Voted Africa’s leading beach destination for the last two consecutive years and nominated once again this year, you can expect a visit to Diani to be truly spectacular. And sure enough, we weren’t disappointed! With its vast, blindingly white beaches, azure waters and coconut trees swaying in the gentle breeze, Diani Beach is incredibly special.
Once you manage to escape manic downtown Mombasa, it takes only an hour’s drive to reach the sleepy settlement of Diani. As you roll into town along the beach road, you catch glimpses of black and white colobus monkeys swinging in the treetops. It’s idyllic. Could you go as far to call it a paradise? Quite possibly.
As the heat intensifies, the excitement builds and you catch glimpses of the water in the distance. It’s almost time to see that award-winning beach. Suddenly, there it is. It is breathtakingly beautiful. However, that was surprisingly not my first thought. Rather, the first thing that occurred to me was that we were the only tourists there!
In the warm afternoon breeze, shielding our eyes from the sun, we looked right and left – the beaches were abandoned. Well, that’s not completely true. In the distance a couple of camels, a smattering of fisherman in the shallows cleaning their catch, and the infamous ‘beach boys’ lay in the shade of coconut trees carefully inspecting their wares. The question on our minds was, “where were all the tourists?”
It appears that Africa’s leading coastal destination has hit upon hard times for several potential reasons including terrorism fears, Ebola scares, and politics. As we cruise along the coast, we stare at hotel upon hotel that has closed down – shells of former grandeur, which the coastal vegetation is working hard at reclaiming. Granted, you do find some tourists lying in the shallows at the odd hotel but it is not hard to see how over 40,000 individuals have lost their jobs in the tourism sector along the coast.
Nevertheless, Diani Beach is still absolutely stunning – and even more so because you have it practically to yourself. The colours of the shallows sharply contrast with the blue waters and the pearly white beaches. From the baobab trees of the Congo River all the way down the strip, you can see a hundred different shades. It is mesmerising!
If there were ever a time to visit Diani – and have it almost to yourself – now is that time.