Exploring Lamu Island

Exploring Lamu Island

The Lamu Archipelago is a collection of dyllic islands off the far north coast of Kenya. For centuries, this was an important trading post where dhow traders traded spices, mangrove poles and ivory.

Lamu Town on Lamu Island is a highlight; a magical, atmospheric, slightly crumbling old Arab port. Here, unique Swahili traditions and customs have been preserved from outside influence. There are no cars in Lamu town, as the alleyways are too narrow. So, your transport is by donkey, dhow boat or on foot! Life appears to have changed very little over the years. The streets are lantern-lit at night and the scent of spices and seafood mix in an irresistible way. You can spend happy hours watching the fishermen, the traders and the donkeys. The more energetic can shop for local woodcarvings or crafts.

On the other side of the island, a 10 minute boat ride away, low-profile Europeans have renovated old houses in the nearby village of Shela. Some of these are let as exclusive-use villas.

Activities include windsurfing, creek fishing or deep-sea fishing, sailing, and day trips to Lamu Town. The ancient ruined forts of Manda Island is another highlight. From November to March, there is snorkelling and diving on offer.

Other islands nearby include Manda and Pate. These have Swahili ruins dating back centuries, as well as some luxurious hidden-away beach retreats such as Manda Bay.