Lamu Island is a place full of enthralling history, culture and landscape. It's a place of rolling hills, endless beaches and tiny villages nestled among coconut and mango trees. Lamu is home to Old Town, the greatest attraction not just in coast but the whole of Kenya.
The island has seen many visitors and influences, including Portuguese explorers, Turkish traders and the Omani Arabs. All left their mark, but Lamu developed its own particular culture, which has ultimately endured.
Lamu’s narrow streets remain unchanged, and in the markets and squares around the fort, life moves at the same pace as it always has. There are no vehicles on this island, and the donkey and the dhow remain the dominant form of transport.
Visiting Lamu is to enter another world where life slows down, and long days are spent strolling along the waterfront, exploring the town or relaxing on the beaches.
1. Lamu Museum
The best museum in town (and the second best in Kenya) is housed in a grand Swahili warehouse on the waterfront. This is as good a gateway as you’ll get into Swahili culture. Exhibitions focus on boat-building, domestic life and weddings, the intricate door carvings and traditional silver jewellery.
2. Lamu Fort
This squat castle was built by the Sultan of Paté between 1810 and 1823. From 1910 right up to 1984 it was used as a prison. It now houses the island’s library, which holds one of the best collections of Swahili poetry and Lamu reference work in Kenya.