Lamu Island, Kenya's Northern Coast
Manda Bay Resort is a small private lodge on Manda Island in northern Kenya's Lamu Kiwayu archipelago. Ten spacious cottages line the beach overlooking the calm waters of Manda Bay. Formerly the Blue Safari Club, Manda Bay has been renovated and reopened under new management. Manda Bay Resort is on a secluded peninsular, close to ancient Lamu Town and neighbouring Shela but far enough away from the bustle to enjoy total privacy. Surrounded by magnificent coral gardens, empty beaches and indigenous woodland, Manda Bay Resort is a glorious destination for both active and leisurely holidays. It has its own airstrip and there are three scheduled flights daily to Lamu from Nairobi and Mombasa. Modern communications allow email and telephone access to the outside world if you choose to be available.
Location and seasons
Kenya's Lamu Island, one of her most popular beach holiday destinations, offers clear blue sea, marine parks, excellent water sports, coral reefs, monsoon winds, numerous hotels and beach resorts, family vacations, sun n sand, cultural and beach travel and more. Close to Mombasa, it is also within easy reach of Malindi, Diani and many other popular Kenya safari resort hotels. Lamu is famed for its excellent deep sea fishing opportunities.
Beach vacation facts
Hottest time is between November and March, rainy season is May and June (hotel closed 01 May to 15 June); sea weed on beach and strong winds May /August. September to November is cool and pleasant.
The Lamu archipelago is a cluster of hot low-lying desert islands, which runs for some 60 km parallel to the northern coastline of Kenya. The last survivor of a one thousand year-old civilization, Lamu was founded by the Arabs in the seventh century and traded for centuries thereafter in ivory, rhino horn and slaves. Today it offers a unique showcase for the traditional Swahili culture, a bustling historic town and some of the most pristine beaches in Africa. The most famous in the archipelago, measuring about 16 km by 7km, Lamu resembles a smaller version of Zanzibar. Here, however, transport is by foot, donkey or dhow - there are no cars on the island. A magnificent Swahili settlement and a World Heritage Site, Lamu Town is a maze of winding streets and intricately carved doorways, which lies to the north-east of the island. The fishing village of Shela lies to the south (with a 12 km beach), while Kipungani is the local centre for dhow-building and palm-mat weaving. Transfers to Lamu take around 10 minutes by boat from Manda Island.
The oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, Lamu is a centre for the study of Swahili culture. Although founded in the 13th century, the majority of buildings date from the 18th century. Today the town is a living monument to its past. The old houses, built with coral walls two-feet thick are built with a series of alcoves rather than rooms, whose size is decided by the length of the ten-foot mangrove poles that are used for both floors and ceiling. Many are three-storeys high and feature winding staircases, vast carved doors, intricate fret-work screens, balconies and flat roofs. In the winding streets, the majority of women are black-veiled, while the men wear traditional Swahili dress. The majority of the population is Muslim; and the town echoes to the call of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer at the 23 mosques of the town. Lamu also hosts the important Maulidi Muslim Festival.
All the buildings are constructed with local materials in traditional coastal style, with palm thatch roofs and woven matting covering the floors. The ten cottages are spacious and comfortable with their own bathrooms; they are specially sited to catch the cooling sea breezes and all have verandas. There are ten cottages with a choice of double or twin beds, surrounded by large flowing mosquito nets and cooled by overhead fans.
Dining and bars
The informal dining room and sitting rooms are comfortable, open and airy. They enjoy uninterrupted views of Manda Bay whose ever-changing waters attract birds, small local sailing craft and spectacular marine life. All rooms are furnished in vibrant Kenyan fabrics, specially designed to complement the environment. All meals are relaxed and casual, served in the dining room, on the beach, or even on Utumaduni, our traditional sailing dhow. The availability of wonderful, fresh seafood and tropical fruit dictates most menus but Manda Bay offers wholesome, nutritious home-cooked menus from all over the world to suit any palate. The Italian trained Swahili chef can easily cater to the demands of children and those on special diets.
What to see and do
An idyllic climate cooled by the monsoon, the Swahili coast offers a daily average of 8 hours of sunshine, and the hot steamy climate is tempered by the monsoon winds: the south-easterly Kusi, which blows from April to October; and the north-easterly Kaskazi which blows from November to March.
What to do and see
MANDA BAY is a water sports paradise. Its sheltered mangrove creek and the calm waters are ideal for water skiing. Guests can ski at high tide, yet just outside the creek there is generally enough breeze for sailing, wind-surfing and kite-surfing.
MANDA BAY has two ski boats and a large selection of skis and other equipment, including an eight-man ocean rider (Banana), air chairs, doughnuts, kneeboards and wake boards. For keen sailors we have a variety of wind-surfers, a Topper and two Lasers; we also have a 22-foot traditional wooden jahazi.
For those that have never sailed before our staff are always ready to assist with a few easy lessons. We also have a fleet of five motorboats to take our guests out sightseeing, bird watching or snorkeling in the rich coral gardens close to the lodge. Manda's coral reefs are a lure to divers and snorkelers. For more experienced divers we have a wide selection of scuba equipment and a range of fantastic dive-sites. All guests are welcome to take a rod and try their luck with some creek fishing. Trevally, king fish and barracuda are all plentiful in the creek around the lodge
The Utamaduni sailing dhow
One of the best ways to explore this incredible archipelago is under sail on Utamaduni, our beautiful 62 foot sailing dhow. Utamaduni is a Kiswahili word meaning way of life or culture. Utamaduni was built by Lamu's master-boat builders in the time-honoured style of the East African coast. She is one of the two biggest dhows now operating on the East African coast and has the largest sail of any dhow in Kenya. She has three spacious guest cabins below deck, a regular flush toilet and fresh water showers. Guests may sleep in the cabins or under the stars on deck where comfortable bedding is laid out at night after dinner. Utamaduni carries a full complement of eight experienced crew who operate the ship under sail through waters which were opened to world trade by the invention of the dhow and its unique lateen rig. Utamaduni is fully-equipped with the latest navigation and communication equipment including a satellite telephone and all the necessary safety kit. She also has a large diesel engine, a generator, deep freeze fridge and all the comforts of a modern day cruiser but no air conditioning. Guests may charter Utamaduni for day trips, overnight trips or a full safari. She sleeps a maximum of six.
The fishing - both reef and deep sea - in the Lamu Kiwayu waters is famous worldwide both for its variety and for the quantity of sport fish caught. Striped, Black and Blue Marlin, Sailfish and many other game fish migrate through these waters in abundance. Our fishing boat Cheza - Kiswahili for play - is a fibreglass 33 foot British built Lochin sport-fishing boat, built to withstand the North Sea elements. She is the ideal platform for all serious sport fishermen. Cheza is extremely well equipped, with all the latest navigation, communication and safety equipment. Powered by twin 180Hp turbo diesel engines, she has a range of 1,000 miles and can take you to the fishing areas in comfort and safety. She has an excellent and well-trained three-man crew and a wide variety of fishing tackle to suit all anglers. Her tackle ranges from 130 pound rods to 10 weight fly rods and everything in between. Although we do have two fighting chairs, we favour stand up equipment. Cheza fully supports the tag and release system for all billfish in our waters. North Kenya's fishing season runs from September through to the end of April and is at its best from November to mid March when billfish are most prevalent here. Charters can be arranged for half day, full day, overnight trips or complete fishing safaris using the Dhow Utamaduni as a mother ship.
Manda Bay Resort - Lamu Island • Kenya Lamu Hotels • Indian Ocean Beach Hotels & Resorts
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