Shela beach in Lamu, Kenya.

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Shela Beach

Top choice in Lamu Island

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 prepared to walk some way) to catch some rays. Swimming is possible, but there are places with strong rip currents (particularly around the The Fort hotel), so get some local advice before venturing into the water.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lamu Island attractions

1. German Post Office Museum


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…

2. Lamu Market

2.23 MILES

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

3. Lamu Fort

2.25 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 Museum

2.37 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…

5. Swahili House

2.44 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…

6. Donkey Sanctuary

2.44 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. Takwa Ruins

4.03 MILES

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…

8. Matondoni

5.18 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…