On the white sandy beaches of Likoma Island sits Kaya Mawa, a boutique lodge that welcomes honeymooners, families and friends for an indulgently carefree getaway. Meaning ‘maybe tomorrow’ in Chichewa/Nyanja, the ethos of Kaya Mawa is in its name. Relaxed lakeside living is woven into the style, luxury and comfort of its Houses and Rooms.
Dinner by starlight, massage therapy at our spa, and snorkelling in turquoise waters – it’s just another blissful day at Kaya. Built by local hands and as Malawi’s first resort run solely on renewable-energy, Kaya Mawa is firmly grounded in sustainability, community empowerment and ethical trade.
While each of the 11 Houses and Rooms have distinctive flair, all are designed to fit naturally into the bay’s rocks and sand. The white-washed or exposed stone interiors open out to lake and beach views, with some suites enjoying a private deck and plunge pool or even terrace, courtyard and dining areas.
Malawi is fondly known as the Warm Heart of Africa for its friendly people and sunny days, which you find in abundance on Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. This is one of the world’s deepest lakes and its freshwater teems with aquatic life, including 400 species of cichlid fish.
We work closely with local people in building healthcare, education and sustainable livelihoods within Likoma as well as protecting Lake Malawi’s precious ecosystem. We would love to have you join us in building a better future for our community, wildlife and environment.
On the dramatic shoreline of Likoma Island, in the middle of the great Lake Malawi, lies a beach paradise like no other. We call it Kaya Mawa, meaning ‘maybe tomorrow’, which is what guests often say when it’s time to leave.
Here in the Warm Heart of Africa, beach holidays meet African hospitality and ultimate indulgence. The Wall Street Journal once described Kaya Mawa as ‘the most relaxing beach holiday in the least likely destination.’
Kaya Mawa first opened her doors in 2004 and has done nothing but dazzle guests since. From being listed as one of the ‘Most Romantic Places in the World’ by Conde Nast to hand-written letters from happy children before they leave, being named the Leading Hotel in Malawi 2020 by the World Travel Awards, to the guests who return time and time again – every bit of recognition brings our team an immense amount of joy.
Especially since almost all of them are hired from the tiny Likoma Island and these accolades make them hugely proud of their home.
HOUSES & ROOMS
Encircled by coves of beach sand and shaded by mango and baobab trees, our 5 Houses and six Rooms have been built into boulders, with stone walls and teak-framed thatched roofs. Each is imaginatively designed with an individual flair inspired by Swahili décor and statement pieces from local artisans.
The beautiful lakeside setting, relaxed atmosphere and luxurious style make them all characteristically Kaya Mawa. Celebrate your honeymoon in dreamy Ngani or have a romantic retreat in one of our Standard Rooms.
Each of the Family Rooms has an outdoor chill area and, like Madima and Mainja, you can spend hours enjoying the view from your private pool. Then there is Ndomo Private House, which is the ideal group getaway as it is private, spacious and has its own team of staff.
NDOMO PRIVATE HOUSE
Completely exclusive and secluded from the outside world, Ndomo Private House is the ultimate group retreat in itself or as a spot to wind down after a safari. Inspired by the architecture of Zanzibar, Zambia and Kenya’s Lamu Island, along with hints of Morocco and India, Ndomo is a melting pot of design ideas.
The interior style has been imaginatively paired with African antiques and contemporary bespoke pieces created largely at Katundu Workshop.
Located on the south west corner of Likoma island, the House has been built around boulders, with rough rock walls contrasting dramatically against smooth-plastered rooms that meander intriguingly around the rocky hill. Three of the four bedrooms are en-suite; the other has a bathroom just outside the door.
Also inside, there is a large living room with deck, kitchen and dining area, study and media room. Stepping outside, you will find three large terraces and a courtyard, dining and barbeque area, and plunge pool, all with panoramic views of the lake and beyond. You have the private beach in front of the House all to yourself.
Ndomo is fully staffed with a nanny, cook, housekeeper, ground staff and watchmen. You also enjoy all the facilities and activities that Kaya Mawa has to offer and are welcome to spend as much time as you wish at the lodge.
Whether indoors or outdoors, Mainja immerses you in its beautiful natural setting for an unforgettable lakeside experience spent with friends and family.
