Diving Mombasa

Sites dived  Various sections of Shanzu Reef (fringing reef), Birthday Reef 
Average Water Temp in January  (Celcius) 28 degrees 
Max Depth reached  25 metres (Shanzu) 50 metres (Birthday) 
Best time to dive  November, late Jan, February/March 
Exposure Protection  5mm 1 piece was adequate, most holidaymakers were diving in 3mm shorties (brrrrr!) 
Possible Marine Encounters  Masses!! See comments below. 


We found the diving the fringing reefs along this part of the coast very similar to other areas in Kenya. The usual diving reefs are a choice of inner shallow reef or outer deeper reef known as Shanzu. Parts of this reef, as with many others, have several coral heads teeming with life – morays, glass fish, all the usual tropical reef fish, however there was one area that was a field of dead staghorn coral. Not a pretty sight to initially drop in on. 

However the area does have very interesting possibilities for challenging diving…. It seems that this thriving port and the inherent detritus attract large tiger sharks. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) during our stay the viz around the mouth of the creek did not improve sufficiently for us to find out… the guys were a little reluctant to dive on tiger shark territory when murky. 

The other serious attraction in our eyes was Birthday Reef. Bruce is one of the only people to have co-ordinates for this site and guards them well. We had to dive it twice as the first time we had the macro lens on the camera. Murphy’s Law struck again and the second dive we did with the wide angle was not as clear. Birthday Reef, however good or bad the vis, is still a spectacular dive. Converging currents meet at a large bloomer shaped reef starting at 27m and dropping to beyond 50m. At the end where currents swirl and change direction, there you will find a mass of large schools. Looking up from 40m along the reef profile is a heavenly sight…… Against the small bright ball of white sunlight bathed in deep blue surround, you see silhouettes of jacks, bannerfish, barracuda and snapper not just a few but in their hundreds (Damn! Macro lens on, missed the shot!). On these dives a large Green Turtle swam with us along the top reef as we began our ascent, eagle rays were spotted resting in the sand, huge potato bass hid on the lower reefs under a ledge and tuna and wahoo were seen in the blue. As for small macro life, this reef is also full to burst; Moray Eels, Nudibranchs (pretty Sea slugs), beautiful dark green soft corals with bright contrasting colored Damsels & Chromis living amongst the branches…. If only we could’ve dived it on Nitrox to get a longer time down there – something Bruce is contemplating. As it was, our time on the deep reef was limited to 15 minutes before a slow ascent to the surface. We so wanted to stay down…. A MUST DIVE IF YOU’RE IN THE AREA. 

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