Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve was established in 1968 in Kenya. It was one of Kenya's first marine parks located 140 kilometers north of Mombasa. The Marine National Park and Reserve is recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve known worldwide for its natural beauty boasting a rich marine life and also. Its coral gardens are home to almost 600 species of fish, 110 species of stony coral, and countless invertebrates, The park is part of a composite of marine and habitats along Kenya’s north coast with rich in diverse birdlife, fish, turtles, and dugongs. Visitors also enjoy the white sandy beaches, water skiing, windsurfing, glass-bottomed boat tours, and snorkeling. Enjoy snorkeling with a gentle swim to the Larder in Turtle Bay over the eroded coral ledges with plentiful damselfish, young butterfly, angelfish, morays, octopus, and groupers. It is nearly impossible to snorkel without seeing at least a few dozen species inside the main reef with a chance of viewing the magnificent whale shark and Manta Rays that are seasonal visitors.
The Park and its coral gardens are one of the main reasons for visiting Watamu. The park's coral reefs form the physical and organic backbone of the area with over 150 species of hard and soft corals, such as brain corals, sponges, and fan corals, it providing abundant nutrients for fish. The main park consists of over 500 species of fish and the reserve over 1000, whale sharks, manta rays, octopus and barracuda, and other larger species are also found within the park.
Different species of turtles are also sited within the park on a safari holiday and these are feasible at the sea turtle nesting site for endangered sea turtles including the green, hawksbill, and olive ridley turtles. The olive ridley species can also be spotted however on an occasional basis comes to the nesting site. Also, spot Leatherback turtles as they pass by through the nearby waters of Watamu or Malindi during their migration. You’ll also find lionfish, crocodile fish, and large barracuda which hang around near the seabed in large groups during the day since they are nocturnal feeders.
Over 100 species of birds can be found in the nearby gardens, bush, and sambas and commonly seen overhead are the Black Kite, Common Bulbul, White-Browed Coucal, and Speckled Mousebird, Bright Yellow Canaries and Golden Palm, Lizard Buzzard among others
The park has an exceptional shoreline and it is voted one of the top ten beaches in the world; steeped in regular fauna and flora and with three stunning bays, Watamu, Turtle Bay, and Blue Lagoon.