Tijara Beach is a quiet lodge set on a sweeping hill leading down to the sea.
Tijara Beach: Our full report
With just four cottages, Tijara Beach is one of the smallest properties that we feature on Kenya’s cost. Opened in December 2007, it is owner-run by Ian and Larissa and located just a short 30-minute drive from Diani, on a secluded hill by a very quiet beach.
Sat within five acres of beautifully manicured lawns and gardens overlooking the sea, Tijara Beach aims to offer luxury and exclusivity. There are a few non-motorized activities offered by the lodge, otherwise the aim of your stay here is to simply unwind. There is no music, no entertainment or dancing here – just the sound of the ocean with a maximum of eight guests. That said, those who crave the odd bit of extra activity can seek it in Diani, and Tijara will help you to arrange it.
The main areas at Tijara Beach are not vast – but are very nicely done and well-kept. They and the rooms are dotted around the garden that runs down a hill, all the way to a coral cliff that drops down to the beach. The dining area is at the top of the garden, with lovely views across the lawns and to the sea beyond. This is an open-fronted rondavel, with a thatched roof and burnt orange coloured walls. There is a comfortable lounge area under the shade of the roof at the front where you can sit and relax for pre- or -post meal drinks. Whilst inside and up a few steps are a number of private tables and chairs. It is only a small area – though has plenty of space for eight guests. Any larger and it would probably feel a bit cavernous and lacking in atmosphere. We loved its simple nature and the fact that it was open to the sea breeze.
Tijara’s swimming pool is located towards the bottom of the garden, sunk below a wall cut into the lawn so it offers a degree of privacy from the dining area and rooms. It’s a simple rectangular pool with terracotta tiles all around and plenty of sunloungers with partial shade offered in the form of a bougainvillea creeper. It has an eco-friendly saltwater chlorination system, but the water in the pool itself is not at all salty, but lovely and fresh.
The beach is not immediately in front of the lodge, but accessed by walking north a few minutes along a path. Then you walk down a few steps into a lovely secluded cove. Like the rest of Kenya and even Tanzania, you can get seasonal seaweed on the beach and its very tidal here. But the sand is wonderfully white and unlike the busier parts of Diani there are no other people around.
The four cottages at Tijara Beach are widely space around the property to give each one plenty of privacy. Traditionally built in a Swahili style, each one has a thatched (makuti) roof and coral stone walls. Inside there is ample space – with a vast bedroom filled with lovely furniture made by local craftsmen. The four-poster Zanzibari bed is draped in mosquito netting, with lovely sumptuous silk throws. There is also a writing desk and a small sofa with a coffee table. We loved the detail in the wrought iron window frames that have no glass, but just mosquito netting to allow the cool breeze to flow through. The detailing of the brightly colours Arab lamps and light fittings were also wonderful.
Each of the rooms has a mobile phone that connects through to a waiter – so you can call him for anything and it will be delivered. They also all have fans above the beds and additional free-standing ones can be brought down form the main house if needed. However there is no air conditioning in the rooms at Tijara Beach.
The richly coloured terracotta floor of the bedroom, leads you through dark shuttered doors onto your own private veranda. Here are some low-slung chairs, a day bed and sun loungers – so that people can escape away to relax in the privacy of their own rooms.
The ensuite bathroom is a continuation of the bedroom, with earthy tiles and dark wood in a Swahili style. A double shower is above a huge bath, whilst twin sinks sit atop a hard carved tabletop. Toiletries from refillable bottles (to reduce waste) are provided and the outside deck can also be reached from here, via shuttered doors. Tijara Beach have hairdryers in the main house but guests will need to request to borrow one as they are not automatically placed in every room.
Most people will come to Tjiaja Beach to get away from it all and relax. Though there are a few things on offer for the more active as well. From the lodge itself and included in the price are activities such as snorkelling from the shore, reef walks and cave walks. Bird watching is also a popular pass time and Tijara has boules and croquet that guests can use.
Tijara can also arrange for their guests to do deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, dolphin watching, visits to the nearby city of Mombasa, golf and kite-surfing
Our viewThis lodge is a wonderful creation of seclusion and peace, with stunning rooms in a traditional Swahili style. It is the smallest property that we feature on Kenya’s coast and about as exclusive as it gets without going down the private villa route. It won't suit people looking for a modern beach property with air-con and contemporary interiors, but those looking for something high quality and in keeping with its surroundings will love it.
Ideal length of stay: 5 to 6 days
Directions: Tijara Beach is a 30-minute drive from Diani Airport along a tarmac road and then just five minutes along a dirt road. It is a little further from Mombasa but Tijara have a priority pass for a vehicle to get over from Mombasa on the ferry which cuts a usually very long queue.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: We only sampled lunch at Tijara Beach which was excellent, but when we asked about the various meals we were told this:
Breakfast is usually served from 8:30 until 10am but the lodge can be flexible about all timings if people want to eat outside of these hours. Fruit, cereals, juices which are made fresh on site, yoghurt and cheeses are on offer. As is a cooked breakfast of eggs, pancakes, bacon and sausage. Tijara is highly flexible with their meals and so if there is anything that a guest specifically wants they will try their best to offer it.
Lunch is discussed with each guest in the morning. The lodge will make a suggestion based on what fisherman will have caught that morning or the day before, but it is always up to the guest and he can make requests from the chef also. Lunch is three courses, with a light starter of salad or soup. The main course usually includes some kind of seafood. Then dessert might be something light like a fruit pancake or caramelized pineapple with ice cream.
The evening dinner is also a discussion with the guests and three courses. Seafood takes a staring role again but the meals are usually a bit richer and heavier than the lunch.
Tijara currently has two chefs that have been with them for a while. One is local form Mombasa and trained on the job. The other trained at Utali food college and so is a bit more contemporary and stylized. Together they reportedly create very good food.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included at Tijara Beach, apart from some premium wines and spirits which are an additional cost.
Further dining info: Tijara Beach can offer private dining on the terrace of your room.
Attitude towards children: Tijara Beach don’t have a ‘no children’ policy, but due to the adult nature of the property don’t encourage them.
Property’s age restrictions: No minimum age.
Special activities & services: Tijara Beach can offer child minding from the housekeeping, though it is important to note that they are not specifically trained in childcare. But there are no kids clubs or games for children.
Equipment: Tijara have small beds and baby cots.
Generally recommended for children: No.
Notes: We would not recommend this for children. Tijara is a quiet beach lodge with an adult atmosphere that children might find suffocating and parents awkward.
Communications: WiFi is available in the restaurant and is free for guests. There is also good cell phone coverage all over the lodge.
TV & radio: There are no TVs in the rooms or main areas at Tijara Beach. However there is one in the owners house if there is vital sports match on that a guest cannot miss.
Water supply: Mains
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Tijara Beach has a first aid kit on site. Though they are only 30-minutes from Diani Beach Hospital. If required there is also a local doctor will come on call to the lodge.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Tijara has security guards on site and also use an outsourced security company that is linked to alarms and a radio. They also utilize a second security company for back up. The property has a security gate at the front as well.
Fire safety: Each room and the public areas have extinguishers. Staff have been trained how to use them.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Tijara Beach do not offer laundry because the water they have is slightly salty from the borehole. It means that the clothes wash badly – leaving white marks.
Money: Each cottage at Tijara Beach has a digital safe and there is one in the main house as well. There are Arab chests in each cottage that can be locked if you have larger items. Tijara cannot do currency exchange.
Accepted payment on location: Tijara Beach can take cash in US dollars, British pounds, Euros and Kenyan shillings. They are not currently able to take credit cards.