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Lamu Island: is it worth the visit?

lamu island

Happy New Year!

I have never been more eager to end a year. Don’t get it twisted: I love my birthday. However, having the toughest year ever makes one look forward to it with eagerness and an urgency of sorts. That, and the fact that I had never been to Lamu.

Visiting Lamu Island

I do not have a definite bucket list, but I have always wanted to visit the island. We attempted to inquire about another generally unknown island but the logistics were not adding up. Lamu was our second option and, like the younger and more energetic second wife, it did not disappoint.

Planning for a trip is one thing; actualizing one is where it is at. Having friends you can plan and travel with is one of the most incredible things in this age and time.

One WhatsApp group, hundreds of texts, and an unexplainable (seriously, I cannot put to words how energetic these guys are) energy birthed what is one of the best trips I have ever done.

We do not talk about the islands in Kenya enough. Lamu, for one, is underrated.

Narrow streets, donkeys everywhere you turn (naturally follows there’s quite a bit of donkey poop), fully-covered women, a few skimpily dressed tourists, and eager locals are what would be used to describe Kenya’s Lamu island.

Getting to Lamu Island

Lamu is accessible from parts of the country by air. You may also take a bus to the island. The flights are very cheap and convenient. Planning early will allow you get a deal, and avoid the tedious, and sometimes unsafe bus ride. Some of the flights that you might want to consider include Silverstone Air, Skyward Express, and Fly Sax. There are direct flights from Nairobi, Mombasa, and Malindi.

Never have I ever…

I had many firsts in Lamu: never had I ever had transfers from any airport by boat, never had I ever eaten wali wa mbulu, never had I ever rode on a donkey… I also got to see one of the largest collection of birds on the beach ever.

Where to stay in Lamu island

There are many places to stay in Lamu. If you are visiting with a large group like we did, it makes more sense to get a house with many rooms and share the costs. We scored a great deal, somehow. We also feel that, especially given we went there in the low season, had we shown up and sort for accommodation on the ground, we would have gotten an even better deal. I do this all the time and it works.

So maybe if you’re looking for a place to stay in Lamu, be open minded about it, book those flights and try find something while on the ground. Of course, there’s the risk of not finding anywhere. Okay. I don’t think that can happen. If it does, forget I even hinted such a thing! Worst case scenario is them hiking the prices once they know you’re desperate. Still, I feel like we had a very great deal; we got it off Airbnb.

How many days are enough for Lamu island?

We did 5 days, 4 nights in Lamu. I still feel like it wasn’t enough. This will obviously vary from person to person; if you’re the kind who skims over destinations, it should be more than enough. There are so many things to do in and within Lamu, you could easily stay there for one week and not exhaust everything. On that note, there are quite a number of islands near Lamu that are very magical and easily accessible from the main island.

What to do in Lamu island

There are endless rows of beach in the island and if you look well, you’ll find some where you’ll be the only one. My best beach was the Kipungani beach. It was clean, the waters were clear, and we were literally alone. Score! We also rode to Manda beach on the first day. During low tide, we had our boat guy (aaah wow! Sounds so fancy ? ) take us to some island. Doubt it has a name. We were in the middle of nowhere and had lots of fun. I’d go there early with a picnic. Be sure to remain conscious and alert enough to know when the tides are rising. The ocean is no one’s b***h!

Vitamin Sea

Besides island and beach hopping, be sure to explore the island on a donkey. Where I am from, donkeys are known for their ruthless kicks. Not the Lamu ones. They are calm and very dedicated. The locals also treat them with respect; you barely see any floggings – these are common where I come from. It’s a breath of fresh air having a place where one does not have to deal with the traffic jam that comes with most cities. It looks exotic. It’s different, and it is a great experience.

Farm tours

There are also farms near and within the island. Most of the food I have in Mombasa is from Lamu. I know it does not make sense for most people but it’s what it is. A tour to these farms would be worthwhile if you have some time to spare. Some are accessed by walking, others on a donkey, and the rest by boat.

Swimming with dolphins in Lamu Island

Love the deep waters? Be sure to visit Lamu island then! They have lots of diving and snorkelling spots. One also gets to swim with the dolphins. One of my friends did this and she cannot stop talking about it. Go there and make memories under water. Swimming with dolphins is one of the activities you can do in Lamu island, making it one of the few places in the Kenyan coast where that is possible.

Here comes the sun and I say: it’s alright ?

Mornings in Lamu

Definitely wake up for the sunrise when In Lamu island you guys – it is spectacular. It is also the time of the day where there are very few people on the streets. You also have a better chance to interact with the locals. The sunsets could take up a full blog. Do a sunset cruise or just delay at whatever beach you’re at and wait for this breath-taking piece of beauty.

Takwa Ruins

I loved the ride to the Takwa ruins. This is one of the many places in the coast region that have evidence of life but no extensive explanation is given on what happened to them. Remember Jumba ruins and the Marafa depression? Exciting! The ruins are mysterious as they should be; the ride there is where it’s at. You pass through mangrove channels. Never been to such a place and for that I’m very grateful.

Where are the foodies at??

I’d be wrong if I failed to mention Lamu’s food. Try out their food! I mentioned wali wa mbulu up there. This is an ugali-like meal. It’s made from rice flour mixed with coconut – delish! I was hooked; I want to go back there for that alone. There is also coconut cakes that may be found in the streets. I love the Swahili pizza, but the one in Lamu was very well flavoured and different from what we have in Mombasa. Try that!

Blessings upon blessings

Lamu got me thinking about a lot of things. But top on the list was how blessed I am to be surrounded by an amazing group of people of people I can count on to come through from time to time.

Now, Lamu is as diverse as my circle of friends. Each of them adds something to the puzzle (I swear this is the right word), and that’s what makes us complete. It’s a puzzle cuz we are not black and white; we are very different yet very similar. A puzzle because it is always fun piecing us together. A puzzle because you either enjoy the ride or fall of the wagon. In as much as I enjoy solo travels, I am always looking forward to be with these ones.

My birthday is the best day of the year it should be a national holiday; this year’s was over the top, mostly cuz of the destination but definitely because of my crew. I know you will read this and here’s gratitude from the bottom most part of my heart. I still want to seem gangsta ? , but I hope you know you’re appreciated, and I don’t take it for granted that you guys planned a trip for MONTHS! May all good things be ours, and I hope we do another trip together soon.

Cheers to friendship!