Top Things To Do In Watamu
Watamu might look like a small place but is offers a lot to see and do. You just cannot get bored in this beautiful coastal town. Here are my top favourite things to do in Watamu.
Visit The Bio Ken Snake Farm
That’s literally the first thing I did when I woke up on my first day in Watamu. This snake farm has the biggest collection of snakes in Eastern Africa. It also works as a research project and conservation where they breed species which are in danger.
The highlight was the black mambas, a big and a small one. I am a massive snake nerd and used to watch every documentary in Nat Geo about snakes so knew a fair bit but it was great to see these beautiful animals. The small one even yawned and I got to see why they are called black mamba (the snakes are grey but the inside of their mouths are black, hence the name. They are also really fast and can easily beat a horse in a race).
There were babies of other species from many types of cobras to harmless grass snakes to pythons.
In addition they also had some lizards and turtles which were really cute.
I didn’t know when heading there but at 11am every morning they milk the snakes, one species per day. It was the day for black spotting cobras and what an experience it was. I was scared and excited both in equal measure but a once in a lifetime experience nevertheless!
Explore the Gedi Ruins
500 for Ruins
500 for Guide
250 for Snake Farm
Gedi used to be an old city on the coast which was a rich town. In older days, the entire coast was lined with small kingdoms or sultanates. Each one had a sultan and Gedi was the city between Mombasa and Malindi. The city was later abandoned around 17th century due to disease, lack of water and wars.
It has two walls; the outer and inner walls. The outer walls housed the commoners and inner walls were for the sultan and elite.
The ride was rough on a tuk tuk but the visit was great. I got the guide and we started exploring the ruins with a mosque, inner circles of houses and the palace of Sultan. The entire visit lasted an hour and we ended it in the museum.
They also have a snake and a butterfly farm if you’re interested in that. Considering I just came from one, I have it a miss.
Fun Fact: Vasco de Gama was a guest of the Sultan and he first learnt to use a proper toilet here with water, the toilets we are used to now. Time is cruel!
Relax at Watamu Beach
The beach in Watamu is beautiful, clean and really accessible. Unlike Diani, there are a few bays here which create the beautiful curves. The shades of blue in the water around mini islands are insanely beautiful.
There are also sun beds available here which was a god send since I get sunburnt fairly easily.
If you’re looking for total relaxation, head to the end called Godra beach which is very shallow, has almost no one there and it is a clean white sand beach.
I spent an entire day exploring the gorgeous beach which totally made Watamu experience superb.
Sunset Canoeing at Mida Creek
Mida Creek is a special part of Watamu which is house to wild mangroves. These spectacular forests of mangroves give rise to channels made within the currents and it is the best place to enjoy a beautiful sunset in Watamu. I took the tuk tuk to Crab shack restaurant and there took a canoe for an hour which cost 1000 shillings.
We started canoeing and the first half hour headed to the most serene place I have experienced in a long time. We canoed through the channels with not a single sound except the gentle splash of canoe against the water. No animals or mosquitoes, no wind rushing and no one to say anything to break the magic of the moment.
After half an hour and some information about mangroves my guide headed over to the open waters for the sunset and the next half hour was watching this fiery ball of gold go down the horizon.
We headed back and the day ended with the dinner at Dabasu Crab shack restaurant.
Note: Like most places, the guide/ canoe operator does expect some tip at the end and there is no place for change here, bring some with you.
Go Dolphins Spotting & Snorkelling Day Trip To Waka Waka Island
This is designed as an entire day excursion and the highlight of your trip to Watamu. I booked it through the hotel, got picked up on the day at 9 am and we headed to the Blue bay beach where the day starts. The guy who picked me up, paid the entrance fee and we headed to a boat. I was introduced to our captain and we headed out to the open sea for some dolphin spotting. Now I had read that you could swim with them but whoever I asked told me not to risk it since there are sharks around as well and it isn’t good to test your luck with these beasts.
The ride last half an hour and we were in the open ocean deep enough for dolphins. It was cloudy and the sea was a bit rough but it soon cleared and we saw these adorable animals who came quite close to the boats.
Half an hour later we headed to a non existent place on the map; a small beach that only appears during low tide. There I met another animal I’m absolutely obsessed with; an octopus!
After watching My Octopus Teacher on Netflix I have been amazed by these intelligent creatures. He changed his colour to match his surroundings and I got all smitten, watch the documentary seriously!
The next spot was closer to the shore where we got our snorkelling gear and jumped into the water. It is a beautiful world down there with plenty of fish of all types roaming around. The crew threw some fish food and the fish rushed to create this frenzy, organised chaos!
An hour and a bruised knee from diving on a coral later, we headed to the next stop, Garoda beach which is towards the end of Watamu and there was no one there except for a few kite surfers. The beach was shallow and clean. By this point my stomach was rumbling but soon we headed to solve that problem.
The ride to Waka Waka island was smooth and short and we picked up some food on the way. This isn’t an island really but a small space within the mangroves that can’t be reached by road and only by boat.
I wasn’t expecting the lunch to be this amazing but it surpassed all expectations; freshly grilled king fish, lobsters, prawns and octopus (I didn’t eat that!)
I thought that was the end of it and we were to soon head back but the local women started gathering and we had our own little dance celebration going on in no time. It was so fun and despite them trying to hard, I couldn’t join due to my sore knee, I will always regret that!
All in all, it was a great day, the boat captain and the guide were both friendly and gave quite a lot of information and the guys I shared the boat with turned out really friendly Kenyan recently married couples and we had dinner together that evening.
A perfect day out in the sea!
Watch A Sunset Over Marafa/ Hell’s Kitchen
Entrance – KES 1000
Marafa is located some 62 km away from Watamu and to get there you need to hire a car, I managed to hire one through my hotel and the driver charged me 4000 shillings for the round trip. It took an hour and a half to get there but the trip was definitely worth it!
Hell’s Kitchen or Marafa as it is locally known is a small canyon made by intense rains and wind erosion and it changes shape every year, it is also expanding which is a little frightening because it is close to the main road. The tour started by the guide taking me through different viewpoints and I was the only one there, I got the complete freedom to enjoy this beautiful spot all by myself. We went into the depression and walked through the canyon and then back up, crisscrossing through small channels made by flowing water. The soil is mainly red but also has other colours which the locals use to make clay pots as well as paint and some local women use it as make up. Apparently it lasts up to 15 hours if you don’t wash your face, take note please!
Now there’s a legend associated with this place; this was a normal place once and was inhabited by some really rich people. They were really extravagant to the extent that they’d use milk instead of water when the rest of people around them were poor and hungry. The gods sent them a sign to change their ways but were they going to listen? The rains appeared out of nowhere and the sink with them forming this depression and the canyon around them as a lesson for the rest around them.
Considering this place is a spot maintained by community, they definitely heeded the lesson and the place is considered sacred by the locals.
The sunset here was serene and calming, the sun going down as a calm orange ball dipping into the horizon until it left a small orange shadow behind. It will definitely remain with me as a beautiful experience.
Get Some Adrenaline Rush With Water sports/Kite Surfing
You can find plenty of places to go snorkelling or scuba diving just off the coast of Watamu. The lessons are not expensive and the experience is great. Due to the breeze, Watamu is the perfect place for kite surfing. I did plenty of stuff in Diani and then snorkelling on the excursion so didn’t look around but definitely saw at least one water sports place with SUP boards and paddle boards near the beach.
No matter who you are and what your idea of fun is, Watamu definitely have something in the store for you. Do let me know if you have any more questions or holla at me if you had a good time there.