Located to the south coast of Kenya, Diani beach boasts a magnificent 25km stretch whose life blossoms into something the body feels as much as the soul. Her waters stretch out freely, flaunting white sands and smooth oceans waves welcoming the blue sky and sun rays to a celebration of freedom, love and great memories.
Her weather, calm as it is warm, brings with it the conduciveness required for the beach life – Laughter, barefoot dances, wind tousled hair, water sports, name it, Diani offers her pleasures seamlessly for all your desires.
Diani’s economy is anchored on the hospitality industry – being a leading tourist destination, Diani has a wide array of accommodation facilities to cater for all travel budgets from the economy tourist to the top of the top, the likes of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jose Mourihno and other celebrities who occasionally grace this paradise.
A Brief History Of Diani
Diani, and perhaps, the whole of Coastal Kenya is the believed to be the origin of East African Civilization. Little is known about Diani’s specific history but shreds of evidence suggest that her history can be traced back in the 8th Century AD.
In the 9th century, the Indian and Arab traders started to mingle with the indigenous population to create the unique Swahili cultures, much of which is still thriving until this day. During this period, the whole Coastal region of Kenya enjoyed a golden age of trade. In the 15th Century, the Portuguese arrived at the Kenyan Coast and effectively dominated the region for 2 centuries after which the Oman Arabs took over.
At the turn of the 19th century, the British established a foothold and declared the coast a British Protectorate. Jadini Beach Hotel was the first tourist hotel to be built in Diani beach back in 1937. It was formerly a cottage. Trade Winds and Two Fishes followed later as tourism took off in Diani.
Today, Diani is regarded as one of the best beach destinations in the World as well as the leading beach destination in Africa.
People & Culture
The indigenous people of Diani are the Digo Community who are the the second-largest tribe of the 9 Mijikenda tribes. With an estimated population of 400,000, the Digo are concentrated on the southern coastal strip of Kenya specifically Diani and the border of Tanzania. The Digo people speak chidigo, which is a Bantu language closely related to both Swahili and the other Mijikenda languages. Over 90% of Digo people are Islams.
Diani boosts of a vibrant culture drawn from the different communities and nations who live here. Despite the cultural mix that Diani boosts of, the indigenous locals culture remains alive, known for their warmness and accommodating nature, the locals hold visitors in high regard as visitors are believed to be a source of blessings.
As vibrant as the culture, so is the night life, as the sun fades away, Diani transcends to become the life of the party. Endowed with various night clubs and great music, her people rise to the occasion with unreserved energy making the most of each moment, this is how memories are made here.
Directions to Diani Beach
Flying to Kenya.
There are many direct flights to Nairobi, Kenya from many European hubs, USA, Arab countries and the Asian Continent as well. The most popular ones include Frankfurt (Lufthansa), Newyork (Kenya Airways) Zurich (Swiss), Amsterdam (KLM), London (British Airways, Kenya Airways) or Paris (Kenya Airways). If you do not intend to spend some days in Nairobi or to go on safari once you’ve landed, you’re better-off flying directly to the Ukunda, Diani from JKIA.
Flying to Diani Beach
If you opt to fly to Diani Beach from Nairobi or Mombasa, then you have three options; you can fly from Nairobi’s Wilson airport via Safarilink and Silverstone , fly from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport via or Jambo Jet. or flying from Moi International Airport in Mombasa via Mombasa Air Safari
There are also private charter planes that fly people in and out of Diani to nearly any location in Kenya, the most common being Maasai Mara, Mombasa, Kisumu & Vipingo.
For those who prefer self-driving, you can comfortably drive to Diani from any part in Kenya. Driving down by car is a whole day’s trip, but at least you need not necessarily pass through Mombasa which saves some time. You can avoid the Mombasa traffic jams and the Likoni ferry bottleneck by branching off Mombasa Highway in Samburu, and then driving through the Shimba Hills.
Diani by Bus from Nairobi
There are at least two buses leaving from Nairobi to Ukunda (Diani): Chania and Simba. Fare is about 1400 shillings ($14). The buses, are however, not as comfortable as those leaving Nairobi from Mombasa.
Sailing is, by far the least common way used to access Diani, this normally done by seafarers from Zanzibar who import merchandise through the Shimoni Port. From Mombasa, one can get private boats to access Diani.
