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Malindi / Watamu Marine National Park
giant clam
giant clam
It is convenient to treat both these parks as one unit as they are incorporated in the same Marine National Reserve. Famous for their vast stretches of casuarina fringed white sandy beaches, the coastal resorts of Malindi and Watamu are also world leaders in the accessibility, beauty and diversity of marine life which lives just off-shore on Barracuda and North Reef coral reefs and Turtle and Whale Islands; which is the nesting ground for roseate and bridled terns from June to September when they should not be disturbed and are protected by razor sharp rocks and rough sea.

Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve encompasses the Mida Creek mangrove forest where young coral begins its existence before the tides take it out to the reefs beyond. The forest roots are rich in fish, crabs, prawns and oysters and are also excellent for birdwatching. Tewa Caves, near the mouth of the creek, are partly underwater where Giant Groupers (up to 800lbs) co-exist with many other tropical fish species.
The low tide is best to make a trip. Floating slowly over the coral beds you get to see brilliantly colored marine fishes of bizarre shapes, spiny fish urchins, brightly hued sea slugs, crabs and starfish.

BaoBab Tree (Picture: Gerhard Wagner)
BaoBab Tree(Picture: Gerhard Wagner)

Shore birds include; sanderlings, curlew sandpipers, little stints, whimbrel and greenshanks and three species of plovers: grey, great sand and Mongolian.
On the mainland Giant Monitor Lizards, dik dik, Antelope, mongoose and monkey species.

The coral reefs are home to over 140 species of hard and soft corals. Their symbiotic relationship with the chlorophyll generating plants gives the corals their spectacular night-time phosphorescent colors. The reef plays a diverse role.

Mongoose (Picture: Michael Nikolai)
Mongoose (Picture: Michael Nikolai)

As well as bio-diversity strongholds, they are breeding grounds for fish and other marine life, a vital barrier against the force of the sea, protecting marine organisms and tourist recreation, they keep out dangerous sharks common to the deeper waters, and their color and the exotic coral fish they support provides a major attraction for tourists. The historic Gede Ruins in Watamu offer an interesting excursion.