Established in 1986, the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve were created separately for different reasons. The marine park was developed in order to prevent the stripping of coral and extraction of fish, and to support local hoteliers from losing income from potential visitor decrease due to the negative impacts on the coral reef ecosystem . However, the marine reserve was developed in order to protect the coral reef, marine life that has been impacted from over-fishing, and trophy collecting . Although the marine park and the reserve were established in 1986, it was not until 1994 that the area became under full protected due to night patrol that reduced the amount of poaching in 1992.
The Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve is 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 wind surfing, water skiing, snorkelling and diving. They also provide a home to a colourful variety of marine species including crabs, starfish, stone fish, 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 connected by boat from the various points along the beach which include: Serena Gate on beach of Serena Hotel, Severin Gate on beach of Severin Hotel, Travellers Gate on beach of Travellers Hotel, Nyali Gate at Mombasa Marine Park Headquarters and Voyager Gate at Voyager water sport Area
Quick Facts About The Mombasa Marine National Park
Size: Mombasa Marine National Park is 10 km2 while the National Reserve is 200 km2
Climate: Hot and humid.
Surface water temperature: 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, and 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 that can be enjoyed in Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve
Diving, sunbathing, snorkelling, windsurfing, 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 the activities, budget and the interest of each tourist. From June to December is perfect for observing Humpback whales as they migrate. For anglers’ enthusiasts, the period from August to October is excellent. For scuba divers and snorkelers, from October to March is the best time to enjoy marine life.
For those traveling on budget or seeking a quiet time the low seasons will be more preferable.
Visit Mombasa Marine National Park Responsibly
- Check local weather and sea conditions before entering the reserve.
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.
- Do not remove shells, star fish or any other sea Flora or Fauna. Not only is it illegal, but it seriously disrupts the eco system. The areas outside the park and reserves are threatened by excessive shell collection. Empty shell provides home for hermit crabs and some fish.
- 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.
- Hand feeding fish is discouraged. It disrupts normal feeding pattern.
- 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.