Watamu is a small town located approximately 105 km north of Mombasa and about 15 km south of Malindi on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It lies on a small headland, between the Blue Lagoon and Watamu Bay. Its main economic activities are tourism and fishing. The town has a population of around 1,900 and it is part of the Malindi District.
The shoreline in the area features white sand beaches and offshore coral formations arranged in three bays: Watamu Bay, Blue Lagoon and Turtle Bay. They are protected as part of the Watamu Marine National Park. The Marine Park is considered one of the best snorkelling and diving areas on the coast of East Africa. In order to assist the managing authorities namely Kenyan Wildlife Service, in protecting the Park, local community groups, the tourist sector and environmental groups have formed a unique organisation,Watamu Marine Association Members of this group are Turtle Bay , Hemingways, Ocean Sports Resort, Arocha Kenya, Mida community conservation group, watamu Boat Operator and Mwamko Mapya women group.
The name "Watamu" means "sweet people" in Swahili. The name came from the fact that Arab slave traders used to distribute sweets to entice the local population before taking them as slaves.
People of Watamu
Watamu is home to the Bajuni people; who trace their descend to the intermarriages between the local Giriama People and the Arab traders. As at now, various tribes from inland Kenya such as the Luo, Kisii, Kikuyu, Kamba, kalenjin, Luhyas have all emigrated to the area to work in the Hotel industry. this movement has led to an increase in the population of the Watamu as earlier stated.
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