Welcome to Wasini Island

Wasini Island is an island that’s right off coast of the Indian Ocean in Kenya near to Shimoni. It has a length of about 5 km, and it has a width of about 1 km. The island isn’t very well-populated or developed. There are no roads or cards. It was one of the earliest sites of Swahili civilization, and this is a coral island that was originally occupied by a people known as the Vumba, and they are a Bantu-speaking indigenous group who have an elaborate history. They speak Kivumba and Swahili, and there are about 1,500 of them. Wasini and Mkwiro are the couple of villages that are present there on the island, and they are at an opposite end each. Their history has the settlement and invasion from Arabs as a part of it. These Arabs were from the Persian Gulf states, and they are also from islands that are further down, like Zanzibar, which is down toward the south.

This Wasini Island is located in the southwest part of Kenya and the island is just 10 km from a national park. It is called Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park. It attracts several thousand visitors from overseas, as well as nearby tourists, each year. The KWS monitors activities in the park, and there is a visitor fee to get in. These fees are given to the Nairobi Headquarters. Most visitors come to the park with prepaid packages that were organized outside of the island, and even outside of Shimoni too. The bigger operators are owned by foreign companies. Most organizations claim to do responsible tourism, which is called eco tourism. The tourist numbers that people come up with in this area over several years are not observed for socio economic or environmental impact.

Shimoni is across the channel, and it’s the point where you stop off to reach the island, and it is about 75 km to the south of Mombasa.

There are beautiful coral gardens on the Western end of the island, and women groups have set up a nature walk for it. The proceeds go toward Wasini benefactors, including Wasini students too. There is basic orphanage, although rudimentary, on the northern end of the island. NGO’s and self-help groups sponsor an activity at Shimoni where visitors can see the “Shimoni Slave Caves”, and it’s a project that the whole community can get involved in.

To the east, Wasini is struck by the southern monsoon winds which bring long rains and the Kaz Kazi, which are the north east trade winds. The island doesn’t have a fresh water source that’s natural on the island, and the resource is pretty much under-utilized. Kenya’s power grid does not extend out there.

The mudflats and southern sand on the island entrap lots of flotsam, which is basically like rubber and plastic floating in from the tides. Between the mainland and the island there is a stretch of calm water in a deep channel, which is a natural port, and it is currently the sole one in this area for fishing vessels and trading Dhows. Customers facilities and port immigration are there, and they offer services for the trade Dhows and the people coming in from Tanzania, or further out.

Fishing is the primary occupation, and the fishermen use trees which are hewn into canoes, and they encounter the rough waters of the Pemba Channel, and there are consistent fatalities that use that kind of craft in every fishing season.

There are also a lot of sports fishing vessels that go straight through the Pemba Channel, and it is a fishing ground that’s well-known in Kenya, World IGFA, and All Africa fishing records. The presence of destructive fishing methods, rising water levels, and fishing vessels offshore using dynamite and seine nets on reefs, have all had their own little impact.

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