We had now settled into shimoni…you can read about our arrival here. With our tummies filled, swimwear, sunscreen packed and another final wave to the Park warden, we set off to the shore of the ocean which is right at the gate of the KWS camp. The tide was out..so we had to walk on shallow water vibrant with coral, crabs, sea urchins…
After successfully dodging the vengeful spikes of the sea urchins, we made it to the KWS boat and started our journey to explore the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Reserve. It consists of Wasini Island, Lower Mpunguti Island, Upper Mpunguti Island and Kisite Island.
We did not have time to visit Wasini Island but from the breathtaking views we could see from the boat, It is a beautiful place to be. Wasini Island measure 5Km in length, 1 Km in width and is home to a population of about 1500 people in 2 villages, wasini and mkwiro villages. It is here that you will find a nature walk over the beautiful coral gardens and a chance to enjoy dhow sailing. It attracts thousands of tourists annually.
We continued to the Lower Mpunguti Island. This island would best be described as the watch post of the Kisite Mpunguti Marine reserve. Boasting 24 Hr surveillance, the good folks at this island will ensure that no fishy (pun fully intended) activities are taking place in the park.
As if providing backup, the Coconut Crab has made this island its home. The Coconut Crab is the largest land-living arthropod in the world! We did not get a chance to see them since they hide during the day to prevent water loss from their bodies….but looking at the pictures made me wish I had seen them personally. They were nothing like the adorable fiddler crabs we saw dotting the shore..these looked like they crab walked right out of a horror film.
The Upper Mpunguti Island is a lover’s haven. This island has a sandy beach that offers the perfect place to pitch a tent and spend the night or day enjoying the beauty of the island and sea, all the while giving you spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset. The best part, for as little as USD 30, this piece of paradise is yours for the taking!
Then we heard the shouts from our guide, they had spotted dolphins. At that moment, the sea urchins were forgotten as we all raced back to the boat. No one wanted to miss out on seeing those beautiful creatures. Intent on showing us the dolphins, the skipper had already started the engine and off we went, the boat skimming over the waters. I have to admit, it did feel like we were in a movie…chasing after bad guys
Anyway, we slowed down as we approached the spot where dolphins had been sighted. A couple of moments later, we saw them. As if putting on a show for the audience, the dolphins would hover for a while, kinda like nudging each other to go first. Then they would leap into the air before diving gracefully back into the water. Once they had done all that, they would then continue swimming gleefully before repeating the show. Each jump was met with oohs and aaahs from the group. It was super exciting until the dolphins decided they had had enough and disappeared.
It is here that Humpback Whales and Whale Sharks can be spotted during certain times of the year. Seeing a whale would have been a real treat since it is in my bucket list. This time though, we didn’t have such luck…maybe next time.
With the dolphins having abandoned their performance, we headed to the Kisite Island. In a word, I would describe it as magical..complete with the star dust and magical music in the background. You dont believe me? Take a look….
As we approached the island, which is actually a sand bar that appears when the tide is high and disappears during high tide, I kept wishing the skipper would anchor a bit faster. By the time, he did, i was already in my swim wear and into the unbelievable clear waters. The sand was white, untainted and so fine I couldn’t help curling my toes into it. A few minutes of getting used to the water, we walked to the island and savored nature,savored the ocean breeze, savored life and at that moment, nothing else mattered.
It was time to go snorkeling…just so you know, the Kisite Marine Park is reputed to have the best snorkeling spots in the world! We got our snorkeling gear and swimming floats and swam/floated to the coral garden. With the snorkeling glasses on, we could see the ocean floor and the light shining into the water set the stage for an incredible snorkeling experience. On we went, floating for about 500M from the Island and I almost swallowed water as I gasped at the sight below me.
It was as if we had been teleported to a whole new world. There were numerous types of coral spread out, different colours, shapes and sizes. Some sturdy, some moved to the current….then there were the fish. I have never seen such an array of colors. As we swam by, the fish would pause in a state of momentary curiosity before going on their duties. Sometimes if you stayed still for long enough, they would swim next to you as if initiating you into their world. That is an experience, i would never ever forget!
In this coral garden, you can find an array of small fishes, octopus, clams parrotfish, rubberfish, zebrafish, butterflyfish, angelfish and scorpionfish. You might also find sting rays, turtles, starfish, moray eels, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. You can snorkel for as long as you want, which is understandable because there is way too much to be seen in this garden.
We got out of the water and enjoyed a period of sunbathing while bird watching. Thanks to the expertise of our very able photographer John Alogo, this spectacular shot of birds was captured.
It was time to head back and everyone was reluctant to leave. We had to leave this magical place that we did not know existed before, this place we had just fallen in love with was suddenly being yanked from us. But the tide was coming back and the Island was disappearing so we knew we had to get back to the boat. As the skipper sped away, we all had our gazes locked on the magical island not wanting to forget it….Hoping to save as many memories as we could of our time at the Island.
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