A paradise of white sand on the Indian Ocean
Considered one of the best kitespots in the world, the charming little village of Watamu in Kenya, is also an interesting combination of a lot more attractions apart from kitesurfing.
In fact it is ideal for eco-friendly tourists, as well as for those who seek a quiet spot for swimming and sunbathing, but – hang on a minute – it is also a world heritage site and a protected area of a unique natural beauty.
Apart from the beach itself, we would suggest a stop at the mysterious Gede Ruins, a big medieval (12th century) Swahili-Arab coastal village and the Kipepeo Butterfly Project, a farm that develops and conserves local butterfly species. Doesn’t it just sound amazing already?
Wind season in Watamu
A combination of consistent winds and five kilometers long stretch of white sandy beach makes Watamu an ideal kitesurfing spot either for beginners or for experienced kiters.
There are two wind seasons in Watamu: the Kaskazi season from December to April, when the winds blow from north east at about 20-25 knots, starting early in the morning.
And the Kuzi season (June – September), the windiest time of the year. During the Kuzi season, the wind blows from south-east at least at 25 knots and sometimes reaches and exceeds 30 knots. With Kenya being at the level of the Equator, these winds tend to be extremely consistent. The fact that the wind blows cross onshore, makes the place almost an example kitesurfing destination.
The air temperature can reach 36°C during the Kaskazi season, but in Kuzi, it is a little cooler. Water temperatures remain at 25-30°C all year round.
Kitesurfing spots in Watamu
There are 7 main kitesurfing spots in Watamu.
1. Kite Beach (Garoda Beach)
Kite Beach is also the most popular of the kitesurfing spots in Watamu. The beach stretches for about 5 km along the cost. The water is mostly flat with with few waves and patches of coral reef. This setup works really well even for low tides. Wind consistently blows cross on-shore in both Kaskazi and Kuzi seasons.
2. Turtle Bay Sandbar
This is more of a seasonal kitesurfing spot and you’ll experience the best rides during Kaskazi season from December to March. The best time to rock up would be on low tide as the water is nice and flat, great for the kitesurfing lessons or freestylers. Again, consistent cross on-shore winds blow all year round.
3. Plot 40 Sandbar
Located at the tip of the Kite beach, this is an awesome spot with ideal flat water conditions for the beginners and freestylers. It works great in both wind seasons with consistent cross on-shore wind.
4. Short Beach
Short Beach has its name after .. you guessed it, being short. But if you like a bit of an easy wave, this spot has your name on it. It works best on Kuzi season, water usually stays just about a waist deep. Short Beach sits just on the tip of Mida Creek. When the tides are low, you can cut through around the rocks from Garoda Beach to access it, otherwise the longer way around.
5. Mida Creek Sandbar
Going inland from the sea into the Arabuko Sokoke Forest, there’s a bit of a hidden gem, a broadwater tidal creek surrounded by extensive mangroves and lined with palm trees. The 30+ km2 creek is home to many species birds, fish and feeding sea turtles.
The sandbar sits right in the heart of this creek. Speak to one of the kitesurfing schools on Kite Beach and check it out, best on low tide. It is a great experience not to be missed.
Jacaranda is considered as one of the world’s top flat water kitespots. This spot is the best on neap tide and works great in both Kaskazi and Kuzi wind seasons with consistent cross on-shore wind.
This spot is a little bit of a trip from Watamu and due to being a bit hidden around the coast, Silversands tends to work the best only in Kuzi season, so that’s from June till September when the wind hits this spot just slightly cross off-shore which also delivers some awesome waves. So if you enjoy wave riding, watch out for this one.
How to travel to Watamu
Malindi is the nearest airport and you can get there with a flight from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. Transportation from Malindi airport can be easily organised. An alternative could be a flight to Mombasa and then a 2-hour drive to Watamu.
Everything in Watamu is pretty much close by, so you don’t need to rent a car to get around. Local vehicles, “tuk-tuks” and “bodabodas” (motor bike taxi), can drive you to the kitesurfing spots in the area.
No wind? Do Safari!
A visit to the Gede Ruins is definitely a must, but weekend safari trips are also scheduled on a daily basis. You can visit the Tsavo National Park, which is two hours away by car or the local turtle rehabilitation centre is surely worth a visit also. If you’re after something unusual, try the watering hole of the Araboke Sakoke forest, 15 minutes away from the centre of Watamu, this is where the elephants come to cool off in the water. Otherwise scuba diving, sailing or deep sea fishing may also be pretty interesting options.