Lamu is a small enchanting island on the Kenyan coastline believed to be the oldest living town in East Africa.
Life in Lamu has a distinctive Arabic style and relaxed feel. It’s considered an island of tranquility where you can escape to this festive season!
How to get to Lamu from Nairobi
Did you know, the distance between Lamu and Nairobi is 467km while the distance by road is 661km?
There are three ways to get to the island, namely:-
- By Flight-Boat
- By Rail-Bus-Boat
- By Bus-Air-Boat
This is the easiest, safest and fastest way to get. There are two daily flights from both Wilson Airport and Jomo Kenya International Airport. One can also get a direct flight from Malindi and Mombasa.
Which Airlines fly to Lamu?
Airlines that fly to Lamu from Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi include:-
- Fly 540
- Skyward Express
- Safari link
Kindly note Jambo Jet no longer flies to the island.
How much is a flight from Nairobi to Lamu?
- Prices vary depending on when and where one books a flight. Generally it ranges between 14,000 ksh to 23,000 ksh (140usd -230 usd)
- The flight to Manda Airstrip in Lamu is 1hour 35Minutes
I partnered with Silverstone Airlines for my very first trip to Lamu. It had always been a dream of mine to visit the Island and they made it a reality with complimentary return tickets.
My flight departed at 2 pm and arrived at Manda Airstrip at 3:45 pm. Although the airline is no longer in service, you can opt for any other local carrier e.g Skyward Express, Safari Link or Fly 540
Remember not to lose or misplace your ticket especially when flying with Fly 540. During my recent trip from Malindi. I noticed they checked the ticket twice, before and after you arrive at your destination.
Carry your National Identity Card/ Passport
Also read: SGR Madaraka Express Train Refund & Booking
Although, the cheapest way to get to Lamu is by bus. I would not recommend this due to safety concerns with the main issue being the stretch of road between Malindi and Lamu. That being said, In the event that this is still your preferred mode of transportation, follow the directions below.
- Book a seat on the Madaraka Express Train from Nairobi to Mombasa (Miritini Station)
- Once in Mombasa County, one has a choice between getting an Uber, Taxi Cab or Matatu to Mombasa Town
- Alight at the Bondeni Bus Park Around DIB Bank on your way to the CBD.
- There are several bus companies that ply the Mombasa-Lamu (Mukoye) route e.g Simba Coach, Mombasa Raha, TSS but the most popular are of course Tahmeed and Tawakal.
- Once in Mukoye, take a 20minute boat ride to Lamu Town or Shela
Time| Cost Breakdown
SGR ( Madaraka Express)from Nairobi to Mombasa
- It cost Ksh 1000 (10 usd)
- A duration of 4 hours 30 minutes
A Bus to Lamu (Mukoye) from Mombasa
- It costs Ksh 1000-1100 (10 usd)
- 7-8 hours by road from Mombasa to Lamu
Boat Ride from Mukoye To Lamu |Shela Beach
- Public Boat KSH 200
- Private Boat KSH 500-1200 (5-12 usd)
- Board a bus from Nairobi to Malindi, there are a number of that ply this route, e.g Mash Poa
- Once in Malindi head to Malindi Airport by Taxi, Tuk Tuk or Boda Boda
- Take a 25-minute flight to Manda Airstrip from Malindi Airport then take a boat to Shela or Lamu Town
Bare in mind…most flights to Lamu from Malindi are in the afternoon so you want to board the last bus from Nairobi or plan for accommodation in Malindi, relax, eat then take a flight in the afternoon
Time| Cost Breakdown
- Bus to Malindi from Nairobi KSH 1500-1800
- 10-12 hours depending on the speed
- It costs 2500 (25usd)
- A duration of 30mins
Is Lamu Safe?
The Mpeketoni attack that happened in June 2014 as well as the recent one, raised the issue of insecurity.
I spoke to some locals who assured me the Island is quite safe. Adding that the main area of concern is the road between Malindi and Lamu. Also, one added that during the bus trip two armed police board the bus when approaching Mpeketoni and alight shortly after.
I found Lamu town pretty safe. Insecurity is at an all-time low following the installation of street lights and the growing number of Motorcycles used to ferry people around. This also provides the youth a way of earning a living.
When is the Best Time to Visit Lamu
The busiest month for tourism in Lamu is in December, followed by November and March. Prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these months.
The least expensive time to travel to Lamu is between June and August due to rains so lodging and other accommodations may cost less than usual.
January to March are the warmest months while cooler temperatures typically occur in July, August, and September. There are some rains experienced in November and December as well.
Things to do in Lamu
Stay At Kijani Hotel
Kijani Hotel is located on Shela beach. A 30-minute ride on a dhow that the hotel provides from Manda Airstrip. It’s a tropical paradise littered with frangipani and bougainvillea flowers, two freshwater swimming pools, and 10 spacious Swahili themed rooms. That will make your stay especially memorable.
Lamu Street Food Tour
We met Faiz, a young handsome Lamuarian, during a stroll to Lamu Town. It was the most random of encounters and soon after he happily dropped his plans for the day to help us explore his county.
We tried out Halua,Mkate wa Nyama, Chips Mayai, bokomoko, mshikaki. I have to admit I fell in love with Mkate wa Nyama, (it’s made of special dough, eggs, and meat and served in a newspaper ) A must-try.
Experience the Sunset Dhow
The experience begins at 5 pm, it entails a peaceful ride through the mangrove channel, a magical sunset and a visit to the only bar in on the island. The floating bar where you can have a drink and party the night away with the silhouette of town in the distance
The most hilarious part for me was watching the boats dock. They inch the dhows closer and closer to fill the gap between the club and the boats, while the rest wait in line or sail around the bar to the back entrance. Considering I got really tipsy I’m not sure how I even made it back to our boat without falling headfirst into the ocean.
Explore the Town
The best way to explore the town is on foot, I highly recommend getting a tour guide as one can easily get lost in the maze that is Lamu town. We were lucky to meet Faiz, who turned out to be a pretty amazing one. ( if interested, email me for his number )
Visit Takwa Ruins
The ruins are located on Manda Island which was once home to Kenya coast’s largest settlements. The community is believed to have abandoned the town in the 17th century.
This makes for a great day trip from Lamu.