Why go? Recent times have been tough for Lamu. A couple of kidnappings in the region in 2011 provoked governments to issue ‘don’t go’ travel warnings, and travellers dutifully stayed away. But heightened marine security has seen advisories lifted and has put this laidback hangout back on the map. Thank goodness, because Islamic, welcoming, car-free Lamu is really quite unique. It’s home to the last and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa: UNESCO-listed Lamu Old Town, built from coral and mangrove wood, is an atmospheric warren of alleys, verandas and secretive doors dating from the 14th century.
When to go: July-October, when it’s warm and dry, are the best months, followed by hotter January-March. The rainy seasons are April-June and November-December. Lamu Cultural Festival is held in November.
How to go: The nearest airstrip is on neighbouring Manda Island, served by flights from Nairobi (2hrs) and Mombasa (75mins). Ferries connect Manda and Lamu.