Escape to East Africa’s most enchanting island…

Nestling against the beautiful, unspoilt Indian Ocean coast of northern Kenya, Lamu Island is one of the most beguiling places on earth.

Little changed in centuries, Lamu has long been renowned for the warmth of its welcome to visitors, its rich and colourful maritime trading history and its distinctive Swahili culture – a unique amalgam of African, Arabian, Indian and European influences.

Unique and unpackaged, tranquil and traditional, sleepy yet sophisticated – in a world that is increasingly rushed and regimented, Lamu remains a wonderfully authentic and unhurried retreat.

“Lamu is a tiny island filled with hot, hot days, perfect sea breezes and empty white-sand beaches. It has crumbling Arabic houses, narrow twisting streets, hectic marketplaces, stunning sunsets… In short, it is wonderful.”

The Times

“Lamu is a place I would be interested in visiting again – it is top on my list. I went there with Michelle after our engagement and I remember taking the dhow to fish and cooking the fish right at the beach – it was remarkable.”

Barack Obama on ‘magical’ Lamu

“Where do European jet-setters and grubby backpackers collide? Only on the island of Lamu. With its rich and raffish history as an Arab trading port, its idyllic beaches and its downright bizarre mix of characters, Lamu may just be Africa’s most exotic hideout.”

W Magazine

“It is at nightfall that Lamu Town becomes even more magical, as shop-owners light up their counters with candles or lanterns, and people bustle about the narrow lanes or sit in the dark chatting in chairs outside their houses, the men wearing white Muslim caps, the children skipping past.”

Huffington Post

“The eight-mile crescent of Lamu Beach runs south from the Swahili village of Shela. The dawn walk along the water’s edge to breakfast at Kizingo Lodge is a rare chance to explore a virgin Indian Ocean beachscape. Translucent pink crabs scuttle into the sea, sand dollars litter the beach like confetti and birdsong drifts from the dunes beyond.”

‘The World’s Best Beaches’ Daily Telegraph

“Lamu island’s venerable old town blends Arab and African culture with a sun-baked, siesta-time feel that gives it a wonderfully sedate charm”

Daily Telegraph

“Marrakech on the beach – talcum-soft sand, maze-like alleyways filled with the scent of spices and ancient dhows bobbing on the Indian Ocean…”

The Guardian

“There are no words to describe the beauty, the mystery, the tranquility of Shela. It’s like something out of a dream. It is and always will be my dream vacation.”

Vanity Fair

“You’re guaranteed to have Manda Beach to yourself – except for the fishermen who arrive with baskets of just-caught sailfish, lobster and fat shrimp for your cook to choose from.”

New York Times

“Kiwayu Island is almost deserted, except for one small camp – the people, the ambiance and the beach are all perfect and understated.”

Vogue

“This is a luminous world – half sea, half sky, divided by low horizons of dunes, mangrove creeks, deserted beaches and coral reefs… its waters the haunt of turtles, pelicans, dugongs and whale sharks.”

Daily Telegraph

Handpicked Holiday Homes

Staying in a fully-staffed private house is one of the best ways to enjoy a visit to Lamu, and here we present a selection of our favourites. They range in style from the simple and rustic to the elegant and luxurious, and we are pleased to recommend each as a special, distinctive and authentic place to stay.  At all you are assured of a memorable and relaxing break in gorgeous surroundings.

Lamu Town

Lamu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest living town south of the Sahara and the best-preserved settlement in East Africa.

Shela Village

Sleepy yet sophisticated, Shela Village sits two miles to the south of Lamu Town at the start of the island’s wonderful 8-mile beach.

Manda & Kiwayu

On the beautiful and low-key desert islands of Manda and Kiwayu, beach life is even more relaxed and laid back than on Lamu.

Kizingoni Beach

Situated on the remote and unspoilt South West coast of Lamu, at Kizingoni Beach peace, seclusion and beautiful sunsets are guaranteed.

1

Lamu Town

2

Manda Beach

3

Shela Village

4

Kizingoni Beach

5

Manda Bay

6

Manda Airport

New Holiday Homes for mid 2018

Kuni Jogoo
Mama Daktari House
Full Moon House
Kiwandini House
Uzio House

Boutique Beach Lodges & A Magnificent Dhow

Get even further away from it all at a laid-back and luxurious beach lodge – here are three of our favourites. Or explore all the pleasures of the archipelago from the deck of ‘Tusitiri’ – a unique and beautifully-appointed ocean-going dhow whose home port is Lamu.

