All You Need To Know About Lamu Island Before You Visit

Lamu Island is situated in the northern part of Kenya as a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of one town and three villages with a ferry ride from Mokowe connecting to island where people use donkeys as cars since other motorized vehicles cannot be found on the island and it is part of the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya as a beautiful place of rolling dunes and endless beaches, where tiny villages nestle amidst coconut and mango plantations and lateen-sailed dhows ply the waters including dense mangrove forests fringing the mainland and the inland areas of the island.

This spot makes for an exotic beach holiday with centuries-old Swahili settlements, no vehicles or roads, and a few exclusive villas on its pristine beaches with Shela Beach about 12km long stretching on the island with beach-front guesthouses and villas for travelers.

Brief history of Lamu Island

Lamu Island is part of the ancient Arab trade route with Arabic influences seen throughout the island established port by the Arab traders and it has been in existence for over one thousand years hosting several explorers including the Chinese fleet of Zheng He which reportedly sunk near the island and eventually the survivors settled on the island and it had influences from Portuguese explorers, Turkish traders, and the Omani Arabs. Lamu Town is Kenya’s oldest living town and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site still possessing the original Swahili settlements hence it preserved the Swahili architecture with the majority of the people mainly being Muslims but the general population but with a diverse ethnicity.

Lamu Island attractions

  • Lamu Museum

The best museum is located in town housed in a grand Swahili warehouse on the waterfront and it is regarded as the second best in Kenya making it a good gateway as you’ll get into Swahili culture and that of the archipelago as well.

  • Lamu Fort

This squat castle was built by the Sultan of Paté between 1810 and 1823 and it was used as a prison from 1910 right up to 1984 but it currently houses the island’s library, which holds one of the best collections of Swahili poetry.

  • German Post Office Museum

Set up by the German East Africa Company, the Germans regarded Lamu as an ideal base from which to exploit the interior in the 18th century, before the British colonial government took control hence German expansion into Tanganyika, the present day Tanzania.

  • Donkey Sanctuary

This sanctuary has around 3000 donkeys available for the visitors on daily basis since there are no motor rides and bicycles here.

  • Shela Beach

Most people are here for the beach holidays on a 12km-long, wide sweep of pristine white sand perfectly great for Swimming, sun bathing and beach football among other activities.

  • Matondoni

This is the best place strategically located for you to see dhows being built northwest of the Island with a peaceful fishing village that receives few visitors.

  • Lamu Market

Although it is a bit noisy, this traditional Lamu market is best visited early in the morning as you can bargain for fresh tuna and sailfish; wade through alleys teeming with stray cats and goats.

Getting to Lamu Island

Visitors can reach the island by boat from the mainland or fly into neighboring Manda Island’s airport before crossing with the ferry. Reaching the Island by road is not possible but if you would like to rent a car in Lamu and drive around , we at Nairobi Car Rental Services will be more than happy to organize a car plus proffessional local driver to take you around this magnificent Kenya island.

If you are considering visiting the Lamu Island, simply call us today on +254-713510387 or send us an email to and speak with the reservations team.

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