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Deep sea diving gives recreation options at North Coast beaches

Mohammed Hersi. [file, Standard]

Mombasa County is Kenya’s tourism gateway with various attractions that are unrivalled in the world.

One of the key features are the deep ocean waters with abundant marine life and exotic sea diving spots along the entire coastline.

Veteran hotelier Mohamed Hersi told Weekend Business that the pristine white sandy beaches, from Shelly Beach in Likoni all the way to Nyali and Bamburi in Mombasa North, are ideal diving locations.

”There are very good dive sites. Wreck diving is the in-thing these days,” he said.

Mr Hersi, who is chief executive of the Heritage Group of Hotels and chairman of the Kenya Coast Tourism Association, said the wrecks — mostly decommissioned vessels that have been purposely sunk to provide a haven for marine life — have become popular among dive enthusiasts.

In Mombasa’s North Coast beach frontage adjacent to Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa lies MV Dania, a decommissioned cattle carrier that was sunk in 2002 by Bucaneer Diving Company to become an artificial reef.

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”It has to date become densely populated with a variety of fish and a stunning dive site,” said Mr Hersi.

The vessel’s inhabitants include sponges, morays, barracuda and other large groupers that use the ship as a hunting ground. Schooling fish patrol her bridge and upper deck.

Bucanneer Diving has an operations base at the Voyager Beach Resort in the North Coast, with professional diver Sammy Mwembe among its team.

”Scuba diving is a year-round activity in Kenya. We are blessed with clear visibility that reaches up to 30 metres, though between July and August the visibility may be reduced due to windy sea conditions,” Mr Mwembe, a qualified dive instructor, told Weekend Business.

“Generally, October to February is considered to be the best time to visit for diving. Water temperatures range from 23 to 28 degrees Celcius, with the coolest times being June-September. A 3mm exposure suit is adequate protection for most who take to diving,” he added.

There is a selection of other wreck sites along the nearby coast; the MFV Funguo, the Globe Star, Mida Wreck and the Lighter, which sit at various depths of between eight and 30 metres.

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