For the keen traveller, the world has become a small place, especially with prospects of remote working becoming a reality for most. If you are longing for somewhere different, exotic, and underexplored, then Diani Beach in Kenya should be at the top of your list.
A wildlife safari to Kenya is the dream of many tourists. Still, a trip to Kenya is not complete without a visit to its coastal areas. No matter what your pleasure is, you will find it in Diani Beach. It has so much to offer the intrepid traveller, whether you are a solo traveller, accompanied, or travelling with kids, Diani is a family-friendly island that includes a host of activities to keep the young ones busy. For this reason, it has been voted as the best beach in Africa, and in my opinion, deserves the number one spot on the best beach in the world list.
Warm Indian Ocean Breeze and a Warm Welcome
With almost seventeen kilometres of pristine white sand, cerulean water, and waving palm trees, this picture-perfect beach hugs the shores of the warm Indian Ocean. There are coral reefs to explore, and the sand bars make it perfect for swimming and many other water sports.
And if that is not enough, there are exquisite islands to explore nearby. This intimate slice of heaven is calling out to you.
Top Places to Visit and Things To Do at This Breath-taking Kenyan Beach:
You could choose to spend your days lazing around the pool or on a sun lounger. However, without too much effort, you can also enjoy a host of exceptional experiences at Diani Beach that are unique and mind-blowing. My list of not-to-be-missed Diani Beach experiences include:
1) A Mini Safari Begging to Be Explored:
If you did not get a chance to go on a traditional safari before coming to the coast- no problem. Make sure you visit the nearby Shimba Hills National Park. Here photographic opportunities abound in every direction. You can spot elephants, giraffes, and buffalos, as well as the unusual Roan and Sable antelopes (these are only found at Shimba) grazing in the rolling grasslands. By contrast, the neighbouring rainforest will allow you to see black and white colobus monkeys, serval cats, red duiker, and suni antelopes.
Tips on visiting: Entry to the park costs $20 and $100 for residents and non-residents, respectively. This gives you access to the animals as well as the waterfall. The tour is usually guided by park rangers and bookings have to be made in advance.
2) Sail Away on a Snorkelling and Diving Adventure Amidst Stunning Corals:
A trip to Diani is not complete without a snorkelling and or diving trip to Wasini Island. The island itself has a population of about 3,000 people. There are no police, no cars, and transport around the island is only by foot or boat.
You would need to plan for a full day to visit Wasini. The trip starts from Shimoni town, an hour’s drive from Diani. The dhows ( sailboats) used for the trip are an adventure in their own right, especially on windy days. The trip is made even more worthwhile when the dolphin chasing begins. On most days, unless the tides are really high, these gentle giants usually make for a good show. Each trip includes two snorkelling/ diving sessions. You do not need to know how to swim to snorkel; the experienced guides will make sure you still see the most beautiful corals while hanging onto a floatie.
The highlight of the trip – a hearty Swahili lunch served from a floating restaurant. Afterwards, you have a choice between relaxing in a scenic pool overlooking the sea or indulging in cultural delights delving into an authentic east African experience by visiting a local village. Our trip was planned by Charlie’s Claws.
3) A Must-Palate Island Experience
If you are looking for a change from Diani and want to explore a sister island, you need not travel more than 30 minutes from Diani. Man and nature have conspired to create the epitome of romantic tranquillity – Chale Island. Only accessible by boat, tractor – yes, that is not a typo – or on foot, you arrive at the exquisite Sands at Chale Island Resort.
A luxurious sanctuary that rivals the best hotels in the world. Seemingly endless white-sand beaches, a laid back atmosphere, and arguably one of the world’s most calm turquoise ocean, and colours and variety of the local sea life that are beyond belief. Think of the Maldives but at a fraction of the price.
The island is also home to an ancient forest or Kaya. Revered by the local people and a favoured habitat of many primates in equal measures.
4) Inspiration for “Culture Vultures”
For travellers interested in the local culture and history, a visit to Funzi Island is a chance to meet locals famous for their traditional fishing and sailing skills. Here you will experience where ancient African traditions blend with influences from Persia, including reminders of the deplorable slave trade that operated in these parts.
5) Blissfully Relaxed Lifestyle
Experience beachside glamour, downing a Dawa (Kenya’s signature cocktail) enjoying great food and fun music. While chilling at the beach, look out for the camel trotting locals and catch a ride. Have you even been to Diani beach if you have not taken a camel ride?
6) Everything You Need – And More!
As you stroll along the white sands of this top Kenyan beach, you may feel as if you have entered an alternate universe. However, you are not far removed from every convenience or modern necessity that your heart may desire.
