Top 10 Things to Do in Diani Beach, Kenya (with kids!)

On the south coast of Kenya lies one of our family’s favourite escapes… the award winning Diani Beach! With sand that is irresistibly soft & brilliantly white; a crystal clear turquoise sea; a reef teaming with vibrant aquatic life; and child friendly activities galore; it was so difficult to limit this list to our Top 10 Things to Do in Diani Beach!

Colobus Conservation

Colobus Conservation – A very simple, no frills, not-for-profit organisation to promote conservation of the colobus and other monkeys and turtles, as well as the whole Diani eco-system and environment … and address the threats to its survival. The organization works in partnership with local communities to promote conservation and we ask you kindly to visit. In our view, its because of this organisation that Diani beach is as it is, they continuously fight the cause.

Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest

Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest – for those interested in history, flora & fauna, it is an interesting hour or two. Kaya Kinondo is a sacred forest originally home to the Digo people. Thanks to successful conservation efforts, they now live nearby and use the forest as a place of worship. The Digo people show us a beautiful example of environmental conservation and cultural preservation managed at the grassroots level.

Feeding Bushbaby’s

Feeding Bushbaby’s – an incredible activity for adults and kids alike. Jump in a Tuktuk at 6.30pm (book first) and head for Stilts Backpackers for a sundowner and some supper whilst the gorgeous little bushbaby’s are fed at 7pm (you will be able to feed them if you’re lucky). A great night out for kids!

Leisure Lodge Golf Course

Golf – Diani is home to one of the Kenyan coast’s finest golf courses, the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort, which offers a championship golf course (18-hole, par 72, course measuring 6084 meters with driving range, chipping green and bunker, resident golf professional, equipment hire and Pro shop.

Ngalawa Fishing Boat Excursion

Ngalawa Fishing Boat Excursion – Kenyan fisherman traditional dugout canoe excursion with a paddle. It’s a natural, exciting and peaceful excursion over the waters of the Indian Ocean. You can even choose to visit the sand bank and snorkel. Child friendly for kids who can swim. Our tip: take water to drink.

John’s Glass Bottom Boat

Glass Bottom Boat – Contact John +254 (0) 726 678867 to book in advance. A very Kenyan 2-hr long excursion in a shaded glass-bottom boat that will take you out to the sandy reef to snorkel in the pools and have a walk around the reef. The reef can get a bit over-populated in high season but try to get there early. This boat is nothing fancy at all, but full of character and the kids will have a ball. Child friendly to the extreme! Our Tip: Take water to drink.

Dhow Day Trip

A Traditional Swahili Dhow day trip – an incredible day out to the local Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park in a traditional boat, with Pilli Pipa. You will join other guests on one of two dhows (both with flushing loos and shades) off which you will be able to dive or snorkel (even if you can’t swim!!). Dolphins and whale shark/humpback whale sightings are a regular occurrence. You will receive lunch at the owners private home prepared by smiling Swahili ladies … there is even a swimming pool! The price includes transport to and from your hotel, all equipment, trained guides, marine park fees, water & snacks, a wonderful lunch and drinks with lunch. Every child visiting Diani who enjoys snorkeling should do this!

Deep Sea Fishing

Deep Sea Fishing – East Africa is a Mecca for deep-sea fishermen, many world and all-Africa records being held in Kenya. Half day, full day, night & day-night-day trips are available with Sport Fishing Kenya who pride themselves in being passionate about sustainable sportfishing and engage actively in conservation both on the water and onshore. Their policy is to tag and release all billfish and other designated endangered species such as Giant Trevally. There are six types of billfish, striped, blue and black marlin, sailfish, swordfish, sharks, wahoo, yellow fin, tuna and dorado. Boats typically depart in the early morning, trawl for bait and then head out to the deep water to wait for the big catch. The fishing season is August to March (billfish season from November to March). Perfect father & son outing!

Snorkeling

Windsurfing, Kitesurfing, Kayaking, Stand Up Paddling (SUP), Snorkeling … You name it! More fun in the water then you (or your kids!) ever dreamed was possible. All available at Sand & Sea Watersports.

Deep Sea Diving

Deep Sea Diving – for complete beginners and experienced divers alike, minimum age is 10 years. It is also possible to do a ‘fun dive’ where no experience is required and a guide takes you down to 6 metres. Due to the Indo-Pacific current, the Indian Ocean boasts the same fish species as Australia: manta rays; reef, hammerhead and whale sharks; turtles and multi-coloured reef fish in coral gardens. A wide range of deep sea diving excursions including certified PADI diving courses and wreck diving can be arranged with Pilli Pipa.

