Winter in the Tropics

Disclaimer: Those of you who are currently up to your knees in snow and are wrapped up in everything you own to fight off the cold may want to stop reading now.

Over Christmas I flew out to visit my family in Kenya. I arrived in Nairobi, dumped my heavy duty coat at home, threw a few bikinis in a bag, and then headed back out to the airport the next day to fly to the coast.

Winter in the Tropics

Now I know I already wrote about the various ways one can travel from Nairobi to Mombasa or Diani (read here) so I won't bore you again with the transport details, but I do have to mention that this plane was spectacularly small, panic-inducing small in fact.

Check out my previous post on Diani for info on how to get there!

The feeling of unease started when we were given a handwritten boarding card. Although it did make for a good Instagram, I still found it slightly worrying.

Hand Written Boarding Card

An hour later, as we boarded our teeny tiny plane we were given a brown lunch bag at the base of the steps, because as I later discovered, the plane had no room for an air hostess.. or a bathroom... or even space to stand up straight!

The Plane... Just Kidding
As you can probably tell I am a rather nervous traveller when it comes to anything smaller than a jumbo jet, so if you have similar feelings I would recommend considering flying Kenya Airways to Mombasa rather than flying straight to Diani, which can only take baby planes.

Photo taken while standing at the bottom of the stairs not wanting to go in

However, that being said, when we arrived in Diani I did appreciate how close we were to the hotel and that we didn't have to trek down from Mombasa (Diani is two hours south of Mombasa, the main city on the Kenyan coast).

View from the Plane

We stayed at Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa which is about a five minute drive from Ukunda airstrip.

The hotel is huge, with 143 rooms and spreading across 35 acres. It is classified as a luxury hotel though it's star rating is no longer listed anywhere. When it opened it was a 5 star hotel but recently the resort has seen hard times, mainly due to the drop in tourism as a result of terrorist attacks in other parts of the country, and I suspect it may now have dropped to a 4 star hotel.

Despite it's recent difficulty, the common areas of the hotel are well kept and the enormous amount of space makes for a very relaxing atmosphere.

The rooms on the other hand could do with a re-vamp. I have been visiting the hotel for several years and was shocked to see the rooms were exactly the same.

Room at Diani Reef Resort

They were still very spacious, bright, and clean but they lacked a certain pizazz that a luxury hotel should have.

Balcony at Diani Reef

The fittings and the decor were basic and slightly worn down. The saving grace was the view of the Indian Ocean - beautiful!

View from the Room

The view of the pool was nice too ;)

You can't quite see it but there are bar seats in that pool

Wandering down to the beach every day felt like a jungle hiking adventure with the immense greenery everywhere. Not that I am complaining, it's not every hotel that has a mini river flowing through it.

On the way to the beach 

Most of my days were spent like this:

The Classic 'Hot Dogs for Legs" Photo

Or like this:

Day Dreaming

Or sometimes like that:


All of them were spent admiring how beautiful Diani Beach is, you can't beat it! Europe's crowded strips of sand are just so overwhelming when you are used to this:

Where You Would Rather Be

One of the days I met up with my friend Kimana, a self-proclaimed beach bum who lives in Diani and has no need for any shoes other than flip flops.. sickening!  We spent the day catching some rays and drinking from a coconut.

The Simple Life

I also met her boyfriend Dani, who is one of the D's of D&D Kitetravel. Dani travels the world teaching kite surfing, mainly to groups who come out for a week at a time. From December to March he is in Kenya, then it is on to Egypt, and Venezuela, and ... need I go on?

I Want His Job - photo by Kimana

Sounds far better than the kite surfing lessons I took in the arctic conditions of county Wexford, Ireland.

For lunch we usually ate at the beach bar in the hotel. The food was good, nothing too fancy but definitely tasty and I was a big fan of their pina coladas!

If You Like Pina Coladas...

Plus not many restaurants offer such a beautiful setting.

Uh Huh Honey

Each night we went out to one of the nearby restaurants. The most popular places for casual dining in the area would be Aniellos, an Italian restaurant that is quite literally in a shack but the food is delicious, and Forty Thieves, a beach bar slash night club that serves a mix of burgers and seafood.

Drinking Dawas at Forty Thieves 

There is no fine dining in Diani, it is a beach after all, but if you want to go somewhere special then you can try Ali Barbour's Cave or my favourite restaurant, Sails.

Sails Restaurant

Can it be Christmas again?



  1. A hand written boarding card, that must have been a bit scary! When we went to Tanzania, the plane was so small we were the only two travellers and we could see the pilot reading the newspaper once it was in cruise control

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Oh no! My worst nightmare! How did you like Tanzania?