Diani by Ferry from Mombasa
If you’re travelling to Diani from Mombasa, you’ll need to use the Likoni ferry to reach Diani Beach. The five-minute crossing runs regularly throughout the day. After getting off the ferry, the drive to Diani is roughly about thirty minutes on a relatively good tarmac road.
Numerous matatus (minibuses) operate that route from the Likoni ferry in Mombasa directly to Ukunda (KSh200, 30 minutes), the junction for Diani, and onwards to Msambweni.
Getting Around Diani Beach
Diani has plenty of TukTuks, Motorbikes and taxis. Besides that, you can also self-drive or ride by hiring bikes and cars rentals from the shopping Center.
There are at least a hundred taxis around Diani Beach that are easily accessible. Using a taxi around Diani is much the same as in other places. The easiest places to find taxis are Barclays Shopping center, Bazaar, Petro, Diani Shopping centre, Ushago and the area around Nomad Hotel. Taxis along Diani Beach are very clean and most in excellent condition. The drivers are very friendly, helpful, honest, and knowledgeable about the area.
The matatu (minibuses) culture in Kenya is an attraction by itself. Matatus offer fast and reliable transport for short range travels. While in Diani Beach, you will find Matatus on the following routes.
Leisure -Ukunda (these take you to the left side of Diani Beach)
Pavillion-Ukunda (these take you to right side of Diani Beach)
Likoni- Ukunda(From the Likoni Ferry)
Matatus have irregular travel times and are normally available all day from dawn (6am) to night fall.They also stop almost anywhere. In Diani Beach, you can catch a matatu at designated stops which are the pick up points but also you can find them cruising around and a simple wave of the hand will bring them to a halt. Before boarding, it is advisable to confirm the charges to your destination.
The Best Things to Do in Diani Beach | Diani Activities
Attractions in Diani Beach
Visit the Beach Itself
From sky diving to sea diving, deep sea fishing to kite and wind surfing, Diani has it all in a way few destinations can match in Africa.
Besides the beachfront, Diani’s ocean line stretches to Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park which is endowed with a rich aqua life so much so the dolphins accompany you for a swim sensually flaunting their moves as though in a bid to seduce you.
Explore the Kongo Mosque
Borrowing a name from the surrounding forest, Kongo Mosque is an ancient structure rich in history now turned – tourist attraction.
Previously known as Diani Persian Mosque, a name coined by the Arab Merchants who occupied the area then, Kongo Mosque is today more than a worship centre.
Visit the Shimoni Slave Caves
Shimoni is a Swahili word which means ‘the place of the cave’. These Shimoni caves have a fascinating history going back many centuries.
The age of the caves is evident with the huge stalactites and stalagmites inside that complete the horror feel. Shimoni’s history revolves a lot around the cave.
Eco Bike Rides
Get lost into the interiors of Diani Beach and marvel at her beauty. Diani eco bike rides are designed to give you a unique tour of Diani Beach and her environs. What better way to tour than cycling along the beach, through the villages and even to the revered Kaya Kinondo forest. This memorable tour is arranged by Diani Bikes who pride themselves as having the most modern bikes.
Discover Kaya Kinondo Forest
Kaya Kinondo is one of the oldest forests on Kenya’s South Coast with 187 plant species, 48 species of birds and 45 of the butterfly, representing five percent of Kenya’s known butterfly species, the rare Zanj Elephants Shrew and threatened Colobus Monkey, among others. A tour to this forest will leave one enlightened on the cultural and spiritual importance of the forest to the Digo people.
Go Deep Sea Fishing
Diani is not far from the Pemba Channel, one of the best fishing spots in the world and home to Striped, Black and Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Broadbill, Mako, Tiger and other sharks, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado, Giant Trevally, among others. A trip to the Pemba channel is nothing short of mind blowing for those that appreciate the magic of big game fishing.
Work with the Colobus Trust
Colobus Trust is a nonprofit organization that is wholly dedicated to the conservation of the Colobus monkey. Specifically Colobus angolensis, which is found in Diani has been classified as an endangered species whose population has been drastically reduced by human encroachment, road kills, and snares. You can help by joining as an Eco-volunteer for 3-4 weeks for a volunteering holiday.
Visit Diani Art Gallery
Diani Art Gallery is perhaps the only gallery located at Kenya’s coast that offers a wide variety of fine African art. The diverse selection of painted works, sculptures and photography hails from well-known artists as well as up-and-coming creatives from Kenya and Africa. Keep an eye open for their art classes, wine and cheese evenings, special promotions and other events.
