Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast

The little South Coast paradise Island is located 75km off Mombasa. It is home to Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park and Reserve that protects the scenic islands and a special habitat to a wide range of endemic marine animals and breeding migratory birds. 

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Kisite Mpunguti Park Warden Paul Wambi. Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

The park lies in the coral gardens south of Wasini Island and encompasses three small coral rag forest islands, each with considerable areas of fringing reef. Kisite is also one of the most rewarding snorkelling locations at the coast. 

Visitors can also enjoy bird watching, see coconut crabs, explore the Shimoni slave caves, enjoy long walks along the community-owned boardwalk, diving and of course, sunbathing.

For the park charges, Kenyans and East African citizens will pay Ksh 200. The community-run projects are however charged separately at a small fee of Ksh 200 each, that is for the Wasini Women Group boardwalk and the Shimoni slave cave exploration.

According to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Kisite Mpunguti Park Warden Paul Wambi, the collective protected area is 39 sqm and harbours both marine mammals and reptiles.

Wambi adds that KWS and the community at large all work together to make protect the Island’s marine life and also engage in sustainable fishing activities while still maintaining sustainability for future generations.

Lily Dali Mwasi the Marine Program Coordinator at World Wide Fund for Nature -Kenya (WWF-Kenya) on her part says that “protecting the marine park is critical because of the rich culture and the diverse and unique wildlife species found in Wasini Island. Some only endemic to Kisite-Mpunguti.”

Dolphins and Whales

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
Bottlenose dolphin at Kisite Mpunguti reserve
Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

Kispite Mpungute Marine Park is home to the bottleneck, spinner and humpback dolphins which are very social and playful mammals.

To see the dolphins at the park, you will need to board the community boats which are along the Shimoni floating Jetty. The boat ride takes roughly 45-1 hour depending on the size and speed of the boat.

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
The Shimoni floating jetty.   Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

Tourists are advised to visit the island when the waters are calm as opposed to choppy because dolphins thrive in relatively calm water, for this, you will need to follow the tide calendar. 

You are also encouraged to plan the boat rides to fall during the wee hours of the morning as they do not like being exposed to too much heat.

If you are fortunate enough to visit between July and December, you’ll have a chance to spot Humpback whales and migratory Whale sharks.

Snorkelling

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
A tourist ready to snorkel at the Kisite Mpunguti Reserve waters.  Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

After seeing the dolphins, the sun will be up and temperatures high as it will be around noon. It will do the group some good to take a dip in the crystal clear waters of Wasini to cool temperatures.

It is important to note that both professional and non-swimmers can participate in snorkelling but must have a snorkelling instructor as well as proper gear which include flippers and a snorkel.

While snorkelling, you will get to explore and witness the most colourful and exquisite site of life underwater which comprises about 250 recorded fish species.

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
Kisite Mpunguti comprises about 250 recorded fish species

You will also get to explore the expansive coral reef ecosystem which by extension just like plants, provide oxygen for life under the ocean.

Typically, deep oceans do not have a lot of plants producing oxygen, so coral reefs produce much-needed oxygen for the oceans to keep many species that live in the oceans alive.

The Beach Within The Ocean “Little Maldives”

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
The Beach Within The Ocean “Little Maldives” Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

Most locals in Wasini Island refer to the little beach within the ocean as the little ‘Maldives’ in Kenya.

This is because, during the low tide, a small portion of the white sandy beach is visible and can even host functions like weddings and picnics.

This however is only subject to the tides hence the need to refer to the tide calendar before making any plans.

Tourists on the beach in the middle of the ocean. Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

The little beach is surrounded by clear crystal waters and is right in the middle of nowhere. 

When you visit the marine park, this is a must-see wonder.

Coconut Crabs

The coconut crab. Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

The coconut crab is a species of terrestrial hermit crab which is the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world, with a weight of up to 4.1 kg.

Tourists visiting the reserve must ensure that they see the enormous crustaceans which can carry six times their weight. 

The coconut crab as their name suggests largely feast on coconuts as well as other smaller rodents such as rats, migratory seabirds, and even on each other.

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
The coconut crab. Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

Since they do most of their hunting at night, their sensitivity to smell is vital for coconut crab survival. 

It is believed that 40% of a coconut crab’s brain is completely dedicated to smell, while their visual and sensory skills are similar to those of marine crustaceans — despite the fact that coconut crabs live exclusively on land.

Shimoni Slave Caves

The Shimoni Slave Caves. Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

If you ever find yourself in Wasini Island, you have to drop by the Shimoni Slave Caves. 

As you make your way into the dark cave, the custodian gives grim stories of how the Arabs in the 19th century ferried slaves onto boats and shipped them to Zanzibar. 

The custodian then takes you around the dark caverns to illustrate this little-discussed part of East African history showing you actual evidence of old corroded iron rings that slaves were kept there. 

You will also get to see a shrine within the caves as well as enjoy the Shimoni nature trail.

Shimoni caves nature trail. Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

The caves, which are run as a community project, are open from 8.30 am to 6 pm and a small entrance fee is payable at the gate and the monies collected pay local teachers in primary schools and school fees for needy children.

The Coral Gardens

Wasini fossil coral gardens. Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

Another interesting place to visit while in Wasini Island is the vast fossil coral gardens which are community-owned.

You will have to pay a small fee before accessing the garden and walk along a wooden boardwalk that was communally built by the Kenya Wildlife Service and villagers with technical help from experienced construction engineers and financial support from the governments of the Netherlands and Germany.

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
Zubeida Muyongo, Wasini Women Group Chairlady walking on the community-owned boardwalk.    Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

The 70-member Wasini Women Group is directly responsible for its operation and management, collecting visitors’ fees, and providing guiding services. 

The proceeds are allocated to several village welfare projects.

Bird Watching

Wasini Island, the unexplored paradise along the Kenyan Coast
The African fish eagle found in Kisite Island. Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

Kisite Island is an Important Bird Area (IBA). 

IBAs are globally important habitats for the conservation of bird populations. Kisite is a flat, treeless rocky outcrop with many patches of grass and surrounded by a magical sandy beach that’s exposed during low tide. 

Kisite Island is an Important Bird Area (IBA). Photo by David Macharia/Versatile Photography

This makes an ideal seabird habitat supporting the pelagic-feeders and breeding colonies of roseate and sooty terns commonly arriving to breed in July and leave with their fledglings from September every year.

  

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