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Detailed Information about Lamu


Lamu is one of Kenya's oldest towns on an island that is part of the Lamu Archipelago, off the Indian Ocean coast. Formed in the fourteenth century by Arab traders, Lamu Town's ancient culture is drawn from many sources. Its long exotic tale can be read in every step down the narrow streets, in the rich carvings of the heavy wooden doors, and in the markets where life continues unchanged since it's formation!

A magical place of great natural beauty from its rolling sand dunes to the depths of the Indian Ocean's sparkling waters, tranquil white beaches and simple culture, Lamu is steeped in history. The three villages of Shela, Kipungani and Matondoni are hubs of timeless customs - from fishing, traditional dhow building - the only mode of transport between the islands - and trade.

For the full, white-sand experience you need to go to Shela Beach, Kipungani Island, here you are guaranteed a private stretch of beach. The island holds two incredible spectacles - the century old Maulid Festival, and more recently, the Lamu Cultural Festival which takes place annually. They incorporate cultural and sporting activities, including boat races and the main highlight, donkey races.

Must do activities include dhow trips, swimming, snorkelling with dolphins at Kinyika, kayaking, romantic beach excursions, sailing with toppers and wind sailing. The white, endless coastlines are also ideal for romantic beach weddings.

Airkenya flies daily to Lamu, landing at Manda Island's Airstrip, from where you are transferred by speed boat to the Lamu Island, or your preferred destination.


Attractions in Lamu are an awesome mix of sights from age long era - the ancient Old Town, donkeys, dhows, ruins, several museums as well as endless endless secluded beaches.
For easy reading, these attractions are grouped by each of the Lamu archipelago islands.

Main Island

  • Anyone seeking a romantic getaway will love Lamu's infinitely long and secluded beaches. The 12 km (7 mile) stretch of the Shela beach, which is a 45 minute walk or a 10 minute dhow sail from Lamu town offers a long pristine white sandy beach. Shela beach stand's out from all the other beaches across the world because it isn't just long and private, but it is bordered by sand-dunes that are punctuated by tufts of vegetation.
    Lamu is also great for water sports such as snorkeling, windsurfing and diving as well as dhow sailing and fishing.

  • Dhows are elementary wooden boats and can be found in large numbers at the Lamu's main harbor. If you love fishing, plan to go on a fishing expedition with a local fisherman. The common fish types in Lamu are tuna, red snapper, kingfisher and sailfish.

  • The Donkey sanctuary provides free veterinary services to the Lamu's 3000+ beasts of burden. It caters for the sick and injured and even runs an ambulance service to quickly cart away these animals in emergency situations.

  • It is fitting that every ancient town boasts a raft of museums and so these are some of the popular tourist attractions of Lamu.

  • The best of these is probably Lamu Museum which exhibits various Swahili culture artifacts such as boats and the local architecture.

  • Lamu Fort Environment Museum, built by the Sultan of Paté in the early nineteenth century to defend the then prized trading town's waterfront, displays some subdued historical and environmental artifacts and houses the town's library. It is still worth a visit though, if only to take in some breathtaking panoramic views of the town.

  • The German Post Office Museum, a monument to Germany's failure to conquer Kenya, exhibits photographs and memorabilia from the colonial period.

  • The Swahili House Museum in Mkomani is a delightfully restored eighteenth century house which showcases Lamu's famous stone and "box" architecture.

  • Lamu is home to no less than 23 mosques, the oldest of which is Pwani Mosque which dates back to the fourteenth century.

  • The newest and largest is Riyadha Mosque built at the beginning of the twentieth century. Riyadha Mosque also hosts the annual Maulidi celebrations that commemorate the birth of Prophet Mohammed.

Paté Island

  • Because Paté is surrounded by a mangrove swamp, it can only be reached during high tides. Not surprisingly, Paté is a trading town with the characteristic Lamu winding alleys and double-storied box houses.

  • And, there are many attractions in Paté Island such as the Faza settlement and a couple of mosque ruins. The Siyu fort ruins are the most impressive of these attractions though.

Manda Island

Manda, which is just a narrow channel away from the main island, is home to the local airstrip where virtually all the aircraft land. Manda's most visited tourist attraction is the Takwa ruins which are remnants of a Swahili settlement which was abandoned in the eighteenth century, probably due to lack of fresh water.


  • The uninhabited Kiwaiyu is as pristine as it is picturesque. This charming island also offers plenty of coral reef and mangrove swamps to maneuver though.

  • Dodori National Reserve is another of the stunning Lamu attractions in Kiwaiyu. The game reserve's inhabitants include lions, giraffes, hippos, kudus and topis.

  • Dodori also offers an array of birdlife which includes the pelican, honey buzzard, palmut vulture, brown breasted barbet, violet breasted sunbird, Southern branded harrier eagle, brown hooded kingfisher as well the European and carmine bee-eaters


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