Facing off with Sharks: The Fearless Art of Spear Fishing on Wasini Island

July 14, 2022 at 15:58
Facing off with Sharks: The Fearless Art of Spear Fishing on Wasini Island

For enthusiasts ticking off destinations on their travel bucket list in Kenya, there are two must-visit places in Kenya. The first spot is Iten – famous as the ‘Land of Champions’ for the plethora of global marathon legends with roots here. It’s often packed, and easy to find.

The other spot is Wasini Island. This is a serene, exotic island a few miles to the Kenya-Tanzania border. That’s the furthest end of South Coast, Kenya, but – certainly the most interesting.

A young boy learning spearfishing skills in Wasini, Kenya. (file images)

Iten and Wasini Island are on opposite ends of the country, but have exhibited a similar phenomenon. There’s an interesting fusion of man and nature in a naturalization sequence that has brought out extreme, extraordinary abilities for the natives.

In Iten, the natives are natural athletes. It’s a high altitude zone. As the visitors often run short of breath at the slightest incline in their path, natives are effortlessly cresting hills. Observing a measured, even stride uphill – you’d be forgiven to assume packing an extra pair of lungs.

Wasini Island by virtue of being on the border, hosts an interesting mix of Swahili and Arabic culture. The language, the complexion of the residents is neither Arabic, nor Swahili. They, however exhibit an overly-friendly disposition akin to Lamu Swahili culture. They have a natural gift: their affinity to the ocean.

Spear Fishermen of Wasini Island.

Spear fishing is interesting, and an extremely dangerous vocation. Oh, wait – spear fishing is a form of fishing where the fisherman is swimming in the water with a spear gun. This is a contraption used underwater with the basic bow-and-arrow concept but the arrow or spear has a thread attached.

The fisherman dons a pair of swimming goggles, grabs his spear gun and gets into the water. The trick is to swim as quietly and as close as possible to the fish – then spear them. Once a fish is hit, it’s threaded along the line. The fisherman has to ready the gun’s trigger system rigged with a strong rubber band that launches the spear.

It’s all good, except – all this is done – while still doing your best not to drown!

If you sit on the beach at Shimoni – the gateway to Wasini Island, you’ll notice bright colored buoys moving through the water. That buoy marks the spear fisherman underneath the water, for boats and dhows on the surface.

Shortly, you’ll behold a man emerging from the water. He’s armed with nothing fancy in diving equipment, just a pair of goggles and a snorkel.

Spearfishing off Nuakata Island.

As the athletes in Iten break world records in distance running, spear fishermen are facing off sharks, shallow water blackout, heavy seas, strong currents, jelly fish, and risk drowning as a result of line tangles. Spear fishing by its very nature is an extreme sport and few activities can rival the excitement and thrill of landing a quality fish.

Both of these skills are innate, shaped by locality and honed by practice.

It’s an eerie feeling watching a man wade and disappear into the ocean. Then, watch him resurface with a stringed-up bunch of fish.

Travelling exposes one to experiences beyond their regular circle.

Lately, it’s become easier to reach most vacation spots across the country, thanks to an incredible off-season deal between Magical Kenya, Jambojet and Hotels across the country. The deal covers exotic vacation spots on the length of the Kenyan Coast, to Rift Valley and Lakeside region.

The package covers return flight tickets and accommodation costs in affordable off-season rates. It’s not limited to hanging out with athletes or snacking on roast fish on a beach with spear fishermen. There’s much more.

It’s time to create new memories and experiences. The Jambojet-Magical Kenya deal has more to offer, even to other parts of the scenic country.

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