09 June 2009

Diani Beach and the beach boys

After the excitement of the safari we headed out to Diani Beach to "try" and relax for a few days. Diani is a fairly small beach resort on the East coast of of Kenya which faces onto the Indian Ocean 20km South of Mombasa.

The beach front is dominated by flashy hotels used by package tour companies. Because of the proliferation of expensive hotels there's hardly any accommodation on the beach at the budget end of the market. Thanks to a recommendation from Doc at Kenyan Adventures we're staying at a place called Wayside Apartments. The apartments are self contained flats that are normally let out for long term rental. However, because it's low season and incredibly quiet they are doing a short term deal for us. The big novelty is that we now have a kitchen for the 1st time in over 7 months. It's just like being back at our flat in Brum, only with animal print decor and worse plumbing.

Even though we are now more than 400km from Nairobbery it still isn't safe to be out on our own after dark. If we want to go anywhere in the evening we have to get a taxi, even if it's just a couple of minutes down the road.

It's safe during the day but you then have to put up with the constant attention from the beach boys, which makes relaxing on the beach quite a challenge. The second you go anywhere near the beach you are trialed by swarm of up to half a dozen hawkers.

After extensive anthropological studies we think that we have been able to divide the Diani beach boys into two distinct sub species. Firstly there is the lesser spotted beach boy - who is invariably the captain of a sailing boat and can take you snorkelling (even though the water is silted up at this time of year) or dolphin spotting. Then there is the greater spotted beach boy, or to give them their latin name, hawker-irritatus-maximus.

On our 1st walk down the beach, which was only 20 minutes there and back we were offered the following; 1 massage, a coconut to drink, some "lovely" shells, some shell based jewelry, 2 trips to go snorkelling, 2 trips to watch dolphins, a boat trip to Wasini Island, 2 requests to "come and look at my stall", one request to "come into my shop", a coconut carved to look like a pair of birds, to have our photo taken with (pretend) Masai warrior, at least 3 offers to carve our names into wooden key rings, a carved wooden elephant, some marijuana and a camel ride. Oh, and not forgetting the bloke who outright made a demand for some money so that he could "have lunch without having to steal food". That's what I call a nice relaxing walk.

In addition to the beach boys, between March and December the beach is covered in seaweed and there's also one hell of a rip tide. In spite of all this it's still a lovely spot!

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