Say the word ‘safari’ and you’ll most likely picture lions, elephants, and giraffes stalking the golden plains of Africa. But here’s another image for your safari imagination: colorful coral reefs filled with thousands of iridescent tropical fish, sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks.
You see, not all African safaris are land-based. Kenya is blessed with a magnificent coastline alive with a thriving underwater world of sea creatures awaiting your discovery in its pristine marine parks.
These undersea habitats have been created to protect this precious sea life and a welcoming environment for curious explorers like you.
That’s the exotic name of this excellent marine park not far from the golden shores of Diani Beach. The outstanding feature of this protected sanctuary is its long coral reef, sheltering the over 360 species of tropical fish darting in and out of its sheltering spaces.
In the mild waters here you’ll find snapper, butterfly, blue parrotfish, angelfish, and more. The surrounding sea life is just as impressive, providing some of the best diving and snorkeling in East Africa. You’ll also share this underwater reserve with octopus, clam, sponge, sea urchin, and sometimes reef sharks.
Swim with the Dolphins and Turtles
In how many African Wildlife Safari Parks can you sidle up to the animals? No problem here. You can go on your own dolphin safari, swimming alongside the park’s over 200 playful cetaceans. And they come in three varieties – spinner, bottlenose, and humpback.
As you snorkel or dive you may also find yourself in the company of the gracefully gliding kobe. That’s the Swahili word for turtle and you’ll enjoy the moments these ancient creatures gently share their habitat with you.
Should you be at the park from August to October, you may also spot great humpback whales who ply these seas during their migration routes.
Watamu Marine Park
Just like Kenya’s vaunted land parks, you have a choice of marine parks to explore, each with its distinctive features. Further up the coast, about 90 miles (140 km) from Mombasa, discover the bright lagoons and coral gardens of Watamu Marine Park.
The sea life here is colorfully diverse and you’ll find plenty of green turtles but also an active variety of birdlife hovering over this busy tidal sanctuary.
The coral reef is only about 980 feet (300 m) from the shore and it offers 110 species of coral. And you probably thought there were only one species!
Fish and Manta Rays
Watamu is a rich, diverse, and visually active environment – its resident barracudas and whale sharks are active proof. Here you can glide through an undersea jungle of over 500 species of fish. You may also find yourself swimming alongside manta rays, octopus, and sea turtles.
Kenya’s fantastic marine parks are a brilliant world just awaiting your discovery. So open your African safari horizons at either of these amazing undersea habitats and get closer to the wildlife than you ever thought imaginable.