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Best Islands in Kenya

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The Essential Guide to Exploring Kenya’s Most Beautiful Islands in 2023

Kenya’s coastal region is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in, Africa. A paradise of natural beauty teeming with marine life, rich culture, and friendly people. In this travel guide, we will take you on a journey to discover the top five islands in Kenya you must visit in 2023. These hidden gems, nestled along the Indian Ocean, offer a wide range of activities and experiences that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. 

Lamu island 

Lamu Island, located just 150 miles from Mombasa, is a place where history, culture, and natural beauty come together to create an unforgettable experience. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, Lamu Old Town. The streets here are narrow and lined with traditional coral houses, creating a unique maze of history that feels like time has stood still. The only mode of transport on land is donkeys, adding to the island’s charming and authentic atmosphere.

But Lamu Island isn’t just about culture and history. It’s also renowned for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. From Shela Beach to Kipungani Beach, there are miles of pristine white sand and turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. You can also explore the beautiful surroundings by taking a traditional Swahili dhow for a sail.

Visitors to the island have a unique opportunity to experience the traditional Swahili way of life by participating in vibrant festivals and events like the Lamu Cultural Festival. dhow racing among others.

When it comes to accommodation, travellers have a wide range of options to choose from, including luxurious hotels, Airbnb, and guest houses located in the heart of Old Town. Whatever your preference, Lamu Island offers something for everyone.

Manda Island

For those seeking a secluded natural getaway, Manda island is a small beautiful island on the Lamu archipelago, known for its stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush tropical vegetation.

Sailing on the traditional Swahili dhows, visitors can explore the island’s mangrove forest and rocky cliffs or simply relax on one of the many white sandy beaches that fringe the island.

For those looking for a bit of adventure, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Snorkelling is a popular pastime, as the waters around Manda Island are home to a wide variety of colourful fish and coral reefs. For history buffs, Takwa ruins will be a great way to spend an afternoon.

When it comes to accommodation, Manda Island has a variety of options to suit all budgets. For those looking for a luxury experience, several high-end resorts offer all-inclusive packages and private villas. For a more rustic experience, several eco-lodges offer basic but comfortable accommodation options.

Funzi Island 

Funzi Island is a secluded paradise located in Kwale County, Kenya. The island comprises four small mangrove-covered islands and is known for its pristine beaches and as Kenya’s best nesting site for several sea turtles.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities on Funzi Island, including a crocodile safari in the nearby Ramisi River, cultural tours in the village, a visit to the Funzi ruins, and swimming on the kilometer-long sandbank. The island also offers excellent bird-watching opportunities, as it is home to a wide variety of bird species.

When it comes to accommodation, Funzi Island offers several options for those looking for a peaceful and secluded stay. The Funzi Island Lodge is a popular choice, offering comfortable rooms and a variety of activities and excursions. The Funzi Keys Eco Lodge is another option, with basic but comfortable accommodations and a focus on sustainability and conservation

Wasini Island

Wasini Island is a beautiful coral island located near Shimoni, Kenya. It is about 7 kilometers long and 3 kilometers across. With its clear waters and lush scenery, it offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty the coastal region of Kenya has to offer .

Visitors can spot humpback whales and dolphins in the immediate surrounding waters, while the nearby Kenya marine jetty areas offer a bountiful snorkelling spot with various floral and fauna species. 

There is also a nature boardwalk on the Western end, run by the local Wasini women’s group. Visitors can enjoy snorkelling, diving, canoeing, scuba diving, kayaking, sunbathing, and more.

For visitors seeking a rustic and authentic experience, Wasini Island offers two options for accommodation. The Wasini Island Guesthouse and the Wasini Island Campsite both provide comfortable and convenient options for visitors looking to explore the island.

Chale Island 

Chale Island is a small, secluded island located 10 km south of Diani beach, Kenya. It is surrounded by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, mangrove forests, and lakes, making it a paradise for nature lovers.

The island is home to a diverse range of animal species, birds, butterflies, and sulfur mud-springs, which visitors can explore through activities such as snorkelling, canoeing, scuba diving, kayaking, and bird watching.

The island also offers the perfect spot for sunbathing and relaxing.

Accommodation options include the Chale Island Resort and Spa, which offers luxury amenities and spa treatments, and the Chale Island Eco Lodge which is a sustainable and eco-friendly option.

Additional information

When visiting some of these islands especially Lamu Island, there are a few things to keep in mind, 

For instance, when visiting Lamu Island it’s important to dress modestly and respect the local customs and traditions as the island is predominantly Muslim. Women should cover their shoulders and legs, and avoid revealing clothing. 

Another important consideration when visiting these islands is to be mindful of the environment and wildlife. The islands are home to a diverse range of species, and it’s important to avoid disturbing the natural habitat or littering. 

Visitors should also be aware of local conservation efforts and follow guidelines related to activities such as snorkelling and diving.

Additionally, It’s also important to be respectful of the local communities and their way of life. Visitors should be open to learning about the local culture and traditions and should avoid actions that may be seen as exploitative or disrespectful.

By being mindful of these things, visitors can help to preserve the natural beauty and cultural heritage of these islands.

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