So what are you waiting for? Grab the kiddos & let’s head to Diani Beach!

Looking for the perfect family-friendly place to stay? Check out our blog post on our family’s memory filled holiday on the beach.

The Pressure of Getting it Right!

The Pressure of Getting it Right! An affordable multigenerational beach holiday in Kenya … As someone who’s lived in Kenya all her life, someone who’s worked in the African travel industry for 26 years, who’s company specialises in family travel it’s up to me to book all our holidays …. this time it’s somewhere for my extended family’s summer beach holiday, again … again The Pressure of Getting it Right … is On!

Daily, I see more and more people looking to travel on a teeny, tiny budget, but expecting perfection in return. Trust me, some of my family (you knwo who you are 😉 is absolutely no different, ‘Chania let’s all go somewhere gorgeous on the beach; we have USD1 per night … how lovely, we can’t wait for amazing food and a beautiful place, with a gorgeous swimming pool, on the beach’ ….. seriously😳!

So on a mission I went, again. One of the lovely little Hidden Gems we use for our clients on a tight budget came up trumps! They offered my rather extreme family a wonderful rate … Diani Blue here we come.

The adventure begun before we even reached the airport in Nairobi (to fly on the affordable Silverstone to Ukunda, Diani Beach). My parents reached the airport in good time; my sister, myself and the three kids didn’t. Traffic was in a gridlock and we were about to miss our flight. After calling the incredibly helpful and understanding Silverstone airline on numerous occasions, they informed us they couldn’t wait for us any longer, so we jumped out of the taxi; 2 adults, 3 kids, 100 suitcases, 200 beachbags, swimming noodles, hand boards, surf-boards, cuddly toys, beach hats, flippers and snorkles and we ran, along the main Nairobi road, we ran, we ran .. screaming kids, flipflips breaking, noodles flying away; what a sight it must have been, especially when the gridlock was released and all the traffic drove past us, including our taxi!

Anyhow, stiff from all the intense activity before our flight, we arrived to the caramel-warm air of Diani beach. Our rather characterful taxi met us and off we bumbled, a 5 minute drive to Diani Blue. 1st impression of the Blue is a beautiful forested and ponded area spotted with butterflies, sleeping monkeys, and beautiful tweeting birds skipping from branch to branch… pheow something for the bored and sweaty kids to do whilst we checked in! Then the view!!! The view through the Lamu doors on the most beautiful little swimming pool in the foreground and the aqua-seas in the background … yeay.

Diani Blue is indeed a charmingly small and exclusive (only 6 rooms) place lapped by the waters of the Indian Ocean; the love-child of a little boutique hotel and a relaxed barefoot beach-family who run it; the structure is elegance personified, the décor and atmosphere homey, relaxed and welcoming, located bang-on Diani Beach, which was recently voted the ‘Best Beach in Africa’ by the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry: The 21st Annual Travel Awards.

We were shown our lovely little air-conditioned or fanned (the choice is yours) Swahili-style rooms, with lovely en-suite bathrooms (with showers) all overlooking the swimming pool; perfect, absolutely perfect! Kids leaping on the beds whilst you’re trying to find their swimming costumes, sun cream, hats etc. etc. and then we all leap in the pool…. That was it, we were at the beach, heaven!

Our 10 days at Diani Blue were filled properly bonding as a multi-generational family, my parents, my sister, her boy, our kids and me ….. time together, a true luxury.

  • We all sat chilling and chatting, bickering & winging 😉 by the pool whilst the kids screamed around it (sorry!);
  • We spent time walking along the gorgeous beach, making sandcastles, playing beach cricket … trying to provide enough entertainment to stop the youth from bickering;
  • Surfing the crazily huge waves on belly boards; my 78 year old father was in heaven … finally two grandsons to muck around with, not two sissy daughters! Mum got tumbled a few times too .. hilarious memories that will last forever;
  • We went on an Ngalawa, Diani Blue’s traditional dugout canoe, to the sand-reef to find shells and urchins, to snorkel, to play French cricket;
  • We had a little bumpy camel ride up the beach;
  • We went on a Glass Bottom boat with the legendary John, who loves having kids on board, and they love him .. he teaches them all about marine life, starfish, sea urchins etc. etc.;
  • We visited the Colobus Conservation Trust to show the kids what people do, the lengths they go to in order to conserve the wildlife around us; pretty impressive;
  • We went to a back-packer joint to see Bushbaby’s coming in for their evening meal of bananas.

