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. A traditional island of serenity where you can escape to this festive season!
There are three ways to get to Lamu from Nairobi
- By Flight-Boat
- By Rail-Bus-Boat
- By Bus-Air-Boat
The easiest and fastest way to get to Lamu County is by Air.
There are two daily flights to Lamu From Nairobi from both Wilson Airport and Jomo Kenya International Airport.
Time | Cost Breakdown
- Return Flight from 17,000Ksh
- Duration 1Hour 35Minutes
I got a complimentary return ticket from Silverstone Airlines for my very first trip to Lamu which was quite exciting. The 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 to Nairobi using the carrier. 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
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
This route is quite scenic especially if you enjoy the open road. There’s also a stretch of road that’s under construction.
Time| Cost Breakdown
Train to Mombasa from Nairobi
- KSH 1000
- 5 hours by Madaraka Express from Nairobi to Mombasa)
Bus to Lamu (Mukoye) from Mombasa
- KSH 1000-1100
- 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
- Board a bus from Nairobi to Malindi, there are a number of buses 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
- Bus to Malindi from Nairobi KSH 1500-1800
- 10-12 hours depending on the speed
Is Lamu Safe?
The Mpeketoni attacks that happened in June 2014 raised a lot of safety and security concerns
I spoke to some locals who assured us that Lamu is quite safe, adding that during the bus trip from Mombasa to Lamu ( Mukoye) 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 following the installation of street lights and the growing number of Motorcycles used to ferry people around. This provides the youth in Lamu a way of earning a living.
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 in Lamu 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 Lamu. The floating bar where you can have a drink and party the night away with the silhouette of Lamu town in the distance
Funniest 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.