The best coastal strip in Kenya is found in Diani, I say. From the white sandy beaches, to the fresh smell of the ocean breeze, the colourful sunrises and sunsets, the peace and quiet, and the intense colours of the sea in turquoise, aquamarine and deep blue merging with the lighter blue sky in the horizon... bliss.
Diani is one of Kenya’s leading tourist destinations, attracting local and international visitors. If you find yourself there, here are a few things and places you could visit and do to make your stay worthwhile.
Diani Beach Road splits the town of Ukunda into two, and is peppered with the best hotels for all kinds of travellers. I recommend two.
The first is Lantana Galu Beach Resort. This is the kind of place you want to vacation with your family. It sits on a large property that opens up to the ocean. They have the options of villas or condos for accommodation depending on the number of people. Tastefully furnished in old coastal wooden décor, it has a playing area for children, a swimming pool and a masseuse who will rub your back by the seafront, with the breeze sweeping gently over your skin.
The second, Shamba La Salama, is a large house, a place of peace and quiet. All you need to do is hire a cook, so you don’t ever have to leave the premises. The beauty of this place is you have the beach almost to yourselves. It is ideal to relax and unwind. There is a swimming pool and it also has a masseuse who works under the palm trees.
It would be an injustice to visit Diani without having a meal at Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant. The restaurant is built in an ancient cave with interlinked chambers. The seating is in a candlelit space, surrounded by rock, with an open roof — dinner under the stars. Quite romantic and their sea food menu is to die for. I especially enjoyed the delicately flavoured spicy crab and lobster, and the garlic bread. Wash it all down with some chilled white wine.
Leaping out of a plane, 12,000 feet in the air, with nothing but large pieces of cloths and ropes keeping me from death is on my bucket list. Unfortunately, skydiving is currently banned in Diani because of a recent accident. However, as soon as it is open, do go. You do not have to be an experienced jumper - there are lots of options, like a jump school for those who want to learn. All you need is a thirst for thrill and adrenaline rush.
Air tour of the coastline
On a small aeroplane, you feel every bit of turbulence flying low. But if you pay attention to the pilot giving a guided tour and the view below, you may actually forget about the rough ride. You will take off from the Diani Airport for a half hour aerial tour of the entire coastline, all the way to the neighbouring islands like the pristine Chale Island.
From up here, you see the various colours of the ocean contrasting with the greenery of the nearby trees, the blue of swimming pools in different properties and the blinding white sandy beaches. The turquoise of the ocean near the beach changes to blue beyond the reefs. It is a feast for the eyes.