Monday, February 19, 2018

Diani: Best Beach in the World?

We just got back from a long weekend in Diani, a gem on the Kenyan coast with a reputation as one of the best beaches in the world. It did not disappoint - from its fine white sands to the warm, clear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Even though it's currently peak season, we didn't even find the beach crowded, either!

When we arrived at our resort, we were informed it was a special night and that dinner would be served on the beach instead of in the usual restaurant. The hotel staff moved a massive number of tables, chairs, and settings out onto the sand in view of the waves, set up a stage, and most importantly of all brought a vast selection of food out to a temporary buffet. So we enjoyed live music while eating dinner on the beach - not a bad start to our romantic weekend getaway at all.

Our first full day was spent snorkeling with a company recommended to us: Pilli Pipa. We went out to Wasini Island, which was quite a distance away - about an hour and a half by car and then another hour by boat. Although they didn't guarantee we'd see wild dolphins, we were told it was a possibility and weather conditions looked good for sightings. Our boat, named "ALMASI" (the Kiswahili word for diamond) seemed to bode good luck for rare and precious finds from the beginning.

The excursion ended up being well worth it: we saw two wild dolphins (unfortunately so briefly I couldn't get a photo in time) from the surface and then an array of exciting things while snorkeling: a huge sea turtle swimming right between M and me, two octopuses, a Moray eel, and so much more. We were so glad we had decided to go.

We ended our trip with an amazing dining experience with friends at Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant, which is exactly what it sounds like: a restaurant in a cave! They had impressive customer service, including a free shuttle from our hotels to the restaurant and back and an exception to their stated no-children policy for our friends' baby. (We did need to take an earlier seating time, but that was even better for me because Kenyan meal times are way too late for my American taste. For example, our hotel started serving dinner our first night there at 8pm!)

It was very cool to arrive at the restaurant at 6pm and watch it transform as the sun set and the stars began to appear. I would recommend trying to go on a clear night, as the view of the night sky is, well, stellar. You can see the difference in the photos of the same space above during the daytime and below at night.

We had a lovely time and would recommend Diani to any beach-lover out there. That being said, this trip also captured a special and bittersweet kind of Foreign Service experience that's familiar to almost all expats. You see, at the exact same time we were having our once-in-a-lifetime vacation on the Kenyan coast, some of my best friends were gathering in my college town for a reunion that I had neither the annual leave nor the funds to join.

Thankfully, I was able to video call in for a few short minutes - just long enough to see the faces of people I dearly missed. These are friends with whom I've shared everything from philosophical debates over whiskey to all-nighters to camping trips to our highest highs and our lowest lows. No matter how exciting this expat life can be, I've found it hasn't really replaced home or the relationships with the people you love. To be honest, I hope it never does.

No comments:

Post a Comment