There are shopping centres with quaint coffee shops and stalls selling local artefacts to buy as souvenirs. Local people display their wares on the beach, including beaded jewellery, sarongs, etc. Their sales make a valuable contribution to the local economy.
7) Eclectic Restaurants Offering You A Culinary Odyssey
After all that activity you will be famished. But fear not, because Diani beach hosts a collection of restaurants and bars offering the finest Swahili and International cuisine with views that take your breath away. From sundowners to beach parties that last all night long, you will have the choice of as much lively entertainment or tranquillity and rest as you prefer at this top-rated Kenyan beach.
Seafood lovers and those craving an eclectic mix of local delicacies will not be disappointed with the menus at:
- Sands at Nomad: A favourite for locals and tourists alike, the food is decadent, boasts of the best views in Diani Beach and a wine list that is to die for.
- Ali Barbour’s Cave restaurant: An unashamedly romantic venue, with the kind of ambience you would only find in a restaurant carved out of a rock. The seafood and wine at this restaurant will make it a night to remember.
- Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant: One of the most stunning beach bars in Kenya! The outstanding architecture is both exquisite and distinctive. The enormous sails and arching beams create an atmospheric ambience in perfect keeping with the idyllic setting.
- Zanzibar Restaurant at Swahili Beach: An exquisite setting, evocative architecture, and a modern, fusion menu. Completely recommend the Tepanyakki, it’s an absolute must have.
- Apero: Latest addition to the Diani restaurant scene. A hype ambience perfect for relaxation and if you want to catch up with work too.
- Havana: Cool bar serving cocktails and light meals.
8) Unique Accommodation Options Along The Beach
Luxurious options at a steal: There is no shortage of places to stay. Diani boasts of some of the best accommodation options, from the luxurious Swahili Beach Resort with its 9 cascading pools to the unique Almanara resort with its 7-star exclusive villas, or the divine, eco-friendly Leopard Beach resort and Spa. And do not forget to take a look at the Sands at Chale for a reclusive experience. If travelling with children, the Baobab Beach Resort, with its all-inclusive offer, will allow you to unwind while its famous team of animators ensure your kids remain entertained.
Budget stays: For budget-conscious travellers, there are many low-cost hotels in Diani. Try the excellent camping facilities, backpackers, cottages, pet-friendly locations, or mid-range to cheap hotels available in Diani Beach.
Airbnb has opened up a world of opportunities accommodation-wise in Diani Beach. It is not uncommon to get a whole villa with a pool for about $70 a night.
9) A Multitude Of Ways To Explore This Paradise!
If you are still hungry for an adventure and other things to do in Diani Beach, you can explore the options below:
- Bike tours for the more fitness-minded tourist. They are the perfect way to enjoy the sights at your own pace.
- Extreme water sport activities are available in abundance. There are Jet Ski safari adventures, Fly Board, and Jet Pack Thrilling water sports experiences. Or you could try Kite Surfing, Kayaking, and Windsurfing. You could take a trip in a luxury motorboat, a glass-bottomed boat, or a gentle sail on a traditional dhow.
- Rev up the adrenalin with a whale shark expedition or frolic with the many pods of dolphins.
- Explore the island sightseeing on a TukTuk or a rented motorbike
- Take a skydiving trip to get an aerial view of the Diani Beach and ensure that you don’t miss a thing.
- Get your diving certificate, a skill that can open up a lifetime of exciting vacations.
- Go fishing with experienced captains; restaurants will be happy to cook your catch.
10) A Kenyan Beach Holiday Par Excellence
For anyone with a love for and an interest in Africa, a vacation at this dreamy beach destination promises more than anyone could put down in words. It just has to be experienced. This safe and heavenly destination is incomparable. You need to hear “Karibu” – or welcome! to Kenya’s top beach resort!
Transport options to Diani Beach
Diani is only an hour’s flight from Kenya’s capital Nairobi with numerous flight options to the small Ukunda Airport throughout the day. Note that there are no night flights into Diani. Another option is the 30-kilometre drive from Kenya’s second-largest city Mombasa, where there is an international airport. You can aptly use the Uber taxi service from the airport to Diani.
Train options from Nairobi include the SGR from Nairobi, which offers epic views of the African landscape, including a chance to see wild animals.
Frequently asked questions about Diani Beach, Kenya
- Most beaches are free and open to the public. Generally, hotels have private beaches. You can walk from one end of the island to the other, famous for sunrise and sunset walks.
- Topless sunbathing is not allowed.
- Do not bring valuables to the beach.
- You can pay by cash, credit card, or better still, register for Kenya’s mobile banking payment system MPESA.
Have I convinced to visit Diani Beach? if so let me know on the comments below. Interested in traveling to Kenya check out this post about the Lamu Yoga Festival another desirable beach destination on the Kenyan Coast