advertisement

Diani is 35km (22 miles) S of Mombasa and 500km (310 miles) SE of Nairobi

Creamy white beaches protected by an immense coral reef. A warm, cobalt-blue sea dotted with pretty islands. Large scimitar-shaped sails drifting across a shimmering surface. If you're looking for that endless succession of postcard-perfect images, you'll find them here, stretching south from Mombasa toward the Tanzanian border. At the center of the South Coast action is Diani Beach, a pretty and extensively developed resort that's managed to retain its celebrity good looks (and, thanks to the exclusivity offered by captivating places such as the Alfajiri villas, remains a bolthole for the likes of Africa-mad icons such as Brad and Angelina). Easily one of Kenya's best beaches, it's possible to walk for 8km (5 miles) in either direction. You'll find a couple of caparisoned camels trundling across the beach, and bevies of beach boys planning their assault strategy as they aim to sell anything from safaris to sexual adventures to the unsuspecting (or terribly keen) tourists. Yes, there's a sleazier side to Diani's easily romanticized charms, but it's one that's easily avoided. Instead of falling for the pesky hustlers on the beach, there's plenty to keep you active between mealtimes. Numerous companies offer all kinds of waterborne adventures and activities, including snorkeling and diving in the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park and big-game fishing out of Shimoni, a village just north of the Tanzanian border. The coral-rich marine reserve is also a good place for dolphin-spotting and whale-watching. It's also possible to explore some of the offshore islands. Wasini is a forested island with old Arabic ruins and is a popular luncheon venue, while at the northern edge of the marine park, a maze of water channels spreads between a patchwork of pretty mangroves and forested islands, one of which has been transformed into a paradisiacal castaway resort, Funzi Keys, which ranks among the most relaxing and atypical beach spots in Kenya. And close by are the Shimba Hills National Reserve and the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, decent enough outings if you haven't yet had your fill of safari.