Discover Kenya’s Hidden Gem: Lamu Island

Lamu Island sailing boat
Lamu island is a unique and beautiful destination within Kenya that offers visitors a chance to experience an authentic Swahili culture. With stunning natural scenery and a variety of activities it’s the perfect way to finish a Kenyan safari holiday. Here is why we love Lamu so much.

There are two main islands guests generally stay on in the Lamu archipelago, Lamu Island and Manda Island. Manda is a more secluded island and offers a more luxurious experience while Lamu island is more vibrant, offering a chance to immerse yourself in the island’s culture and history.

How do you get to Lamu Island?

The easiest way to get to Lamu is to fly into Manda Airport,  just a short boat ride away. There are twice-daily flights from Mombasa and Nairobi throughout the year.

What’s the best time to Visit Lamu?

The best time to visit is from June through to September and December through to March when it’s outside of the rainy season. The weather is more comfortable, however, better weather does mean higher prices.

What is there to do in Lamu island?


Lamu is a popular destination for a whole host of watersports from snorkelling to scuba diving, kayaking and paddle boarding. Guests can also take a dhow boat trip to explore the coastline and nearby islands, stopping to swim and enjoy drinks on board. This is one of the best ways to explore Lamu.

Visit the Donkey Sanctuary

The Lamu Donkey Sanctuary is a non-profit organisation that provides veterinary care and protection for the island’s donkeys. Guests to the sanctuary will learn about the organisation’s work and interact with the donkeys.

Explore Lamu Old Town

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its well-preserved Swahili architecture, traditional culture and historical significance as a trading port. Explore the maze of narrow streets and alleyways lined with traditional Swahili houses and historical sites in Lamu Old Town.

Lamu Museum 

The Lamu Museum is located in Lamu Old Town and offers guests a chance to learn about the island’s history and culture. Exhibits include artefacts, traditional Swahili houses, and a display of the island’s traditional dhows.


Where is there to stay in Lamu?

Peponi Hotel, Lamu Island 

This is a beautiful family-run hotel located on the stunning Shela Beach on Lamu Island. Established in 1967, Peponi Hotel is renowned for its warm hospitality, exceptional service, and breathtaking ocean views. The hotel boasts 29 stylish rooms, including suites and beachfront cottages, each with a unique design that reflects the island’s Swahili culture. Guests can relax in the hotel’s pool, savour delicious cuisine at the restaurant, or enjoy a drink at the bar. The hotel also offers a range of activities, including dhow boat trips, fishing and watersports. With its charming ambience, stunning location, and world-class amenities, Peponi Hotel is the perfect place to stay while exploring the island. You may even spot a famous face or two at the hotel bar.


Decorative picture of Peponi Hotel

Peponi Hotel in Shela, Lamu @peponihotel

Kizingo Lodge, Lamu Island 

Located on the southern tip of Lamu Island, Kizingo Lodge is a tranquil and eco-friendly retreat that offers a unique and authentic experience. The lodge features just 6 beachfront bandas, each with a thatched roof and open sides that provide stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape. Guests can relax on their private verandas, enjoying the gentle sea breeze, and taking in the panoramic views. The restaurant serves delicious dishes made with the freshest of ingredients from the lodge’s organic garden. With its secluded location, beautiful surroundings and commitment to sustainability, Kizingo Lodge offers an unforgettable experience.

Lamu House Hotel, Lamu Island

Located in the heart of Lamu Old Town, Lamu House is a charming boutique hotel that offers a unique and authentic experience of the Swahili culture. The hotel is a beautifully restored traditional Swahili house, featuring exquisite architectural details, hand-carved furniture, and tasteful decor. The rooms and suites are spacious and comfortable, with large windows that offer stunning views of the town and sea. The hotel’s rooftop terrace is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy panoramic views of the island and is a peaceful oasis in the midst of the bustling town. With its authentic charm, warm hospitality, and prime location in Lamu Old Town, this is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the culture and history of Lamu Island.

Majlis Resort, Manda Island 

Nestled on Manda Island, Majlis Resort is a luxurious beachfront resort that offers a tranquil and serene retreat in Lamu, Kenya. The resort features elegant villas and suites that are decorated with Swahili-inspired furnishings, and offer views of the Indian Ocean. Guests can indulge in a range of activities such as relaxing on the beach, enjoying spa treatments, or taking a dip in the resort’s infinity pool. Majlis Resorts restaurant offers an array of local and international cuisine. The bar has a selection of refreshing cocktails which can be enjoyed while admiring the breathtaking views. The resort also offers activities such as dhow boat trips, snorkelling and diving, making it an ideal destination for water sports enthusiasts. Majlis is the ultimate destination for those seeking a luxurious and tranquil escape in the midst of the beautiful and unspoiled Lamu archipelago.

Decorative picture of Majlis resort

Majlis Resort Aerial View across to Lamu Island

Banana House and Wellness Centre, Lamu 

A unique and tranquil boutique hotel located in the heart of Lamu Old Town. The hotel features 7 spacious rooms, each tastefully decorated with traditional Swahili furnishings and modern amenities. The hotel’s rooftop terrace offers stunning views of the town and sea, making It the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the island’s beauty. Banana House and Wellness Centre also feature a wellness centre offering a range of treatments and services designed to promote relaxation and well-being. Guests can enjoy yoga and meditation classes, spa treatments, and healthy meals made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. The hotel’s central location provides easy access to Lamu Old Towns’ historical sites, bustling markets and lively restaurants and guests can take dhow boat trips to explore the island’s pristine beaches and coastline.

The Cabanas, Manda Island

A beautiful and relaxing beachfront retreat located on Manda Island, a short boat ride away from Lamu Island. The hotel features 12 spacious and comfortable cabanas.  Each has a private veranda that offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding landscapes. The cabanas are tastefully decorated with traditional Swahili furnishings and offer modern amenities for a comfortable stay. The hotel’s restaurant serves delicious local and international cuisine with ingredients sourced from the local market and as well as mouth-watering meals. Guests can also enjoy a host of activities including yoga, dhow boat rides, massages and more. With its beautiful location, serene atmosphere, and commitment to sustainability, The Cabanas Lamu is the perfect place to relax and unwind while exploring the natural beauty of Lamu Island.

To Sum Up

Lamu Island offers a unique and authentic experience for visitors who are looking for a peaceful and tranquil escape. From exploring the narrow streets of Lamu Old Town, relaxing on pristine beaches, and enjoying a range of water sports, to staying at one of the many luxurious hotels, Lamu Island has something to offer everyone. The island’s rich Swahili culture, stunning natural scenery, and commitment to sustainability make it a must-visit destination.

Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the island’s history and culture or simply relax and unwind, it is the perfect place to escape and rejuvenate. With its warm hospitality, exceptional service, and breathtaking views, Lamu Island promises to be an unforgettable experience for all our guests.


Author: Kim Messervy-Evans

At the age of 20 I packed my bags and headed to South Africa where I studied for 6 months and qualified as a FGASA Safari Guide. Since then I have been involved with travel. Even when I’m not working I’m following around my pilot husband to different European cities. Travel is addictive!