We mainly ate delicious food at Diani Blue, the restaurant is called The Edge … delicious, simple and traditional crab, lobster, fish, fish & more fish, samosas, salads (I suggest the ginger crab, the feta samosas, the self-saucing chocolate pudding … oh and the fish fingers for the kids) .. the menu was amazing, we could eat when we wanted, overlooking the beach and lapping seas and it was so damn reasonable! The only advise I give, is to order an hour before you need to eat, to avoid tears from hungry tummies.  We also went out for some deliciousness:

  • We treated ourselves for my sisters birthday at the Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant – Our personal favourite for a special occasion. Located on the beach front within Almanara Boutique Hotel & Villas, the modernization of the sweeping sails and curving beams create an ambience unparalleled on the east coast of Africa. The waiting staff are professional, kind and friendly, the ambience is friendly. As well as delicious, delumptios and heavenly fresh seafood, a selection of meat, salads and scrumptious treats for those with a sweet tooth… as well as being child friendly!!
  • We went to The Sands at Nomad Beach Bar a few times,  a wonderful beach bar, on the white sands of Diani Beach which wonderful pizzas, great Japanese, other seafood and non-seafood choices and a great ice-cream bar. Super Child friendly with a lovely little natural play area for all ages .. huge Connect 4, huge Tumbledown etc. loved this.
  • We went to Piri Piries Bar & Restaurant – a really lovely little café, restaurant and bar, very popular with Diani expat residents. Their menu is wonderful, serving seafood specialities, delicious meat dishes, vegetarian options, I loved the ploughmans and the huge selection of salads! They also offer amazing coffees and cocktails. Plus they had a great little playground for littlies.
  • We even went to the Colobus Shade – is a proper local restaurant owned by some Diani fisherman… get brave!🐙 There is nothing fancy or chic, but a great experience. It is reasonable and the fish platter or the plain fish, calamari and crab is fresh & delicious!

What a time … what special, precious time. We loved our relaxing stay at Diani Blue, we had a perfect time. The food amazing, the service slow .. but once Coastitus sets in, you don’t notice. 

For value for money, you simply can’t beat it! Even if it may not have been as fun for them as it was us (Zia may have discovered some scissors … and a mosquito net and a bed-sheet and decided to see how they all worked together!!! The guilt to this day is unbearable, especially as they still haven’t sent me a bill! Sorry Diani Blue .. again!! I am waiting.

The guilt is still there, but I do believe Diani Blue & I pulled it off. It’s an awesome little place, a perfect place to bond with your family, it suits all generations and it doesnt empty your bank account. We had amazing food and a beautiful place, with a gorgeous swimming pool, on the beach ….. seriously!

Practicalities:
Diani Blue – Is a personal, relaxed little beach place …. rather more an AirBnB than a lodge, but with the luxury of a beach-side restaurant at your fingertips.
Diani Beach – Recently voted the ‘Best Beach in Africa’ by the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry: The 21st Annual Travel Awards. A flawless, long stretch of white-sand beach hugged by lush forest and kissed by surfable waves, it’s no wonder Diani Beach is so popular. This town/stretch of beach scores points with a diverse crowd: party people, families, honeymooners, backpackers and water-sports enthusiasts. Only one warning here, beware of high, high season as the beach can become a little busy.
For those travelling to Kenya with kids, and grandparents – If you like to spend time with your kids, rather than palming them off onto a kids club; do it, it will be the best bonding experience, you can chill by the pool or do all the fun activities we did .. and they cater for kids perfectly here.
For those who live in East Africa – go as a family or get a couple of families together to fill up the place (6 rooms only) and GO!!! You’ll have an incredible time…. and their resident rates are appealing!
Weather – of course it depends on when you travel, but generally warm days and warm nights with a gorgeous sea-breeze … delicious.
What to Pack? – High SPF sun cream, hats, swimmers and light clothes to go for your excursions (respecting the coastal Arabic society)….. If you can why not squeeze in the odd body board?
Price – Between USD85 and USD115 per person per night, Bed & Breakfast. Contact us to book!
My advise – People go on holiday for very many different reasons, if you are looking to spend quality family time, relaxing but with something rather fun to do each day, please do come here!