Shela Beach House, Lamu Island, Kenya

Lamu Island has been a port of call for travellers for centuries. It is one of those enchanting places where you can truly tune out the rest of the world while immersing yourself in a rich culture and history. Add to this the intriguing locals and wayward explorers it provides a heady mix to a holiday.

On a small island governed by tides and seasons, nothing happens quickly, and it looks much as it did in drawings executed 200 years ago – cars are banned and donkeys or boats are the mode of transport. Shela is the smaller fishing village on the mouth to the sea.

The house is large, cooled by the tradewinds and occupies prime beachfront, for twelve to fourteen people with four double rooms and one dormitory style quadruple, all ensuite. It is one minute walk from the legendary Peponis Hotel, a haven for bohemian travellers and sunset drinks, and lies on the channel where you can indulge in many watersports, with your home as your grandstand. It is run by the wonderful Angelika.

We spent three glorious weeks at Shela Beach House. A couple of our guests cried when they left. It can’t get much better than this. The service is superb, and it combines well with a safari on the mainland (let us know if you need some help on this too).

Living and dining at Shela House

On the first floor, raised above beach level, there is an edgeless freshwater swimming pool. It has a bar area and low comfortable baraza seats.

Up the first flight of stairs is a large dining and living room, leading out onto an alfresco terrace, shaded by huge entwined acacia and baobab trees. Another door leads onto the wooden deck above the pool – a perfect dining area – and to two double bedrooms with their own private terraces.

The third floor comprises two double bedrooms plus a children’s room with 4 large Lamu four-poster single beds and an open terrace with space for sunbathing.

From the rooftop with its bar, lounge and two swinging beds you can enjoy panoramic views of the whole Lamu channel, watch the fishing dhows return, dolphins pass and the moon rise.

On the hilltop, in the dunes behind Beach House, the gazebo, for lazing at any time, has expansive views of the Indian Ocean and the shoreline of Manda Island, across the channel. It comes fully staffed, with a chef.


No need to worry about self-catering as the staff are included in the costs. The guests provide a float to the cook who will organise the shopping and cooking. The staff in the house clean the house and serve the meals and the cook is very capable of running this for the guests, and can trust his expertise in planning delicious meals. This is very much part of the experience as it is market shopping and fish straight off the fishermens dhows. Just the way I like it!

There are no extra costs for the service, just to pay for food and drink as you go.

Bedrooms at Shela House

4 doubles, 1 quadruple, pool room for extra guests.


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Combines well with these properties for an excellent holiday experience