Last updated on April 12th, 2021; Published on February 15th, 2021
I recently embraced the life of remote working wholly by taking off from Nairobi to spend a week in Diani Beach. It was a spur of the moment decision instigated by Aina and Azeem, the timing felt right, the budget looked good, and there was no reason not to jump on the opportunity.
Diani Beach is somewhere I had always wanted to visit since we moved to Kenya and it comes very highly recommended by people who have visited before. In fact, it was my first coastal destination choice when we were deciding where to go after the Masai Mara National Park. We eventually ended up going to Watamu – no regrets! Watamu was fantastic and I had very high hopes for Diani Beach.
For this trip, we travelled on a Saturday and returned on a Sunday. Save for the weekend, most of the our time were spent indoors. However, we enjoyed daily morning and evening walks on the beach. Here’s how our time went…
Day 1: Travel from Nairobi to Mombasa
The first day was for travel and I finally got the chance to use the SGR from Nairobi to Mombasa. Rather than flying, I opted to use the 3 pm express train to Mombasa and I’m glad I did. The journey took a total of 5 hours – which seemed to fly by for me, was very comfortable and interesting.
During the trip, we passed through the massive Tsavo East National Park and I enjoyed the wildlife viewing from the train. This was certainly a highlight for me.
I recapped my experience using the train here. The post contains everything you need to know about the SGR fares, how to book a seat, security details to keep in mind, riding in both first-class and economy cabins and the journey itself.
I arrived in Mombasa at 8 pm and decided to spend the night in the city, rather than continuing on to Diani Beach at night. Also, Aina and Azeem were coming on the 10 pm train and we agreed to travel together the following day.
Day 2: Half Day in Mombasa, Fort Jesus & Travel to Diani Beach via Likoni Ferry
On the train to Mombasa, a fellow passenger recommended that we stayed at the guest house where she worked. I looked it up quickly and it didn’t seem so bad, plus it was quite affordable, so I cancelled my plans to stay elsewhere and booked our rooms at the guest house.
The next morning, she offered to take us around some parts of Mombasa. It was a generous offer which we all greatly appreciated. The first place she took us to was the Mama Ngina Waterfront.
Here, we spent our time promenading along the waterfront, doing a little souvenir shopping and people watching. It was a very fun walk, which we capped with fresh coconut water and a tuk-tuk ride to Fort Jesus, a fort built in the 1500s to protect the old port of Mombasa.
After spending some time at Fort Jesus, we headed back to the guest house, packed our bags and got into an Uber to the Likoni Ferry Station. Because Uber was charging nearly 20 times the price to cross the ferry in the car, we decided it was best (and much faster) to cross on foot.
The Likoni Ferry shuttles thousands of people and vehicle daily across the Likoni channel from the Mombasa Island to the suburb of Likoni. It was astonishing and a bit overwhelming to see the sheer amount of people waiting to board.
There were about 2 ferries operating back and forth and we had to wait for a few minutes to get on one. The wait time was very minimal – about 5 minutes or so and the boarding process was not chaotic. The ferry on our onward journey had seats and I was surprised we all found places to seat, considering the number of people that got on before us.
Our return journey, on the other hand, was on a different ferry without seats. Since the journey lasts only a few minutes, this was no problem at all.
Day 3-6: Diani Beach, Ukunda
After crossing the channel, we got into a matatu to Ukunda. The journey lasted about an hour due to the numerous stops it made. Eventually, we arrived at the main roundabout and hopped into a tuk-tuk to our Airbnb accommodation for the next few days.
Our Airbnb was a fairly nice 2-bed room apartment but we had to move after spending only 3 days there. There were many communication and logistic issues from the get-go but the deal-breaker was the absence of internet which we all needed to work remotely with.
By Wednesday, everyone, including the host, agreed that it was best to leave. Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa was offering a 3 for 4 nights bed and breakfast stay at the time, so I jumped on that offer.
Staying on this side of Diani Beach (i.e. ocean facing) made all the difference! Our Airbnb accommodation had been on the opposite side of the road and although it was not a very far walk to the beach, I much rather preferred having the beach and ocean only a few feet away.
Day 7: Evening at Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa + Dinner at Ali Barbour’s Cave, Diani Beach
By Friday, I was done with work and ready to enjoy my weekend at the beach! My first free time was spent enjoying the amenities Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa had to offer. Unfortunately, I missed out on all the daily activities planned by the resort but I enjoyed frolicking in the pool and the ocean.
On Friday evening, I booked a table and had dinner at Diani’s famous Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant, and it turned out to be a charming experience. The restaurant picked me up at my hotel and dropped me off after dinner. When I read that they did this, I almost cancelled my reservation for fear of the price to dine there.
Luckily, it wasn’t too steep. I ordered the beef fillet stroganoff as my main and quite enjoyed it.
At night, the cave takes on a different, romantic look. It’s definitely a place I’m looking forward to dining with Mark when we visit Diani Beach together.
If you plan to visit, be sure to book ahead as this restaurant is quite popular. Also, be sure to read as many reviews as you can to make a decision about whether to visit or not.
Personally, this place was a highlight of this trip. The food wasn’t the best I’ve had in Kenya, however, I would return, most especially for the scenery.
Day 8: Snorkelling & A Picnic on Diani Beach
For our second free day in Diani Beach, Aina booked us a glass-bottom boat tour and snorkelling trip. I didn’t quite enjoy the boat tour because the captain kept going around and around, making me sick. However, snorkelling was fun for the little time we indulged in it.
We returned to town after the boat tour, got some supplies and met up after a few hours for our picnic on the beach.
Picnic on Diani Beach…
We spent our last evening in Diani having a lovely picnic and enjoying the beautiful Diani sunset across the ocean. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful week at the beach.
Day 9: Travel from Diani Beach to Nairobi
The next morning, we checked out of our hotels and headed back to Mombasa and then Nairobi via the SGR train. We missed out on a few things to do in Diani Beach, so ideally, we are all looking forward to visiting again!
If you are planning a trip to Kenya, be sure to include a coastal destination in your itinerary. I’m certain you would be happy you did!
Also, if you have been to Diani Beach, please share some of your recommendations for where to visit. x