Africa & The Middle East Travel

Dilemma and Delight in Diani Beach Kenya

Location: Diani Beach Kenya

Diani Beach Kenya – It’s been a year since the deadly Nairobi hotel terrorism attack that took 21 lives. Kenya has had its share of terrorism over the past decade, mostly attributed to Al Shabab, an African Islamic group associated with Al Qaeda.

Diani Beach Kenya
Diani Beach at sunrise

During this same year 40000 people died in the United States from gun-related violence.

I share this comparison not to advocate against guns but to make a point; media accounts of violence around the world create a fear of faraway places, even while violence at home is often just as severe.

It’s a dilemma to decide how to travel safely around the globe. And though we take our personal safety seriously, we do not believe we are in any more danger in Kenya, with its history of terrorist hits, than in the USA, with its history of domestic and international terrorism as well as rampant gun violence.

Sheldrick Falls Kenya
Sheldrick Falls

And so we came to Kenya – specifically Diani Beach Kenya.

Diani Beach Kenya is both a dilemma and a delight. This beautiful coastal town on the Indian Ocean has seen its own share of violence including murder and bombings.

Camels on the Beach Kenya
Diani Beach from The Edge Restaurant

The larger image of Kenya as a violent place over the past decade has been disastrous for the tourism industry, especially in Diani. Like other places we have visited (Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Central America), war, coups, violent crimes and terrorism – and the media accounts of these- can devastate tourism overnight, and the damage takes decades to recover.

Think about it.

Abandoned Diani Beach hotel
Abandoned Hotel Diani Beach

But what of places like Paris, Las Vegas, London or Boston? All places that have had terrorism attacks over the past few years but visitors still flock there. Why do we feel safer from terrorism in a “western” culture?

Abandoned Diani Beach Park
Entrance to abandoned amusement park

Diani Beach Kenya, touted as the most beautiful beach in Africa, deserves a chance to rebuild its tourism program. Within the 17 mile stretch of white sandy beach sit several abandoned hotels, bars and even an amusement park – places unable to hold on when the tourists stopped coming.

Abandoned swimming pool Kenya
Abandoned hotel pool, Diani Beach

Today, and particularly during the holiday season when we were visiting, tourism is on an uptick. Europeans from Germany, Scandinavia and Britain were abundant on the beach, in restaurants and bars and in the shopping areas.

Abandoned Diani Beach Bar
Abandoned beach bar “40 Thieves”

Convincing Americans to travel here will take more time, and hopefully there will be no more attacks. Meanwhile we feel safe and happy to have enjoyed this beautiful, affordable and incredibly friendly place.

We want the best for the Kenyan people and our new friends in Diani Beach. Hardworking people who for the most part want jobs to support their families and have a good life. Tourism is the vehicle for that and they want it to thrive once again.

The Sands at Nomad Restaurant
Dinner at the beautiful Sands at Nomad

So here are some recommendations from our three weeks in Diani, for you to consider when planning your Kenyan adventure.

Where to stay – Frangipani Cottages – very affordable, beautiful pool and 700 meters to the beach.

Frangipani Cottages Diani Beach
We loved our three weeks at Frangipani Cottages

Our favorite bars and restaurants – Tiki Bar, Havana Bar, The Edge, Nomad Bar and Restaurant, Kokkos, Java House, Oasis Bar, Salty Squid, Piri Piri.

Favorite Activities – Shimba Hills and Sheldrick Waterfall Hike, Wasini Snorkel trip, Swahili Cooking Class.

Traditional Dhow boat Diani Beach
Boat to Wasini Snorkle

There are MANY other activities in and around Diani that we did not do such as multi-day safari, Colobus Monkey Reserve, slave caves and fishing. Learn more here.

Next stop for us the island of Mauritius out in the Indian Ocean! Don’t miss our ANNUAL WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS 2019 blog coming on January 17th.

Thanks for your support this past year. Please share our blog. Happy New Year!

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  • Reply Rhonda

    Interesting post, and to add another perspective, my kids (now young adults) travel the world when they can, but they won’t go to the states. In 2019 one went to South America, the other to India. I just asked them both, even reminding them of terrorism, and they both said, yes, they would go to Kenya. Then I asked if they would go to the states, and I got two emphatic no.

    January 3, 2020 at 8:01 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Sad. So sad. But real. I love my crazy country but things really need to change. Hope they both visit some day. Thanks so much for the great comment.

      January 3, 2020 at 8:59 pm
  • Reply Sinjana

    Such a beautiful piece.It’s shocking to hear the number of victims of gun-related violence in the US. Kenya looks absolutely gorgeous!

    January 3, 2020 at 9:39 pm
  • Reply Maya

    Interesting post to read and very true in our age. I agree with you that the media plays a major part and highlights certain places as “safe” compared to others. With certain countries in Europe, for example, it’s not that people believe that attacks can’t occur but they trust that if something happens the authorities would handle it better and also generally speaking if something happens to you you’d get better medical care. In terms of safety, actually, odds are that after there has been a terrorist attack somewhere, the authorities would do everything they can so it wouldn’t happen again so theoritically speaking it is safer to visit it.

    January 3, 2020 at 10:30 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Yes it’s true. Thanks.

      January 4, 2020 at 8:06 am
  • Reply Ann

    What a magical place, its looks like something taken out of a fairytale!

    January 4, 2020 at 12:49 am
  • Reply Heather Markel

    Such great points and this has been my curiosity too. I wonder why the US and Europe are considered safer than anyplace else and having been to Colombia and South Africa this year I loved them both and agree it’s a shame about the damage to tourism you mention in so many places.

    Enjoy Mauritius ! Beautiful place.

    January 4, 2020 at 7:26 am
  • Reply Duncan

    Have you seen The two Fishes Hotel ??

    January 7, 2020 at 7:00 am
    • Reply Laureen

      I heard about this place but did not get to see it.

      January 7, 2020 at 6:46 pm
  • Reply Lori

    great post – we head for Diani in January ……

    November 11, 2023 at 7:47 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Oh my gosh. I’ve wondered how they have fared through Covid. Glad to hear you are visiting.

      November 11, 2023 at 10:17 am

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