The Best And Fun Things To Do In Lamu

Lamu is an old town located on Lamu island, some 341 kilometres North East of Mombasa town.

The town is well-maintained evidence of the predominant Swahili culture. From as far back as the 14th century, the area was inhabited by different races, with some being there for the purpose of trade, and others simply quenching their spirit of adventure.

The town, therefore, was home to Arabs, Persians, Asians, and Indians. Gradually they began interacting with the local people and inevitably sired children of a mixture of different races.

Shopping on the streets of Lamu

It’s still home to foreign expatriates who decided to make Lamu their home. It is a town full of very diverse cultures that they seek to hold on to in a very intriguing way.

Of wonder too is how the buildings are constructed. They’re way too close to each other, the only space left can literally fit only human beings.

It’s very uncommon to spot cars racing around because there’s simply no space.

This is an island you definitely want to visit sometime when you’re in the coastal area; there are some fascinating views that will give you value for time and money.

Visiting The Shela Beach In Lamu

No one visits any part of the Coast and fails to visit the beaches. It’s almost illegal not to want to lie in the sun, having your skin get tanned as you watch the Azure blue waters and get lost in your thoughts.

Shela is a small town on the island, and its beaches are something to contend with.

Shela has one of the largest beaches, measuring roughly 12 kilometres long and contrary to what you think, it’s not crowded.

So when the sun gets too unbearable all you need to do is take a dip in the waters for as long as you like, grovel in the sand and simply let loose.

Such opportunities only come once you know.

Lamu Town

The unique design of this small town will have you wanting to take a stroll, so please do, and marvel at how unique cultures could blend together and make something so spectacular.

Lamu residents are friendly, welcoming to visitors and treat each other like family. No wonder their buildings are so close together. It’s like one big family occupying the entire island.

The buildings are uniquely designed, you might steal a few ideas and take them home.

You will either spot normal houses or villas as you walk around. And most definitely some donkeys, which seem to be the predominant means of transport for the locals.

You’d be really lucky if you spot a car on the island. As you walk around you could ask for information about the town’s history, the residents will be more than willing to sit you down and take you through it, or simply pass by the Lamu Fort that was constructed in 1830 to act as a slaves chamber.

Now it’s just an old museum with artefacts from way back, you will be mesmerized.

Visiting Manda Island and Dhow Sailing

Lamu does not have the luxury yachts and ships to ferry you to the waters, and if you need to cruise the ocean, you have to take the shows.

The experience is one of a kind, especially when the sun begins to set. You can catch a spectacular view of the ocean horizon (Insert Celine Dion’s song here.)

Dhow Sailing In Lamu

Sailing ranges from USD 40 to USD 60 and if your bargaining skills are top tier you might get a decent cut on the price. 

Manda island is only a few minutes away by sailing.

It is characterized by beautiful palm trees that make the perfect backdrop for taking stunning photos.

If you want some adrenaline coursing through your veins you could try the water sports activities at the place such as water surfing, waterboarding and Kayaking.

Take Part In Local Festivals and Try The Swahili Dishes

The Swahilis are well known for their prowess in the kitchen, so why not experience this first hand.

You could either choose to savour your taste buds at the luxury hotels or eat from the affordable street vendors.

Ranging from Pilau to Biryani and Viazi Karai, they’ll have you licking your fingers. 

Thanks to the well-blended cultures found in Lamu, you get to have the rare opportunity to sample different foreign cuisines, whether you’re looking to snack or have a full-course meal, you will not be disappointed. 

If you have the luxury of time while visiting Lamu, you should take part in the festivals held at the place, like the Yoga festival that will help you unwind and reconnect with your inner self.

The festival is held every year in March and is a come-together of different yoga lovers exchanging versatile ideas, you might want to try it.

Lamu is dominated by the Islamic culture, and they have festivals to celebrate their God like the Maulidi festival, so if you wouldn’t mind a little religious indulgence you could try that as well.

Touring Takwa Ruins

Located about thirty minutes from Lamu island, the Takwa ruins are found on Manda island and will have you marvelling at the unique architecture.

The Takwa ruins are an ancient trading centre where the Arabs and Persians came to exchange their wares.

It was established in the 16th century but later abandoned in search of better trading sites. 

The guards here have plenty of information about the history of the place, to how it’s withstood the test of time and remains to be a historic site. 

The site forms a perfect picnic area for family and friends. You could carry packed lunch and refreshments, then sit and marvel at how breathtaking the entire island is.

Shopping On Lamu Island

You can’t visit Lamu and the surrounding islands without wanting to take home something from the diverse cultures.

There are local artisans ever at work skilfully making ornaments to sell to guests, crafts from leather and woodwork, jewellery from shells collected at the beach and even garments from both the Swahili and expatriates residing there, paintings from the artists and even reed made baskets and hats.

All these are found along the streets you won’t sweat looking for vendors and the prices are quite affordable, or negotiable at least.

Visiting The Diamond Beach Village

Located on Mandu island, the Diamond beach village is well known for its show of films and movies.

You could either choose an outdoor or indoor setting and get lost in a world of artistic movies.

The shows air on Friday evenings, and you have to make a reservation early as the place could get really packed.

Things To Do In Lamu

While enjoying your movie, munch on a delicious slice of locally baked pizza, which is a far cry from the pizza we order every day.

This will have you questioning where you’ve been all that time, and afterwards, you can take a late-night stroll on the beach. The breeze is amazing.

Resorts, Bars and Restaurants In Lamu

If you’re planning to extend your stay in Lamu for a few more days, accommodation should be the least of your worries.

Swahili guest houses are the most common and very affordable on the island.

If you’re a group, however, a better alternative would be to rent out a house or an Airbnb, which are quite plenty. At least you get to do things however you like and even prepare your own meals. 

Should you fancy an exotic resort, Lamu has you covered in that too.

The Moon Rise restaurant in Lamu has an exemplary food array of both Swahili dishes and foreign cuisines. Not to mention the stunning view of the Indian Ocean from the restaurant.

If you’re hoping to indulge in drinks a little, they have that too, and you should definitely try their Margarita and cocktails. 

There’s no better way to let loose other than partying the night away in a safe high-end bar listening to some music or live band performing or simply the disc jockey putting together a collection of different music genres.

The Majlis resort is the perfect stop. For a price that will dent your pocket a little, make merry through the night and dance your fears away in a night under the cloudless skies. It doesn’t hurt to let our guards down sometimes, does it? 

In conclusion, the lifestyle in Lamu is very well laid back, you might steal a tip or two about taking things slow and living easy.

And ooh, the humid temperatures at Lamu are ideal for the breeding of mosquitoes, you might want to bring a repellent with you.

If you are in the mood for visiting another coastal town, check out the best things to do in Malindi here and Diani here.