasons will be preferable for those traveling on a budget or seeking quiet time.
Visit Mombasa Marine National Park Responsibly
- It is recommended to verify the local weather and tide conditions before visiting the Mombasa Marine National Park or Reserve, as these factors can affect water activities.
- Some marine life is dangerous; do not touch anything under water.
- Do not damage or remove the coral, it’s a living organism which takes many years to form, and is host to many rare and endangered species.
- Visitors should not remove shells, starfish, or any other sea flora or fauna. Not only is it illegal, but it can also harm the ecosystem. Excessive shell collection outside of the park and reserve threatens the areas and affects the hermit crabs and some fish that use empty shells as homes.
- Do not buy shells and other marine animals products as souvenirs as this encourage 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 plastics waste with jelly fish and they die if they eat it.
- Visitors should not hand-feed fish, as this disrupts their normal feeding pattern.
- 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 to Mombasa Marine National Park
Admission fees for the Mombasa Marine National Park are as follows:
- Adults: 130 KSH
- Children: 125 KSH
- Adults: 130 KSH
- Children: 125 KSH
- Adults: 17 USD
- Children: 13 USD