5 islands you should visit on the ‘West Coast’ of Kenya

Kenya is well known for its “out of Africa” experiences, particularly the bush and beach safaris. Its sandy white beaches rank as some of the best in Africa, particularly those in the North and South Coast of Mombasa. Other well-known beaches can be found further north in Watamu, Malindi and Lamu.

Little is known of the ‘West Coast’ of Kenya with sandy beaches found on the shores of Lake Victoria islands. One can opt to do the ‘West Coast’ Islands and combine it with either Maasai Mara or Serengeti national parks. From Homa Bay, the Islands can be easily accessed by road from Kisii or by air through Mfangano Airstrip, Homa Bay Airstrip or Rusinga Airstrip which are owned by Rusinga Island Resort.

1. Rusinga Island

Rusinga Island is the largest island on the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria. The main economic activity is fishing. There are also pockets of residents practicing small scale farming. At night one cannot help but smile at the magnificent lighting by lamps towed by fishing boats, which from a distance can be mistaken for an airport runway. The tranquility found here is unmatched. Accommodation can be found at Rusinga Islands Lodge, an 11-room Lake front resort that will guarantee you a serene place to enjoy your getaway.

Rusinga Island

2. Litare Islands

Located 30 minutes by traditional fishing boats and less than 10 minutes by speed boats from Rusinga Island, this island is renowned for fishing. This is the main economic activity. An excursion round the village here takes around 30 minutes. During the day women can be seen drying dagaa (small-sized type of fish) that the men fished at night. Fishing is done at night  as this  is the  best  time  to catch  the type  of  fish  found  in this  part of lake  Victoria.

Litare Islands

3. Takawiri Island

Tucked between Mbasa and Mfangano islands is Takawiri, arguably the most scenic with a blend of blue water and white sand. You will learn to appreciate beauty at its best once you land on the shores of this Island. Takawiri Resort is a privately owned property and you need to book in advance for either lunch or dinner. You can spend the night on this resort, go to Mfangano Island Governors Camp or head to Rusinga Island Resort.

Takawiri Island

4. Mbasa Islands

Many people call this place the Birds Island as it is specifically reserved for its birds species; the local people call it Mbasa Island. Being a bird’s sanctuary, no one is allowed to live here. People only visit and go round the Island in boats. 100 plus bird species can be found here. The birds mainly depend on the fishing villages for food as they eat most of the fish (dagaa) caught by the fishermen.

Mbasa Island

Being a bird’s island, there is no lodge or resort. You need to have packed lunch if on a birding Safari. One can opt to spend the night at Takawiri Resort, Rusinga Island Resort or Mfangano Governor’s Camp.

5. Mfangano Islands

On the east side of Lake Victoria is Mfangano Island, which in turn lies to the west of Rusinga Island. It’s the second largest island on the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria. Its inhabitants live near the shores of the lake. Fishing is the main economic activity. The Island can be accessed by boats or by an airstrip owned by the Mfangano Governors Camp.

Mfangano Island

On it lies Mfangano Island Camp, a premier luxury camp owned by the Governor’s Camps brand that will leave a lasting memory once you visit the place. Surrounded by giant fig trees and an ever cool breeze from the water tides, this luxury accommodation is all one needs from the bush life either from Maasai Mara or the Serengeti.

Duncan Wairimu is CEO at Elite Kenya Luxury.

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