Information & Facts
There are plenty of tour guides ready to show tourists around
the archipelago by dhow, and visitors can find them along the
seafront by looking for the bright blue shirts of the Promise/Ahadi
organisation. The Takwa ruins on Manda Island and ancient
settlements on Pate are great attractions to visit. Shela Beach, on
the north end of Lamu island, is a beautiful white sand beach
popular for sunbathing and watersports. For a sense of local
history and Swahili culture, visitors can explore the Lamu Museum,
the Swahili House Museum, or Lamu Fort.
English is the official language but Swahili is the
national language, with 42 ethnic languages spoken.
The unit of currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES), divided into
100 cents. It is not advisable to take Kenyan Shillings out of the
country, as they are difficult to exchange elsewhere. Travellers
cheques in Sterling or US Dollars are recommended for your trip to
Kenya. US Dollars in particular have become commonly used in many
of the country's main hotels and safari lodges. Foreign currency
can be changed at banks, bureaux de change and hotels; easiest to
exchange are US dollars, pounds sterling or Euros. Street exchange
merchants should be avoided as they are operating illegally. Banks
open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm and on the first and last
Saturday of the month. Banks and bureaux de change at the
international airport stay open 24 hours. Credit Cards (American
Express, Visa and MasterCard) are accepted in the larger hotels and
stores, and some camps and lodges. ATMs are widely available in
Nairobi and the major towns.
Safety in Lamu is a concern as Somalian pirates are becoming
increasingly active in the area.
There are some excellent seafood restaurants in Lamu, mostly
clustered around the seafront. Moonrise is popular for its
Mediterranean cuisine and relaxed terrace dining, while Whispers
Cafe has a casual atmosphere and a blend of western comfort food
and exotic African fare for reasonable prices.
There are some good souvenir shops in Lamu town, including a
branch of MagicGrace, which sells cotton clothing, jewellery, and
Maasai Treads sandals. Most stores in Lamu are closed in the
afternoon heat from 12:30pm to 4pm.