Lamu: a Kenyan island paradise

An island with no cars, no asphalt and no traffic lights. Where do you find that these days? High in the Himalayas, there anyway. But so also in a somewhat more tropical place, on the coast of Kenya in Lamu.

As soon as the doors of the plane open you feel the warmth. The sun’s rays warm your skin. Karibu sana! Welcome to Lamu. The airport has been renovated in recent years. Although you don’t have to expect a running luggage belt. All luggage just goes with a cart that a man pushes forward. So be kind and don’t travel with 20kg ;-).

lamu-town-harbor lamu-town

By boat, you arrive first in Lamu Town. A cute, somewhat chaotic waterfront village. Here you will find the big vegetable market, hotels and here you can withdraw money with your regular bank card. All transportation is by foot or donkey. There has recently been 1 brick road especially for the ambulance. As a vegetarian, I immediately look for somewhere to eat. There are plenty of wonderful spots to be found on Lamu. Go for coffee or breakfast at Whispers Coffee. Highly recommended according to many!

Vegetarian food on Lamu

In terms of food, Lamu is fortunately fine for vegetarians. Since the population lives on what the sea provides them, there is little meat available. Of course in the restaurants there is meat to be had, but when you eat more with the locals, you see that there are mostly vegetables and fish on the menu.

Therefore, for me as a vegetarian, I was not looked at oddly for not eating meat, but rather for not eating fish. How can you live without fish? During my stay, I slept with a good friend, her boyfriend and their infant daughter. My friend’s friend in particular couldn’t imagine not eating fish. And kept repeatedly asking me if I really didn’t want to taste a piece of fresh tuna now. Eeeh no, sorry Omar. No fish for me. I suspect he is still sitting at home shaking his head. By the way, he and his daughter cooked great, even without fish.


What is there to do on Lamu?

Of course, you can sit on the beach all day and slowly tan your skin. But what if you still want to do something active? What is there to do then ?

1. Sailing trip and snorkeling

In Lamu, you can go sailing on a typical dhow. These are original Swahili boats that sail with 1 sail. The mechanism is simple but effective. A special experience when you sail through the mangroves. There is also a motor on the boat, because well…the wind is a little shy at times. On such a sailing trip, you also get the opportunity to explore marine life. Snorkel and swim among the exotic fish and sea turtles! I definitely found it highly recommended.

lamu-dhow lamu vacation

2. Go to Shela

Forget Lamu Town. This is the place when you want to relax and unwind. Do you really want a nice hotel? Then go sleep at Banana House. The owner is Dutch Monika Fauth and has lived on Lamu for just under 20 years. Banana House is a household name on Lamu. An oasis of trees, flowers and a fine swimming pool for optimal relaxation.



Monika has also been organizing the Lamu Yoga Festival for several years. Together with as many local people as possible and everyone who wants to do their part. As a result, the festival does become a little more successful and professional each year. Awesome!

My great heroine Floortje Dessing was also on Lamu and visiting Monika.

Watch the broadcast of 3 on travel:


3. Relax on Diamond Beach

Do you really want to completely unwind and be a little cut off from the outside world with large beach where there is almost no one? Then go to Diamond beach. Take a boat from Shela and you’ll be there in 7 minutes. You may use the beds at the beach when you order a drink or lunch. Or just sleep at the somewhat (more expensive) Diamond Beach Village.


4. Hiking through the dunes of Lamu

There is a very large dune area behind Shela and Lamu. You can walk for hours here or stroll along the vast 12-km beach at Shela. When I was there, I hardly saw any people. What peace and quiet, that’s something different from hut to hut on a Spanish beach.

Safety Lamu

Many tourists skip Lamu because of possible danger from El Shabab. This is a shame! When you fly into Lamu there is nothing to worry about. Going by land is not recommended. Book tickets inexpensively through fly-sax or fly540. And check with the hotel if it’s safe. In my experience, people who live in the place have a better view of whether something is/isn’t safe.

Helping out at Donkey Sanctuary

What seems idyllic on one side-no highway-has another side. The donkeys are used as pack animals to transport stuff anyway. Many people treat their donkeys very well, which as an animal lover is good to see. But unfortunately there are also some less well cared for donkeys among them. That’s how I saw donkeys with wounds.

Fortunately, there is a Donky Sanctuary Hospital in Lamu Town. Here they take in injured, old and neglected donkeys. You are welcome to lend a hand in caring for the donkeys. In addition to good care, Donky Sanctuary Hospital also provides education. For example, they organize an annual event where the best cared for donkey and his or her owner win a nice prize. And, of course, eternal glory on Lamu. Kenyans take this event extremely seriously, and so there are many examples where the donkeys do have a good life.


In short, if you are going to Kenya, a visit to Lamu should not be missed! And would you like to get into the mood in advance? Then make the vegan Kenyan Pojo I learned from my friends there.

More on Kenya: