Shanga, south of the village of Siyu, is the world's most complete example of a medieval Swahili town. Arguably the oldest archaeological site on the Kenyan coast, it includes the ruins or foundations of some 130 houses and 300 tombs. Be on the lookout for a 21-sided pillar tomb topped by a 15th-century celadon bowl, five town gates, ‘Lamu’ arches constructed of sandstone bedrock, coral ragstone and sand gathered from the nearby dunes, and tablets marked with Arabic inscriptions.
Legend says it was originally settled by stranded Chinese traders (the name being a corruption of ‘China’), but this version of events is disputed.
You may be able to hire a guide in Siyu (several men here helped dig Shanga out in the 1980s), but otherwise you’re on your own and, if you have any sense of imagination, feeling very Indiana Jones. There's no official Museums of Kenya presence here, so your visit is free, but remember not to remove anything from the site.