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Lamu

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About Lamu

A small island off the coast of Kenya (and the main part of the Lamu archipelago), Lamu is a place of great beauty and tranquility. A haven for artists and writers, it is a wonderful destination for a romantic break or family holiday. With its white sandy beaches, colourful coral reefs and ancient Swahili culture, Lamu is a wonderful place to unwind. Our pick of the best places to stay in Lamu are all ideally located for soaking up the island’s charms; the majority are small intimate resorts, but we've also managed to track down a couple of charming little hotels.

Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been inhabited for over a thousand years. The architecture reflects this long history with many traditional Swahili houses still standing. The narrow streets are lined with colourful markets selling everything from spices to fresh fish.

The main attraction is the Lamu Fort, which was built in the early 19th century by the sultan of Pate. It has been beautifully restored and is well worth visiting. There are also many mosques on Lamu, including the Riyadha Mosque, which was built in 1900 and is one of the largest on the island.
The beaches are some of the most beautiful in Kenya. They are long and sandy with clear blue waters ideal for snorkelling and diving — the coral reefs surrounding Lamu are some of the best in East Africa, and there are plenty of operators offering boat trips to see them at their best.

Lamu is a great place to go if you want to get away from it all. Our pick of the best places to stay in Lamu are all wonderfully secluded hideaways offeringt a slice of laid-back barefoot luxury!

The best places to stay in Lamu

For a total hideaway

  • Kizingo is a truly special hideaway located on Lamu's south west coast, set amid dunes on a long sandy beach. All of the eight palm-thatched bandas has sea views, romantic king-sized beds and a balcony for soaking up the sunsets. The restaurant offers seasonally changing, Swahili influenced menus and children are welcome. It's great value too!

On Manda Island

  • The Majlis Resort is a charming small hotel in a beachfront location with wonderful views over to Lamu Island. Meticulously designed, spacious rooms effortlessly combine supreme comfort and luxury. There are two pools (both with great views), a restaurant serving international cuisine as well as Swahili and Indian dishes, and a spa for pampering treatments.
  • Manda Bay is a boutique lodge on Manda Island's northern tip. Set in a secluded palm fringed peninsula you can expect deserted beaches, coral gardens and cottages surrounded by indigenous forest. A romantic, unspoilt and idyllic beach retreat.

For Shela

  • Kijani Hotel is a charming property with just ten rooms set in buildings which feature the best of Swahili architecture. Comfortable accommodations are spacious and decorated with a smattering of antiques. Plus there's a freshwater pool and rooftop restaurant for local seafood and Swahili curries.
  • Peponi has long been the place to stay on Lamu. Set right on the beach in Shela, it's an intimate hotel whose rooms have been designed with a nod to the lsland's arab heritage. There's a romantic pool dining area which is perfect for honeymooners and the popular Fisherman's bar for lively evenings.

For a self catering villa or apartment

  • If you think you'd prefer a self-catering property, check out the selection with our online partner, Booking.com.

Travel Information

  • Fly to Manda Airport via Nairobi, Malindi or Mombassa. Your hotel will happily organise onward travel from there.
  • If you wish to hire a car, visit our partner, Rentalcars.
  • There is no bad time of year to visit Lamu, but the driest seasons are between July and November and January and February. Average daily highs stay in the early 30°s year round.

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Best Hotels in Lamu

  • Peponi Lamu 29 rooms from £152

    Beach Life  -  Watersports, sunset or moonlight dhow cruises, unspoilt beaches and ancient sand dunes make this coastal paradise.
    Lively  -  Hip and happening.
    Fishing  -  Peponi’s deep sea fishing boat 'Little Toot' with its experienced crew offers some of the best sports fishing in East Africa.
    Local markets  -  Discover the Lamu Old Town on foot or by donkey (no cars on the island) and pick up some real treasures.
    RestaurantSwimming PoolGardenViews

    A house that grew into an intimate hotel set by the calm waters of the bay. Arabic rooms painted in white with four poster beds and lovely sea views. Romantic pool dining area perfect for honeymooners. The popular fisherman's bar creates a lively atmosphere at night. Paradise. See More

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  • Kizingo Lamu 8 rooms from £156

    Beach Life  -  Chilled out beach huts, white sands, miles of unspoilt coastline and plenty of watersports
    Active Holiday  -  Fishing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins- there is something for everyone.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Hideaway  -  You can hardly find a more secluded or peaceful spot, soak up the peace, quiet and tranquilty.
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyViews

    Relax and chill out in this sandy, barefoot hideaway. Palm-thatched spacious bandas with sea views with romantic king-sized beds and private verandahs. The perfect beach retreat with a range of exciting activities - dolphin watching, snorkelling, fishing, sailing and body surfing. See More

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  • Kijani Hotel, Lamu Lamu 10 rooms from £206

    Romantic Break  -  An intimate hotel complete with romantic rooftop restaurant and sea views
    Families  -  An owner-run property with a very family friendly ethos
    Sailing  -  Charter a dhow boat and explore the surrounding islands and perhaps even spot some dolphins
    Fishing  -  Fish in the channel between Manda and Lamu
    RestaurantSwimming PoolGardenNo pets

    A charming guesthouse offering an enviable location right on the beach in Shela. It’s an informal place, popular with families and couples. Comfortable and spacious rooms have a spattering of antiques (including four-posters) and there are freshwater pools and a rooftop restaurant with sunset views. See More

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  • The Majlis Resort Lamu 25 rooms from £234

    Hideaway  -  This seaside castaway seclusion is ideal for those wanting a serene and wholesome seaside break
    Families  -  Family-friendly, with babysitting services and kids activities offered
    Sights nearby  -  Lamu Town (an UNESCO World Heritage site) has the oldest “living” Swahili settlement in East Africa
    Designer  -  This is a place whose every square foot feels thoughtfully, intentionally designed
    Air conditioningRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessViews
    Recommended by  -  Tablet

    A Lamu Archipelago hideaway with private beachfront and meticulously designed interiors combine comfort and luxury. Featuring a pool, a relaxed bar and a restaurant offering fresh seafood cuisine. A serene retreat for both relaxed and more adventurous tastes, with water-sports and safaris offered. See More

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  • Manda Bay Lamu 16 rooms from £437

    Beach Life  -  Make the most of the sun, sea and sand- from fishing to snorkelling and even trips on the hotels traditional Dhow sailing boat.
    Honeymoons  -  Private villas nestled in the lush vegatation, large beds draped with muslin nets and private couples dining under the stars.
    Local markets  -  The hotels boutique stocks local crafts from all over East Africa, from handcrafted jewellery to delicate beaded slippers.
    Fishing  -  Head out reef or deep sea fishing on the East African coast, famed for its range of sport fish.
    RestaurantSwimming PoolGardenViews

    Privacy and tranquility on a secluded palm fringed peninsula. Empty beaches, coral gardens and indigenous forest surround individual cottages, each vibrantly decorated with local fabrics and with private verandahs. A romantic, unspoiled and idyllic beach retreat with plenty of water sports. See More

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