When my friend invited me to Lamu for a three-day fun ride, I wasn’t about to turn it down. I had just quit my 8-5 and in need of a fun trip to celebrate my newfound freedom! So, I booked the next available flight and headed to Lamu, an island I had only heard so much about but never had the pleasure to visit.
The sole airport in Lamu is in a nearby island – Manda – and then you get to Lamu through a speedboat. All fun, right? Right, and especially if the combo of speed and water is your thing.
A little about the Island; Lamu, is the undisputed land of serenity and donkeys. Last time I was there, there was only one car on the Island that is the property of the County government. The regular mode of transport is donkeys, and so you can imagine the lack of pollution. Just perfect!
Hello, Unwelcoming Seafront
No lie, the seafront that welcomes you to the Island isn’t pretty. It is littered with dhows that fishermen use for their dawn fishing expeditions, but you discover soon enough there is more to the Island than an unsightly seafront.
After settling in what was to be my abode for the next three days – my friend’s spacious guest room – I took off for a tour of the Island. The Lamu street food scenery is incomplete without kaimati, mkate was sinia, viazi karai, and deep fried rice snacks called vitumbua. They also have their version of glazed donuts that will wreak havoc on your waistline if you are not careful. That and sweet caramel tea that is just the perfect sundowner.
Even with a healthy helping of snacks in my tummy, I still had room for prawn curry and grilled lobster that was served at Seafront Café. I knew I would be back for their fresh pineapple juice a few times before I left the Island.
The nightlife in Lamu gives you two options – Petleys Club or uummm.. Petleys. So we went there to dance dinner off. Music was a combo or Taarab, local hip-hop, Bongo flavor, and international RnB. What makes it even more exciting and fun is the diverse crowd that meets here. Drinks are limited in variety, but we don’t mind, do we? We are here for the music and making new connections.
Shela, is that you?
My host had told me about Shela, which you can either reach by foot from Lamu, or take a 5-minute boat ride. You can have this expansive stretch of white sand all to yourself during the low season. Now, the season doesn’t get any lower than a Wednesday mid-morning in June. You can bet I had the entire kilometer – or so – of the whitest sandy Kenyan beach I had ever experienced to myself until an hour later when a couple of tourists joined me.
After swimming and lounging on the sand for hours, I ventured into Shela town to find some food – steamy coconut rice paired with sinfully delicious chicken curry. Later, after riding a donkey for the experience – and the Gram – I came back for spicy Uji – an unforgettable treat that I was never ready for! I left the beach and took a seven-minute boat ride to the Floating Bar; a structure set up about a kilometer into the ocean that rocks with each wave. It is the absolute best spot to watch the sunset.
Holidays are for Chill and Tan
I spent the last day of my holiday in Shela, doing everything that I did on day two – stuffing my face, swimming in the ocean, and watching the sunset from my favorite rocking bar. Some Kenyan holidays are simply for chilling and eating way too much, and that was exactly what I achieved in Lamu, but I loved it.