Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve

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Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve

Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve is a coastal gem situated on the northern shores of Mombasa, approximately 15 kilometers north of Mombasa Island. The park is 10 km2 (2,500 acres) while the reserve is 200 km2 Its pristine beauty extends off Nyali, Bamburi, and Shanzu beaches, where azure waters meet swaying coconut palms and white sandy shores.

How to get to Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve:

By Road: Depart from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, and embark on a scenic road journey toward the coast. The route takes you through picturesque landscapes, offering glimpses of Kenya’s diverse terrain.

Follow the A109 highway, which connects Nairobi to Mombasa. This well-traveled road spans approximately 480 kilometers (about 298 miles) and winds its way through lush greenery, rolling hills, and rural communities.

As you approach Mombasa, continue on the A109 until you reach the city’s outskirts. From there, follow signs to the northern shores, where Mombasa Marine National Park awaits.

Various entry points along the beach provide access to the park:

Serena Gate: Located on the beach of Serena Hotel.
Severin Gate: Situated on the beach of Severin Hotel.
Travelers Gate: Found on the beach of Travellers Hotel.
Nyali Gate: Positioned at Mombasa Marine Park Headquarters.
Voyager Gate: Accessible from the Voyager Beach Resort.

By Air: For a quicker journey, consider flying from Nairobi to Mombasa. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi offers domestic flights to Moi International Airport (MBA) in Mombasa. Airlines such as Kenya Airways and Jambojet operate regular flights between these two cities. The flight duration is approximately 1 hour.

Upon landing at Moi International Airport, arrange transportation to the northern shores of Mombasa, where the marine park awaits.

What is the history of Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve?: Established in 1986, it emerged from a need to address threats to the marine environment. Overfishing, coral reef damage, and potential decline in tourism due to these issues were the key concerns.

What kind of fish are in the marine park?: Mombasa Marine Park teems with vibrant marine life. Swim alongside gentle giants like leatherback, green, hawksbill, loggerhead, and ridley sea turtles.

Playful dolphins, including spinner, humpback, and bottlenose varieties, might entertain you with their acrobatics. The colorful coral reefs provide a stunning backdrop for a dazzling display of exotic tropical fish.

Look out for the bluefin kingfish, the vibrantly colored blue and green parrotfish, the striped zebrafish, the delicate butterflyfish, and the intriguing leopard moray.

What activities can be done in the Marine Park?:

Diving: Explore vibrant coral reefs and colorful fish year-round in warm, clear waters. Night diving is also available.

Snorkeling: See amazing underwater life while swimming on the surface with a mask, fins, and snorkel.

Sunbathing: Relax on pristine beaches and soak up the warm sun and cool ocean breeze.

Fishing: Catch various fish species like snapper, kingfish, or barracuda depending on your preference (be mindful of regulations).

Birdwatching: Spot interesting birds like crab plovers, seagulls, and terns.

Boat rides: Choose from glass-bottom boats for underwater views, traditional dhows for a cultural experience, speedboats for an adrenaline rush, or motorized tours for guided exploration.

Watersports: Enjoy windsurfing, water skiing, and other activities in the clear waters.

What are the accommodation options in Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve?: While there are no accommodations located directly within Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve itself, as it’s a protected area, there are many fantastic options close by. Some of the options are:

Serena Beach Resort & Spa: Relax in elegant rooms, unwind by the pool, rejuvenate at the spa, or explore nature trails. Evenings bring world-class cuisine, live entertainment, and a vibrant atmosphere.

Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa: Plush rooms, multiple pools, a spa, water sports, and a variety of restaurants await, including fresh seafood feasts under starry skies.

Voyager Beach Resort: Comfortable rooms, a sprawling pool complex with a swim-up bar, a supervised kids club, and international restaurants ensure a fun-filled stay.

Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve Facts

Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve Ecosystem

The park is dotted with sea grasses and marine algae. The park’s ecosystem includes coral reefs, white sandy beaches, blue waters, and various marine life. Different varieties of coral species include Acropora, Turbinaria, and Porites.

