It is perfect for adventurous travelers and holidaymakers who fancy something a little bit different from the experiences offered by other Kenyan destinations. Lamu is a beautiful area in which to escape reality with a beach break! The main island, with its large white sand dunes bordering serene waters, offers plentiful opportunities for land- and sea-based activities alike, including snorkeling at the coral reef off nearby Kiwayu Island.
Historically important as a stop on ancient trading routes, Lamu is full of Arab, Chinese, and Portuguese influences, from its architecture to the traditional dhows that are characteristic of these waters. No visit to Lamu is complete without enjoying a sunset dhow safari – a peaceful and magical experience!
Lamu is certainly off the beaten track, but the effort to reach it is well worthwhile. Visitors fly into the airport on Manda Island and transfer by boat to any of the other islands, including the largest, Lamu Island, which shares its name with the archipelago.
Lamu Island, in particular, offers an impressive number of activities. These range from leisurely hikes through the sand dunes, which are ideal for guests who favor a relaxed pace, to motorbike rides all around the island – great for guests who prefer to be speedy! There are no roads on Lamu Island, only alleyways and footpaths, so inhabitants travel on foot or by boat. Donkeys are used to transport goods and materials.
A visit to Lamu Old Town is another exciting excursion. This is one of the oldest and best-preserved of the remaining Swahili towns and as such has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. The town’s pretty boutiques mix interestingly with its mosques, while the maze of alleyways provides a place you can enjoy getting lost in for hours at a time. Built-in coral stone and mangrove timber, the buildings are famous for their inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors.
Two miles south of Lamu Old Town, Shela village has lots of friendly guesthouses and the most spectacular beaches. A floating bar off the coast of Lamu Island is another treat for visitors to this island, and Manda Beach on neighboring Manda Island is another highly scenic coastal destination to explore.