Takwa Ruins

Top choice in Lamu Archipelago

What sets these ruins, the remains of a city that existed between the 15th and 17th centuries, apart from other archaeological sites on the coast? Quiet. When you’re here and the light shatters in the trees, which have grown over some 100 ruined Mecca-aligned houses, you feel as if the ruins are speaking to you in the breeze. The ruins are only reachable during high tide; boat trips from Shela cost around KSh5000 for up to four people.

As you’re likely to have Takwa to yourself, it’s a good spot to enter an abandoned home and ponder the lives of whoever inhabited it. The seminal structure here is the Jamaa mosque, with its unusually tall pillar facade.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lamu Archipelago attractions

1. Shela Beach

4.03 MILES

Most people are here for the beach – a 12km-long, wide sweep of pristine white sand where you’re guaranteed an isolated spot (at least if you’re…

2. German Post Office Museum

4.38 MILES

In the late 1800s, before the British decided to nip German expansion into Tanganyika in the bud, the Germans regarded Lamu as an ideal base from which to…

3. Lamu Fort

4.42 MILES

This squat castle was built by the Sultan of Paté between 1810 and 1823. From 1910 right up to 1984 it was used as a prison. It now houses the island’s…

4. Lamu Market

4.43 MILES

Atmospheric and somewhat chaotic, this quintessential Lamu market is best visited early in the morning. Bargain for fresh tuna and sailfish, wade through…

5. Lamu Museum

4.43 MILES

The best museum in town (and the second best in Kenya) is housed in a grand Swahili warehouse on the waterfront. This is as good a gateway as you’ll get…

6. Donkey Sanctuary

4.48 MILES

A man without a donkey is a donkey, claims one Swahili proverb. Or, as the staff of this sanctuary might tell you, a man who doesn’t look after his donkey…

7. Swahili House

4.55 MILES

This preserved 16th-century Swahili house, tucked away to the side of Yumbe Guest House, in a tranquil courtyard with a well, is beautiful. The entry fee…

8. Matondoni

8.55 MILES

The best place to see dhows being built is the village of Matondoni, in the island's northwest. It’s a peaceful little fishing village that receives few…