Guide To Lamu Kenya – Everything You Need To Know
Lamu Island is a beautiful island destination in Kenya located off the coast of Northern Kenya, Lamu Island is one of the main islands making up the Lamu Archipelago.
The island has a beautiful history of being a trade center that dates back to the 14th century and an abundance of beautifully preserved Swahili and Islamic architecture.
Here is guide about everything you need to know about the beautiful island of Lamu.
Things to do on Lamu Island
Explore Lamu Town
Lamu Town has so much history to explore during your holiday, spend a morning or afternoon as you stroll around small roads running through the town. Strolling Lamu Town feels like being frozen in time, you will observe daily life of the locals on the island in the colroful markets and winding alley streets.
Your mind will be blown by the beautiful Swahili designs on architecturally impressive buildings, visit a number of wood carving workshops around town. If you are feeling hungry, you can grab a quick bite from any one the street vendor and get a taste of the local food.
Visit the Takwa Ruins
The Takwa Ruins are a historical site on the South Side of Manda Island also called the Takwa Settlement, this settlement is an ancient Swahili Village on Manda Island founded around year 15th Century and was abandoned in the 17th century due to salination of the once fresh water and endless fighting between the Takwa and Pate people.
The ruins were first excavated by James Kirkman in 1951, in 1972 more clearing of the sites was done under the supervision of James de Vere Allen. These ruins were gazetted as a National Monument in 1982, the ruins nest amidst giant baobab trees.
Taking a walk in the Takwa Ruins provides an information about the history behind the village buildings which are mostly ruins.
Walk along the 12 Kilometers Beach and take a sunrise Swim
The beautiful City of Shela is situated in the South of Lamu bordering a long white sandy beach, this city is perfect place to relax in the afternoon, read a book or enjoy a glass of cocktail as you watch the sun set.
Incase, it gets hot you can jump into the azure blue waters of the sea. Take a walk to the old fort or even a bit further to the 12 kilometers of empty beaches a head of you
Watch a movie and have Pizza at Diamond Beach
The Diamond Beach Village situated on Mandu Island is a wonder hotel to stay during your holiday in Lamu, the hotel holds movie nights with Pizza every night, they show quirky, art-house movies and serve delicious brick oven pizzas.
From Shela or Lamu it takes only 10 – 20 minutes by dhow.
Shop in Shela or Lamu Town and buy beautiful jewelry, art or clothing
Shela and Lamu Towns have amazing shopping centers, however do not expect large shopping streets or tourist bazaars. There are a number of beautiful shops in Lamu and Shela Town where you will buy beautiful jewelry, art or clothing.
Some of the nice shops to shop in Shela Town include Aman – selling beautiful clothes, jewelry and interior pieces, Africa corner with a few shops selling nice caftans, jewelry and African art. Also, you will find Masai men on the boulevard selling jewelry, clothing, interior pieces and paintings.
Some of the nice shops to shop in Lamu Town include Mohammed Silversmith that makes silver jewelry among other things such as washed – up ceramics. Isiah’s wooden Fish Workshop making wooden fish from a washed-up wood and Gallery Baraka selling art and jewelry from all over Africa.
Take a yoga class
For visitors who fancy some sportive activity while on a holiday in Lamu, Hotel Banana House offers yoga classes every day at 9 am and 5 pm. The Dutch owner Monica often teaches herself and is the organizer of the annual Yoga Festival.
Sail on a traditional Dhow Boat
A sunset sailing trip with a dhow is a must do activity on Lamu Island, this activity is offered in local wooden vessel which was used during the Arab trade on Indian Ocean and the coast of Kenya.
These boats were also used to transport exotic spices and goods between East Africa, Asia and Arab, due to the growing transport means they boats became scare which adds more mystery on the experience.
Dhow Boat trip in Lamu is offered as half day, fully day and sunset dhow cruise. During the cruise, you will enjoy the serenity of the Indian Ocean and encounter local fishermen going on with their fishing excursions.
Where to eat and drink on Lamu Island
There are many amazing spots to eat from on Lamu Island and these include
- Kijani Resturant
- MaraRaha Village Lounge
- Floating Bar & Restaurant
- Ali Lamu
- Diamond Beach Villaege
- Al – Mabrook
Where to shop on Lamu Island
There are many shops were offering great shopping experience on the Lamu Island and these include
- Ali Lamu – this little shop specializes in beautiful bags made from recycled cloth
- Natural Lamu – located in the village, this shop specializes in various cosmetic and spa products such as Anti – Aging oil mix. They also sell bags.
- Aman & Aman House – these are two very stylish boutiques selling clothing and homeware
- African Corner – this nice gift shop is situated next to the Natural Lamu shop
- Maasai Market – sells beaded jewellery, you can buy some of the amazing pieces which are set up on the seafront
- Janet’s Collection – this village little shop sell reasonably – priced kikoys and Swahili dresses.
Getting to Lamu Island
The best way to reach Lamu Island for a holiday is by plane, there are domestic flights offered by ambojet, Skyward Express, Fly540 and Hahn Air flying from Nairobi to Manda Airport on Manda Island.
Alternatively, you can fly direct from Mombasa or Malindi.
From the airport, it is a short boat ride
When to visit Lamu Island
Lamu Island can be visited at any time of the year, however the best time to visit is during dry season which runs July to October (cooler) and January to February (hotter and more humid).
May is usually the most rainy month on Lamu Island, December is usually a very busy month due to the festive season.
Where to stay on Lamu Island
There are many great accommodation options to stay at during your holiday in Lamu and these are dotted around the island, the accommodations are categorized as budget, midrange and luxury and they include
- Banana House
- Jua House
- Peponi Hotel
- Amani Lamu
- Dudu Villas & Lamu Backpackers
- Makubwa House
- Jambo House
- Lamu House Hotel
- The Manjlis Resort
- Diamond Beach Village
- Cabanas Eco Lodge
What to wear on Lamu Island
Lamu is a Muslim Island therefore, they are very conservative. As a visitor when walk around the town it is best to cover up their knees, chest and shoulders most especially women. Around the beach and the swimming pool at the hotel and resorts, swimsuits are fine. However, tiny bikinis and going topless is prohibited.
Remember to bring oversized white shirts, maxi dresses and Kaftans.
At Lamu Island, it can get very hot so remember to bring light clothing.
Tip: bring a lot of insect repellent to save you from bites of sand flies and mosquitos, also bring sunscreen.