Leave the cell phone and laptop behind because Lamu is a place to chill out and relax. Warm temperatures, clear waters and eight miles of unspoiled, sandy shoreline draw beach lovers to the East African island of Lamu located off of Kenya’s north coast. Shela beach on the north end of Lamu is a beautiful stretch of white sand and tiny bits of sea shells. Snorkelers and divers can explore the diverse Indian Ocean reefs up close, while those who don’t want to get wet can enjoy the unique experience of sailing in a dhow.

Take a break from soaking up the sun and soak in some culture in Lamu Old Town, the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other than boats, there’s no need for transportation on Lamu as everything is pretty much a stone’s throw away and the winding narrow pathways are only wide enough to walk down.

Accommodation in Lamu ranges from a multitude of budget hotels and hostels to the luxurious Peponi Hotel in the village of Shela to private houses in Kipungani at the island’s far end. Another option is to enjoy the unique experience of sleeping on a luxurious dhow (traditional Arab sailing vessel) while savoring freshly caught fish on the beach.

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