One of the best vacation plans for Kenyans is going to the beach, they rather spend their time in the ocean shores rather than going on a game drive or visiting the highlands and mountains. Hence, all public holidays end up being peak season for beach hotels with a lot of domestic tourism taking place.
Am no exceptional Kenyan and had to take up this great holiday destination by planning a holiday at Diani Beach which is one of the best tourist destination in the Coastal strip of Kenya. This is due to its white sandy beaches and luxurious hotels plus various activities that are available along the beach.
Planning a beach vacation in Kenya can take various forms as there are options of either booking a hotel stay or renting a villa. From the capital city Nairobi, you can either get to the coast through road(5-9 hours), via air (connecting from JKIA airport) or via train(4-5hours).
To get to Diani from Mombasa city, you ought to go through Likoni crossing over the Kilindini Harbor via ferry to Ukunda. If you travel by road, train or air to Mombasa town then you will definitely have cross to Likoni. However, there are the options of flying direct to Ukunda airstrip from Nairobi and avoid the connection via ferry to Diani.
My Diani Vacation
Well I planned my holiday while still in Nairobi through a friend who leaves in Ukunda and is very familiar with Diani. I opted to travel via road as the train was fully booked on my planned dates. Traveling through road from Nairobi to Mombasa is normally a long journey and hence if going by road you would either opt for a night travel leaving Nairobi late in the evening and arrive in Mombasa early in the morning with a stop over in Voi or leave Nairobi early in the morning to get to Mombasa in the evening.
By bus, I left Nairobi at 2200hrs and we were in Mombasa by 0530hrs next day. I had breakfast in Mombasa then proceeded to board the ferry to close over to Likoni where the transfer van to Diani was waiting. I had opted for a private villa for my accommodation which was quite pocket friendly.
I got to the villa early morning and found another group that had occupied the place packing to leave, I opted to go to the beach for a morning swim as I gave the other group time to vacate and the villa management time to prepare.
Day 1 at Diani
My day started early in the morning with a walk to the beach from the villa, good thing about Diani is most part of the beach is open to the public and has very little population as the area has a good number of privately owned villas that are occupied by travelers and very few residents.
I spent my morning on the white sandy beach enjoying the fine breeze and taking a swim as the tide was slowly coming to a halt. The sun on the other hand was shinning brighter and brighter as the day went on and the heat increased, I decided to go back to the villa and check in.
The villa consisted of 2 bedroom self-contained cottages that you can opt to share or take it all by yourself. You are provided with kitchen appliances but you have to buy yourself food and cook. There is the option of hiring the resident chef to cook for you or come with your own chef.
I was sharing the cottage with my friend and we decided to hire a chef since we had bought food from the market. He started by making us late lunch which we had insisted he prepares the Swahili dishes. He opted to prepare a common yet delicious Swahili pilau which is normally spiced rice mixed with some meat pieces and potatoes.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool but decided to have an evening out. We chose to spend the evening at one of the best hotels in Diani, The Swahili Beach. It was a few miles from where we were staying and got there via taxi. Spent our evening at their Baharini Beach Bar enjoying the fine ocean breeze as we had their oven fired pizza and some cool cocktail.
Wasini Island and Mpunguti Kisite Marine Park
Our second day was booked for a full day adventure where we had planned to go further South to the Kenya-Tanzania border where we have one of the Southeast Coast tourist attraction, the Wasini Island. Activities included; visit of the famous Shimo Slave caves, dhow cruise to the Marine Park for dolphin viewing and snorkeling and visit to Wasini Island.
We opted to start with the Mpunguti Kisite Marine Park which is under the Kenya Wildlife Services hence you have to first pay park fees at their offices while still on land before you board the dhow. It is advisable to visit the park in the early hours of the morning before 12 noon when the tide rises.
This gives you an opportunity to view the dolphins as they enjoy the morning sun and you also get to settle at an island formed when the tide is low in the marine park and observe the beautiful coral reef before embarking on a snorkeling event to view more marine life in the ocean.
We then headed to the Wasini Island where we were to have our lunch but before then we had to learn more about the Wasini community. The most interesting thing about this Island is that it can only be accessed via a boat ride. There are no vehicles, motorbikes or bicycles and cargo is transported by foot or wheelbarrow across from the main land through the boat.
Wasini is a strict Islam community, hence follow strict Sheria laws. Women are meant to be fully covered when here and no alcohol or cigarettes are allowed in the Island. This is quite ironic since when the tide is high one is forced to swim to access the Dhow or boat to get to the main land. So a change of cloth is a must carry in a waterproof bag to cover yourself, we were not informed this and since we were in our snookering costume while coming from the marine park, we were forced to buy lesso/khanga from the locals though at an affordable price.
Our lunch included a lot of crabs and curry fish with coconut rice and potato wedges. This is a delicacy here as the fish and the crabs are fished on the ocean shores effortlessly when the tide is low. The meal is served generously as the food is readily available till you can’t have no more.
By the time we were done at the Island, the tide was really high and it was advisable to use the dhow back to the main land rather than the small boats but to get to the dhow you ought to either swim or board the small boat that is really not very stable when the tide is this high. This beats the logic of being fully covered when on the Island for ladies plus this is not a good experience for those who can’t swim.
Back to the main land, we went to our last stop which was the Shimoni Slave Caves. This was a ‘slave holding port’ that was used during the colonial period in East Africa slave trade before being transported to as far as the Middle East. This is a great tourist attraction that offers guided tours through the caves to the opening on the ocean.
Day 3 in Mombasa City
Well after a day full of activity in the southern east coastal region, we decided to pack up from our villa after two nights and head back to Mombasa after a heavy breakfast from our hired chef who made sure we were always full all through our stay.
We used to the same route through the Likoni ferry back to Mombasa City. Our first stop in Mombasa was to confirm that our bus ticket back to Nairobi by night were reserved. Our travel was scheduled to take place at night so we had a whole day in Mombasa before the departure.
We decide to spend our day at Wild Waters theme park in Nyali, Mombasa as we were done with the ocean waters. This is a family fun filled theme park that has water slides for both adults and kids. It is a good way to spend your day either moving from one water slide to the next since each has a different experience or swimming away in the lazy river. There is also a rain dance floor where you dance away to your favorite music while water is running down your body to what they call a rain dance. Time really moves first while you are having fun, we could not get enough of this place in just one afternoon.
We ended our evening with a movie at the Nyali Cinemax in Mombasa as we waited to travel by road back to Nairobi later in the night. The good thing is our night bus came with a meal hence we didn’t need to worry about dinner though we had enough snacks while enjoying our movie.
- Kenyan Coast is a very good holiday destination for anyone who loves the beach and the hot climate. You can either opt for the North Coast with areas like Malindi, Watamu or South coast where we have Diani.
- Getting to South coast from Mombasa City has the option of using the ferry or to avoid the ferry you can take a flight from Nairobi city direct to the Ukunda airstrip and get an airport transfer to your hotel or villa.
- Mode of transport can be road, air or train and arranged transfers to your hotel of choice or you can opt to use the taxi services available like Uber. You can get a connecting flight to the coast from Nairobi airport if you are visiting from outside the country and would like to go direct to the coast.
- Accommodation is offered in either the various hotels found in the coastal strip or you can opt to rent a villa especially if you are on vacation as a group. You can get rentals that can accommodate as much as 6-10 people and take the option of hiring a chef for your meals.
I have been to the coast several times and very time I always get a different experience, there are so many activities to undertake depending on your schedule and liking so don’t hesitate to take the trip.