Lamu Town is one of the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa, but over time, the island has seen many influences, including Portuguese explorers, Turkish traders, and the Omani Arabs. Despite all these influences, Lamu developed its own particular culture, which has ultimately endured.
The island is a beautiful place of rolling dunes and endless beaches, where tiny villages nestle among coconut and mango plantations and lateen-sailed dhows ply the waters. Dense mangrove forests fringe the mainland and the inland areas of the island. Lamu boasts some of the most spectacular beaches with layers of white sand, traditional dhows and a pristine appearance. The most significant of these beaches is situated close to Shela village and consists of 12km of empty sands backing on to an ocean protected by a reef.
Spices and the smell of grilled food scent the air around the markets, museums, fort and ancient house. The winding streets of the towns are best explored on foot or by donkey, while shopping for local woodcarvings and batik.