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Lamu Life | Our Co-Founder Bee Visits Lamu Island, Kenya
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Lamu Life | Our Co-Founder Bee Visits Lamu Island, Kenya

On a recent visit to Kenya I took a few days to revisit the Lamu Archipelago which lies just below Somalia in the far north of the country. Surrounded by the warm Indian Ocean these islands are a joy to visit for both travellers with a budget and those without! There is food and accommodation and plenty to do for all. You fly into the small airport on Manda Island and hop onto a boat over to Lamu Town or Shela. Declared a World Heritage Site in 2001, Lamu Town is small and fascinating. There are a myriad of narrow alley ways to lose yourself in. Cars are banned and locals get around on donkeys, motorbikes and camels.



Lamu is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited down and one of the original Swahili settlements along the coast of East Africa believed to have been established in 1370. The town blends Arab and African culture with a feeling of laid back sedate charm. The narrow streets are lined by imposing traditional Swahili houses built out of coral stone.. These unique stone houses dating back to the early 18th century are guarded by high walls and intricately carved wood doors leading to shady courtyards with staircases rising up to terraces cooled by the breeze with stunning views across the sea. Many of the restored houses maintain beautiful decorative stucco plasterwork and intricately carved wooden screens over open windows. The thick stone walls cool the buildings and the plentiful small open windows to let the cool sea breezes blow through the house. 



Wandering the meandering narrow streets you pass local family homes and restored mansions. The coolness of the streets are welcome against the midday sun and most houses have little porches in front where local’s sit and chat and drink tea. Motorbikes and donkeys navigate the narrow passages carrying everything from people to supplies to sand (used in building). Cats snooze in the sun, children rush about and everyone has the time to say Jambo (welcome in Swahili).



My home for 2 nights was the Dar El Eden lovingly restored. The welcoming, cool pool on the ground floor (complete with swimming tortoise) to the incredible roof terrace at the very top with a Makuti roof, various seating areas, view out over the sea to the airport. Each wall, each corner and each room displays beautiful art and comfy spots to sit and dream. About a mile or so down the way is Shela. You can walk the corniche pathway at low tide and at high tide there are numerous little private boats as well taxi boats. Shela is a lot more laid back and a little more sophisticated with an 8 mile beach of white sand – it has long been known as a destination for fairly well off tourists and the prices reflect this. My two days there I woke at 6am and walked along the deserted beach, talcum powder soft white sand, underfoot with donkeys, morning coolness and sunrise – what better way to start the day! 



The calm Indian ocean is a delight to float in – perfect. Sitting on the beach welcoming the sun, watching the boats bobbing around the Indian Ocean. Morning coffee at the Peponi Hotel and then back to my accommodation to have breakfast on the roof terrace. Take a little wander around the narrow maze of streets before the sun gets too hot and then grab a book, back to the terrace and relax! I spent two nights at Shela and then 2 nights in Lamu – perfect break! A languid undisturbed atmosphere to dream tranquil dreams and kick back. There are lots of activities you can do that I did on my last visit but this time I just swam, relaxed, and read – what bliss.

Here are some perfect places to stay – there are plenty to be found on Airbnb which is where I found my lovely place. An old building consisting of two ensuite rooms and a roof terrace about 50m from the beach.

Where I stayed:

  • Shela : Furaha House
  • Lamu Town : Dar El Eden (both found on Airbnb)

Where I ate:

  • There are many small restaurants in Shela including Sea Suq with a stunning view over the ocean or the Peponi Hotel with a buzzing bar and good food.
  • Lamu has a selection of small restaurants dotted along the harbour front with the smarter Lamu House Hotel offering respite from the hot sun under cool fans and great cocktails.

Things to do:

  • Visit Takwa Ruins on Manda Island
  • Take a Dhow trip for the day – fresh fish cooked on board and the wind in your hair
  • Visit Matondoni – a peaceful fishing village where time has stood still
  • Or just wander, read and chill!

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