Visit Chale Island with a Bike
Chale Island is the only private resort Island in Kenya. And Diani is the gateway to this amazing Island. To get there you can easily rent bicycles at the Baharini shopping center or if you’re seeking an even more thrilling ride, go for the big four-wheel dune buggies (Quad bikes) which can be rented just a few meters away from the same shopping center.
Deep Sea Diving
The Indian Ocean waters around Diani Beach are usually warm and clear and therefore perfect for diving with great visibility. There are several diving spots along the coast and several companies offer dive sessions for an affordable fee every day. The clear waters, colorful reef, and vibrant aquatic life make Diani Beach a must for all divers.
Adrenaline Packed Activities
For adrenaline junkies, there’s nothing like the feeling of elation after you’ve jumped out of a plane, dropped into a deep canyon or plunged into icy cold water. Whether you’re into sky diving, paragliding, jet skiing , kitesurfing or windsurfing, diani beach features some of the most popular adrenaline-filled activities in the world.
The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, measuring up to 18 meters and tipping the scales at 20 tons. The whale shark is a protected species that currently thrives on the warm waters off Diani Beach where the East African Whale Shark Trust (EAWST) is involved in projects to create awareness, tag and monitor the whale shark population. You can sign up as a volunteer and get involved firsthand in the conservancy efforts.
Top Hotels in Diani Beach
A quick guide to the most popular places to stay in Diani Beach.
Diani Reef Beach Resort
Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa is an award winning beach front resort located along Diani Beach Road, right next to Diani Beach and only 5 minutes drive from Ukunda.
Swahili Beach Resort
From the art to the architecture, Swahili Beach Resort is simply a masterpiece. Featuring a private beach area and water sports facilities, Swahili is one of the finest places to stay in Diani.
Amani Tiwi Beach Resort
Located along the private beach of Tiwi in Diani, Amani Tiwi Beach Resort is the ultimate family holiday resort. Watch the sunrise & sit back and enjoy the charms of the African wilderness.
Top Villas & Cottages in Diani
The Zuibeida is a collection of exclusive luxury villas in Diani beach, designed as a tribute to the Matriach of the Khan family.
Queens Chateau Boutique Villa is a boutique luxury Villa located in along Diani beach within the South coast of Mombasa.
Sunset Villa Boutique Resort is a modern retreat, with lush tropical garden that offers a relaxing environment for holiday makers.
Best Budget Hotels in Diani
Manyatta Resort & Apartments is an affordable resort featuring an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and a garden.
Diplomat Diani Beach Resort near diani beach features a restaurant, free private parking and an outdoor swimming pool.
Retro Boutique Hotel is a modern 3-star hotel near Ukunda airstrip that features 12 quite comfy rooms, a swimming pool & free wi-fi.
Favorite Holiday Homes
Amani Luxury Apartments – Self-contained apartments with a private, shared pool facility – best for long-term stay.
Morning Star Diani Beach Resort offers accommodations with free WiFi and a garden with a terrace.
Lotfa Resort Diani located near Baharini Shopping Centre, offers amenities including water sports facilities and barbecue facilities.
Top Restaurants in Diani Beach
A guide to our favorite places to eat in diani beach.
Nomads Beach Bar & Restaurant
Nomads Beach Bar & restaurant enjoys the smoothest beachfront in Diani & a constant supply of fresh seafood and fine dining options.
Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant
Picturesque at its finest, the architectural design of Sails beach bar & restaurant is one of the most exquisite along the entire coast.
Kokkos Cafe & Bistro
Kokkos Cafe & Bistro is best known as the best brewers of the finest coffee in Diani and bakers of lip-smacking cakes.
BEST OF NIGHLIFE IN DIANI
Shakatak disco is widely known as the the best discoteque in Diani Beach and serves both local and imported German beer. It is located along Diani Beach Road.
Tandoori Bar – Located along Diani Beach Road, Tandoori is an open air bar, popular for their great night live music.
Shopping in Diani
Baharini Shopping Center – Baharini is a mordern shopping space with restaurants, tapas bar, grocery store, suvenier shops, cloths shops, pharmacy, and many more.
Diani Shopping Center – Located at the heart of Diani beach, the center is a one stop shopping destination that takes care of all your shopping and banking needs.