Kenya's coast by traditional dhow

10 days

There are currently no planned departures for this adventure, however we can offer a private group trip, contact us for a quote.

Once the centre of the trade map, Kenya’s Lamu Archipelago is defined by centuries of cultural exchange. But despite the ebb and flow of traders and travellers, the trade winds so central to the day-to-day life have kept people moving, preserving the mangroves and coral reefs thriving in this unique coastal habitat. Follow the ancient tradition of sailing between the islands and take to the sea on a unique Swahili sailing adventure, as you explore Lamu by dhow.


Arriving into Lamu, you will meet your captain before climbing aboard your magnificent wooden dhow. Setting out on your voyage into the Indian Ocean, you’ll spend the next few days learning to sail this ancient craft; a real ocean adventure. Only by stripping everything back to basics will you discover the true beauty of the archipelago; from wild camping under Kenya’s sparkling night sky to catching your supper fresh from the ocean.

Reaching Kiwayu after a few day’s hopping up the coast, you can take some well-earned time out from crew responsibilities. The beach offers a relaxing respite and ample opportunities for all kinds of extra activities. Go snorkelling and kayaking or for the brave; spear-fishing or deep sea-fishing. From making coconut oil to basket-weaving, you’ll be encouraged to participate in tasks long practiced by locals, before climbing aboard to catch the wind back to the main islands of Lamu.


  • Learn to sail a traditional dhow.
  • Embark on a multi-day sailing adventure.
  • Explore mangroves, coral reefs and deserted beaches.
  • Wild camp under starry skies.
  • Experience the local way of life.
  • Visit the ancient ruins of Takwa.
  • Learn how dhows are made.
  • Practice local crafts such as basket-weaving and extracting coconut oil.
  • Go snorkelling, water-skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking and creek fishing.
  • Stay in rustic grass huts and slumber to the sound of the sea.


The Activity

The dhow is a traditional Swahili sailing vessel, a sea-worn relic of the thriving trade that once existed in this region. Carrying precious cargo of exotic spices and gemstones from desert lands down on the trade winds, only to return a few months later with valuable materials of ivory and mahogany from East Africa; the dhow is thought to have been first engineered as far back as 600 BC. It’s exact origin is unknown, but for centuries traders arrived in the city of Beypore in Kerala to acquire the vessels from skilled carpenters there.

Lamu Archipelago – Kenya

The Lamu Archipelago occupies the northern stretch of Kenya’s coastline, a collection of islands floating in the shallow azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Home to 70’000 people, it is arguably the most well-preserved Swahili settlements in the world – a melting pot of Indian, Arabic, African and European culture owing to its key location on trade wind routes of old.

Travelling by dhow you’ll experience the exquisite beauty of Lamu like the locals do, exploring the rich habitat of the mangroves, estuaries, sand dunes, white beaches, and coral reefs, where shoals of fish and bountiful marine life go about their day. A place governed by the pace of donkeys and the billow of the sails, there’s nowhere quite it.

Your Guides

A weathered man of the ocean, our guide is captain of his craft. A touch of the tiller and a quick tighten of the sheet and he’ll have your dhow leaping and gliding across the sea, puffs of wind filling the graceful arch of its sail. Showing you the ropes (quite literally), he’ll make quick work of teaching you how to navigate the ocean in this eager vessel, as long as you’re willing to learn. As all experienced sailors will know, time at sea isn’t a walk in the park, and although opting out of crew duties isn’t out of the question – the real adventure is out on the deck navigating the seas with your crew!

Is this Adventure for You?

This adventure has an activity rating of Active to Moderate. Sailing the dhow is as engaging as it is thrilling, and you must be energetic and agile to pull your weight on the deck. This adventure has options to suit all levels of ability, and is flexible to suit everyone from beginners to experienced sailors.

On the journey to Kiwayu you’ll camp out on the beach, sleeping under the stars. At Diamond Beach, where you’ll begin and end your adventure, you’ll stay in a comfortable eco-lodge – complete with beachside grass huts.

Adventure by Design

Get in touch to receive the Travel Brief to discover our recommended itinerary, before adapting it to your match your group size, availability and travel preferences. In addition, there are a number of options and extensions available to take your adventure to the next level.

Speak to one of our Adventure Experts today for more information on general departures, and fully customised adventures designed with you in mind.

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