Kiunga Marine National Reserve is a chain of about 50 offshore islands and coral reefs in the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya. The islands consist of old eroded coral and are known for their unique vegetation, which includes mangrove forests, shrubs, and sandy beaches with dunes. It was gazetted in 1979 and became part of the Kiunga Biosphere Reserve in 1980, which covers 60,000 ha and includes the Dodori National Reserve.
- The reserve covers an area of 270 sq. km
- The climate is humid, with mean annual temperatures ranging from 22-34°C and an average rainfall of 500mm per year.
Floral And Fauna
The islands are composed of coral reefs and organic debris. The Kiunga Marine National Reserve has unique vegetation, consisting mainly of shrubs and mangrove forests in some areas. The coastal strip has sandy beaches with sand dunes, which serve as the source of clean water in the area.
The reserve boasts a diverse population of seabirds, including over 5,000 pairs of Sterna dougallii and several other species such as Larus hemprichii, Sterna repressa, S. anaethetus, and Anous stolidus. The seabirds nest from June to September, when rough seas and strong winds make it difficult for humans to access the islands.
The reserve conserves valuable coral reefs, sea-grass meadows, and extensive mangrove forests, contributing to its biodiversity. The reserve is also home to three globally threatened species of turtles, Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, and Lepidochelys olivacea, which nest on the beaches. There are also recent records of the globally endangered mammal, the Dugong.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the Kiunga Marine National Reserve will vary based on your interests and the activities you hope to enjoy.
For birdwatching, the best time to visit is from June to September
The ideal time for observing turtle nesting is from November to March, as during this time Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, and Lepidochelys olivacea come to the beaches to lay their eggs.
For snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, the best time to visit Kiunga Marine National Reserve is during the months of June to September. During this period, the waters are serene and the clarity is ideal for viewing the stunning coral reefs in their full splendour.
How To Get There
Kiunga Marine National Reserve is located in the remote and unspoiled village of Kiunga, about 150 km east of Lamu. There are several ways to get to the reserve:
- By air: There is an airstrip at Dodori National Reserve, which is part of the Kiunga Biosphere Reserve.
- By sea: Travel to Kiwayu Island from Lamu by either dhow or speedboat,
Accommodation Near to Kiunga Marine National Reserve
Mike’s Camp on Kiwayu Island is a serene and rustic retreat surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The camp offers a unique blend of sophistication and simplicity, with chic rooms (or “bandas”) that are open to the stars and the ocean breeze. The atmosphere at Mike’s Camp is remote, wild, and peaceful. The camp focuses on sustainability and an appreciation for the surrounding natural beauty.
Admission fees to Kiunga Marine National Reserve
Admission fees for the Kiunga Marine National Reserve are as follows:
- Adults: 130 KSH
- Children: 125 KSH
- Adults: 130 KSH
- Children: 125 KSH
- Adults: 17 USD
- Children: 13 USD
Visit Kiunga Marine National Reserve 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.