If you’re a birdwatcher, Diani’s hotel gardens offer spectacular entertainment, though the status of the Diani forest’s threatened species is uncertain. Look out for southern banded snake-eagle, spotted ground-thrush, plain-backed sunbird and Fischer’s turaco, all of which have been seen here, though the spotted ground-thrush not since the 1980s.
You’re unlikely to come across snakes. Whether harmless green tree snakes, egg-eating snakes or pythons (the commonest species), or more rarely venomous mambas, those that get anywhere near the hotels tend to be bludgeoned to death by enthusiastic askaris who also use their sling shots to keep the local monkeys on the run.
The Diani Beach forest used to be the haunt of leopards, but they haven’t been seen in this part of the coast for decades now. Venture into the woods at night, however, preferably with a guide, and you will see eyes in the dark – usually those of bushbabies.
The most iconic of Diani’s wildlife are its rare Angolan colobus monkeys. Of the other monkeys, baboons are most common, and can be quite aggressive. Their adopted diet of hotel leftovers means they’ve multiplied greatly, and are not afraid of humans, so keep your distance. Overly tame Sykes’ monkeys are also becoming a nuisance: don’t leave things on your hotel balcony, and close your windows if there’s food in the room.