When it comes to wonderful beaches around the world, Diani Beach doesn’t immediately spring to mind, yet we quickly discovered that the place is popular with travellers looking to top or tail their safari trip with some sun, sea and sand.
Being Australian, I’m pretty opinionated when it comes to beaches. I love the breathtakingly beautiful beaches we have in Oz, from the rugged, desolate stretches of sand of Western Australia to the laidback atmosphere of the beaches around Adelaide, from the endless sandy beaches of Broome and Fraser Island, to the tranquil tropical havens in Northern Queensland.
While my preference is for peaceful beaches that are off-the-beaten-track, this year I’ve really enjoyed the energy and exuberance of Rio’s Ipanema in Brazil, and in Costa Rica the off-season appeal of Manuel Antonio’s wildly bent palms and crazy monkeys. Windy Essaouria in Morocco charmed us once again with it’s vigorous beach football matches and fish restaurants within splashing distance of the sea.
For a sporadic surfer, Bali’s Kuta Beach is one of the world’s best destinations for getting your toes into your board wax, although everything else about the beach rankled. No, I don’t need a massage, sun cream, sarong, souvenirs, sunbed, beer, umbrella, braids, temporary tattoo, flyer for a nightclub, or new friends.
All of which I was offered within five minutes of stepping onto the sand at Kuta. While Aussie accents are as common as Bintang singlets (not a coincidence), Kuta’s busyness goes against everything that makes an Australian beach great – apart from the surf of course.
If the description in the last paragraph appeals to you and the constant attention of Kuta’s myriad hawkers is your idea of a fun beach experience, then you’re probably going to enjoy Diani Beach too. The beach vendors here in Kenya make Bali’s appear positively lazy.
You’d better hurry, however, as it appears it’s not just me who finds Diani’s ‘beach boys’ incredibly exasperating. The Kenyan Minister for Tourism recently revealed a plan to regulate beach vendors and hawkers on the country’s beaches, as their irritating behaviour, which can verge on intimidation and harassment, has been affecting the number of tourists visiting the coast. The initiative includes funding to get them off the sand by building beachside markets where they can sell their souvenirs and other, ahem, ‘services’.
Let’s hope it works out, because Diani Beach does appear to be lovely. I just wish we could have enjoyed it. In peace.