These Coral Reefs, stretching for 230km along the Kenyan coast, are the foundation of the entire system. Built by tiny coral polyps, the reefs provide a buffet for countless fish species. Vibrant butterflyfish, parrotfish munching on algae, and sleek predators like moray eels all find sustenance here. The coral, in turn, benefits from the waste products of some fish and the cleaning services of others, keeping it healthy.

Seagrass meadows border the reefs, offering nurseries for juvenile fish and grazing grounds for sea turtles. Crabs, starfish, and sea urchins scavenge the seafloor, contributing to the breakdown of organic matter and cycling nutrients. Dolphins, attracted by the abundant fish, patrol the waters, while migratory birds like crab plovers find plentiful food on the beaches. 


Climate: Best Time to Visit

The Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve thrives in a tropical climate with warm, stable water averaging 27°C (81°F) year-round – perfect for coral reef growth. While there’s a wet season (April-May) bringing temporary salinity changes near the shore, overall the sunshine and minimal temperature fluctuations create ideal conditions for the delicate coral reef ecosystem and the vibrant marine life it shelters.


Location | How to get to Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve

Sited in the city of Mombasa about 487 km from Nairobi, the park can be reached by road from Mombasa city center, and then connected by boat from the various points along the beach which include: Serena Gate on the beach of Serena Hotel, Severin Gate on the beach of Severin Hotel, Travellers Gate on the beach of Travellers Hotel, Nyali Gate at Mombasa Marine Park Headquarters and Voyager Gate at Voyager water sport Area.


Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve Opening Time

The park is operational between 6.00 am to 6.00 pm


2024 Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve Rates

Nationality

High Season (July to March) Low Season (March to June)
Adult Child/ Student Adult Child/ Student
East African Citizen/ Resident 200
Kenya Shillings
150
Kenya Shillings
150
Kenya Shillings

150
Kenya Shillings

Rest of Africa

15 US Dollars 5 US Dollars 15 US Dollars 8 US Dollars
International Visitors 20 US Dollars 10 US Dollars 15 US Dollars 10 US Dollars

Notes

* Child refers to persons from three years but below 11 years
* Resident refers to persons of other nationalities residing in Kenya with valid documentation from the Kenyan government
* Citizen – A native or inhabitant of East African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan) with valid identification documents or passport
* Daily – Fee paid for a single entry to a national park, national reserve, or sanctuary and which shall be valid for no longer than twenty-four hours

Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve Accommodation

Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve itself doesn’t have any accommodation options directly within its borders. However, there are many fantastic lodging options surrounding the park, on the mainland next to the beaches. Some of these are:

Serena Beach Resort & Spa: Immerse yourself in a Swahili village vibe at this luxurious beachfront resort. Relax in elegant rooms, unwind by the pool, rejuvenate at the spa, or explore nature trails. Evenings bring world-class cuisine, live entertainment, and a vibrant atmosphere.

Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa: Luxury beckons at this beachfront paradise. Plush rooms, multiple pools, a spa, water sports, and a variety of restaurants await, including fresh seafood feasts under starry skies.

Voyager Beach Resort: Escape to relaxed beachfront bliss. Comfortable rooms, a sprawling pool complex with a swim-up bar, a supervised kids club, and international restaurants ensure a fun-filled stay.

Bamburi Beach Hotel: This all-inclusive hotel caters to all your needs. Lounge by the pool, enjoy the beach or experience the thrills of the on-site water park. Evenings offer live entertainment and refreshing drinks.

Travellers Beach Hotel: Offering a comfortable mid-range beachfront stay, this hotel features well-appointed rooms, a refreshing pool, and a delicious restaurant. Its convenient location makes exploring the park and other attractions a breeze.

Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve Activities & Attractions

Tourists can enjoy a lot of activities like snorkeling in the splendid clear waters, diving at the best diving site, fishing, boat rides with a packed lunch to be enjoyed within the ride, bird watching, water skiing, and windsurfing. Here are some activities to enjoy while being at Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve:

Diving

Scuba diving is a year-round sport, largely due to the interior lagoon’s protected, peaceful surroundings. Wet suits are unnecessary due to the water temperature range of 25 to 31 degrees Celsius (77 to 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Because of the shallow depths, there is an amazing underwater world with magnificent marine life hues. 

