When visiting Diani on the Kenyan South coast, one does not want to miss the opportunity to head out on a water safari in the Kisite National Marine Park & Reserve.
This beautiful marine park and reserve is south of Wasini Island, less than 60 Km from Diani, and encompasses three small coral forest islands.
Visitors to the marine park have the opportunity to spend a day on a dhow sailing across the ocean and then snorkel around coral reefs. Take a day excursion and you may be lucky enough to spot Dolphin, Octopus, Starfish, Puffer Fish, turtles and more. The reef offers sanctuary to over 200 dolphins - spinner, humpback and bottlenose, which all can be encountered breaking above the waves as they porpoise elegantly through the water. Humpback whales are spotted here from July to December.
Kisite Island is an important bird area, as it is a flat, treeless rocky outcrop with grass patches surrounded by sandy beaches that are exposed at low tide. It’s an ideal breeding area for roseate and sooty terns (July to September) and great habitat for pelagic feeders.
The warm, clear water with pristine corals and a myriad of fish makes scuba diving and snorkeling here something for beginners and professionals alike. It is best to snorkel two hours either side of the low tide, when more marine life is active. However the best time to visit is early morning when the sea is calm.
Five minutes walk away from Shimoni Pier are the ancient coral caves of Shimoni. These vast caves have a healthy population of fruit and insect feeding bats calling them home. Shimoni Caves are reputed to extend 5 Km inland connecting to 3 sister caves. For centuries these caves were used by the local population as a site of worship and sanctuary.
In the 18th and 19th century they are reputed to be used as holding areas for the unfortunate captured slaves who were in transit to the slave markets in Zanzibar. The caves are run as a community project and are open from 8:30 am until 6:00 pm ( a small entrance fee is payable at the gate and the proceeds pay local school teachers and school fees for the needy children).