Diani: Where To Stay, What To Eat And When To Visit!

Diani is popular beach destination about an hour south from Mombasa.

Why is it so popular?

First of all – the beach is exquisite!

Sand that is white like flour that stretches for endless kilometres.

At low tide, the sand is the size of football fields – in fact, you will see local kids playing football on the beach every day at low tide, usually very early in the mornings and later in the evenings.

There are also diving and snorkelling spots nearby amongst the reef and a few islands about.

While high season can get crowded, it is a small and charming spot perfect for a beach vacation and a welcome respite from the busy roads of Nairobi and Mombasa.

Diani Beach at midday

In This Guide:

Map of Diani

Diani is a small tourist area and there are not many areas you need to be aware of.

The airport is just a few minutes from Diani Beach, and most of the major resorts are spread along Diani Beach Road.

As long as you know where Diani Beach, Galu Beach, the airport and Diani Beach Road is, you will be pretty well oriented.

Where To Stay In Diani

Diani is a small place and if you’re here on vacation, there’s really only one road you’ll be interested in staying around which is Diani Beach Road.

This is a road that runs alongside the coast and contains most of the main restaurants, bars, hotels and shops.

The road is long, however, so where you want to stay along this road matters.

Further north and near the airport is Diani Beach, which stretches for several kilometres and is closer to the main supermarkets and malls.

Further south is Galu Beach, which is a quieter beach with much less action and amenities.

If you are planning on having the type of vacation where you “sit in the resort and never leave”, then either beach is a great option, however, if you want to be out and about more, then I would recommend staying closer to Diani Beach up near the airport.

Below I’ll take you through a few good options in both areas.

For backpackers:

There are a couple of great backpacker hostels in Diani to cater for the vagabond crowd.

One of these is Soul Breeze Backpackers, which is down on Galu Beach near the kitesurfing school.

This is quite a unique property as it’s more like a mini resort that’s been converted into a backpackers.

This means you are right on the beachfront, with a restaurant, pool, a gym, a bar with live music, and a bunch of other facilities like snorkelling and bike hire, however, you can stay in dorm rooms to keep your costs down!

However, there are also private rooms too if you have a slightly bigger budget and/or are travelling as a couple.

While the location is a little far away from central Diani, it’s still in the heart of Galu Beach where you won’t have a problem finding a bar to hit at night and meeting other travellers.

Best rates here.

For something closer to Diani Beach, you can try Kijani Backpackers.

This is literally walking distance from the airport (about 10-15 mins) and right in the heart of Diani.

It has a restaurant/bar, a shared kitchen if you wish to cook (the supermarket is just down the road), an outdoor pool, and it’s around 400m from the beach.

It’s also about half the price of Soul Breeze at around $15 per night, which is a huge plus!

Personally I think this is a better choice, as when backpacking it’s nice to be closer to the action.

When staying at Kijani you’ll be able to walk to get anything you need, whereas staying down at Galu Beach you’ll be required to take tuktuks to most places.

Best rates here.

For something more luxurious:

My recommendation would be Waterlovers Resort.

This is a high-end boutique resort right in the heart of Diani, opposite the big Chandarana supermarket.

You’ll be right on the sand, within walking distance of most of the basic amenities in town.

The resort itself has an outdoor pool, restaurant, bar, children’s playground, free wifi, and most villas are also equipped with kitchens in case you want to cook.

It’s a very short drive from the airport, and an Uber will probably get you there for about $5.

The resort can also arrange all kinds of watersports for you, including kitesurfing, jetskiing, windsurfing, snorkelling and diving.

Best rates here.

If you want something quieter, you can stay on Galu Beach at the Mzima Beach Resort.

This is one of the more upscales resorts in Diani, featuring everything you would expect from such a place – beachfront views, gardens, outdoor pool, restaurant, spa and wellness centre, free wifi, and both suites and villas available to book.

As mentioned, Galu Beach is a bit more secluded so you will be away from the main supermarkets and malls of Diani.

However, if you’re after a “getaway” vacation where you lounge on the beach and by the pool all day, with all your meals prepped and delivered by the restaurant, this is the ideal spot.

There’s also a few nightlife spots and restaurants around if you do get itchy feet and wish to get out for a night.

Best rates here.

How To Get To Your Accommodation

There are two main ways people get to Diani.

From Ukunda

The easiest way is to fly straight into Diani Beach (Ukunda) Airport.

Flights leave daily from Nairobi on both Kenya Airways and Safarilink.

I’ve flown both and they’re pretty much the same in my opinion – so go for whichever is cheaper.

Remember, baggage rules can be quite strict since the planes are small and have weight limits, so be sure to check what your allowances are.

Once you land in Ukunda Airport, you can either take a taxi, tuktuk, or Uber to your accommodation.

