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Lamu is my favorite! I'm obsessed with donkeys! If you can get over the donkey shit, and the annoying beach boys, it's really a gem. Shela is indeed more quiet, cleaner, and you will get harassed less, but I still prefer Lamu’s authenticity and grunge to Shela’s tourist charm.

To be honest, shopping isn’t that great, but there are some gems within the town:

Saba Furniture: Central St Martin’s architect grad has moved to Lamu to create simple but exquisite hand carved furniture

Slim Silversmith: The second of the two brothers (You know which one he is because his front stoop has pieces of porcelain in it) who make China and silver jewelry. The rings shouldn't be more than 1500-1800 each.

Afrikable: Run of the mill social enterprise shop but really cute jewelry

Aman: Expensive and boutique, but a really beautiful shop, follow @sandylamu on instagram

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Hapa Hapa makes the most amazing mango smoothies, with cheap, consistent food. Lamu House is good drinks, but the food is also meh. Bush Gardens has good seafood, but it comes in at 5 pm and it sells out quickly. Sunsail’s food is mediocre, most things on the menu are not available.

My favorite is Cook with Love, a shop/resturant called “Luq Tabassam”, with a single owner/head chief. Walk in the alley right next to Peponi and you’ll find the charming place. Best to go in the early afternoon to let Lukman know what you want to order, go to Peponi for a drink, and then dinner will be ready for you. From fish curry to samosas, everything is flavorful and rich. Peponi, of course is a classic-- the crab claws and ceviche are absolutely exquisite.

For an intimate 3-course dinner, call into Subira House to book your place. They have their own Shamba, so you’ll get tons of organic veggies, and homemade chutneys like spiced mango and lemon.

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Looking on Airbnb, booking, or other websites, most of the houses look the same. While

I prefer the actual historical ones like Amu House (great internet, good for a budget), Subira House (not particularly well-renovated, but was one of the original has a sustainable vide), or Batil Aman (also good food). Swahili Dreams has two bedrooms, and EPIC pool. My favorite place to stay is Andavelo House-- it's really reasonable ($50 a night) and enormous rooms. For some reason, it's listed for much more on on than Airbnb.   Masjili's on Manda is beautiful yes, but also way too touristy and caters to Kenyan politicians. My late boyfriend loved it for wakeboarding in the Mangrove bay.

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Where to buy Alcohol in Lamu

There is only one liquor shop in all of Lamu. It is called the AP Canteen, or the Administration Police Canteen.


Continue on west on the main street, past the main fort, and keep walking until you pass the coconut factory. You will know the coconut factory because it’s loud and smells like coconuts. Once you pass the coconut factory, the road splits off into two, one that goes toward the ocean, and another diagonal on the right. Follow the road to the right and keep walking until you past the graveyard. You will see a sign that says “Police Administration Chapel” in front a complex. If you get to the polytechnic, you’ve gone too far. Walk into the compound and you will see the canteen in front of you, if you walk behind it, you will find the depot where they have wine and liquor.


There is only one liquor shop in all of Lamu. It is called the AP Canteen, or the Administration Police Canteen.