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Located on the South of Mombasa in Kenya, Diani Beach is a gorgeous resort that boasts a 10 kilometer stretch of the beautiful and warm Indian Ocean. With turquoise blue waters, towering palm trees, well-appointed settings and a truly relaxing atmosphere, it’s not hard to see why this award winning resort welcomes thousands of visitors to its shores each year. Apart from enjoying its superb scenery, visitors are spoilt for choice with a plethora of activities to enjoy at every turn, making it the ideal destination for both adventure seekers and for those looking for a more relaxed and laid-back holiday spot.
Swimming is obviously high on the list of things to do in Diani Beach, what with the constantly warm weather and very agreeable water conditions, but these two factors also allow for other highly popular water activities, such as snorkeling, diving, kite surfing, windsurfing, and more.
Aside from the normal sea stars, sea snakes, sailfish and sea coral, Diani Beach has one special attraction in particular that keeps avid divers coming back for more, and that is the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. These majestic creatures are the largest known nonmammalian vertebrate alive today, and encounters with them are rare because they’re usually very elusive, but thanks to Diani’s shallow waters, divers get to swim right alongside them during the time they spend visiting this coast, which is usually between the months of February and April. During their annual passage through Diani Beach, whale sharks also attract the attention of satellite tagging expeditions by conservationists that track its migration through the shallow clear water, making this one of the most special migration spectacles in the world.
Diani Beach Festival
Popular events in the area include the Diani Beach Festival, a widely popular festival that runs for 3 weeks towards the end of December, attracting thousands of local and international partygoers from over 30 different countries. Festival-goers are treated to numerous activities such as kite surfing competitions, a 10-day skydive boogie, water sports activities, deep sea fishing, yoga and a children’s adventure club , as well as musical performances by some of Africa’s most renowned artists.
Diani Beach market
Take some of Kenya’s rich culture home with you by purchasing a few of the handmade arts and crafts at the Diani Beach Market, which showcases items that are hand made by local artisans from local tribes around the area. Expect to find a unique selection of beadwork, carved masks, musical instruments, unique clothing accessories and fabrics, all made with eco-friendly materials like banana fiber, recycled plastic and more.
Challenges to be aware of
Plastic pollution is such a big issue in Kenya that government has announced an upcoming ban on the manufacture, importation, distribution and use of plastic bags specifically, as they pose a significant threat to the country’s ecology. In the meantime, tourists are advised to exercise caution when using plastic bottles and packaging, and dispose of it in a responsible manner.
The Collapsed Hotels
The Collapsed Hotels are an area in Diani Beach that consist of mostly dilapidated hotels, most of which have been reclaimed by nature. These hotels collapsed due to a dip in the tourism industry about a decade ago, leading to a massive spike in the unemployment rate. Hotels which used to thrive and were once crowded with tourists, are now dilapidated buildings that tell of a more perilous time in the country and region’s economy. Although not dangerous, the area has become somewhat of a curiosity among locals and tourists alike, some of which still reminisce about ‘the good old days’ when these hotels were a source of joy and respite for the Western elite. Most importantly, these hotels serve as a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when we don’t support our own establishments as Africans. So, please go out there and explore Africa in all her beauty, starting with Diani Beach. She is truly a paradise to behold.
Diani Beach provides tourists with a superb mix of culture, adventure and nature. The locals are all quite friendly and welcoming, and are always happy to share their culture with others. Apart from the marvelous hotels, there’s a diverse assortment of accommodation on Diani Beach which includes private beach houses, villas and cottages.
The Sands at Nomad offers picturesque beach cottages overlooking the ocean, with stately private suites that have all the amenities you’d imagine, like Jacuzzis, canopied beds, majestic baths and comfortable outdoor sitting areas. The resort also features superb dining, swimming pools, outdoor lounges, a spa and plenty of activities like watersports, golfing, scuba diving, and deep sea fishing to keep you occupied for the duration of your stay.
The Swahili Beach Resort, on the other hand, offers beautiful Morrocan inspired architecture with décor that features African, Zanzibari and Indian influences. The exterior is surrounded beach-like infinity pools, with elegant outdoor lounges that are located under the shade of tall palm trees and lush vegetation. All of this makes for a truly palatial setting with suites that offer tall dome-shaped ceilings, whitewashed walls, canopied beds; it is not for the budget conscious.
Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa is known for rooms so large that they seem more like mini-apartments than actual suites. Upon arrival at the resort, guests are welcomed by traditional dancers and drummers, while the unparalleled views look out onto the courtyard gardens and pools below, as well as the ocean. The garden is one of the highlights of the resort and features an array of vibrant flowers, tall palm trees, indigenous plants, you name it.
From al fresco dining under the stars, to sundowner safaris, five star services, amazing gastronomy, and white sand under your feet, to dolphins, corals, an authentic cultural experience and more water activities than you can throw a stick at- this is what sets Diani Beach apart. And it is the seamless combination of all these different elements that have earned Diani Beach the ‘Best Beach in Africa’ award, which was received at a tourism event known as the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry. In a nutshell, Diani beach has it all, the sun, the sea, a relaxing atmosphere, hospitable locals, great cuisine and unbeatable resorts. It is literally paradise on earth, and the perfect getaway for singles, couples, groups of friends and families alike.
By Anelisa Nokoyo
Stream Africa Publication