A long wooden walkway and concrete causeway leads you to where this majestic house sits on a rocky outcrop on the northern side of Kaya Mawa’s beach. In usual Kaya Mawa style, Mainja is tastefully decorated with statement art pieces and splashes of colour amidst white linens, natural furnishings, stone walls and polished floors.
The house works well within its natural surrounds, fitting snugly around large boulders and opening out to remarkable views over Lake Malawi. Separating the two en-suite bedrooms is a gorgeous Tanzanian-style sitting area with log fireplace and well-stocked bar fridge.
Out to the front of the house is a private plunge pool built into the rocks that looks out over the lake. Also outdoors and on different levels are a private dining area, cushioned seating built into the rocks, and wooden deck with sun loungers.
Designed with love and luxury in mind, Madimba is well-deserving of its title as the ‘Honeymoon House’. This grand house lies at the far west end of the Kaya Mawa beach.
Opening out in front of the large, split-level bedroom is your own infinity pool with magical views across Lake Malawi to Mozambique. Indulge in romantic, starlit dinners and relax on sun loungers under the African sky from the comfort of your private deck.
To one side of the bedroom is a huge en-suite bathroom with double vanities, shower and double-ended sunken bath that looks over the deck to the lake. On the other side of the room, the sitting room with bar beckons you to relax in the cool, stone-walled interior.
With views across the lake to the Mozambican coastline, Ngani nudges you into unplugging from the world and surrendering to Africa’s peace, quiet and beauty.
White-washed floors, fabrics in blues and creams, locally sourced furnishings and modern fittings are part of Ngani’s claim to barefoot luxury. A ‘galley’ style bathroom and indoor lounge looking out to the lake completes the laidback feel of the room.
This extends outdoors to the deck that has three seating areas, a large plunge pool and direct access to the lake by just a short ladder. So, whenever you wish, just hop into the lake, enjoy a swim and even snorkel with the fish. Don’t worry if you haven’t brought your own snorkelling gear as this is all provided in your room.
Meaning ‘fish eagle’ in Nyanja, Nkhwazi gives you a near bird’s eye view out to Nkhwazi Island and the south of Lake Malawi from the top of a rocky knoll.
There is an understated elegance to Nkhwazi. The white-washed bedroom area steps down onto wooden decked floors that flow outside to three private decks at the front of your room. Here, the warm sun beckons you to unwind in the infinity pool and seating area with a panoramic vista that is all yours.
The fish eagle’s call is fondly referred to as ‘The soundtrack of Africa’. Not a day goes by on Likoma Island without hearing it and yet you never grow tired of the sound. It has become part of the natural rhythm at Kaya Mawa.
Laze on the beach, while enjoying a gorgeous lake view and a picnic basket filled with the day’s creation from our award-winning kitchen team. Think homemade bread and hummus, with a fresh salad and grilled fish, and washed down with a glass of South African wine, Mozambican beer or a cocktail with gin distilled here in Malawi.
Indulge in a massage treatment at the Kaya Spa, which is perched on a rocky outcrop in Lake Malawi with a wooden boardwalk connecting it to the beach. Relax, meditate or even drift off to sleep as one of therapists work their magic on you to the soundtrack of lapping waves and African fish eagles. This is part of the Kaya antidote to niggling aches, pains and stress!
A PROUD LIKOMA LOCAL
We didn’t get here on our own; far from it, in fact. At the beating heart of this barefoot luxury lodge lies the local people and culture. From laying bricks and mortar to build all the rooms entirely by local hands to creating chic interior fixtures and fittings through the Katundu Workshop, local people have steered the way and made Kaya Mawa what it is today.
Kaya blends into its natural surroundings and draws on Likoma’s vibrant culture. The aquamarine, beachy colours drift their way from Lake Malawi and into rooms that are stylishly designed with upcycled interiors.
Glass beads, chandeliers, photo frames and fabrics are all handmade from sustainable and recyclable materials mostly from the lodge and the lake itself. Most of this work is thanks to the creativity artists at Katundu, which is found directly behind Ndomo Private House, our exclusive use house available for groups.
