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, Beach & Kitesurf
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.
There are 5 main kitespots in Watamu.
Kite 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.
Turtle Bay Sand Bar – 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.
Jacaranda – 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.
Silversands – 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.
Plot 40 Sand Bar – this is an awesome part of the beach with ideal flat water conditions for the beginners and freestylers, but also one of the busier kitespots due to the tourist. Spot works great in both wind seasons with consistent cross on-shore wind.
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.