Is Lamu Island worth visiting?

Is Lamu Island worth visiting? Lamu Island Kenya is a portion of an archipelago located on the northernmost coast of Kenya. Somalia’s remoteness adds to its allure, but travellers are kept at away by the country’s close proximity to Kenya’s warring neighbours. Without a doubt, Lamu is stunning. The structures covered in bougainvillaea and made of coral stone tumble down a slope surrounded by peanut butter dunes, a location once characterised as the meeting point of the desert and the ocean. The clear waters of the Indian Ocean wash everything clean.

The History of Lamu

After being colonised for the first time more than 700 years ago, Lamu developed into a prominent commercial harbour for seamen from Southeast Asia, China, India, and Arabia. Although Lamu’s trading history included a range of goods like lumber, ivory, and spices, it was most recognised as a hub for the slave trade. Slaves in Lamu left in large numbers once slavery was outlawed in 1907, which destroyed the local economy. Prior to its emergence as a popular hippie vacation in the 1960s, Lamu was largely unknown. I was so drawn to these tales of 1960s hippie Lamu when I was a teenager. Even though Lamu is a popular tourist destination nowadays, its hippie atmosphere endures. All day, baby, coconuts and kaftans.

Lamu  Island Architectural design

Lamu is a significant historical and religious site due to the centuries-long residence of a diverse range of cultures. Lamu’s UNESCO World Heritage Site designation was made possible by the region’s history, natural diversity, and indigenous beauty. The old town of Lamu is still made up of structures from the fifteenth century that were constructed out of mango wood and coral stone, defying the horrifyingly awful modern construction that has sprung up throughout the rest of Kenya.The alleyways of Lamu are knickknack led and winding, providing enticing views of the azure sea and a salted breeze that combines with the aroma of the city’s most well-known inhabitants—the ubiquitous donkey. Throughout the town, one can observe Lamu’s distinctive Swahili architecture, which includes ornately carved wooden doors, tiered balconies, and lintels adorned with verses from the Quran. Arabic influences may be found everywhere; even in the buildings, which face Mecca.

Muslim culture values privacy above everything else, and many of the buildings designed in the Swahili style are arranged around courtyards, some of which have splash pools. The covered squares provide a break from the intense sun. There are no cars permitted on Lamu; all transportation is done by donkey or on foot. A relaxed manner of life is enforced by the environment’s pervasive sluggish pace and the sun’s unceasing presence.


You can walk 3 kilometres from Lamu Town to Shela at low tide (during high tide, hire a water taxi). A 12km stretch of golden beach fronts Shela, the more beautiful sister of Lamu. Although there are more hotels and guest houses in the town, which is home to more tourists, it nevertheless maintains the true cultural significance of Lamu Old Town and is still home to mosques, donkeys, and dhows. The famous Peponi Hotel, a favourite amongst celebrities, is located in Shela. With its location on the beach and in the town, Peponi takes first place. It’s a must-post on Instagram to have an Old Pal cocktail on the terrace.

Manda Island

Across the seemingly innocent channel from Lamu is Manda Island. The lack of freshwater on Manda means few people live here. Manda is magical. Its torpid charm invites you to sail through mangroves at high tide, walk the heat-hazed and entirely deserted beaches, visit the Takwa Ruins, or just sit. Sit and be still on this most languid of destinations. Manda Island is home to exclusive high-end hotels, but it’s possible to find some Airbnb houses. The only restaurants on the island are located within the hotels.

Is Lamu Island worth visiting?
Manda Island

What to do in Lamu

If you’re like me and can’t get enough of adventure, Lamu is the place to soak up the bohemian atmosphere and do nothing at all.

Go shopping

Even though Lamu is as far away from a busy city as possible, there are a number of stores there that sell exquisite clothing, handmade crafts, and one-of-a-kind jewellery.

Aman: Known for its fine hand-tailored apparel, this boutique is well-liked throughout Kenya.

Ali Lamu: they use recycled dhow sales to create custom bags. Natural Lamu offers natural goods with a Lamu inspiration; they also have a spa on site.

African Corner: customary Swahili handicrafts

Dhow sailing

Dhows have an inseparable connection to Lamu. From wooden canoes to pirate-style galleons, these classic sailing vessels are available. You may go on an island hop, go on a moonlight tour, sail at sunset, go snorkelling, or even spend a few days camped out on a dhow. When in Lamu, it’s an absolute a must to do.

Diving in the Indian Ocean

Kenya’s best diving is found in Lamu. Go to the 37-mile-long Kiunga Marine National Reserve, which is home to a smattering of islets and coral reefs. There are manta rays, moray eels, dugongs, sharks, whales, and every kind of tropical fish you could want. Although there aren’t any dive schools in Lamu right now, some large hotels offer diving instruction. Alternatively, get in touch with a Kenyan dive school to inquire about live boards or vacation packages to Lamu.

What you need to know about Lamu Island

Muslims make up the majority in Kenya’s Lamu Island. Ladies in particular should dress modestly and avoid baring too much skin as a sign of respect. Since alcohol is prohibited by Islam, it is not as widely accessible as it is in other parts of Kenya. Alcoholic beverages are served in hotels, although you could have trouble finding them in stores, especially in Shela. Manda Island and Lamu are off-limits to automobiles. Small motorbikes are possible, although donkey, foot or water taxi are the primary modes of transportation.

How to get to Lamu Island

The only way to get to Lamu is by plane. There are road connections, but because al-Shabbab terrorists continue to threaten people, I don’t know anyone who drives. It is not worth the long and isolated drive. Fly540, Skyward Express, and Safarilink Jambojet are the airlines that offer flights to Lamu. There are flights from Mombasa, Malindi, and Nairobi. From the airport, a quick boat ride takes you to Lamu Island. To arrange a transfer, contact your hotel.

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