3 Days in Diani Beach, Kenya; All You Need To Know
Diani Beach is a resort area which is situated 30 km south of Kenya’s second city Mombasa. It’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and an area of outstanding natural beauty making it perfect 3-day break during your time in Kenya. When it comes to tourism in Africa we hear a great deal about safaris, mountain gorilla spotting and of course, scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, but surprisingly we don’t often hear about the stunning beaches and coastal escapes which many nations in the continent offer. Recently I decided to take some time out and spend 3 days in Diani Beach for some R and R after working like crazy for months, and it was the perfect tonic.
For me, 3 days would be the minimum amount of time that you should spend in and around Diani Beach and here are some recommendations on what to do during those three days in this awesome corner of the world.
If you want make the most out of this destination and everything on offer then you need to get up and about as early as possible (it’ll be worthwhile trust me), enjoy some fresh fruit for breakfast and then get out to discover all that this place has to offer. Here is what I recommend that you start with on your first day in Diani Beach.
Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest
Any place which has ‘sacred’ in its name immediately sparks the imagination and this forest is no exception. You can only visit the forest with a local guide who will greet you when you arrive to the entrance of the forest. The forest is considered holy by the locals and the belief is that there are spirits residing throughout. The tour will take around 1.5/2 hours during which time the guide will explain the history of the locals and their attachment to this sacred forest. During the tour you will also learn about the different plants along the nature trail and the tour finishes with a wonderful dance performed by the locals. This forest is just 5km away from most of the hotels on Diani Beach which means that you can get back by mid-afternoon if you get started early.
Once your forest adventure is over why not consider getting active in the afternoon and indulge in some kite surfing on the beach. If you are up for some adventures then you don’t have to look far to find them here in Diani Beach, in fact activities are literally everywhere. Kite surfing is particularly popular here, especially on Mwazaro Beach where many seasoned kite surfers enjoy low tides and windy conditions. Mwazaro Beach is an hour south of the main beach area in Diani and you can get there by driving, taking a moto-taxi or there are also regular minivan services which run hourly between the two destinations. Grab a minivan on Diani Beach Road. If you have never done this before then it you will be better off staying on Diani Beach and using a company like H2O-Extreme who offer full equipment rental which starts at $45 per hour and lessons can be purchased for $112, not cheap but absolutely worthwhile. You can find H2O-Extreme next to the Blue Marlin Beach Hotel on Diani Beach Road.
Once you have navigated your way around kite surfing, time to head back and enjoy dinner on the beach, then off for an early night ahead of tomorrow’s activities.
What better way to kick off your second day here in Diani Beach than with some excitement down below? There is a huge network of caves throughout Diani Beach with many of the networks still being opened up. These caves have are jam-packed with some mightily impressive rock and crystal formations with chinks of light bursting through them! This is a perfect activity for the second day of your break, pretty relaxed after your kite surfing endeavors but still a super cool place to visit. These are three of the most popular caving destinations which I would recommend, if you plan well you may be able to do at least two of them in a single day.
Komboza Cave – Next to the Asin’s Hotel you will see a beach road which leads you to the entrance of the cave by the Leisure Lodge. This is a deep cave which is still being developed.
Slave Caves – These are situated in Shimoni and the reason for the name is that this is where slaves would hide, before being found and sold in Zanzibar. I found visiting these caves quite sobering given their history but interesting at the same time. You can get a tour through these caves for around Ksh 400, watch out for the bats!
Three Sister’s Caves – Just before you reach Shimoni you will see a village called Fikrini which is where you will find the entrance to the Three Sister’s Caves. The largest of the caves is where you will get a chance to see the elusive flying fox, as well as a huge community of bats. These caves were once hiding spots during the slave trade as well.
It is likely that you won’t be getting back to your hotel until late afternoon on your second day but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any time for a little bit more adventure. In fact the perfect way to spend the late afternoon is to take a quad bike ride and see a little more of Diani Beach. This is the best way for you to discover some of the small villages and some of the more off-the-beaten-track areas of Diani Beach, take a quad tour through the dirt tracks and farm roads to see just what rural life here is really like. Check out the 2-hour quad bike tour offered by local company Xplore Diani. The tour costs $67 and includes a professional guide, they will even pick you up from your hotel! The company is located next door to the Diani Chale Marine National Reserve which is right on the beach front. If you manage to book your tour for around 5pm, you will also have the opportunity to see a breathtaking sunset as part of the tour before heading back to your accommodation.
The best way to finish off your 3 day trip to this beautiful destination is to get a big breakfast when you wake up and then head out to squeeze very last drop from the resort.
A trip to Kenya wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of the fascinating animals that live here and the best way that I found to do just that was to go to the Colobus Conservation area. I took a primate Eco-Tour here and was guided throughout the landscape where I saw baboons, monkeys, velvets and sykes, all up close and personal. With so much being said about the exploitation of animal tourism, I am always conscious of tours such as these, and I was more than happy to find somewhere which really lays heavy focus on the conservation of the animals and their habitat. This tour at the conservation centre was about more than just seeing animals, they are also very keen on educating you about the amazing work that they do, as well as their history in this area of Kenya. The conservation centre is an hour from Diani Beach and the tour cost me Ksh 750 ($7), I would allow for almost a full day if you wish to see the conservation centre.
If you decide to visit the conservation center at Colobus then your evening may involve nothing more than packing up your case and enjoying some of the fine nightlife that they have here. If however you decided to come back for the afternoon then you could do what I did and head out on a snorkeling adventure for the afternoon. The two best places to snorkel here are Kisite Marine Park and Wasini Island, where you will have the chance to head below the depth and discover the rich coral and marine life that calls this place home.
Here are some other options which you may like to explore.
Msambweni– A collection of around 10 villages with around 12,000 inhabitants, occupying a huge area of the Kenyan coast. What this means for the curious tourist then is that you can find hundreds of miles of white sandy beaches, with only a handful of people on it. This is an area which makes for the perfect day trip and if you really want to enjoy the beach life in peace, this is the place to do it.
Chilling Out – There is certainly much to do and much to discover in Diani Beach but you should also make sure that you allow for some time to lay back on the beach, listen to the water lapping against the coast and wait for that spectacular African sunrise, the perfect way to end any day!
Best Places to Eat
Nomad Restaurant – Italian/Cocktails $$
Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant – Literally in a cave $$$$
Shashin-Ka – Japanese Cuisine $$$
Bidi Badu – Fresh Seafood and Local Cuisine $$
Mi Lola – Tapas and Wine $$$$
How to Get There
The easiest way you can get to Diani Beach is to fly into Mombasa, from there you can take either a private transfer or a taxi which will then take you down to the beach area and includes a short ferry trip as you leave Mombassa, there are no public bus services, this will take just over 1 hour and 20 minutes depending on traffic.
If you are coming from Nairobi then you should look at flights which will take you to Mombasa, but also flights which will take you to Ukunda airport, a small airfield just outside of Diani Beach. Flights to Ukunda are usually more costly than if you were to fly directly to Mombasa and then take the road down to the resort. With this being said you can sometimes find flights for between $100-150 which will take you straight to Ukunda airfield.
Please feel free to drop me any questions about Diani Beach and I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments below, let me know how your trip was!