Kiunga Marine National Park
Kiunga Marine National Park

Kiunga Marine National Park

An enchanted underwater world

A pristine string of rugged coral isles, ringed by rainbow rural reefs the reserve offers living coral gardens, sculpted colves , wheeling seabirds, rare turtles, magical dugongs and an underwater world of unbelievable color, discovery and vibrancy. The Resenre is part of the Lamu archipelago, a cluster of hot low-lying desert islands that run for some 60 km parallel to the coastline of Northern Kenya.

Kiunga Marine National Park
Kiunga Marine National Park

Founded by the Arabs in the seventh century, Lamu traded for centuries thereafter in ivory, rhino horn, and slaves, making it the last survivor of a one thousand year-old civilization. Today it offers a unique showcase for traditional Swahili culture, a bustling historical town with some of the most pristine beaches in Africa.

The Kiunga composed ofold, eroded coral and shelter lesser kudu, bushbuck, monkey, porcupine and wild pig.

Reefs, the rainforests of the sea

Coral reefs are one of the most fascinating ecosystems on earth, sheltering nearly one million different types of marine life. Battalions of tiny polyps, miniscule sea anemone-like creatures, form corals only in warm seas. They live together in colonies, with some creating a hard skeleton outside their bodies, which eventually develops into stony coral.

Corals come in many shapes, sizes and colours including the open-branched stag’ shorn coral, the pincushion-like acropnra coral, the wavy-branched plate-like pavona coral, the massively solid favia coral and the convoluted brain coral.

Activity Options

Diving and Snorkeling paradise

The best time for snorkeling overthe reef is two hours either side of low tide, which is the time when the greatest amount of marine life is revealed. Kenya’s coastal waters are warm all year round so diving without a wet suit is also rewarding.

What To See

A shifting rainbow of small fish, worms, shrimps, octopus and clams hide in the gaps while blue and yellow parrot fish use their hard beaks to chew off lumps of coral. Snappers, zebra fish, butterfly fish and scorpion-fish shimmer in the clear waters while hunting sharks, rays, turtle and starfish prowl the reef in search of prey.

Fierce moray eels hide in holes, while small crabs, wrasses(long,spiny-finned fish) and sharks lurk in the caves, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars and numerous species of mollusk feed on algae and transparent prawns dance through the waters alongside shifting clouds of tiny demoiselle fish.

The Resenre’s creeks and inlets also serve as a substantial breeding ground for the rare mermaid-like creature called the dugong. Thought to share a common ancestry with the elephant, the dugong is a completely aquatic, warm-blooded mammal. Dugongs have an average length of 2.5—3.2 meters, can weigh anything from 140-170kg, and live on the marine grasses growing in the shallower waters of the Reserve.

The outer islands ofthe Reserve host many seabirds. Species nesting here include roseate tern, sooty gull, white-cheeked tern, bridled tern and brown node. Crab plovers are also plentiful while other migrant waders frequent the more sheltered flats and creeks.

Where To Stay

Kiwayu island is the only inhabited island to be included in the Kiunga Marine National Reserve. .

Lodges and Tented Camps.

There are two luxury lodges on Kiwayu:

  • Munira island Camp: 2kms north of Kiwayu village, this is a group of simple Bandas with restaurant and bar facilities.
  • Kiwayu Safari Village: nestled on a pristine palm-shaded beach this exclusive , camp offers grass—thatch cottages, luxurious amenities and water sports, M Self-catering and Camping

– It is possible to camp or find simple accommodation in Kiwayu village.

What To Take With You

Footwear( to protect your feet from the reef), T-shirt, snorkel, mask, fins, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, guidebooks and plenty of drinking water.

When To Go

The Reserve is open all year round.

Fact File

Altitude: Sea level-30 meters.

Area: 250 sq kms.

Location: Lamu District, coastal province.

Distance from Nairobi: 976 kms

Distance from Malindi: 372 kms

Gazetted: 1979

Climate: The coast is humid with mean annual temperatures ranging from 22-34’C. Rainfall is around 500mm per year.

Vegetation: Microscopic marine plants and dugong grass. Coastal scrubland and mangrove swamps.

Marine life: Fringing offshore reef with approximately 50 coral islands hosting an abundant reef fish population. Dugong and turtle (olive ridley and leatherback) are also common.

Birds: There are many seabirds in large nesting colonies and international significant numbers of Crab Plover and Roseate Tern.

Open: Daily 6.00am-6.00 including pubiic holidays.

Current entry charges: obtainable via KWS Headquarters.

Safari Card‘ required? At present the Reserve does not operate the Safari Card System.

Entry is by cash only

Contact: Senior Warden, P.0 Box 82, Lamu.

Tel: (Lamu) +254 (42) 633080, 633194


Please Respect the Marine Wildlife Code.

  • Check local weather and sea conditions before entering the park.
  • Some marine life is dangerous; do not touch anything under water.
  • Do not damage or remove corals. it is a living organism which takes many years to form and is host to many rare and endangered species
  • Do not remove shells, starfish or any other sea-flora or fauna. Removal is illegal, seriously disrupts the eco-system and some marine lite is dangerous. The areas outside the parks and reserves are threatened by excessive shell collection. Empty shells provide homes for hermit crabs and some fish.
  • Do not buy shells and other marine animal products as souvenirs as this encourages further plundering of the reefs and beaches.
  • Never dispose of litter on the beach or in the sea. it is illegal and environmentally unfriendly. Kiunga Marine National Park turtles can confuse clear plastic waste with jelly fish and will die if they eat it.
  • Hand-feeding offrsh is discouraged. lt disrupts normal feeding patterns.
  • Hook and line fishing is allowed in the Marine Reserves but prohibited in Kiunga Marine National Parks. Spear guns are not permitted for use in either.
  • Environmental friendly activities such as snorkeling and diving are encouraged, under the supervision of the Kenya Wildlife Service wardens, who work closely with local tour operators and hoteliers to ensure strict adherence to this code of practice.
  • Avoid restaurants that serve undersized crabs and lobsters as this contributes to their rapid demise
  • Support traditional coastal livelihoods 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 or their habitat without asking their permission, respect the cultural traditions of Kenya and always dress with decorum.

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Sabina Kamene