Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Malawi
At a Glance
Wild remote location, with cultural interest
Safe and calm fresh water swimming
Excellent watersports and diving
Interesting onland island activities, such as a visit to the Likoma Cathedral
Snorkel on the rocks close to the lodge and spot the freshwater cichlids
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
With varied topography across Malawi, from the high mountains to the Shire Valley below 180m, Malawi has very varied weather. The Shire Valley is tropical with high temperatures and humidity. The rainy season is roughly from December to March, in which the wettest districts are the mountains in the south. It begins to be dry again throughout April and May, in which the days between May through to Novemeber are clear and warm, making it the best time to visit.
Kaya Mawa is an intimate, beautifully designed lodge on a lovely beach on the tiny Likoma Island, situated in the middle of Lake Malawi. It is deemed to be one of the most isolated and unique destinations in Malawi, perfect for families or honeymooners!
Kaya Mawa means 'maybe tomorrow' and to visit Likoma Island is to step back in time. Measuring just 17 square kilometres, the local people survive largely by fishing and rice or cassava farming. The island has hundreds of huge baobab trees and a number of glorious sandy beaches and rocky coves. In the main town of Mbamba, is the beautiful and vast St Peter's Cathedral - supposedly the same size as Winchester Cathedral.
The waters surrounding Kaya Mawa are crystal clear throughout the year and the diving and snorkelling is excellent. With a range of water sports from the gentle paddling of a kayak to learning to wake-board, Kaya Mawa has something to suit all ages and stages, and the excellent PADI dive school will teach beginners or escort experienced divers to the wondrous underwater world. Lake Malawi has an enormous diversity of fresh water fish, and the waters around Kaya Mawa are widely known to offer the very best diving in the whole of the lake.
This small lodge is built on and around a rocky outcrop jutting into the lake with two beaches and the stunning views over the expanse of blue fresh water. Just 26 guests can be accommodated at any one time and each of the cottages has its individual style - many of the rooms have part of the rocks, trees and headlands forming features of the rooms, it is a very organic and natural style. Five of the rooms have two bedrooms making them ideal for families. The lodge is very welcoming of children and is an ideal destination for all ages.
Ndomo House is set on a private beach 2 coves away from the hotel. This is a four bedroom private house equipped with its own chef, butler, nanny and speedboat. The house has a gorgeous private pool. This is the perfect set up for a family or group travelling together wanting total privacy and plenty of space.
Kaya Mawa accommodates 26 guests in a delightful range of accommodation each one entirely different from the next.
There are four standard rooms, however, these are far from standard and are cleverly built in to the rocks overlooking the lake.
Three of the Premier Rooms have private plunge pools and one is built on a private island, linked to the main island by a small bridge.
There are five houses at the lodge. There are three two-bedroom ones (perfect for families) and one one-bedroom house (perfect for honeymooners!) and Ndomo House - a four bedroom private house with private pool and staff.
There are 3 standard rooms which all have a private sitting area/deck, ensuite bath and shower and lovely views over the lake. There 4 premium rooms which have double bedrooms with en-suite bathroom and also have a private plunge pool.
This gorgeous house is separate from the lodge but guests can use all lodge facilities. There are 4 double bedrooms 3 are en-suite and as well as plenty of sitting areas the house has a private pool and staff.
There are four premium rooms in idyllic spots, three with a private plunge pool and one on its own private island accessed by wooden bridge for total seclusion.
Kaya Mawa is a family friendly lodge with good facilities for children, small size equipment like snorkels, water skis etc. Food and meal times can easily be adjusted to suit the younger guests and babysitting can be arranged for those that need it.
There is a lovely bar and dining area from which guests enjoy stunning sun down views looking out over the lake, delicious and varied cuisine can be served up almost anywhere for a private dinner if required. Kaya Mawa offers a PADI accredited dive school, a wealth of water sports equipment as well as mountain bikes and quad bikes.
There are plenty of activities on and in the water, including snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and with three speed boats guests can enjoy waterskiing, wake-boarding, knee-boarding or dounutting. Instruction in any of the water-sports is available for those that need it. Fishing is also on offer and a catch and release policy is adopted unless you intend to eat your prize. Kaya Mawa is partnered with Likoma Island Divers a PADI dive school with instructors waiting to share the underwater world with novice or experienced divers. On land guests have the option of exploring the fascinating island on foot, mountain bike or quad bike.
Meg Shepro (Staff)
My stay at Kaya Mawa was truly unlike any other beach experience. While the lodge is set on an island in Lake Malawi, you easily feel that you are at the end of the earth on a large ocean. The people of Likoma Island are incredibly warm and welcoming, even on the quick drive from the airport, you feel as though you belong on this tiny island. Rooms at Kaya Mawa are gorgeous and each are unique from the next with most being built into the natural surroundings for an authentic barefoot luxury feel. The service here is second to none with staff taking great care to get to know their guests and to share their local insights as well. I would return to this little slice of heaven in a heartbeat and hope I can be so lucky in the future!
Louisa Verney (Staff)
I was last at Kaya Mawa 9 years under the previous owners and loved this tucked away hidden gem on a remote island in the middle of Lake Malawi. So I wasn't quite sure what to expect on my return....I was blown away. The new owners have retained all of the magic and the rustic charm and they have just added a sprinkle of beach chic and flare and made all the rooms lighter and airier. The moved the dining room and bar from the top of the rocky out crop onto the beach to give the lodge move of a beach feel.
Kaya Mawa has all the toys that you would expect from a beach lodge, snorkel round the rocks and be mesmerised by the cychlides or trough out fresh water diving. There is also a selection of toys on the beach from sailing a laser, exploring the bays by kayak or try out paddle boarding. Kaya Mawa is a fabulous beach destination with out going all the way to the sea and works particulary well combining with a Zambian Safari.
Its name translates as 'Maybe Tomorrow', reflecting the easy charm of one of Africa's most intriguing beach hideaways. Built on the south-western shores of Likoma Island on Lake Malawi, it started turning heads three years ago when new owners James Lightfoot and Nick Brown transformed it with the help of a $1-million investment. Lightfoot and his wife Suzie have taken the hand-crafted shell and turned it into something extraordinary: a tiny dot in remote Central Africa capable of taking on the big-gun resorts of Mauritius and Seychelles. Each of the 12 rooms is different, but all have polished concrete floors and big beds dressed with fabrics from Suzie's Katundu Textiles workshop, where women hand-stitch miniscule shells and beads onto soft, washed linens. Guests can take quad-bike tours of the villages and visit the incongruous, century-old St Peter's Cathedral, but Kaya Mawa's real appeal is undoubtedly as somewhere to unfurl in the sun, drink ice-cold South African Chenin Blanc and feast on grilled chambo fish, safe in the knowledge that, as a well-rested Scarlett O'Hara knew only too well, tomorrow is another day.
Mr Toby Smith (Guest)
Kaya Mawa is an utterly beautiful place to stay. It really feels like you are staying with friends, the couple who run the show are lovely and most evenings will join you for a drink a the bar, when discussing what you would like to do the next day or where and when you would like to eat, nothing is too much trouble. The food is fantastic, of course it would be when the chef is a protege of Jamie Oliver. The 'cottages' are breath taking. The local people are friendly and though it is a long way to go to find tranquillity, it is absolutely worth it.
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Location & directions
Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Malawi
Kaya Mawa is on the remote Likoma Island, in the middle of Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is situated on the eastern boarder of Malawi, in which Likoma Island is nearest to the eastern shores of Lake Malawi, across from the Kahingina Forest Reserve.
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