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Diani Beach, on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, is fringed by a gigantic coral reef. One of its best snorkeling locations is Nomad Beach, located more or less in the center of Diani Beach. As the reef is very wide, you will only snorkel the inner reef, which features sand and seagrass beds with scattered corals. However, this shallow environment hosts a great diversity of fish and invertebrates, including clownfish in their anemone and very beautiful sea stars.

Nomad Beach, Diani
Nomad Beach snorkeling area, with the beach in the distance.

How to get to Nomad Beach snorkeling spot?

Nomad Beach, in the central part of Diani, takes its name from the beach restaurant installed there. It is located about 3 kilometers south of Ukunda airstrip. To reach the spot, you can ask a taxi to drop you off at Nomad Beach Bar & Restaurant, or you can walk on the beach from the nearby hotels.

Nomad Beach snorkeling map, Diani

Water entrance for snorkeling Nomad Beach

We advise you to enter the water more or less in front of the small reefs (see map above). It is recommended to explore this spot at low tide, ideally 1 or 2 hours before slack water. This period offers the best snorkeling conditions: you can get into the water closer to the reef, and the water is shallower, which makes the observation of the underwater life from the surface easier.

It is also at low tide that the underwater visibility is at its maximum, and the sea is the calmest. Avoid snorkeling after 12, as there is a dense boat and jet ski traffic in the area, sometimes at high speed and close to shore.

Nomad Beach snorkeling exploration tips

The coral reef facing Nomad Beach is almost a kilometer wide. We advise you not to go further than 300 meters from the beach and to take a diving flag with you to make you visible to the jet skis which sometimes cross the lagoon.

Geometric moray hiding below a red-knobbed starfish
A small geometric moray shelters next to a red-knobbed starfish.

The seabed of Nomad Beach has almost no living corals. It mainly features sand, seagrass and rubble, as well as a few small coral patches. The two coral reefs facing the beach (see map above), featuring dead coral rocks, are not more spectacular.

Despite this unattractive environment, this spot is very interesting because of the many fish and invertebrates found on the shallows. Red-knobbed sea stars, cushion sea stars, collector urchins and burrowing sea urchins are particularly common. Giant clams and other unidentified bivalves are attached to the coral rocks, which they share with sponges.

Clownfish in a sea anemone at Nomad Beach
Mertens’ carpet sea anemones, hosting communities of twobar anemonefish, punctuate the sandy beds.

Many small fish can be seen at this location. Valentinni’s sharpnose puffers and blackspotted pufferfish are abundant in the shallows, as are honeycomb groupers, easy to spot throughout the area. Twobar anemonefish share sea anemones with threespot dascyllus and porcelain crabs. Butterflyfish, moray eels and snake eels are also occasionally seen at Nomad Beach.

Cushion sea star in Diani
A cushion sea star in Nomad Beach.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Nomad Beach Bar & Restaurant, which faces the reef, is the best food option nearby. To the north and south of the Nomad Beach Bar & Restaurant are dozens of beach hotels. Among the most important are The Sands at Nomad Hotel (150 m beach walk), the Safari Beach Hotel (500 m) and the Diani Sea Lodge (1000 m).

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersBoat and jetski traffic
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.