Lamu is an incredible tourist destination, it is a peaceful tropical island where life is lived at its best-relaxed rhythm, and it has an incredible and mysterious history of the fascinating winding streets of its feudal stone town. The main city on the Island, which has the same name, situated in Kenya’s northeastern coast, serene Lamu Island, was established in the 14th century, it is the country’s oldest living town. It is also known as the best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. Tourists at Lamu Island can also tour Lamu Museum, which has two-centuries-old Lamu Fort. The reestablished Swahili House Museum is minor but somewhat very interesting to explore. An approximated 30-minute walk north of the town is where the famous Shela Beach.
Lamu Island is a beautiful holiday destination, with fond memories of walking in the beautiful beaches, and rolling dunes, they are small villages situated amongst the coconut and mango plantations and lateen sailed dhows ply the oceans. Lamu Island ancient streets have not been changed, and around the market and regions around the fort, life is lived at its own relaxed rhythm. The Island has no vehicles, and thus the donkey and the Dhow are the dominant means of transportation.
The locals of Lamu Island are believers of tradition and custom, and it is a stable society built on the bases of the past. Lamu Island is a hypnotically exciting place to tour; it is even more incredible with the friendly locals. Visiting Lamu is like traveling to another world, and most of the time, visitors feel being part of the world. Lamu Island is relaxed, and people spend the long days strolling along the beachfront, touring the town, or relaxing on the seashores.
THINGS TO DO AT LAMU ISLAND
Lamu Island has a unique coastal culture, which is an outcome of a long and rich history. Portuguese and Arab forts, feudal towns, and deserted remnants of Swahili outposts are evidence of the centuries of trade between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The Island of Lamu embodies this legacy.
Lamu Island is an exceptional place to tour. Life here rotates around long beach strolls, dhow sailing, and study of the old Swahili settlements and culture with their distinctive coral-stone townhouses.
Walking along Deserted Beaches
Walking in the deserted beaches with amazing driftwood while watching dolphins offshore. The best areas for a beach stroll are some kilometers south of Lamu Town, in the eastern side of Island where the channel merges into the ocean, nearby the famous Shela village. It has an attractive beachfront and junk of slender sandy pathways, while in Shela it is not far from sand mounds and the isolated beach
You can also explore the incredible streets of Lamu Town. The city has an ancient fort, built with beautifully carved doors, busy markets, and the abundant donkeys in the town is delightful and authentic Lamu Island has not recognized it as a World Heritage Site for no reason.
Sail the traditional Dhow
There are no vehicles in Lamu Island; thus, Dhow and donkey remain the dominant forms of transport around the Island. The only cars available on the Island are two which belong to the governor, preserved for official occasions, and the one is an ambulance. Acquisition of a dhow for a luxurious cruise around the archipelago is an incredible experience that you should not miss when touring the Island.
Renting a gorgeous Swahili townhouse
Shela village is famous for Western expatriates and also top-ranked celebrities, who tour the area to calm down, and at times, they opt to live here. Most of the townhouses are owned by people from the West. They are transformed into guesthouses: beautifully reestablished, full of character and realism, townhouses are what in many ways make Lamu unique. Especially the stunning Jaha house.
Exploring the Shela village
While touring Shela, you cannot afford to miss navigating the sand-lined maze of pathways of this small settlement. It has so many donkey wide backstreets, winding amongst the tall stone townhouses, small-sized thatched huts, and also has a few mosques and ruins and an expansive square ringed with some market stands.
Sunset gaze on Manda Island
The uninhabited Manda Island situated just across the channel from Shela offers the best spots for observing the magnificent African sun setting behind Lamu Island. You can also have a glance of the village and the Fort of Shela, the palm-fringed, massive, deserted beaches. It is also possible to have a sundowner, for instance the beautiful The Majlis.
Touring the ruined city of Takwa
The Manda Island was once known as the Kenya coast’s largest settlements, but the settlers of the area abandoned the town in the 17th century. The cause of immigrants leaving the city is argued, but the most likely reason was the exhaustion of freshwater on the Island. Currently, the coral stone remnants are a popular destination for tourists from Lamu or Shela.
Feast on the Swahili food
The intercontinental trade with Oman India Zanzibar and other continents introduced goods and also brought new styles, but it also transformed the cuisine of Lamu. It brought a unique and classy mixture of Eastern and African, more advanced than the ancient diet of the locals.
The common foodstuffs to be introduced are the curries and pasta, well-prepared coconut rice with mango chutney, and, most of all, the sweet seafood: which is productive of a palette of flavors improved by cinnamon and fresh coconut milk.
Visit the vegetable market for culture study
The Lamu Island beautiful narrow streets have not been changed for decades and life here is relaxed. Lamu’s Muslim locals act to the same way of life of their lineages, with the significant distinction: currently, the Island’s economy rotates around tourism. But, the antique markets still the main source of income to the residents.
How to get to Lamu Island
Lamu is easily accessed by air. There are scheduled trips every day from Nairobi and also Mombasa, Diani Beach, and Malindi. The Island has an airstrip on the neighboring Manda Island. The airfield can also be accessed by private tourists.