Although Kenya is best known for its safaris, the Indian Ocean coastline also has a rich marine life with spectacular coral reefs. Together with its pristine white sandy beaches, Kenya is the ideal place for diving enthusiasts looking for both adventure and relaxation. Read more about diving in Kenya and the visa requirements to enter the country.
If you donʼt already have one, you can get a diving certificate before or during your holiday in Kenya. At the dive sites mentioned in this article, you can rent diving equipment and participate in diving tours. There are also a number of diving schools that offer lessons and courses, so that you can get your diving certificate in just four or five days. Check with the school beforehand whether the certificate you receive at the end of the course is also valid abroad. If you want to travel to Kenya to dive and enjoy the beautiful coastline, you will need a Kenya visa in addition to a diving certificate.
Mombasa is Kenyaʼs most populous city and the oldest city in the country after the capital Nairobi. On the outskirts of the city is the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve, a 200 km² marine area close to the main tourist areas. To the north of the city is Mtwapa Creek, an ideal place for diving. In this area, you can see large schools of yellow-tailed barracuda, groupers and turtles.
Kilifi is a village about 50 kilometres north of Mombasa. In this area lie the Vuma caves, 20 metres deep, which serve as hiding places for eels, big groupers and barracudas. To get out, one has to go through a 10-metre tunnel that comes out through a hole in the reef. Just a 20-minute drive from Kilifi is Watamu National Marine Park, home to a beautiful coral reef. It is also an important egg-laying area for green sea turtles. You can combine a visit to this reserve with a dive at the nearby Moray Reef, a reef with an impressive overhang of 28 metres.
Kiunga National Marine Reserve
This reserve lies on the north coast of Kenya, in the Lamu district, and borders two other nature reserves, Dodori and Boni. It is formed by 50 limestone islands and coral reefs and covers an area of 270 km². The area is home to sea grasses and mangroves and is a haven for sea turtles and dugongs. It is also an ideal place to see migratory birds nesting on the islands.
Diani has become one of the top tourist destinations on the Kenyan coast thanks to its long white sandy beach and turquoise waters. In addition to guided camel rides along Diani Beach, a number of companies also organise diving, surfing, and kayaking trips. It is a good location to consider if you want to take a diving course in order to get the corresponding certification.
Kisite-Mpunguti Sea Reserve
Close to the Tanzanian border lies the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Reserve. The reserve covers 40 km² and is formed by the Kisite Park and Mpunguti Reserve, as well as 4 islets surrounded by coral reefs. It can be reached by boat from the town of Shimoni, a trip during which you can see several species of dolphins. One of the main attractions of this area is the lush marine life, including the largest manta rays in Africa. You can also spot angelfish, butterfly fish or hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata).
Kenya visa application
It is not a problem if you do not have a diving licence when you arrive in Kenya. What you do need before you travel is a Kenya visa. This is a mandatory electronic travel authorisation issued by the Kenyan government. You can apply for your Kenya visa for a diving or other water sports holiday quickly and easily via the application form on this website. You then need to upload a number of documents, such as a scan or photo of your passport and a booking confirmation or invitation letter. Once granted the Kenya visa allows you to stay in the country for up to 90 days. This gives you enough time to combine a safari with scuba diving in the different reserves and dive sites mentioned here. If you wish, you can extend your stay up to a maximum of 180 days at the immigration office in Kenya. However, it is not guaranteed that the extension will actually be granted.