Soon after we arrived at Diani Beach, we went and did the usual grocery shop that we do when we arrive at a place, just like we’ve done at every destination on our grand tour this year.

We did a big shop. Due to the relative isolation of our accommodation, at the far end of Diani Beach road, we didn’t expect to be eating out all the time, as most decent restaurants are a 15-minute taxi ride away. We’ve also been cooking and eating in on this trip as much as we’ve been eating out, and the ability to do that is one of the things we love about holiday rentals.

However, we’d also agreed to try out Shambani’s cook — a private cook is an extra available to all guests at the property, so we thought we’d better experience it. But when we bought our groceries, we didn’t realise that the cook would end up spending all day every day in our cottage kitchen, expecting to cook us three meals a day, and getting peeved when we actually wanted to use our kitchen.

We also didn’t expect to find our cottage kitchen in such a state. In a strange kind of way it made us nostalgic for our youth and the place we rented when we first moved in together — a simple basement apartment in a Sydney terrace house that we stocked with second-hand china and pots and pans bought from op shops and markets. These days they’d be called ‘vintage’. Shambani’s had plenty of it.

Despite the uninspiring kitchen, we had cravings. We’d been longing for spicy foods from the time we arrived in Cape Town, Indian mainly, and now we were craving Thai. So our initial intention — before our discovery of the dirty kitchen and ever-present chef — was to cook, and to cook, we needed to shop…

We were advised not to use the mutatu (local minibus), however, the best supermarket is too far away to walk, so we used Shambani’s driver the first day and after that organized our own taxis for other shopping trips. (If you’re staying at Diani Beach, try Martin 07 3440 8323 or Paul 07 2055 7821).

The best place at Diani Beach to shop is Nakumatt, a supermarket impressively stocked with groceries downstairs and upstairs with everything from clothes and kitchenware to bath towels and books (some decent reads too!)

A lot of the usual items we buy for Price Check are available at the Nakumatt, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and a bakery. Most of the meat products (chicken, beef, pork, etc) are frozen, but there is a butcher at another shopping centre in Diani Beach. (Ask your driver to take you there.) If you want fresh seafood, just let the staff at Shambani or wherever you’re staying know, and you’ll have fishermen knocking down your door!

Surprisingly there were a lot of Asian ingredients, especially Thai and Indian, if you get cravings as we did. The liquor section was better than we expected and prices fairly reasonable, and there’s a decent range of New World wines, local spirits, including gin (perfect if you’re sporting a safari suit!), and loads of different types of beers.

There is a well-equipped phone shop just inside the entrance to Nakumatt, selling mobile phones and Blackberries, USB broadband keys for your laptop, local SIM cards and recharge cards. If you don’t have roaming on your mobile phone, do buy a local SIM card, especially if you’re staying at Shambani, as the cottages there don’t have phones. And given the cooking conditions (if you stay there!), you’ll be eating out more than you bargained for.

Shopping List — what things cost in Diani Beach, Kenya

2 litre water KES90.00 £0.70 US$1.12
1 litre milk KES60.00 £0.47 US$0.75
Bottle of local wine KES695.00 £5.44 US$8.68
330ml beer KES90.00 £0.70 US$1.12
100g Nescafe KES325.00 £2.54 US$4.06
250g coffee beans KES810.00 £6.34 US$10.12
50 tea bags KES170.00 £1.33 US$2.12
1 kg sugar KES90.00 £0.70 US$1.12
Jar of jam KES250.00 £1.96 US$3.12
1 loaf of bread KES100.00 £0.78 US$1.25
250g quality butter KES200.00 £1.57 US$2.50
200g cheese KES350.00 £2.74 US$4.37
500 ml oil KES295.00 £2.31 US$3.69
1 doz organic eggs KES240.00 £1.88 US$3.00
1 kilo tomatoes KES100.00 £0.78 US$1.25
1 kilo onions KES50.00 £0.39 US$0.62
1 kilo apples KES60.00 £0.47 US$0.75
250 g pistachios KES500.00 £3.91 US$6.25
1 mosquito repellent KES420.00 £3.29 US$5.25
Total: KES4895.00 £38.30 US$61.14
End of Article

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