Diani was not on my list of places to visit in Kenya. For our first trip there in July 2023, we planned to do a 4-day safari and then spend a few days in Nairobi afterward. But when I asked a friend who lives in Kenya for one must-see spot, her answer was Diani!
Intrigued, I did some googling, and after learning about the incredible white sand beaches, I extended our stay in Kenya and tacked Diani onto our itinerary. It did not disappoint.
What to know about traveling to Diani, Kenya
If you’ve got your eye on Diani Beach, this post will answer all your questions and help you plan a satisfying trip.
Where is Diani?
Diani Beach is a major beach in Diani, a town on the Kenyan coast located an hour south of Mombasa. The closest major town to Diani is Ukunda.
How to get to Diani, Kenya
To get to Diani, you’ll need to first fly into Nairobi via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Mombasa through Moi International Airport. We came in from Nairobi. Once you’re in Kenya, you can either:
- Take the train from Nairobi to Mombasa or drive to Mombasa and then take the ferry to Diani (which is just a struggle), OR
- Fly from Mombasa to Diani using Mombasa Air Safari (the flight is 7 minutes long), OR
- Fly from Nairobi to Diani Beach using Safarilink (this is what we did)–the flight is about an hour long
Is Diani Beach safe?
Absolutely! Of course, as with any travel destination, it’s wise to use common sense and be aware of your surroundings. But throughout our two visits to Kenya and our single visit to Diani Beach, we never felt unsafe and never had any pickpocketing incidents. You can stroll on the beach throughout the day–we even strolled on the beach past sunset after dinner with a friend.
Is it worth going to Diani Beach?
Totally! Seriously, the sand there is the softest and whitest I’ve ever seen–and this was during a bad time with seaweed! It’s incredibly beautiful, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures while we were there.
We went in July, which is winter in Kenya so we didn’t even enjoy it as much because of the cooler weather, but it was still gorgeous!
How to dress in Diani
Diani is the most tourist-inclined Kenyan coastal town, so you can dress as you please. Unlike the more conservative Lamu, we saw lots of locals and tourists in bikinis, shorts, and all sorts of clothing.
Where to stay in Diani
There are multiple cute hotels on the Diani Beach strip, but our favorite, hands down, is Swahili Beach Resort.
@afomastravels Diani, like many Kenyan towns has a lot of accommodation options. Our goal in this beach town was to RELAX. So we chose a resort and half-board plan (this means breakfast and dinner are complementary). Diani beach was hugely impacted by the pandemic so many hotels have closed completely and just a few are doing OK. Swahili Beach Resort is thriving. Our friend who’s lived in Diani his whole life said it’s the best resort there so 😉 We loved the customer care, the food was DIVINE here, and the location was just what we needed. You can book on their website. Our stay in a Standard Double cost us $690 for 3 nights (including breakfast & dinner for two). Book in advance—at least a month out. #travelkenya #dianibeach #travelafrica #traveltiktok ♬ Going Home – Yider（伊德尔）
Our friend took us to a couple of the other resorts, including Jacaranda Beach Hotel (which is also super cute), but Swahili is just gorgeous!
Find out more about why we loved it in my post about where to stay in Kenya.
How much does it cost to visit Diani?
It depends on your budget and what you’d like to do in Diani. We came to disconnect after a hectic safari, so we planned to rest and take beach walks. Our flights with Safarilink cost about $120 per person, and the hotel cost us $690 for two people for three nights on a bed and breakfast plan.
There are lots of AirBnBs costing as little as $50-$80 per night, food can be pricey at the hotels, but cheaper at local spots. So you can expect to spend at least $500 at least per person for around three nights–including food and activities.
What to do in Diani Beach
Speaking of activities, Diani offers a ton of water sports activities, including kite-surfing, surfing, and jet skiing. If you’re staying at a hotel, they can easily organize them for you, and if you’re at a hostel or apartment, there are watersport rental places in town.
Other recommended activities are:
- Wasini Dolphin tour: We didn’t have the time or energy to do this one, but our Kenyan friend recommended it.
- Ali Barbour Cave Restaurant: Also came highly recommended and we made a reservation, but we skipped it. Be sure to make a reservation.
- Canoeing along the Kongo River: We had dinner at a restaurant (Estuary — food was just fine, photos above and below) just by the river and watched the sunset instead! Gorgeous, gorgeous sunset.
- Chale Island: Also did not do, but we hear it’s worth a trip.
Diani Beach vs Zanzibar: Which should you do?
Zanzibar is still on my list, so I can’t compare both fully. Yet, I’d say both are on par visually, even though I’m sure both towns have very different vibes.
Diani is close to Kenya’s border with Tanzania, so if you can hop over, why not? And if you can’t do both, I’d say do whichever one you can. Diani Beach is truly stunning, and unlike any sandy shores, I’ve ever walked.
Diani Beach vs Lamu: Which is better?
I love both islands for different reasons. Diani is more easily accessible with cars on the island and so many villas to rent. The island is more traditionally tourist-friendly, with plenty of water sports opportunities.
Lamu is more remote (our overall flight time from Nairobi was 2 hours, compared to under an hour for Diani) and we had to take a boat from the airport to our hotel. Yet, this remoteness adds to Lamu’s appeal. Once our boat left the dock, I felt all my stresses leave my body. We walked everywhere on the small beach strip and truly relaxed for the weekend we were there. So, if you want an active, touristy holiday, go to Diani. If you’re more about culture, old architecture, and remote island vibes, do Lamu.
Do you have plans to visit Diani Beach? Got any more questions? I’d love to help!
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