Recently I was invited by an Australian friend of mine to go scuba diving. He has recently moved to a small coastal town about 60 km north of Mombasa called Kilifi. My wife and I decided to make a weekend of it and stay in the hotel attached to the diving club. Mnarani Club Hotel is a quaint, relaxing place and well worth staying if you are ever in this part of the world. I have been asked by quite a few people recently to create a section of my website about places to see and visit in Kenya. If you would like to see that page, drop me a line and I will sort it out. Anyway, back to the story.
We settled into a lovely cottage-type room facing a beautifully kept garden and overlooking the creek. The following day I was up at dawn to head down to the beach for my dive. Along the coast of Kenya, we only really have three seasons. Kaskazi where the wind is from the northeast, kusi where the wind is from the southeast, and matali which is the season between Kaskazi and kusi which is a variable. The matali season only lasts about two months. The wind is very reliable and always picks up at around 11 am in the morning. Consequently, all dives go out early when the ocean is flat calm.
I met a wonderful dive instructor called Sarah from 3° South she was very helpful and gave us a full briefing on the two dives for the day. We were very lucky, the weather was good, so we could dive on the M.V. Fish Eagle. She was an old tugboat from Mombasa Port that had been sunk as a wreck about twenty minutes south of Kilifi. I came across this great YouTube video about the sinking of the ship just click here. The sinking of the M.V. Fish Eagle happened on the 29th December 2014 which is over seven years ago.
We left Kilifi Creek at 8 am sharp and headed south on the twenty-minute drive to the site. We kitted up on the boat with our BCDs, buoyancy control devices, our masks, and fins then back rolled off the side of the dive boat and into the wonderful Indian ocean. One of the things I love about diving is the peace. Once your head goes under the water you are alone and at peace with your thoughts. I think this is one of the reasons I love diving so much. The wreck was at 18 meters, down to the sand at 29 meters. As usual, when you dive a wreck the first sight of the topmost part of the conning tower is awesome. Like a spectre floating out of the dark. The image slowly appears as you get closer to the dive site. We descended onto the deck of the Fish Eagle then swam around the body. The main deck at the stern has a hole cut where the engines were removed, making an ideal spot for a swim through into the hold, along a passageway, and out further forward. Sinking wrecks is a brilliant way to bring a barren sandy ocean floor to life. The fish on the wreck were magnificent. There were some very friendly longfin batfish that followed us throughout the dive. There were also shoals of bigeye snapper and several very large potato groupers hanging around.
The dive was really enjoyable, the visibility was about five meters, so we did not get any really good pictures, but Sarah was kind enough to let me have the pictures for this article.
After a forty-minute outgassing rest on the boat, to allow the nitrogen to leave our bloodstream we headed off for the second dive. Vuma Caves. This is an area of the Kenyan coast where there is no reef, so the water comes right up to the cliff edge and creates deep caves and swim-throughs. This dive was a maximum of eighteen meters, but the majority was at around twelve. As the waves above us were washing up to the cliff there is a strange sensation below the water which pushes you forward then pulls you back. This takes a bit of getting used to, but once you are in the swing of it all then it is quite enjoyable. The Vuma Caves dive is a drift dive, which is my favourite. Basically, lying down underwater being wafted along by the current, and watching the world go by. Sarah led us to a cave opening at sixteen meters. We entered with some trepidation as the cave was very dark. The wash from the waves pushed us into the cave then on the outgoing wave we were pulled back out again. After several attempts we learned to let the wave pull us out then when the push came, we paddled like crazy into the cave entrance. Once we passed the entrance it was dark and peaceful. I looked up and saw fish laying against the top of the cave having a quick nap.
The swim through lasted a couple of minutes, and then we popped out on the top of the reef at twelve meters. The fish life on the second dive was much lower as the area is overfished which just goes to show that the wrecks are providing a fantastic habitat for all marine life to thrive.
After thirty minutes we surfaced and climbed back onto the dive boat for the short ride back to the hotel. The whole weekend was a lovely break from the norm, Pauline and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thanks for reading this far it means a lot to me. If you would like to get any further information on diving in Kenya, drop me a line at [email protected]
Bye for now.