BY Lisa Lindblad
September 5, 2013
Here is my Lamu cheat sheet –
Overview: While many now opt for an end to their safari in a private house in the blander Watamu or Malindi on Kenya’s southerly coast, there is nothing quite like Lamu. The most northerly outpost of the important Swahili people, whose geographical and cultural roots can be traced back thousands of years and across a third of the globe to China, Yemen, Oman and India, Lamu has a spirit, aesthetic and ethos that is unique. This island offers more than lovely water and beaches; it presents a vibrant people and their way of life and asks – no insists – that you engage. And so you come away from Lamu not just washed with sea water, sun, fresh crab, fragrant jasmine and the distant call to prayer, but you leave revived with new friendships and a mental slideshow of unforgettable images.
Where to Stay: Must stay in Shella, the southern end of Lamu island. On Manda the only option is the Manda Bay Hotel although I would certainly combine this with a stay on Lamu.
Best Hotel: Peponi is still the first choice. Opt for the new second floor apartments which are lovely.
Private House: There are many lovely houses to rent at all price points and different room combinations. Forodhani is one. Honeymoon House, owned by director Chris Henley, is one of the most glamorous. Be careful. management and staff are of key importance in a rental.
Best Restaurant: Peponi’s food is good for lunch or dinner. Manda Beach Club serves up delicious fresh grilled fish and chicken on the Manda beach facing Lamu. In Lamu town, lunch at Lamu House.
Best Oysters: on the jetty in front of Forodhani House.
Best Samosa: Anyone who sells them
Best Kikois: Abdul at Aalyshah Designs in Shella.
Best Chic Shop: Aman in Shella
Best Local Art: Ali Lamu
Best Jewelry: Magik Grace, Lamu Town
Best Furniture: Omar, Lamu Town
Best Jehazi Boatman: Nasir, boatman of LALETI, Shella/Lamu Town
Best Mozambique Dhow Boatman: Omar and Habib, boatmen of NAOMI, Shella
Best Dog; Gumbo at Peponi’s
Best Kangas: Found in the freezer in the back of an unlit duka whose name is a tight lipped secret of mine.