Manda Bay, Manda Island
The Kabanas, Kizingoni Beach
Mike’s Camp, Kiwayu Island
Tusitiri Dhow, Lamu

What our guests say…

“One of the best houses in one of the most magical places in the world – Lamu island is like nowhere else on earth and Forodhani is of the most amazing houses there. Metres from the ocean with amazing sea views in two directions – the dhows sail past so close to the terrace it feels that you should be able to reach out and touch them.  The staff are incredibly friendly and the chef is among the best in Shela”

Jerome, Nairobi, on Forodhani House, Shela

“We had a wonderful stay at Maridhiya House and felt very much part of the community as the house is located within the old town. The house has been beautifully restored and the people of Lamu are so kind and friendly and welcoming – Kahindi and Dixon are amazing chefs and fantastic hosts! Thank you for answering all of my many questions – we would definitely visit again.”  

Barbara, Canada, on Maridhiya House, Lamu Town

“I would just like to thank you for your help and information. We had a great time in Lamu – and especially at Gaba Gaba House! Tommy and Abdalla were very helpful and friendly and the food Tommy made was first class! We really hope to go back to Lamu again.”

“Thank you so much – Gaba Gaba, Shela, Lamu and everything here is truly fantastic! Tommy and Abdulla are taking good care of us – we are already planning to come back another time.”

Hanna & Carina, Nairobi on Gaba Gaba House, Shela

“Just 20 minutes by boat from mainland Kenya, Jahazi House overlooks a deserted golden Indian Ocean beach. Constructed from coral blocks, traditional plasterwork and palm-leaf thatch, this spectacular house has a private courtyard pool for laps under blazing skies, a roof terrace and five Swahili-style bedrooms. The latter have four-posters and intricately carved door frames. Best of all are the accommodating staff, including boat captain with speedboat and private chef. It’s tempting to just read, relax and dine sublimely on local organic produce.”

Harper’s Bazaar on Jahazi House, Kizingoni Beach

“Our stay on Lamu was really incredible – such a beautiful, interesting and accessible island to explore! And Nyota House was wonderful – the pictures did not disappoint!”

“We really enjoyed our stay in Lamu. Nyota House is very beautiful and provides a good feel for Swahili architecture and culture. While the house provides the opportunity to fully immerse oneself in Swahili life and the Old Town, it is also private and peaceful with a beautiful small pool and cool roof terrace.”

Katherine & Koen on Nyota House, Lamu Town

“Maridhiya House is spacious, comfortable and tastefully decorated down to the smallest details – we all appreciated the comfortable baraza benches on the first and second floors –  perfectly positioned to catch the cooling sea breezes. We went sailing, fishing and snorkeling to Manda Toto, had endless walks along Shela and its dunes, watched the sunset and moonrise from our terraces, rode donkeys and picked sand dollars… Kahindi and Dickson served us lovely breakfasts and were always more than happy to please. Thank you all for turning our little break into a memorable holiday!”

Angie and Ludo, Diani on Maridhiya House Lamu Town

“The staff were absolutely wonderful and at New Year they created a very special dinner for us by the pool. The menu and quality of food was really good and the chef was excellent and very creative. We really enjoyed the culinary experience and the variety of sea food that was available. The management team was great – very proactive and responsive to our needs.”

“Our stay at Betty’s suite was fabulous! The manager, Nina, and the house staff were very welcoming and made sure that we had everything we needed during our stay. Nina kept in touch and let us know about local events that might be of interest to us. We look forward to staying here again.”

Christine, Nairobi on Betty’s Suite

“What a great place this is! We stayed for six days but I could have easily stayed longer. The house is a heaven of tranquillity – we specially enjoyed the amazing rooftop which has a great view and very comfortable lounge area. There is also a constant breeze so it never feels hot on the rooftop, which made it our favourite place. The house manager was very friendly and resourceful which was a great asset for our holiday. I would definitely recommend Nyota House and I’m hoping to come back again soon. Thanks so much!”

Dieter, Nairobi on Nyota House, Lamu Town

“Just to say many thanks for the rent of your villa last week. We had a fabulous time and Jeremiah, William and Ahmed looked after us very well.”

“La Marelle House is a wonderful house with great staff and a really nice boat! And Marcella the owner is a great and thoughtful hostess!!”

Jeremy & Theresa on La Marelle

uzio house lamu“My favourite house in Shela, filled with gorgeous memories. The best location, the best view, always a lovely breeze. And such lovely people!”

“We were extremely happy with Uzio House – the staff were great, it was beautiful and the location is perfect. I suspect it will be very busy come high season! Thanks for organising the house – hopefully we will be able to visit again soon.”

Nathalie & Dean on Uzio House

“We stayed at Full Moon House and it was just perfect. We were two families with kids and we all had a fantastic time relaxing by the pool, going down to the beach, taking boat trips and enjoying the superb seafood prepared by chef Joseph. The whole team of staff were brilliant and made our stay very enjoyable.”

Carol, Barcelona on Full Moon House

“Wonderful and relaxing – just what the doctor ordered. Five days of perfect seafood, weather and accommodation. Manager Nina provided great customer service and connected us with wonderful excursions (sunset cruise, ancient ruins tour and sea turtle hatching), housekeeper Tom kept us tidy and well-supplied and chef Francis is amazing…. really amazing.”