The crystal-clear blue waters provide excellent visibility for exploring vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. From colorful fish like angelfish and snapper to intricate corals, divers can immerse themselves in this underwater wonderland.

Dive centers cater to all levels of expertise, ensuring a safe and memorable adventure. For those seeking more excitement, night diving is also possible, allowing you to witness a different side of the marine ecosystem under the moonlit waters.


Snorkeling

Snorkeling is an entertaining activity for tourists that involves floating on the water’s surface while wearing a mask, snorkel, and fins. As you peer down into the clear ocean, you’ll encounter colorful fish, sea cucumbers, and other fascinating marine creatures.

The shallow waters near the shore provide easy access to vibrant coral reefs, allowing you to observe the underwater beauty without the need for scuba diving equipment


Sunbathing

Sunbathing at the marine park takes place on the sandy beaches along the shores of the Indian Ocean where visitors can enjoy the warm sun and the cool breeze of the ocean.


Fishing

The park’s waters are home to various fish species, including snapper, barracuda, grouper, trevally, and kingfish. Whether you prefer reef fishing near the coral formations, deep-sea fishing for larger game fish, or trolling for pelagic species, there’s something for every fishing enthusiast.


Birdwatching

Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve offers a delightful opportunity to observe coastal and marine bird species. As you explore this natural reserve, keep an eye out for fascinating birds such as Crab Plovers, Seagulls, and Roseate Terns. These avian residents add to the allure of Mombasa Marine National Park, providing a captivating experience for bird enthusiasts.


Boat rides

Boat riding at Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve offers a delightful way to explore the coastal beauty. Visitors can choose from various boat types, each providing a unique experience:

Glass-Bottom Boats: These boats allow you to peer directly into the ocean’s depths through their transparent floors. As you glide over the water, you’ll witness the underwater world—coral reefs, colorful fish, and perhaps even sea turtles—without getting wet.

Traditional Wooden Dhows: These elegant sailboats evoke the region’s maritime heritage. Hop aboard a dhow and enjoy a leisurely ride, feeling the breeze and admiring the coastline. Dhows often offer a serene sunset cruise experience.

Speedboats and Jet Skis: For thrill-seekers, speedboats and jet skis provide an adrenaline-pumping adventure. Feel the wind in your hair as you zip across the waves, exploring hidden coves and scenic spots.

Motorized Tour Boats: These boats offer guided tours, allowing you to learn about the park’s marine life, history, and conservation efforts. Enjoy the narration while spotting birds, marine species, and coastal landmarks.


Watersports

Water sports at Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve offer a thrilling aquatic experience. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities in the park’s azure waters:

Windsurfing: Feel the wind in your hair as you balance on a board with an attached sail. Windsurfing combines elements of surfing and sailing, allowing you to glide across the water using wind power.

Water Skiing: Strap on your skis and hold onto the tow rope as a boat pulls you along the water’s surface. Mastering the art of water skiing involves balance, coordination, and a splash of adrenaline.


Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve offers a captivating underwater world alongside stunning beaches and exciting attractions such as:

Birds

The Mombasa Marine Park is a haven for birdwatchers, attracting a variety of seabird species. Notably, the park boasts internationally significant populations of Crab Plovers, known for their distinctive habit of following crabs to snatch fleeing prey, and Roseate Terns, elegant seabirds with pale pink plumage.

These birds, along with many other resident and migratory species, find abundant food sources and safe nesting sites within the park’s rich marine ecosystem.


Coral Reefs

The pristine and well-developed coral reef extends virtually without a break from Shimoni in the south to Malindi in the north, some 230 km in total. The reef is broken only in a few places by river mouths and creeks, and of these, the deepest and most sheltered safe channels through the reef are those that lie on either side of Mombasa Island.

