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Shela, Kenya
Fast Facts
Historic Interest
Boat Tours
Religious Site
Tourist Attractions
Kid-Friendly Hotels
Points of Interest Nearby

Shela, Kenya


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

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The scene of a great battle and massacre in the mid 18th century, Shela (also spelled Shella) is today a refuge for well-heeled tourists in the know. Situated on the northwest tip of Lamu Island, this tiny village with but a minaret is in the throws of a high-end tourist boom. The old houses, many of which have been bought by foreigners, are now extravagant holiday homes. And while many have been stylishly refurbished, there is only way to describe others, kitsch. But don't let the jet set deter you; the trek along the dirt lane from Lamu leads you right to the beach, an endless stretch of sand that is accessible to everyone.
Getting There
Families traveling to Shela are, in actuality, heading to Lamu. Lamu can be reached by air from Malindi, Nairobi, Mombasa and Diani Beach. Flights to Lamu actually land on Manda Island, just across the channel from Lamu. Transfers can be arranged through your hotel in advance or directly at the dock upon arrival. If you plan to a take a bus, check the security situation and book your tickets prior to the day you plan to depart.
Getting Around
Shela is a 40-minute walk or 20-minute donkey ride from Lamu. The dirt lane, which takes you along the beach at low tide, takes you by the villas when the tide is high. Donkeys can be hired in Lamu and Shela and, if need be, along the way. Dhows, for hire along the beach, make the short trip to Manda Beach, Lamu Town and farther a field.
When to Travel
The peak season for travel to the Kenyan Coast is in August and from December through February. The best time to visit Lamu Island is from January to March when snorkeling is ideal. While it is clear and dry in August and September, the ocean is rough and visibility low after the long rains. March is a month of trade-offs, the humidity begins to rise but the tourists have all but disappeared.
Health & Safety
Malaria is a risk in all areas along Kenya's coast and travelers' diarrhea is the most common ailment affecting tourists in Kenya. When packing your first aid kit don't forget to include high factor sunscreen and DEET insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and trousers offer further protection from mosquitoes. Be wary of small tricks even if there are fewer 'beach boys' in Lamu than beach destinations further south. If you plan to travel to Lamu by bus, check the security situation before you depart.
Things to Keep in Mind
Sleeping in Shela may reduce the impact of Lamu but it may leave you feeling out of step.
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Travel Trivia
Puerto Madryn is located on the shore of which Ocean: