Lamu is a peaceful, relaxed, tropical island on the Kenyan coast with a fascinating history. The island is full of beautiful beaches, rolling dunes, and small villages that exist amidst the many mango and coconut plantations. While there, lateen dhows can be spotted on the Indian Ocean waters and the people live their lives on their own rhythm.
Visiting Lamu is a must for both Kenyans and people from across the globe. It offers an experience like no other and an opportunity to enjoy authentic aspects of the East African coast, Islamic religion, and the Swahili culture.
The island’s biggest and most popular attraction is Lamu Old Town, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. This is owing to the fact that the town has managed to retain its ancient traditions. The town started as a settlement for the Swahili people back in the 14th century and despite receiving people from different parts of the world such as Portuguese explorers, Omani Arabs, and Turkish traders, it managed to remain true to its original culture. As such, it remains the oldest, best-preserved settlement of the Swahili people in East Africa.
Lamu Old Town is constructed in both mangrove timber and coral stone and is characterized by simple structures with beautiful features to enhance them, like unique wooden carved doors, inner courtyards, and verandahs. The streets are narrow and there are no vehicles on Lamu Island. Donkeys and dhows serve as the main means of transport. The people strongly believe in their customs and have great respect for the past and traditions.
The island has since the 19th century played host to a number of religious Muslim festivals and is a significant destination for those who wish to study more about the Swahili and Islamic ways of life.
While Lamu is a great place to visit throughout the year, it is particularly popular during the festive season, from December all the way to February. These are the drier months and they offer a fantastic, summery break from the busy city life as you will get to enjoy Lamu’s slow pace at the seaside.
July is also a great time to visit as it is generally dry. In fact, you can combine a great safari with a trip to Lamu in July.
Other months could see more rain, but it doesn’t mean that it will rain all day, every day. And while in the dry months, prices rise and the town gets quite busy with Kenyans and foreigners looking for a great getaway. So in case you are looking to save on costs, travel during the rainy periods. During that time, the cost of rooms and apartments decrease and it will be easier to get a good deal on your excursions.
Generally, whichever time you choose to visit the island, you will get to enjoy the long hours of great sunlight. This makes it more convenient for you to participate in the many activities the island has to offer.
You will, however, spend more in December, November, and March in respective order. Hotel rooms and flights become more expensive as they are the peak months. If you would still want to visit during these months but save some money, make accommodation bookings in advance and buy your tickets months before.
Lamu’s climate can best be described as tropical savanna, warm throughout the year but with both wet and dry seasons.
The average temperatures on Lamu Island range from 26°C/79°F to 31°C/88°F so the Island is generally warm, especially between January to March. It gets cooler between July and September with temperatures ranging from 23°C/73°F to 26°C/79°F. The water temperatures range from 26°C/79°F and 30°C/86°F, making swimming so much fun.
The Island is also humid with midday to the late afternoon being the most humid hours. January to March make for the most humid months.
The Island receives short rains between October to some days in December although, in April and May, more rains are received that could go up to June. This is because Lamu is a bit further up north compared to other popular beach destinations in East Africa such as Diani.
Lamu Island can easily be reached by plane from Nairobi, Mombasa, and Malindi. Cheaper options include the train (SGR) and the bus.
There are many exciting and relaxing things to do on Lamu Island. Travelers get to fully immerse themselves in the rich Lamu culture while exploring the beautiful town and relaxing on the warm sandy beaches. The warm and welcoming nature of the Lamu people will certainly make you feel at home.
The Island offers a range of activities:
A visit to Lamu Island feels like going back in time. Especially if you’re coming straight from Nairobi, or even from out of Kenya, you’ll be amazed to step into what feels like a completely different world.
The climate and lifestyle will force you to take a well-deserved step back.