Traveling to Diani has always been of consequence and never intentional enough. This year I got to take a three-day trip as a break from a crazy schedule. Diani has a lot to offer here’s a few items to add to your bucket list
1. Beach walks
2. Congo River
3. Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant
4. Wasini Island
5. Dolphin watching
7. Glass boat ride
Since the pandemic is still with us, traveling isn’t what it was with declines of up to 90% in tourism at the coast, the only upside is better negotiating power and less crowding at the coast. Slowly by slowly though people are getting the confidence to travel again and Kenyans are the major tourists at this time of year.
Flights are as affordable as can be at this time. East African Airlines have deals of up to Ksh. 3,950 one way, just book online and way ahead of your trip. It is on the small aircrafts but is very convenient because it takes only one hour and saves you hours on the road or rail.
On our way back we used the SGR that currently leaves the station at 1:55pm. It has the appropriate social distancing measures in place. We were very happy to learn that there is a service from Diani to the SGR terminus for Ksh. 500 We learnt this from one of the locals. It is way more affordable than a cab that costs up to Ksh. 2,300 per trip.
Hotels are the usual go to but can be expensive on this side of town. For a good deal I definitely recommend villas if you don’t mind cooking for yourself or eating out every other time. We stayed at the Diani beach cottages and were hosted by a lovely lady called Jacky. The whole villa can host up to four people was available for Ksh. 3,500 per night pretty fair if you’re paying less than 1000 bob per night.
Where to visit
Diani unlike Watamu where we visited last year has cleaner beaches making walks at the beach even better on the sandy shores. Noting most villa are a 5 to 10 minute walk from the villas or cottages this is very therapeutic away from the Nairobi noise just letting the waves carry away your worries.
Beware though there are beach boys, who are harmless but will try and sell you anything and everything under the sun and can be a bit annoying but also helpful in discovering where you can visit and the packages available.
Diani is well know for pretty amazing restaurants and sea food is a great selling point. You can find anything and everything, from calamari to prawns, crabs, octopus, you name it.
While there we discovered a beautiful haven called Ali Barbour’s cave restaurant and it is just that, a restaurant in the cave. Charges range from Ksh. 1850 to 3000 per plate and the portions, pretty small, but very tasty, honestly speaking there you get to enjoy the ambiance largely. More on this in next week’s blog post.
Wasini Island experience
This is a full day experience where you pay a fee and it covers so much; you are picked from wherever you are staying taken to the Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park where you take a boat to the Island. The drive to the park is about an hour or so one way since the Island is towards the border of Kenya and Tanzania.
During the boat ride to the Island you could get lucky and see a few dolphins. Once on the island you get to take pictures and go snorkeling for a whole other hour! Snorkeling is not difficult having done it for my first time. Point if you need to know how to swim and stay close to the crew in case the tide becomes too heavy. With the goggles you’ll be able to see under water and breath through the tube. The view under the water is extremely beautiful! The fish and corals are breathtaking I encourage you to try it.
After snorkeling you take another boat ride to the Island for lunch where you have crabs and fish alongside wali wa nazi, cassava, chapati, sea weed, some nicely done soup all in a buffet currently served per table to avoid numerous interaction due to covid.
You can have extras such as octopus or prawns for Ksh. 1,000; a glass of the famous Wasini Island juice for Ksh. 300 that is pretty good fresh juice. Note the Island is a Muslim town and therefore there is no sale of alcohol.
After all this you get a boat ride back to the marine park and go back to your villa or hotel. The full day experience takes about 7 to 9 hours. You leave at 7:00am and are back around 4:00pm.
For all this the usual charge as we learnt is Ksh, 7,000 per person for the whole experience (note the prices are usually highly inflated during high season it could even be Ksh. 10,000) but due to covid-19 we were able to negotiate down to Ksh. 3,000 remember, mtu ni kujiongea!
We didn’t get to do a glass boat ride but this is also pretty great to see the sea creatures and learn on them. For this you need to leave early in the morning when the tide is low. It costs about Ksh. 700 to Ksh 1000 again you can negotiate your way through this.
The Congo river is great because you see where the river meet the ocean in a beautiful mix. This is a walking distance away from the villa so it doesn’t cost a thing.
Total budget for the experience? I’d say Ksh 15,000 to Ksh. 20,000 you could use a tour company package or go with a few friends and enjoy this. You can start planning now and go next year. I always encourage travelling during the off season to avoid exorbitant prices. Go ahead start a chama with a few friends and make this a reality.
Be sure to give Diani a chance and Tembea Kenya, as Kenyans we are the people holding tourism afloat. Go and explore your country and know of all the amazing places we have. We have a beautiful country. You don’t need to go abroad to see beauty, take the time to go around your country for a start and you will be amazed.
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