Tucked in Kenya’s Northern Coast, Lamu Island offers a timeless appeal rich in culture and breath-taking oceanic views. Fly with SafariLink to enjoy 10% discount by entering the code Nomad1 upon booking
Places to Stay
SUBIRA HOUSE, LAMU TOWN
Tucked away in a little side street of Lamu town is Subira House, the creation of Paul and Christina Aarts. The hotel offers well appointed and comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and small garden. If not staying, stop by for a meal in the courtyard under the stars. Food is slow cooked here with the freshest ingredients from its own garden.
$51-$120 per night
LAMU HOUSE HOTEL, LAMU TOWN
On the edge of Lamu town, this stylish hotel offers quiet seclusion away from the fray. The entrance opens up into a charming open courtyard, small pool, and petal-bedecked seating. Some rooms overlook the seafront, giving a quite different perspective on a Lamu sunrise. The hotel has its own beach club for guests on Manda Bay.
Under $200 per night
A long-standing favourite for an international crowd, Peponi Hotel is the place to stay in Shela. It boasts a spacious honeymoon suite above the main restaurant, a pool transformed into a lovely dining area at night, and a fine restaurant serving up crab, lobster, and everything in between.
Under $200 per night
DIAMOND BEACH VILLAGE, MANDA BAY
Take a taxi boat over to Diamond Beach, a more rustic restaurant and hotel over on Manda Bay. Fridays are film and pizza night, and the weekly event draws a big crowd of Lamu residents and visitors alike. The bartenders serve up some of the best cocktails on the archipelago.
$51-$120 per night
If money is no object, try taking a dhow for a night for something completely different, Chefs whip up tasty fare in the open-air galley, while guests sleep out on the deck under the stars.
To experience Lamu’s slow-living pace, we recommend gathering a group of friends or family, and taking a private house for a few days. It was a tough call to narrow the offering down to just six. Here’s our pick of the crop.
BEST FOR SUNDOWNERS
Forodhani House, Shela
Photos barely do this house justice. Its corner positioning – it stands on the spot of the old watchtower – means that guests can enjoy 270 degree views out towards Manda, and down towards Lamu town from its expansive dining terrace. A nicer spot for a sundowner is hard to imagine (and a sunriser, too, if there were such a thing). There are separate, more intimate seating areas, too, for when your fellow guests get too much.
Price from $500
BEST FOR STYLE
Kilamawingu House, Shela
Designed by an Italian architect for the Peugeot family, this is a very special house facing out over the Manda channel. Particularly lovely is the corner master bedroom, with windows facing out on two sides, catching the opposing breezes. The use of Indian fabrics and large doses of colour reminds you this someone’s private house, lending it a more intimate feel than many places on the island. Sleeps 10.
From 400 euros per night
BEST FOR LOCATION
Beach House, Shela
This private residence is one of Lamu’s most stylish properties. It benefits from being right on the beach, and in a previous era was the location for some of Lamu’s more renowned parties. The spacious bedrooms with their own verandahs have unrivalled views over the channel towards Manda Bay, and guests can climb to the gazebo on high ground behind the house to catch the sunset. The pool area is so inviting that you might never feel the need to step out the front door onto the beach. Sleeps 12-14.
BEST FOR COUPLES
Betty’s Suite, Shela
It can be tricky finding a small house in Lamu. Sometimes all you want is a romantic bolthole without compromising on views and luxury, and Betty’s Suite certainly offers all that. The double bedroom opens out onto its own outdoor seating area complete with private infinity pool. Particularly appealing is the bathtub overlooking the sea. Now there’s a view. Sleeps 2.
From $250 per night
BEST FOR CULTURE LOVERS
Andavelo House, Lamu town
This airy villa at the heart of Lamu Town is an escape in the truest sense of the word. When the town becomes too much, take refuge in this stylish oasis with its own courtyard plunge pool. The house is filled with gorgeous Lamu antiques, bureaux and high-standing beds. Climb to the rooftop for views over Lamu town and harbour. Sleeps 12.
Suites available from $100, whole house from $300
BEST FOR BEACH LIFE
Pepo House, Kizingoni
A 15-minute boat ride from Lamu Town is the golden beach of Kizingoni, and perhaps the last thing you’d expect is to find on this more deserted part of Lamu is a large private villa. Pepo, meaning “wind” in Swahili, is a tall, modern villa designed to catch the cooling sea breezes, and exudes Lamu-style comfort with its spacious bedrooms and outdoor dining areas. It has its own large pool, and the beach is just a few minutes walk away. The house has its own boat for excursions, giving guests the freedom to act on their whim. Sleeps 12.
Ksh40,000 for the whole house
Five Magical Experiences in Shela
- Harvesting fresh natural rock oysters at Manda Toto island
- Snorkelling and swimming with dolphins at Kiniyka Rock
- A sunset sail into Lamu Bay on a traditional Lamu dhow
- Exploring the ancient ruins of Takwa
- Drinking a fresh madafu (coconut water) in Lamu Old Town’s market square
On Pate Island to the north of Lamu is Siyu, once a thriving metropolis and major centre of Islamic learning. Siyu Fort is a particularly well-preserved coral structure that is thought to date back to the 19th century. It is unusual in that it was built by locals, rather than imposed on them by foreigners. The Lamu yoga festival takes place annually in March.
PLAYGROUND OF THE RICH
Long before mainstream tourism reached Lamu, this Indian Ocean island has been a discreet paradise and playground for some of the world’s most private people.an affluent set of bankers, film producers, and European actresses, would flock to the island, converting crumbling old merchant houses into coral-coated chic villas, or building new ones.
MAD FOR YOGA
Every evening, an airy room in Banana House Wellness Centre is transformed into a scene of contorted bodies. It’s just yoga, but the practice has taken off in Lamu, where every year a yoga festival attracts more than 350 participants. The Lamu yoga festival takes place annually in March.
*Booking period is from 1st Feb to 31st March, and flight period from 1st Feb to 31st May*