10 reasons to visit the Kenyan coast – why you should go to Diani Beach!
After recent bad press the tourists have stopped flocking to the Kenyan coast. Uttering the word Mombasa now has most Westerners thinking of terror attacks and theft. This bad press is just standard media hype. You should be dreaming of faraway lands and romantic palm tree lined beaches. Whilst I’m not promoting Mombasa as such, a visit to Diani Beach on the coast of Kenya is definitely a worthwhile venture!
Here are my 10 reasons why you should visit the Kenyan coast.
1. The Beach.
I’m an Aussie and therefore consider myself well and truly an authority on what makes a great beach. I shunned the beaches of Sri Lanka, was underwhelmed by those in Thailand and couldn’t get past the whole idea of rocks on the beaches of France (seriously?!). Diani Beach, about 20km south of Mombasa, lived up to my expectations though. Soft white sand, clear blue water and best of all – it is relatively deserted!
2. The Hotels.
Great prices, great facilities and great views. Nothing better than a palm tree lined pool overlooking the Indian Ocean only steps away from your room. Better yet, with the drop in visitors, most hotels are virtually empty leaving you with it to yourself.
3. The Food.
Fresh produce, cooked well and served with style. The Coast definitely has it’s own flair when it comes to ‘traditional’ Kenyan dishes. The hotels and restaurants also dish up sea food – from the sea you are looking at – so you know it is fresh and I’m assuming tasty (I’m a vego remember!).
4. The Service.
I challenge you to find better service than that I experienced in Diani Beach. Nairobi drastically dropped my standards in terms of what is considered “service” let alone good service, but Diani delivered. We even had the Food & Beverage Manager check in on our dinner each night to make sure it was perfect!
5. The Wildlife.
You probably weren’t expecting that one! Only a 2 hour drive from Diani Beach is Tsavo East National Park and thus the chance to head out on safari and return to swim in the ocean – pretty good deal if you ask me. To check out colobus monkey’s, head to the Colobus Conservation Centre in town. Or keep an eye out at breakfast.
6. The Weather.
Oh hello sunshine, clear skies and soft breezes. I anticipated having to cover up, the coast being mostly Muslim and all. Thankfully Diani is a total tourist hotspot and shorts and singlets are allowed. Swimwear is acceptable on the beach and with the heavenly weather I was so grateful to finally get some sun on my skin!
7. The Accessibility.
One-way flights from Nairobi to Mombasa are less than $50USD with checked in bags. The flight takes 40mins and transfers (Uber, taxi or public transport) are easily arranged to Diani Beach. Public transport, costing $4 per person from Mombasa to Diani, is really easy but does take about 2hrs!
8. The Coconuts.
Whether you like to eat them, lie under them or have your cocktail served in them, an abundance of coconuts is never a bad thing. Served in a coconut, our welcome drink was graciously accepted on arrival. We were also asked to bring them back to our friends in Mukuru. Everyone always wants a coconut from the coast so leave room in your luggage!
9. The Break.
Is there anything better than a beach break? Maybe you need to slip out of work time into holiday and travel time. Or maybe you need it to wind down after an exhausting safari tracking down the Big 5 – a beach is always a welcomed break.
10. The Beach.
Did I mention the beach?!
A final word on safety.
Staying outside of Mombasa is completely safe, these are resort towns catering to a tourist population. It was the locals, not visitors, that were targeted in the terror attacks on Mombasa. Visitors are welcomed to these parts, they are the bread and butter of the hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. People are desperate for work and money and thus work hard to get money.
There will inevitably be the touts on the beach; the beach boys. You are still in Africa after all and we wouldn’t want you to forget that. Use your normal sensibilities and exercise caution – ie stay off the beach at night, don’t visibly carry your brand new iPhone nor your big fancy camera. Definitely don’t leave them on the sand when you go for a swim either. If you want a photo, do it out the front of your hotel where the security guards can see you and the touts will stay away.
If you find yourself on a secluded stretch of beach and feel nervous, head into a hotel. You are a foreigner and are more than welcome at any of the bars and restaurants offered on the waterfront – the beach boys are not. Worse case, catch a tuk-tuk back to your hotel along the roadway saving you from another lonesome walk.
Go. Go now!
These are tips and are not to be taken to mean that you will be hassled everywhere you go. It is safe. I caught public transport with my boyfriend from the airport to Diani Beach and was dropped safe and sound at the hotel door. Nobody hassled us in the streets or cafes in town. The staff in the hotel were friendly and attentive – something that you will not find in Nairobi.
I suggest you head to the Kenyan coast as soon as you can before the crowds start returning. In fact… I might book my next trip there now, why wait?!
The Footprint Scale
Diani Beach and Jacaranda Indian Ocean Hotel: 3/5 footprints
Local food, clean beach and no requirement to venture far means this place is doing pretty well. Off-setting flights and catching public transport to get to Diani Beach help. Some improvements to be made with house-keeping over-washing and the use of paper coasters etc in the hotel.
For more on travelling in Africa, check out my advice on overlanding. Also, feel free to sign up now and keep up to date with my next visit to the Kenyan coast.