Katundu was founded in 2006 around a passion for designing and creating luxury items in an ethical environment, empowering women and through them the local community. These jobs provide a sustainable income and instil pride, dignity and purpose, giving people the skills and knowledge to improve their circumstances.
ART THAT INSPIRES AND EMPOWERS
Katundu has the privilege of working with artisans with inimitable skills. Each individual piece is crafted meticulously by hand, a process of creation where beauty and soul are connected through each item.
Recycled and sustainable materials add another important dimension to Katundu – respecting the environment and utilising what it has to offer. Katundu has grown from just a small workshop to a successful company with an extremely creative and diverse product range.
Their signature range of hand-beaded textiles are complimented with statement chandeliers and interior pieces including wall art, rugs and baskets made from baobab and maize string, as well as frames and furniture made from old fishing boats.
Kaya Mawa supports the empowering work done by Katundu by buying their flawlessly crafted, awe-inspiring pieces and in return, Katundu designs have made Kaya Mawa a haven of design inspiration.
uests from all over the world love to take statement pieces home with them, and luckily Katundu designs can be bought in our onsite shop. Guests from Kaya Mawa are always very welcome to visit the workshop and see the artisans at work.
ACTIVITIES IN MALAWI
Whether you’re revelling in the various water sports like kayaking and diving, indulging in a spa treatment overlooking the lake or just chilling on the beach with your loved one, Kaya Mawa shows you the best of lakeside living. Our ‘maybe tomorrow’ ethos means you can do as much or as little as you like, just as long as you are having the African beach escape of your dreams.
On Likoma Island, each day is yours to plan out or simply take as it comes. You can choose to stay on the warm sand, head for the sparkling water or even relax all day on your private deck. Sometimes, just walking along the beach at sunrise or watching the lake glisten at night is all you need to feel the magic of the island.
Explore the pristine waters of Lake Malawi in an underwater adventure, no matter your skill level. The only requirement? To leave the water with a bunch of great memories! No need to bring your own goggles, snorkel and fins as each House and Room at Kaya Mawa has its own snorkelling gear.
Hop aboard one of our Taz or Topaz for a sailing safari on Lake Malawi. Conditions for sailing are excellent here since there are no tides or currents, but there’s always a light breeze for sail boats.
Grab a kayak and paddle before setting off to explore the waters and other parts of the island beyond our bay. Watch as colourful fish flash in the clear water below you and look out to the Mozambican coastline beyond. The only sounds are those of nature – birds calling to each other and waves lapping against the kayak’s bow – and you leave the water feeling rejuvenated.
Enjoy the warmth of the sun on your back and the cool breeze blowing off the water as you glide across the lake on one of our stand-up paddle boards. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a pro because you will soon be balancing, paddling and having fun, all at the same time. Paddle along the shoreline, enjoying the beauty of the beach from a different perspective.
WATERSKIING & WAKEBOARDING
Try your hand at one or both of these exhilarating water sports. With skis that fit ages 5+ and a trained instructor give handy tips and pointers, you will be on your feet or knees in no time.
Go on an underwater adventure in Malawi’s giant freshwater aquarium, which has more species of colourful cichlid fish than any other lake in the world. We are a recognised PADI Resort and our in-house Divemaster knows the best spots to experience the lake’s diverse aquatic life.
Enjoy a blissful day out on the lake and see what freshwater species you can reel in. Our boatmen were all fishermen in their past lives so know where all the best fishing spots are. Here at Kaya Mawa we promote a catch and release policy to ensure the populations are kept healthy and growing.
E-MOUNTAIN BIKE SAFARI
Sightsee the island at your own pace and along the route of your choice on our solar-powered electric mountain bike. Which path will you take? Perhaps something off the beaten track or a little closer to civilisation. Make a stop to watch a troop of vervet monkeys, identify the bird behind that beautiful call or chat with a friendly Likoma local.
Head out into the forests to spot some of the island’s colourful birdlife or simply enjoy what feathered friend comes to visit while sipping your morning coffee.
Likoma is home to over 100 different birds species, including huge colonies of white-breasted cormorants, black-shouldered and yellow-billed kites, and four types of kingfisher. And the cry of an African fish eagle is a sound you can never grow tired of.