Most of the time when people travel to Lamu Island, the place of choice to stay is always Lamu town. This I think is because that’s where the life of the island is, but there is a beautiful, more peaceful and chilled side of Lamu also; Manda Island.
I first traveled to Lamu many years back and we stayed in Lamu Town and then went to Manda Island for the beach effect. Recently I traveled back to refresh my memory and this time round I decided to book two hotels in Manda Island, through booking.com.
Some facts about Manda Island:
• Very clean and beautiful sandy beach.
• To get to Manda Island you take a 30 minute boat ride from the airport which is also in Manda.
• There are two main active hotels in Manda Island; Diamond Beach Village and the Majlis Resort.
• The sunset in Manda Island is so so beautiful that the sunset dhow cruises start from Lamu town or Shella then they dock at Manda for the dinner which is made in the boat.
• For a long time Manda Island was deserted but now there are more resorts coming up.
• You can stay in Lamu Town or Shela village and when you will need time to chill on a beautiful sandy beach in an island, Manda Island is the ideal place.
• There are no cars or motorbikes in Manda Island, means of transport is a boat or donkey which I didn’t see. In Lamu Town the means of transport is donkey, boat or motorbikes.
How to get to Manda:
Return flight to Lamu via Silverstone airlines costs about KSH13,000/- but if you are on a strict budget, you can SGR to Mombasa then take your flight from Mombasa or better still go up to Malindi and take your flight from there. The flight from Mombasa to Lamu is 3500/- one way and Malindi to Lamu is 2500/- one way. Also there are buses that go to Lamu, I didn’t research on it but it is done everyday.
If you go via flight, your point of entry will be Manda Airport, of course. From the airport you take a boat that will take you to the hotel you had booked. It is better you book the hotel in advance.
Where to stay:
For this trip I did both budget and luxury hotels but for this post I will talk about the budget hotel. I knew for sure I wasn’t going to stay in Lamu Town, so it would either be Shela or Manda Island.
The thing with Lamu is, you need to really have an open mind when it comes to accommodation, especially in Lamu Town. Shela village has beautiful hotels too so if the two hotels in Manda don’t work for you, Shela is a better option too plus Shela is just on the opposite side of Manda, so near you can actually swim across in twenty minutes that’s what I was told by the locals.
*Also please note that I haven’t said anywhere that getting a hotel in Lamu Town or staying there is bad, no it isn’t. I just found Lamu Town a bit congested the last time I was there*
Where I stayed.
Diamond Beach Village:
It is in Manda Island and It was the perfect budget place to stay, the rooms are like makuti bandas or cottages and It is eco friendly as well. The rooms don’t have fans or air conditioning, instead they have spaces between the walls and the roof, like the huts in our rural homes, so fresh air just comes in. I remember asking the manager if I would be safe at night LOL. Long story short, nothing happened to me in the days I was there.
Diamond Beach Village is known for the perfect seafood and also known to make the best pizzas in Lamu Island. I tried out their pizzas and indeed they were delicious.
Let me also mention that it is a beachfront hotel, it faces the sunset and the views from the hotel or the beach are to die for.
Generally, food and alcohol are expensive in Manda. So be prepared when you travel.
They picked me up from the airport, the staff were friendly and awesome all times, the food was delicious, it was worth every penny I paid and above all I was well taken care of. I recommend it and I will definitely go back someday.
If you need any more information about this trip, feel free to contact me. I will be ready to help.