Just a short 1h 30 flight from Wilson airport, the journey to Lamu itself is memorable. Sprawling coastal views transform into an extraordinary aerial visual of the archipelago, an intriguing network of islands, mangroves, sand banks, and mainland. Touching down in the quaint Manda airport, a short wander down to the pier leads you to a selection of boats and willing captains, eager to transport you across the water.
Cruising gently along the coastline opens your eyes to the bustle of Lamu Old Town, the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in east Africa. Constructed from stone and mangrove timber, the town oozes an ancient atmosphere through its busy alleyways. The Old Town is characterised by buildings which feature gorgeous inner courtyards, verandas, and large carved wooden doors.
With no vehicles on the archipelago, Lamu’s delightful simplicity shines through with donkeys and boats the predominant mode of transport. Passing the palm tree lined shoreline, our final destination was Shela village, a heavenly labyrinth of private houses and beautiful mosques, all connected by narrow lines which rise steeply behind the waterfront. Here, we stayed at the wonderful Coconut House.
Amidst the maze, discover art galleries, lovely boutiques, local vendors, and restaurants serving tasty cuisine. And the ambience? Utterly relaxing. During the heat of the day most travellers delight in siestas at home, or seek a cool breeze at the beach. By 5pm they emerge (as did we) to fill the ocean front restaurants, each of which is blessed with refreshing sea air and gorgeous views. Peponi is a sophisticated spot, teeming with people who venture for cocktails, excellent food, and a lively atmosphere throughout its bougainvillaea-covered terrace.