Coral reefs provide one of the most fascinating ecosystems on earth, sheltering nearly one million different types of marine life. Forming only in warm seas, they are made by battalions of tiny polyps, minuscule sea anemone-like creatures that live together in colonies; some create a hard skeleton outside their bodies and it is this which eventually forms into stony coral.

Coral comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors including the open-branched stag’s horn coral, the pincushion-like Acropora coral, the wavy-branched and plate-like pavona coral, the massively solid favia coral, and the convoluted brain coral.


Vegetation

The park boasts extensive meadows of seagrass, a flowering marine plant crucial to the health of the ecosystem. Seagrass beds also play a vital role in stabilizing the seabed and filtering the water, keeping it crystal clear for those enjoying the underwater world.

Another type of underwater vegetation found in the park is marine algae. These diverse organisms come in a variety of colors and shapes, and they cling to rocks and coral reefs. Marine algae form the base of the food chain, providing sustenance for herbivores which in turn are eaten by larger fish.

The vibrant colors and unique textures of marine algae also contribute to the overall beauty and biodiversity of the park, making it a fascinating place to explore for snorkelers and divers.


Fish & Invertebrates

The reef attracts an incredible range of fish, most of which are almost iridescent in color and fantastically marked. Look out for the celestial blue and jade-green parrotfish, striped zebrafish, multi-colored angelfish, and the soup plate-sized butterfly fish.

Clouds of tiny damselfish also often hover above the branching coral, and under deep ledges, you may catch a glimpse of the magnificent lionfish with its mane of sharp spikes (a sting from this fish can be very painful). Hunting sharks, rays, turtles, and starfish also hunt the reef.


Turtles and Dolphins

Kenya’s reef and lagoons also prove popular with the endangered green, hawksbill, loggerhead, Ridley, and leatherback sea turtles. Dolphins too are regular visitors to the area (spinner, humpback, and bottle-nosed) and can be encountered singly or in schools, above and below the waves.


Sandy Beaches

North and south of Mombasa are some of the finest beaches in Africa; endless crescents of silver sand bordered by opulent coastal hotels; and direct access to the coral gardens of the reef.  Nyali Beach, Bamburi Beach, Shanzu Beach, and Kenyatta Public Beach all enjoy immediate access to the Mombasa Marine Park.

Note: Shanzu Beach is very popular with sea turtles, which come here to lay their eggs.

Nearby Attractions

Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve can be even more enriching by exploring the surrounding area. Here’s a list of exciting attractions all within a reasonable driving distance, offering a variety of experiences from historical and cultural immersion to wildlife encounters.

Fort Jesus Museum: A 16th-century Portuguese fort located in Mombasa, Kenya. It is now a museum that exhibits artifacts from the Swahili and Portuguese cultures. This is a great place to learn about Mombasa’s rich history. The fort also has an exciting ceremony that begins at 2000 hours known as the Fort Jesus Museum Mombasa Sounds & Light Show 

Haller Park: A wildlife sanctuary located near Mombasa, Kenya. It was founded by conservationist Rene Haller and is home to various animals, including giraffes, zebras, and lions. This is a perfect spot for animal lovers and families with kids.

Old Town: The historic center of Mombasa, Kenya. It is a maze of narrow streets lined with traditional Swahili houses. Explore the unique architecture and vibrant culture of Old Town.

Mamba Village Crocodile Farm: A large reptile conservation farm that offers guided tours, crocodile feeding, and a children’s playground. It’s a fun and educational experience for families with young children.

Ngomongo Village: This cultural village offers a glimpse into the traditional lifestyles of Kenyan tribes. Visitors can see examples of tribal huts, learn about traditional crafts, and watch cultural performances. Learn about Kenyan culture and experience a different way of life.

Bombolulu Workshops & Cultural Centre: A program of the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) that provides training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Visitors can tour the workshops and see how crafts are made, enjoy cultural performances and explore traditional homesteads. This is a great way to support a worthy cause and learn about Kenyan culture.

Booking & Reservations Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve Contact

Mobile: +254-721-242-711
WhatsApp: +254-721-242-711
Reservations: +254 718-179-967
Email: info@africanspicesafaris.com
Website: https://africanspicesafaris.com

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