GOING TO DIANI BEACH should be on your list of travel destinations when you think of access to a beach, and more so a private one. Travelling on a budget should not hinder you from visiting this beach located on the South Coast of the Indian Ocean in Kenya.
Having been awarded the best beach destination in Africa for five years consecutively, Diani Beach keeps attracting more and more people to see its clear waters and gorgeous white sand.
1) TRAVELLING FROM NAIROBI.
👉 The first thing you need before making your Holidays to Kenya is to know the Safety Measures, Costs of Travel, and the Best Time to go.
One more thing is carrying original IDs (identification documents).
The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)
The SGR (Standard Gauge Railway) is a great option when travelling on a budget. You might even spot a few animals as the railway tracks run through two national parks.
Booking can be as early as two months before the departure date either:
- by phone using a Safaricom line (when you dial #639), or
- or in person at the train station.
The SGR train has two classes:
|Per Person Fee (Ksh)||First Class||Second Class|
|Ages 4-11||half price||half price|
|Children under 3 yrs||free||free|
The booking times from either Nairobi or Mombasa on any day of the week are:
|Departure Time||Arrival Time||Type of Train|
|8am||2pm||Inter-county (stops at every station in between)|
|3pm||8pm||Express (does not stop at any station)|
|10pm||3:30am||Express (does not stop at any station)|
The 8am Nairobi-Mombasa Train
Your first departure point should be the NAIROBI Terminus in the Syokimau area, 20km from Nairobi CBD.
You can reach there by:
- getting a cab/Uber (a recommended one hour before departure), or by
- taking a Commuter Link train from the CBD to Syokimau, which departs at 6:30 a.m (it also leaves at noon for the afternoon train).
On reaching Syokimau, you need to print your ticket at an ATM or over the counter. This ticket will guide you to your assigned coach and seat.
You can buy your snacks from restaurants/shops at the train station or the caterers during your travel on the train.
One entity to appreciate, including the clean coaches and washrooms, is its air-conditioning facility. Regardless of the temperature outside, the temperature inside is as cool as possible.
2) REACHING MOMBASA.
The MOMBASA Terminus is in the Miritini area, 11km from Mombasa CBD.
On arrival, instead of ordering an Uber/cab, you can travel on a budget by carpooling with a few other people. A private Public Service Vehicle (PSV) can cost you 5 dollars to arrive at the Ukunda stage and an extra dollar to arrive at your specific destination.
3) GOING TO YOUR DIANI (SOUTH COAST) HOTEL.
To reach there, you need the Likoni Ferry services to cross a mass of the Indian Ocean waters which separates the North Coast from the South Coast. Because of the number of people and vehicles needing this service, you might experience a time lag. (An alternative route – a floating bridge – is being built to lessen traffic.)
For this article, we had the chance to go to Leopard Beach Resort & Spa, a four-star hotel that had everything we needed for a vacation on a budget.
Leopard Beach Resort & Spa.
Having arrived on a Friday evening, we were ready to check into our room, have dinner and relax for the night.
We enter and notice the art on the wall and the veranda offering us an ocean view. Wi-Fi and a functioning TV are part of the package.
Dinner by the Beach
Dinner was not what we expected it to be. It was a ‘Dinner by the Beach’ theme. The buffet stretched along the side, with floral arches decor, while all guests had their tables arranged to face the waters – the quiet waters of the Indian Ocean. Each table had its candle, bringing in a soothing feel.
The soups, steaks, white meat, and everything else were outstanding. The chefs had their meat grilling right where we could see them, meaning everything was hot and fresh.
One more exciting aspect was the band. Present were two men singing live songs from Kenya, Africa, and other continents. They played instruments while a group of young professional dancers danced along. Even the guests joined in.
Each night had its unique dinner theme, for example, the Swahili theme, from the menu to how the male and female attendants dressed.
One important thing to note was that men could wear shorts for dinner only on Friday nights (the Beach theme).
On other days, dinner etiquette was strict. Men had to be in trousers. If one didn’t have on a trouser, a ‘shuka / leso’ (an African wrapper) was given to the man to wrap himself. Interestingly, some men insisted on coming to dinner with shorts to get the lesos (a way of joining in the Mombasa / Swahili vibe).
Bed & Breakfast / Half-Board / Full-Board?
Since we were travelling on a budget, we found Half-Board services convenient. We were staying at the hotel throughout. Therefore, bed & breakfast was not a good option for us (and we are grateful we did not miss the memorable dining experiences).
Only on a few occasions did we leave in the afternoon to go to the supermarket in Ukunda town. We also did some shopping for light clothes at a nearby market. (TukTuks are the most convenient mode of transport to use to and from the hotel.)
Considering how heavy the breakfast and dinner meals were, we noticed that we only started feeling hungry from 3 p.m. With dinner served at 7:30 p.m, we could opt for the snacks we had bought from supermarkets or the hotel’s snacks and drinks.
Not over-eating in the afternoon was our goal. We needed empty stomachs for the range of foods and drinks served.
One important thing to note is that drinks are not part of the accommodation package. There was juice during breakfast, but otherwise, we had to foot a separate bill.
4) WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE SOUTH COAST INDIAN OCEAN SHORE.
Before leaving your room, please remember to carry one crucial item: Sunscreen! Sunscreen! Sunscreen!
We happened not to carry one. The results were chapped areas on exposed parts of our skins and a darkening effect lasting for weeks. And why not? There was no escape from the humid day and the sun’s continuous exposure. We learnt our lesson. Next time, be assured we will each be carrying a bottle of pure sunscreen.
Small-Scale Beach Vendors
As you go to the beach, you will notice some women selling African wear and some men selling ‘Madafu’ (young coconuts with hydrating coconut water).
South Coast hotels have a strict policy of ensuring the Beach Boys are not offending guests. They are even allowed to approach guests only if they are near the shoreline, not at their beach beds. If you wish not to have their services, you can decline their requests and move on.
On one of our days by the beach, we were able to see them at work as lifeguards. When a guest in the ocean got scared of the rushing waves, he began screaming, and they went in a boat to rescue him.
On another day, we met two Beach Boys who became our guides.
At 11:30 a.m, we could see a part of an island with some guests heading that way, and we also wanted to enjoy that tour. They also had guides (Beach Boys who have lived there for years) showing them where to walk while noting any harmful or harmless marine species.
As we trekked along the knee-deep waters, we noticed the rough terrain. The knowledgeable guests had their shoes on. Because we had none, the Beach Boys were kind enough to lend us theirs at a fee. And we gladly did. (Kindly carry a pair of water shoes for this excursion!)
Before reaching the island, there is a mass of water where you can swim. But there is a catch!
The High and Low Tides of The Indian Ocean
The silent ocean waters were only pleasant to stay in for a short while. We had to make our trek back before 2 p.m.
The Indian Ocean has both high and low tides that differ from time to time. On that day, the waters were calm by 8 a.m. As the island became more visible, guests could have the tour.
By 2 p.m, the high tide had begun, and the strong waves were fighting to push the shoreline further and further back. It wasn’t a safe time to swim in the ocean. Later in the night, the tide changed to its lowest level.
5) OTHER FUN ACTIVITIES IN DIANI BEACH.
Diani Beach is the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation in Kenya, but choosing the right place on a budget may need you to do some research. We hope this article has been of great help in making you ready for your future holiday plan in Kenya.