I was in Diani for almost a week and for the sake of writing this article, I had to force myself to get out of the house and explore the territories. Please note, the most difficult part was actually getting out of bed – everything after that was child's play, ha.
There's something about beach life that doesn't encourage movement or strenuous activity – or, as it turns out, work. Actually, let me be more specific – the something is the fantastic weather, the relaxed atmosphere, and being out of reach of your work emails.
June, for me, is the best time to come to Diani. It isn't too hot, and it's low season, which means you get better rates in the hotels and, what we prefer, the airbnbs and booking.com properties scattered across the coastline. The previous two times I've been in Diani, once for work and once for play, were supremely convenient in that I didn't have to organise anything.
I stayed once at Lantana Galu Beach, which was remote and beautiful with its whitewashed walls in classic coastal architecture and near reverent quietness. I also visited Swahili Beach Hotel, which I planned to somehow fit in again in this trip, just to see if it is still as magical as I remember it, and Aussie Mike's Tiwi Beach Villas. My second visit was a stay at a local villa once again, as is this one.
SHAMBA LA SALAMA
The most difficult trip for me by far was this particular trip, which my group of friends and I had to take charge of from the get, seeing as it wasn't work or work adjacent.
We were staying at Shamba La Salama, which is simply lovely, and the chef, Francis, did his best with his team to try and make us quite fat.
Some of the best things, for me, about ocean side vacations, is the absolutely fresh fish that comes to your table if you so desire.
We went snorkelling and the fisherman was going to eat one of the octopuses he caught. We've had prawn already and are waiting on calamari that will change our lives – we're sure it will. Chefs who come with the villas really work in terms of sourcing and meal preparation, making it a lot easier for you to enjoy the holiday once you get there.
But on the first day we landed, of course, the tasty food wasn't immediately available, and so we wandered to the town centre to try and find some eats. The (surly) cab guy recommended a place called Kokkos to us, right near the local Chandarana, as a place we could find good food.
We walked into the small establishment at around 1. It's mostly wood-hewn, has an inside and outside seating area and a large beautiful world map taking up one entire wall. They have pastries that smell delicious, and coffee as well, with their coffee process (from bean to beverage, type) artistically written on a chalkboard hanging high above the coffee counter.
I ordered a vanilla chocolate milkshake and a honey mustard chicken sandwich. I loved how the milkshake came, but I did not love the quantity or the thickness. I like my milkshakes to be so thick that I fight with them, if you know what I mean. It should be a battle to get it out of the glass for me. I suppose the mixing of the flavours may be what led to its thinning out, but I would have preferred more ice cream, I suppose, instead of...well, milk.
The sandwich was ok, but for about 700 bob it didn't seem particularly worth the value for money.
The heavily salty flavours bothered me as well. Yes, mustard is supposed to be salty, but don't add another salty ingredient over that – it then becomes overwhelming. It's like adding pickled vegetables to a blue cheese burger. Completely unnecessary.
We also planned to visit the famed Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant, and hoped that the service had improved from the last time I was there...
That's a story for another day.
Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.