Remember, Ukunda Airport is not far from Diani Beach, literally ten minutes or less, so on a tuktuk you would pay around 200 shillings, and for a taxi maybe 500 at the most.

Here’s what it looks like going from the airport to Waterlovers Resort on Uber:

If you’re going down to Galu Beach, at most it might be double that or slightly more.

Here’s what it looks like going to Mzima Resort from the airport on Uber:

Obviously, the drivers are all opportunists and if you’re a tourist they will try to charge you more, so negotiate firmly.

From Mombasa

The other way people arrive to Diani is either flying or getting the train into Mombasa and coming from there.

Although the distance itself from Mombasa isn’t that far (about 40 to 50 kilometres), it can still be quite a journey due to … well, because this is Kenya.

First, you will need to get from Mombasa Airport through town and down to the ferry crossing at Likoni. During rush hour, this alone might take you over an hour.

Then, even though the water crossing is literally 500 metres and I could probably swim across it in eight or nine minutes, they haven’t yet built a bridge across it for whatever reason. Instead, they have about five or six freighters that carry people across 24 hours a day.

So, you will need to actually wait to get onto the ferry (yes, it takes cars). At most times during the day this is bearable, but during rush hour, this will take probably another hour at least – this is me speaking from experience having done this journey multiple times.

Then once you’re across the Likoni channel, it’s about a 20-30 minute drive to Diani Beach depending on traffic.

To take this trip on Uber, it will cost you around 4,500 shillings, or about $30 to $35 USD:

Note: If you’re a renegade and want to do this trip solo, here’s what you would do:

  • Catch a moto taxi or tuktuk from the airport or train station down to the ferry (maybe 300 to 500 shillings, or about $2 to $3)
  • Walk onto the ferry and cross (free for pedestrians)
  • Take a matatu (local bus/van) down to the Naivas stop at Diani Beach (100 to 150 shillings, or about $1).
  • Catch a moto taxi to your accommodation (100 shillings or about $1).

However, unless you’re experienced travelling in Africa, I would highly recommend against doing this alone.

How To Get Around In Diani

Tuk tuk parked on Diani Beach Road

As we’ve already mentioned, using Uber is an easy and safe way to get around in Diani.

However, most locals and tourists get around on motorbike taxi (also known as a “boda boda” or simply “boda”), or tuktuks.

There are an unlimited number of these driving up and down Diani Beach Road at all times of the day and night, and you can simply wave them down and they’ll stop.

As for fares, if you’re going just a short distance (5 minutes or so) you can probably get away with 50 shillings, any further you might pay 100 shillings, and at night you might pay double depending on how late.

Also, note that these operate more like buses than private taxis, so if you’re in a tuktuk and the driver stops and picks up someone else along the way, don’t be alarmed. That’s how they work.

How To Get Internet In Diani

Just head to any Safaricom store and get yourself a sim card.

The reception around Diani centre is good and the internet speeds are decent.

Rates are affordable.

You might pay around 1,000 shillings ($6) for 10GB.

If you can also, also sign up for M-PESA which is a digital payment wallet managed by Safaricom and very popular in Kenya – almost every store uses it. If you’re staying any longer than a week or two, it comes in handy, especially paying for taxis and motorbikes who often don’t have change.

Also, it’s a developed tourist area and most places will have free wifi.

Food In Diani

Diani is a tourist-focused area so you will find a lot of decent restaurants and bars serving western food.

In my experience, the food quality is good and safe, and I had no trouble eating raw veggies and salads.

There are a few popular Italian places, a Japanese place, a Korean place, and many regular steak/seafood type restaurants.

I tried all of the above and enjoyed them all.

Grilled octopus at Speedy’s Restaurant Diani Beach:

Sushi at Shashin-Ka Restaurant:

Grilled tilapia at Kitamu Restaurant:

Goat fry at Kitamu Restaurant:

Tuna carpaccio at Nomad Beach Bar:

Seafood grill platter at Havana:

Surf and turf at Apero:

Coconut on Diani Beach – 100 shillings

Safety in Diani

Diani is considered a safe area but like anywhere else in Africa, you still need to take precautions, especially at night.

All accommodations take security seriously and will have multiple security guards at the gates vetting vehicles before they can enter.

Walking around during the day is safe and you will see many tourists strolling up and down Diani Beach Road and the beach itself with their cameras out and so on.

When night falls is when you need to a be a bit more careful.

Violent crime is not so common, but motorbike snatching is. This is when motorbikes drive by and snatch peoples phones/bags from unsuspecting pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Try not to walk around at night, especially not alone, and if you do want to walk make sure you have someone with you and you do not have your phone out. Usually walking short distances are fine, for example if there is a bar just down the road it is probably safe to walk there, especially with a group of people. However, when travelling anywhere at night it’s advisable to take a tuktuk. They are inexpensive and not hard to find.

Questions? Leave them below!


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