Dhow (Arabic داو dāw) is the generic name of a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Some historians claim the dhow was invented by Arabs or Indians, but the majority give the credit to the Chinese.
Typically sporting long thin hulls, dhows are trading vessels primarily used to carry heavy items, like fruit, fresh water or merchandise, along the coasts of the Eastern Arabia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and East Africa. Larger dhows have crews of approximately thirty, smaller ones typically around twelve.
Guests can explore the archipelago under sail in a traditional Lamu or Mozambique style dhow. Visit the ruins at Takwa, raise a glass at sunset or sail under a full moon. Experience the spectacle or even help crew the biannual dhow race, held in August and on New Year’s Day.
Kenya on the shores of the Indian Ocean has a long association with Dhows that have sailed for centuries between Arabia India and East Africa using monsoon winds in one of the oldest established trade in the world.
Traditional dhows are built without metal using local materials and this ancient craft is still practiced in such places as Lamu today.
A number of Dhows have been converted with modern techniques and given diesel engines for safe cruising with tourists.
In Lamu you may sail around the islands or take a sunset cruise or a moonlight cruise.
In Shimoni you may sail to the marine park in a Dhow and if you are lucky see dolphins swim close by.
From Mombasa a number of dhow cruises with activities are available for night and day cruises.
The Tamarind Dhow operated by a leading restaurant company offers night cruises in calm inland waters with superb meals cooked on board with live music and dancing.
The evening cruise is the most renown of all the coastal trips. An enchanting evening of exotic seafood blended with a romantic cruise aboard an authentic Arab Dhow around the old port of Mombasa Town.
The dhow, Nawalilkher, was built in 1977 for trading. At 23 meters, she is the largest dhow on the coast. Purchased in 1986, she was converted for restaurant use by her original builder Fundi Bini on Lamu Island, under the watchful eye of Mohammed Shalle, who is still her captain today.
Your evening begins once you are picked up from your hotel and driven to the pier. As soon as you step off the gangplank, you are met by a traditionally-dressed waiter who shows you to your table, and serves you with a house cocktail made with vodka, lime, honey, sugar and crushed ice.
Non-alcoholic drinkers are offered soft drinks or fruit juices.
Once the dhow departs from the jetty, the live band starts playing beautiful rhythms, and soon the swing has majority of guests dancing on the main deck.
After a cruise round Tudor Creek with fine view of Mombasa’s Old Town and Fort Jesus, your dhow moors in a sheltered bay at the head of the creek.
Here the fine aroma of grilled lobster and steak starts to fill the air as the chefs pull out the charcoal grills and prepare a four-course gourmet meal.
As your meal draws to a close, the waiters serve aromatic Arabica coffee from a traditional Arab brass pot –the Kahawa Pot. The evening trip on the dhow is an excellent romantic spot for newly weds, and those wishing to propose.