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Four things to do when you visit Lamu


Tourists enjoying a sunset sail aboard the Lamu dhows on the calm blue waters of Lamu archipelago. {Photo/Joackim Bwana}

Lamu is an island stuck in time, for the most part. For the other part it is a study in co-existence of the old and the modern. Today motorbikes vie for space with Lamu’s famIsous donkeys. A trip here is ideal for a laid back time, typical of the coastal region, the pace in unhurried, combine that with being on an island, and there really is no rush to go anywhere. Here are some of the top hits of a holiday here.

Ride in a dhow

Transport in Lamu is mostly by boat. For those in a hurry, there are speedboats to take you skimming across the water.

For a leisurely time, dhows are the best. The island is best known for hosting mast sails during the famous Lamu Festival.

The dhows are a way of life, means of livelihood to the locals, and means transport for the tourists and locals.

A picturesque scene of small wooden floating boats along the bluish waters of Lamu greets the guests landing at the airport and seeking to cross to the ancient town and proceed to the four Islands of Lamu.

Traditionally, the hotels have adopted the culture of ensuring their guests get to enjoy an evening sail through the archipelago while enjoying the sunset.

As the dhows ride into the channels crossing the Lamu Island to Pate and Manda one is able to experience and appreciate the different views that Lamu has to offer. Like the pirate ships, the dhows raise their masts as they navigate the waters making angled turns that awe the guests aboard.

Most of the dhows are spacious with cushion seats set around to allow guests to relax and enjoy as the boat rock against the smooth waves while sailing from one island to another.

Sunset by the beach

Lamu sunsets are legendary. A quiet time by the beach as the sun sets is a perfect way to end the day. There are many hotels along the beach if you wish to sip a drink or lay on the a day or beach bed as you watch the sun set.

Then there’s is sunset at sea. Dhow rides out to sea for a sundowner is an amazing, calming experience.

Stroll down the alleyways

The alleys of Lamu are nearly as famous as the island itself. Winding narrow paths take you from one end of the island to the other.

Lining the alleys are a mix of old and newer buildings but the best part are the Lamu doors into these buildings. Walking down Lamu’s narrow streets with its intricately carved doors is something that sticks in your mind. 

The doors of Lamu are an attraction unto themselves, and a leisurely walk is the best way to see them lined out like art exhibitions. The narrow streets are a maze that could keep you occupied for hours if you like going exploring on your own.

Lamu’s paths are also a test of your navigation skills. One time I was down here and I kept getting lost in the maze.

Ride a donkey

Where else do you get the chance to ride a donkey? The donkeys of Lamu have a special place in the island’s history. There are no vehicles in Lamu but people and goods need to travel. Donkeys are the preferred mode of transport and receive the utmost medical care.

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