Visiting Lamu as a Tourist
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If you’ve been mostly indoors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are probably looking forward to a trip to the Coastal towns of Kenya for a vacation. Lamu is a great option and in this post, I give you details of Lamu, brief history, the attractions sites and accommodations you can choose from. Lamu also appeared in our list of best places to visit in Kenya.
Lamu is within Lamu County, one of the 47 administrative countries in Kenya. Fahim Twaha is the current governor you can read more about Lamu County on their website here.
About Lamu as UNESCO World Heritage Site
Lamu is a port town and an island just off the coast of Kenyan shores. It is about 150km from Mombasa and about 660km from Nairobi.
Lamu was founded in the 12th century and it has best preserved the remaining settlements of the Swahili tradition in east Africa that remain today. The island has continually been inhabited for over seven hundred years, and continues to be an important center in eastern Africa. You can read more about Lamu’s rich history on their Wikipedia page here.
In 2001, Lamu Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO seeks to protect places that have a historical functions and for Lamu, here’s what UNESCO described as its historical functions:
Earliest Seaport of call in East Africa. Continuous practices of Swahili Culture. Unique Swahili Architecture. Islamic centre in East Africa and annual religious festivals.
You can read more about Lamu as a historic site on UNESCO’s website here.
Tourist Attractions in Lamu
- Walk along deserted beaches
- Explore narrow streets
- Sail in traditional dhow
- Rent a beautiful Swahili townhouse
- Visit Shela village and make sure you get lost
- Sunset watching on Manda Island
- Visit the runited city of Takwa
- Feast in some great Swahili food
- Just enjoy the slow life – pole pole tu
Best time to visit Lamu
Lamu lies in the Equator and experiences warm weather throughout the year. The only thing you need to take note is the rainy seasons. The best time you can visit Lamu is during dry seasons earlier in the year from January to early March and from July to October.
Things to do in Lamu
A good vacation to Lamu takes at least three days which gives you ample time to get the best of Lamu and its neighbouring islands.
Day 1: Check in on your hotel or Airbnb, get to know the Island’s Swahili dishes, shop around for cheap jewellery or coastal wear, get a nice restaurant such as the Mangrove Center, visit the donkey sanctuary, try Swahili coffee, get dinner at Olympic restaurant
Day 2: Do a Manda Toto Snorkeling Tour (you’ll need a guide to register and book a tour. You can contact Jawad here for a booking). Make sure to tell him whether you know how to swim or note and make sure he gets you all the Snorkeling gear. Get some seafood at Msafini hotel. You can also get seafood from the street.
Day 3: Visit Shela Island. From the main island, it will cost you about Kes. 100 ($1) to take a 10-minute boat ride to shela. Talk to this guy to assist.
How to get to Lamu
You can get to Lamu by road or via air.
To get to Lamu by road from Nairobi, you’ll spend at least 10 hours on the road to cover about 660 kilometers. To get to Lamu by bus, you need to book a ticket in Nairobi for a bus to Malindi. This would cost about Kes. 1500 ($15) to $ Kes. 2,000 ($20). There is a bus doing this route daily and it takes about 7 hours to get to Malindi.
When you alight at the Malindi bus terminal, you can take a short walk, roughly 10 minutes walk to the terminal where you can get another bus from Malindi to Lamu. It will cost you less than Kes. 1,000 ($10) and at least three hours to get to Lamu from Malindi. This site has details of a bus trip to Lamu.
You can also get to Lamu by Air and it would take you at least three hours as most airlines to Lamu have a stop-over in some cities such as Malindi and Mombasa.
Below is a table showing scheduled flights to Lamu weekly:
|Airline||Nairobi Airport||Departs Nairobi||Arrives Lamu||Departs Lamu||Arrives Nairobi||Via||Buggage|
|Fly 540||JKIA||10:40||12:40||13:00||14:10||Malindi to Lamu||20kg|
|SKYWARD EXPRESS||Wilson||9:00||11:10||11:30||13:15||Mombasa both ways||20kg|
|SAFARILINK||Wilson||13:30||15:15||15:30||17:50||Malindi to Nairobi||15kg|
|EAST AFRICAN AIR||Wilson||16:00(Mon,Wed,Sat,Sun) 14:00 (Tue, Thur, Fri)||17:15(Mon,Wed,Sat,Sun) 15:30 (Tue, Thur, Fri)||17:30(Mon,Wed,Sat,Sun) 15:30 (Tue, Thur, Fri)||19:15(Mon,Wed,Sat,Sun) 17:20 (Tue, Thur, Fri)||Malindi to Nairobi||20kg|
Where to stay in Lamu
When you visit Lamu, you have the option of renting an Airbnb or booking a hotel.
Airbnb vs Hotels
Airbnbs enable you to interact with local people and most importantly, most Airbnb are cheaper than hotels. Hotels along the coast in most tourist destinations such as Watamu, Diani and Mombasa are very expensive.
Best Airbnb in Lamu
You should check out the top-rated vacation rentals on Lamu’s Airbnb page. Because of reduced tourist traffic because of Covid-19 pandemic, you can stay at an Airbnb for as low as $15.
Below are some of my top Airbnbs you can book:
- JamboHouse Lamu – The cheapest option you can certainly afford
- BeachFront Manda Island – they are Airbnb’s ‘Super host’
- Lamu Island’s Seafront Villa 2 bedroom Apartment.
- Small family house in Shela
Best Hotels Lamu
#1. Peponi Hotel Lamu
Peponi Hotel is the best hotel in Lamu located in Shela Island, one of the islands in Lamu old town. This hotel has 28 hotel rooms with each room having a beach view and as a guest, you can choose from superior or standard rooms. All our rooms have ensuite bathrooms, overhead fans inside the mosquito net and personal safes.
|Name||Peponi Hotel Lamu|
|Tel and Cell:||+2542 0760 5750 and +2547 2220 3082|
|Website||Link to website|
|Booking link||Book on Tripadvisor on page of Peponi|
|Booking link||Book on Expedia on page of Peponi|
|Booking link||Link to Booking.com on page of Peponi|