Lamu Island, Kenya's Northern Coast
Peponi Hotel is one of Lamu's most famous and iconic hotels. First opened in 1967, it is still run by the same Danish family who originally founded it; and it retains much of its original charm. Small and personal if offers just 24 rooms, all of which are different. Long known as ‘the place to stay' when visiting Lamu, the hotel is right on the water's edge in Shela Village, a few kilometers walk, or a 20 minute dhow ride away from Lamu Town. Guests arrive at the hotel by dhow and then walk along the sandy beach to the hotel. Charming, colourful and eccentric, the hotel features whitewashed terraces, blazing bougainvillea, palms and plenty of activity in its bars and restaurants. There is a terrace overlooking the ocean and a freshwater swimming pool. Peponi has its own fishing boat and water sports activities.
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
The 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.
The 25 rooms vary in size and feature high Lamu-style beds, en suite bathrooms, 24-hours elctricity, mosquito nets and ceiling fans.
Dining and bars
The dining room is simple and elegant, enlivened by colourful Dutch plates, Lamu chairs and paintings. French doors lead on to the general terrace, which overlooks the water. There is also an outdoor restaurant. The hotel specializes in seafood and has both a table d'hote as well as an a la carte menu.
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
A short walk around the rocks from Peponi leads to a long beach backed by dunes. The hotel can arrange for snorkeling, waterskiing, deep-sea fishing, dhow rides or whatever you may desire.
Peponi's deep sea fishing boat ‘Little Toot' with its experienced crew and modern equipment offers some of the best sports fishing in East Africa. Ocean fishing with a hotel speedboat or hand line fishing from a local dhow is also available
Peponi has water sports for all age groups and levels of experience. Competent instructors and a wide range of equipment to hire from windsurfers, sailing Mirror and Lasers, wake boards, body boards and water skis. Kite surfing instructors are available but bring your own equipment. The nearby mangrove creek is ideal for water skiing at high tide. For the less energetic there are kayaks on the beach.
Peponi Hotel - Lamu Island • Kenya Lamu Hotels • Indian Ocean Beach Hotels & Resorts
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