Mac, Nairobi on Kiwandini House

“The Moon Houses are in one of the best locations in Shela.  The decor, the ambience and the views of the ocean are all great. The kitchen staff are very nice and will make an array of sea food dishes tailored just to your liking.”  

Samuel, Mombasa on Mama Daktari

“An absolutely beautiful home with lots of stunning terraces and outdoor spaces. Great for a group of friends or a large family to relax in for a few days. The location is perfect, just behind Peponi Hotel which means it’s super easy to enjoy a sunset cocktail at the bar while the wonderful staff at Mnarani House prepare a delicious dinner. The decor is beautiful, the amenities are great and everything, from arriving at Manda airport to organising meals to booking a massage, was easy. I’ll definitely be back soon.”

Radhika, New York on Mnarani House

“We loved staying at Mtende House – it is located within easy walking distance of the beach and restaurants – the narrow winding streets that lead to the house through the small and unique village of Shela made us feel we were really immersed in the community. The house is very clean and welcoming and each of the 3 spacious bedrooms has its own bathroom. Each bed has mosquito netting and the towels are very soft and luxurious. An added bonus was the roof top room which had a loft attached with another bed. We spent much of our time up here enjoying the cool breezes and comfortable relaxing couches. This is where we enjoyed several delicious meals that were prepared just for us by the house chef. I would highly recommend staying here!”

Laura, Massachusetts, USA on Mtende House

“We booked a last minute break at Kizingoni Beach and it was fabulous. Kieran, the manager was bright, attentive and professional and the chef created delicious food – from small bitings to a full New Years Eve dinner. We went out on a dhow to watch the sun set, ate supper by candlelight on the beach, had massages, visited Lamu Town and took long walks along the beach. It was blissful. The accommodation is well positioned and well cared-for. I would heartily recommend it and cannot wait to go back!”

Wendy, UK on The Kizingoni Kabanas

“Our stay at the charming Moon Houses was extremely memorable. They are the best option in Shela with a fantastic location and service. The food was delicious, inventive and used local ingredients. The property manager also organized a yoga class for us which was highly appreciated.” 

SC, Washington DC on Garden House

“We stayed at Full Moon House and it was just perfect. We were two families with kids and we all had a fantastic time relaxing by the pool, going down to the beach, taking boat trips and enjoying the superb seafood prepared by chef Joseph. The whole team of staff were brilliant and made our stay very enjoyable.”

Carol, Barcelona on Full Moon House

“Nowhere is better for chilling out than palm-fringed Manda Bay- totally laid-back, it is more house party than hotel. Come here for a Robinson-Crusoe encounter – go barefoot all day, walk along bone-white sand beaches, lie by the infinity pool and watch the children try their hand at all sorts of watersports. Forget kids’ clubs – here is an island where your rug rats can run wild and free. Take a trip on the 60-foot dhow, go deep-sea fishing, snorkelling or water-skiing and – most popular – feed bush babies in the bar at night. There’s no aircon and no mod cons, just rough-and-tumble, back-to-basics rustic loveliness. The food is fresh from the sea, simple and delicious – watch your brood tuck into tuna sushi and mangrove crab.”

Tatler Magazine on Manda Bay

“Mike’s camp is truly the most amazing, relaxing place on earth. I recently visited this extraordinary place – we were put in gorgeous bandas, ate incredible fresh food and had three miles of beach to ourselves. Mike who runs the camp is utterly charming. We were looked after so well by all the staff. Highly recommended.”

Sophie, London on Mike’s Camp

“This is one of the great romantic sea journeys of the world – the tranquillity of life on the dhow will make you shed layers of stress. Spending even one night on board is a magical experience and the chef is a genius, conjuring up extraordinary meals from a tiny alfresco galley on the poop deck.”

Harper’s Bazaar on Tusitiri Dhow

“We had the most relaxing time at Kizingoni. The setting is beautiful, with the beach on our doorstep. The staff were friendly and helpful and we felt very safe there. There’s something for everyone – water skiing, dhow trips, fishing, although you can simply do nothing and be happy. I highly recommend it as a really magical place.”

Cosima, London on Jahazi House

Properties for Sale

We present an enticing selection of Lamu properties for sale – from building plots to fully-restored historic houses to luxurious beachfront villas.

Building & Design

We have been involved in designing, building, renovating  and restoring several properties in Lamu and here we present a selection of our projects.

Swahili Architecture

Lamu’s unique stone houses are celebrated for their intricately carved wooden doors, the grandeur and elegance of their interiors and their beautiful decorative plasterwork.

All About Lamu

Everything you need to know about East Africa’s most enchanting island – from the best places to eat, drink and shop to the historic and cultural attractions of the archipelago.