More than the bustle of markets or the call to prayer, the pitch of ‘We take dhow trip, see mangroves, eat fish and coconut rice’ is the unyielding chorus of Lamu’s voices when you first arrive. That said, taking a dhow trip (and seeing the mangroves and eating fish and coconut rice) is generally fun, though this depends to a large degree on your captain. Guesthouses such as Jambo House work with several reliable captains and it's good to get recommendations from other travellers. There’s a real joy to kicking it on the boards under the sunny sky, with the mangroves drifting by in island time while snacking on spiced fish.
Trips include dhow racing excursions (learning how to tack and race these amazingly agile vessels is quite something), sunset sails, adventures to Kipungani and Manda Island, deep-reef fishing and even three-day trips south along the coast to Kilifi (from US$120 per person).
Prices vary, depending on where you want to go, who you go with and how long you go for. With bargaining you could pay around KSh2500 per person in a group of four or five people, on a half-day basis. Don’t hand over any money until the day of departure, except perhaps a small advance for food. On long trips, it’s best to organise your own drinks. A hat and sunscreen are essential.