Lamu Island in Kenya is an incredible tourist destination. It is a peaceful tropical island where life is lived at its best-relaxed rhythm. 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 re-established Swahili House Museum is minor but somewhat very interesting to explore. An approximated 30-minute walk north of the town is the famous Shela Beach.
Tourists at the Lamu Island in Kenya establish fond memories of walking in the beautiful beaches and rolling dunes. There are small villages situated amongst the coconut and mango plantations and lateen sailed dhows ply the oceans. Lamu Island ancient streets, the market and regions around the fort have not been changed. 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. 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. 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 in Kenya
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 and streets in Lamu
Tourists enjoy 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 the island where the channel merges into the ocean, nearby the famous Shela village. It has an attractive beachfront and junk of slender sandy pathways. Shela village 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. There are busy markets and abundant donkeys in the town. Lamu Island in Kenya is delightful and authentic. The town’s vast wildlife, beautiful scenery and rich culture has made it to be recognized as a World Heritage Site.
Sail the traditional dhow
There are no vehicles in Lamu Island thus dhows and donkeys remain as the dominant forms of transport around the island. The only cars available on the island are two; one which belongs to the governor is preserved for official occasions, and the other 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 top-ranked celebrities, who tour the area during their vacations. At times, they opt to live in Lamu. Most of the townhouses are owned by people from the West. They are transformed into guesthouses: beautifully refurbished, full of character and realism. Townhouses 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, a few mosques, 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 at the village, the Fort of Shela, the palm-fringed 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 mew goods, brought new styles and 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. The highlight of it all is 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. Lamu’s Muslim locals act similar to their forefathers but with a significant distinction. Currently, the Island’s economy rotates around tourism. However, the antique markets still remain as the main source of income for the residents.
How to get to Lamu Island
Lamu is easily accessible 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. Contact us for inquiries and bookings to Lamu Island in Kenya.