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History of Manda Island

Manda island in Lamu town – with next to no fresh water – was only recently almost uninhabited but is now the site of several new luxury homes and a couple of boutique resorts. 

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Manda island in Lamu town – with next to no fresh water – was only recently almost uninhabited but is now the site of several new luxury homes and a couple of boutique resorts. 


Besides the allure of the pristine beach, Manda Island is also the main airstrip on the islands, and the location of the old ruined town of Takwa (favourite destination of the dhow-trip operators). Significant archeological for the ruins of Takwa and Manda, the north side of the island is also the location of the fabulous Manda Bay lodge.



Manda is an island of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya, known for the prosperous ninth century ports of Takwa and Manda town, the island is now linked by ferry to Lamu and it is the home to Manda Airport. Both Manda town and Takwa were abandoned due to lack of water in the nineteenth century.


The Manda Toto island lies to the west of Manda Island, the Manda Island is separated from the mainland by the Mkanda Channel.


The Manda town was first explored by Neville Chittick the archaeologist in 1965, the chief trading commodity in the town was elephant ivory, Mbutangrove poles were also important.



Early inhabitants of Manda Island constructed buildings with burnt square brick and stone and lime mortar, those building techniques are only found on islands and coastal areas of Kenya.


The brick and mortar technology is unique to the mentioned areas, where the bricks average is about 18 Cm, and they were brought from Sohar, these bricks probably arrived on Manda Island as Ballast in sailing ships entering the port, from the 9th century till the 11th century the buildings were also constructed from coral that was known as coral rag cut from dead coral reefs.

Best Time to Visit


The best time to visit Manda Island is all year long. For beach holiday, dry and sunny days, it is better to travel in the drier months which are usually from the end of June to December. January and February are excellent to go to Manda after Kenyan Safari. During January to the end of June, the rain continues into June.

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Things to Do in Manda Island


Sunset Gaze


Across the channel from Shela, the mostly uninhabited Manda Island provides the best spots for watching the wonderful African sun setting behind the Lamu island.


Enjoy the village and the Fort of Shela, along with the palm-fringed, vast, empty and unspoiled beaches of the Ras Kitau, the gem of the Lamu area. Besides, have a sundowner, for example in a lovely setting at The Majlis.

Visit the Ruined City of Takwa


Once held as one of the Kenya coast’s largest settlements, the Manda Island is once-thriving community abandoned the town in the 17th century. The cause is not clear, but the most probable reason was the depletion of fresh water on the island. Today the coral stone ruins are one of the most popular destinations for a day trip from Lamu or Shela.


The Beaches & Water-sports 


The island offers a unique beach experience with endless beaches of various water sports such as sailing, windsurfing and wakeboarding. The region around Manda Island is known for its excellent sport fishing for Marlin and Sailfish. Shore fishing on the island is also suitable for avid anglers.


Discover the coastline on excursions to the interesting historic town of Lamu and the Ruins of the Manda Settlement surrounded by ancient Baobab trees. If these activities are like too much, then just chill and soak up the sun during your Kenya beach holiday.


Wildlife Sightseeing 


The area is full of wildlife and vegetation where game drives offer the chance to witness an astounding number of birds and animals, including; bush buck, buffalo, dik dik and a host of small predators such as civets and mongoose. Besides, the birdlife includes carmine bee eaters, fish eagles, osprey and Eastern nicators.