For a while now, Lamu has been viewed as an exclusive destination; open to expats and non-locals. However, in recent years, it has become quite accessible as budget airlines and budget buses have come into play and changed the game. Lamu is now for everyone, having some of the most affordable accommodation, food and activities in the entire coastal region.
If you are a budget traveller looking to travel to this cultural destination, I have some tips to help you plan your trip.
This is the bulk of your expenditure. Whether you are planning on going by bus or air, you need to set aside nearly 5,000-20,000KSH on transport depending on your level of luxury and time.
Buses are available from Nairobi to Mombasa or even Malindi that range from 1,200KSH to KSH 2,000 one way. The bus ride is 10 hours long( we left at 9pm and arrived in Malindi at 7am) with a quick pit stop at Mtito Andei.
My experience: I used Bus Car going to Malindi and Tahmeed Coach back to Nairobi. V.I.P in Bus Car is more comfortable as there is more leg-room and they provide in-bus entertainment together with a bottle of water. V.I.P in Tahmeed as cheaper but a more underwhelming experience.
Travel Tip: Be sure to book your bus a few days in advance. This helps to save on some cash and saves you from missing a slot in the bus.
Take the night bus as you can sleep the entire journey.
Nairobi to Lamu- 13,000 – 18,000KSH return
Malindi to Lamu – 6,400KSH return
My experience: I personally took a bus ride to Malindi and spent a night there and travelled the next day to Lamu by Air using Jumbo Jet. The first leg was exhausting but air travel really made the latter quick and easy.
Airport transfers can be organized by your accommodation and can cost you up to 1000KSH per boat one way.
Travel Tip: Be sure to travel on a ‘random’ month as prices rise during peak seasons i.e holidays such as December & August. The best time to go may be Feb-May or Sept-Nov. Make sure you watch the flights and note the days that there is a decrease in pricing. A direct flight could drop to as low as 10,000KSH return if you plan properly. You should also book your flight days if not weeks in advance to save some coin.
Budget Accommodation is available in Lamu. One can budget around 1,500 to 2,500 KSH per person per night for a double room. Most people stay in Shela as it is more peaceful and serene compared to Lamu Town. Some budget accommodation include;
Shella Bahari Guest House.
Shella Bahari Guest House offers luxury living on a budget. It can cost you between 5,000 to 10,000KSH per night for a double room (2 people sharing). This is the most affordable sea front accommodation available in Shela Village and its stunning. The host and the staff are friendly and very welcoming.
To contact Shella Bahari Guest House, click HERE
Shella White House
This is another affordable place to stay as a double room costs around 5000KSH per night.
Airbnbs are also an option when choosing accommodation in Lamu. Shella Village is the best place to seek accomodation.
The only way to get around in Lamu is by boat, donkey or walking. There are public boats available that will cost you 100KSH per person per trip to Lamu and Manda. However, if you are a large group, you can opt to ‘rent’ a boat for 500KSH per boat per trip.
For a full list, check out my previous list on 72 Hours in Lamu.
Sunset Cruise: This costs 1000KSH per person inclusive of snacks and water. It lasts nearly one hour but is sure worth it.
If you need a sunset cruise or any boat transportation organised for you contact:
Yusuf : +254723918316
Watersports: I didn’t partake in any of these but they are available. Check out MandaBay.com for detailed information
Walking tours: For walking tours in Lamu Town, Shela Village & Matondoni, you can get a guide for this for a 1000KSH or you can go at it on your own.
There are budget restaurants available in the island. Labanda Restaurant is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a Swahili meal but save some money at the same time. Prices for a meal ranges from 100KSH to 500KSH.
Pizzas at Diamond Beach Village in Manda can cost you between 1000-2000KSH per pizza.
WHAT TO WEAR
Lamu town is quite conservative whilst Shela Village is more relaxed. Dressing conservatively is a symbol of respect for the Swahili culture. Make sure you carry sunscreen SPF50 as the sun is very unforgiving.
As you can see, Lamu is an inexpensive destination (apart from flights maybe). I hope this article has gotten you to start planning your trip and I would be happy to follow your budget travels to Lamu using the hashtag #LamuOnABudget. Let’s spread the word!
If you are planning a family holiday to Lamu, check out the Kenyan Camper’s article to help you get started.
If you have any questions on organizing a budget trip to Lamu, feel free to ask in the comments below.
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Have a lovely week.