Kiunga Marine National Reserve boasts an excellent location just off the northern coast of Kenya in the spectacular Indian Ocean and provides a remarkable experience in the great outdoors. Made up of a collection of 50 calcareous islets and reefs in the Lamu Archipelago, this pristine ecosystem spans over 37 miles extending along the shoreline. Boni and Dodori National Reserves border Kiunga.
The Marine National Reserve is defined by a diverse landscape and seascape of mangroves, lagoons, mudflats, sandy dunes and beaches, as well as sea-grass beds and coral reefs. This diverse ecosystem is home to an abundance of marine life and reptiles and is a refuge for sea turtles and dugongs. By road, the remote village of Kiunga is approximately 150 kilometres east of Lamu Island, while those looking to travel by air can arrange a flight to the airstrip at Dodori National Reserve. Additionally, the island can be reached by dhow or speedboat from Lamu.
One of Kiunga Marina National Reserve’s main drawcards is the unique underwater ecosystem that thrives. Nestled at the convergence of two major ocean currents, the water surrounding the Reserve boasts unique ecological circumstances that aid and nurture three inter-dependent underwater habitats. Some of the marine life that thrive in the area include sea turtles, leatherback turtles, reef fish species, lobsters, sea urchins, and crabs.
For those coming to Kiunga Marine National Reserve to snorkel or dive, any time of year will do. However, monsoon winds pick up between April and July, meaning the waters are rough and visibility could be limited. The Kenyan coast is humid and temperature average between 22 and 35 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The area receives approximately 500 millimetres of rainfall per annum.
Visitors to Kiunga Marine National Reserve will not be disappointed. Its location provides an incredibly rare opportunity for safari-goers to witness a stunning coral reef teeming with marine life. Snorkelling and diving are the reserve’s main attractions, so visitors are encouraged to bring along their gear and head into the water two hours either side of low tide. This is the best time to spot the vibrant underwater species. Kenya’s coastal waters are warm throughout the year so divers can explore without a wetsuit.
Furthermore, the creeks and inlets of Kiunga are home to the mermaid-like dugong—an aquatic species thought to share common ancestry with the elephant. For the avid birders, this area is a seabird haven, so binoculars are a must on the packing list. Bird species found nesting here include the roseate tern, sooty gull, white-cheeked tern, and crab plovers. Other activities to enjoy include windsurfing, water skiing, and sunbathing.
On the island, there are two accommodation options, adding to the remote, unspoiled feel of the reserve.