Friday, 25 November 2016

Visiting Diani Beach, Kenya

You think of paradise and images are conjured in your head of the Caribbean, the Maldives, maybe even Bali or Bora Bora. A place that almost certainly doesn't get put on the list is Kenya yet with it’s white sanded beaches, crystal blue waters and perhaps some of the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet, it really is a crying shame that their coastline is almost empty.

A couple of weeks ago, a group of us made the journey from Nairobi to Diani Beach, which, if you didn’t know, is a monster of a journey. Taking a night bus from Nairobi, we settled in for what was eventually, not too painful a ride as previously anticipated (although I could really have done without sitting in front of the only child on the entire coach who apparently, in his spare time enjoys kicking seats and pulling hair..) and 10 whole hours later, we arrived in Mombasa. Despite having a talent of being able to sleep anywhere and having perhaps gotten around 5/6 hours sleep, it’s safe to say it’s not the freshest I’ve ever felt…but the journey was not yet over.

To get to Diani Beach from Mombasa city centre, we caught another coach, which you have to dismount when you get to the ferry crossing as you must go over on foot. We then had the pleasure of walking through a fish market to find our coach which as you can imagine at 7am, smelt great and even though after another 20 minute ride, you’d think we had gotten there, you would be incorrect. To get to our hostel, we took a tuk tuk which is the cheapest and most popular way of getting round in the area and finally, after around 12 hours of travelling, we made it!

We decided to stay at Diani Backpackers after reading great reviews online and they really, truly were not wrong. Pretty much as soon as we arrived, we put our bags in our room and headed straight for the bar first, and then the pool. After six months of travelling, it’s safe to say that facility wise, this is by far the best hostel Rosie and I have stayed at, with a bar almost open 24 hours a day (although don’t worry, it’s quiet time after 12am), a great pool and outdoor area, extremely cheap restaurant options and clean dormitory rooms with a private bathroom and individual mosquito nets. The only downside would be the lack of air conditioning therefore it gets very warm at night however with the windows open, there’s a light breeze and it isn’t too much of an issue.

Diani Beach itself, is one of the most stunning coastlines I’ve ever seen, with the only beaches it compares to for me, being Barbados. With warm crystal blue waters, beautiful white sands and palm trees flowing in the (very much needed) breeze, it really is the most idyllic setting…and yet it was practically deserted. We heard so many stories from a range of people including Kenyans visiting the coast, business owners and those who live there, about the continuing struggle over the past few years of hotels and general tourism businesses to try and stay open due to the rapid decline of tourists in the wake of terrorism fears. It’s hard to believe that such a stunning place is pretty much deserted of visitors because whilst it is utter paradise, it is also a place that I felt completely safe in, with people always looking to help out, to offer advice or just simply want to chat.

From watching the sunset on the beach with a cider in hand and cooling off in the clear, luke warm sea to eating deliciously fresh seafood looking out over the white sands of Diani and perusing the beautiful local craft stalls, my time in Diani Beach was short but very, very sweet.

Key information: -

- We travelled from Nairobi to Mombasa with a company called Mombasa Raha. It cost 1000 shillings (approx £8/$10) and would highly recommend. Plenty of leg room, all seats reclined and pretty well organised. 

- We stayed at Diani Backpackers for 4 nights. In an eight bed dorm, it cost 1300 shillings per night (approx £10/$13) and the fourth night’s stay, you get for free. (I believe you also receive the 7th night free also). Could not recommend strongly enough, we loved it. 

- If you are staying at Diani Backpackers:

- There is a fresh seafood restaurant on the beach front which take 200 shillings off every main meal due to a partnership with the hostel.

- Forty Thieves is an infamous bar and restaurant and is mere minutes from the hostel - on a tuk tuk, it should cost 50 shillings and absolutely no more than 100.

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