Lamu is a town, an island and an archipelago. If you visit, you should try to visit all three. The archipelago is a chain of seven islands and a multitude of islets, separated from the mainland at its narrowest part by a channel just a few meters wide. Dense mangrove forests fringe the mainland and the inland sides of the islands, while the seaward sides are protected by reefs and lined with dunes. Throughout the archipelago, there are numerous historical sites; visible and tangible evidence of ten centuries of a colorful and often rich cultural past. Most of these settlements are Arab in origin and started as small trading stations. As these small colonies grew, they absorbed much from the local people and a distinct Afro-Arab culture emerged. This culture, which came to be known as Swahili, today dominates not only Lamu but also the urban centers of Mombasa and Malindi and its language has become the principal Lingua Franca of East and Central Africa.
The beach on Lamu Island is 12 kilometers of empty sands backing on to an ocean unprotected by a reef and therefore livelier and more powerful than you find elsewhere in Kenya. But no one comes to Lamu only for the beach. The town is now well known, a delightful anachronism carrying on its daily life as it has done for centuries so that the visitor has a science fiction experience of being transported back through time. Settlement dates back to the 14th century and by the 19th century Lamu was a flourishing trading community. But labor emigration and a fall in the value of its exports brought, in the early days of the 20th century, an end to its heyday.
An exciting 25-minute flight to the north of Malindi, affording breathtaking views down into a turquoise sea, brings one to the famous Lamu Archipelago, comprising of Lamu, Manda and Pate. The only mode of transport here is the sailboat and charismatic dhow. Manda Island is the mystery-shrouded Island with its extensive ruins of the old Swahili city, Takwa, which is well known for its archaeological and historical sites, like Manda Town and Shanga on Pate Island. Excavations at these sites have unearthed new aspects of old Swahili history and culture.
Fisherman, snorkellers and scuba divers come in August to March, when seas are calm and water clear. Over April and May, into June, many hotels close, but you are sure to fine one open at that time.Temperatures generally are moderated by sea breezes and the heaviest rain usually falls in May and then again at the end of October. The sea temperatures are always warm and humidity varies from 74% in February to 84% in May.